• Statement on Clean Power Plan

    December 01,2014, 13:01 PM

    Today the Evangelical Environmental Network is submitting to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 229,448 comments from 102,068 pro-life Christians in support of the EPA's Clean Power Plan.

    Here is their message to the EPA:

    As pro-life Christians, we urge the EPA to protect life and God's creation by reducing carbon pollution and toxic emissions from existing coal burning power plants. We ask the EPA to provide maximum flexibility to states as to how they will cut emissions, including options such as a pollution fee that could cut other taxes. It is time for our leaders to act for the sake of our children's health, the most vulnerable among us, and His beautiful creation.

    Some may be surprised at this number of comments. After all, a recent poll once again confirms that "White evangelical Protestants are more likely than any other religious group to be climate change Skeptics."

    "We have been able to reach and activate those considered unreachable by traditional environmentalists because we share their values and speak their language," said the Rev. Mitch Hescox, EEN's President/CEO.

    For example, EEN has found in our climate work in Florida that over half of those we activated asking Gov. Scott to create a plan to address climate change scored less than 50 (out of 100) on a standard climate supporter model, with 15% scoring 10 or less.

    "When the President and Administrator McCarthy provide strong leadership on overcoming climate change, as they have on the EPA's Clean Power Plan, we will stand with them," said Hescox.

  • Statement on EPA Proposed Ground Level Ozone Standard

    November 26,2014, 11:45 AM

    The Evangelical Environmental Network

    Statement on EPA's Proposed Ground Level Ozone Standard

    The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox

    November 26, 2014

    Living in Southern York County, Pennsylvania, air pollution shouldn't be a problem, but it is. Over 10,000 kids and over 34,000 adults in York County have asthma, according to the American Lung Association's State of the Air 2014. Our children's health and their lives are impacted daily by York's air quality that fails in both ozone and particulate matter. York County, Pennsylvania remains a representative of a larger national problem. The same smog precursors now are linked to birth defects and some studies put our unborn at severe risk. Ozone impacts the quality of life, and we are thankful for EPA proposed new standard for ground level ozone.

    We encourage all America to work together to protect our children's health and find solutions that reduce smog, while investing in a new energy future that propels our nation into a robust economy. Pure air, clean water, healthy kids, and good jobs are not mutually exclusive. As the past has witnessed, EPA standards "sets the bar" empowering American ingenuity and providing for a better future. We have the moral responsibility to do no less. For us at EEN, creation care is a matter of life, human life.


  • Statement on Waters of the United States Proposed Rule

    November 14,2014, 07:13 AM

    Passed in 1972 and strengthened during the Reagan years, the Clean Water Act put America on the right track in defending our waters for supplying drinking water systems, agriculture, industry, and recreation. However, a number of court decisions and Congressional inaction have "muddied the waters" by thwarting our ability to protect what are known as "headwaters," or the beginnings of our streams and rivers, as well as many wetlands. What was once easily defined during the Reagan Administration now is a total mess of confusion, inaction, and failure.

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have worked together to propose a new rule that clarifies the protection needed to ensure pure water, defend our children's health, and codify exemptions that have long applied to farmers.

    The Evangelical Environmental Network received 115,000 total comments from over 53,000 individuals that we have submitted in favor of protecting pure water. The petition read:

     "As pro-life Christians, we believe that it is essential that the water we give our children is clean and pure. We urge the EPA and Congress to do everything you can to make sure that all of our waters, especially our headwaters, are protected."

    "Water is life. By taking steps to cean up our waters we are protecting the health of children," said Rev. Mitch Hescox, President & CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network.

  • Evangelicals Support Historic Effort to Address Climate Change

    June 02,2014, 06:25 AM

    Over 130,000 Comments of Support by Pro-Life Christians Already Generated

    NEW FREEDOM, PA (June 2, 2014) - The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) applauds President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the release today of the EPA's draft rule to regulate carbon pollution from existing power plants.

    "Today's release of the EPA's draft regulation of existing power plants is a historic step in our nation's journey to overcome climate change," said the Rev. Mitch Hescox, EEN's President and CEO. "We look forward to studying the draft carefully as we offer our support and suggestions for possible improvements."

    EEN's efforts to stand with President Obama and the EPA on the need for strong action on climate change have already begun. To date, EEN's efforts have generated over 130,000 comments from pro-life Christians to the EPA in support of carbon regulations.

    "This 130,000 is simply a down-payment," said Alexei Laushkin, EEN's VP in charge of grassroots campaigns. "Now that the draft rule is out, we plan to step up our activities and generate even more support."

    A chief concern of pro-life Christians is the health impacts of the pollution from fossil fuels that is driving climate change.

    "The health and well-being of our children is already being affected," said the Rev. Emilio Marreo, VP of Esperanza, one of the nation's premier Hispanic evangelical organizations and organizer of the biennial Hispanic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC. "The impact of air pollution is a significant concern for the Latino community because Latino Americans are more likely to live in areas with high levels of air toxicity due to poverty. We can't afford not to act. We need better policies that address climate change and provide for the well-being of our communities. We are glad that these standards will help families in our community."

    The need for serious action is driven home by the fact that climate impacts are already upon us.

    "I'm a Christian, entrepreneur and meteorologist - I've been tracking the symptoms of a changing climate on my weather maps for 15 years. We've been poking at Earth's climate system with a long, sharp stick and then acting surprised when the weather bites back," said Paul Douglas, Meteorologist/Founder & CEO of Broadcast Weather in Minneapolis, MN.

    "Climate Change represents the greatest threat to life and the greatest opportunity for hope of our generation and the generations yet to come," said Rev. Hescox. "Reducing carbon pollution from existing power plants will protect children from health impacts and help lead to cleaner air and purer water. By providing states flexibility in how to reduce carbon pollution, including market-based approaches to pricing carbon, this proposal from EPA will be a major impetus for a clean energy future that creates good jobs and continues to position our country as the world's innovative business leader."

  • Reflections from the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast

    April 16,2014, 09:29 AM

    by Rev. Mitch Hescox

    It's rare to have the opportunity to shake the hand of the President of the United States and share a few words. In all honesty, it's something I never, ever expected to do. But it happened this week at the annual White House Easter Prayer Breakfast.

    After worship ended, the President walked to each table, greeted us all, and stopped for a photo opp. In my normal unreserved fashion, I told the President, "I'm your friendly evangelical Republican environmentalist." The President smiled. Then, referring to the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Administrator Gina McCarthy, I said "Thanks for supporting Gina and her work!" The President gave one of his classic gigantic grins along with a big thumbs up.

    Many know that I have strongly supported Gina McCarthy. While there are things in which we profoundly disagree, together we work to defend our kids from environmental threats.

    At the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) we believe that Creation Care Is A Matter of Life. We worked long and hard to defend our unborn babies from the hazards of mercury pollution, and now we support Administrator McCarthy's leadership in overcoming the greatest environmental threat to all God's children, climate change.

    Some of my brothers and sisters in the evangelical community and a good number of my fellow Republicans are aghast at my support. However, God is calling us to find common ground. We are not to settle for lowest common denominator, but reach for the summit of the highest peak in protecting the most vulnerable. If the Church won't act as a bridge for political and cultural divides, who will?

    This week at the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast, the Holy Spirit brought us together. When the choir sang, I felt I heard angels, and The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, who some consider the best preacher in the country, delivered a truly inspired message.

    The spirit of unity at the Easter Prayer Breakfast reminded me of one aspect of American church life in the first half of the 19th Century. Baptist and Methodist traditions grew at an amazing pace. One reason for their tremendous popularity was the altar call. At the altar, there were no black or white, slaves or free, rich or poor, or even political parties. There were simply children of God in need of redemption and restoration.

    Like the alter call of old, it's time for our country to experience a new spirit of unity, a new day in our public discourse. It's time to bridge differences like our partisan divide and unite our nation under God to turn our challenges into opportunities. In this most Holy Week as we Christians remember Jesus' suffering on the cross, let us continue our journey from Good Friday to Easter Sunday and encounter our Risen Lord and His Love. Even today too many Christian see Easter as an empty tomb instead of an encounter with our living Savior.

    This week I experienced hope that we might come together not because of our differences, but because of God. Miracles happen. Who would have believed a coal miner's kid from a little town in western Pennsylvania would ever shake the hand of the President of the United States in the White House. May God work in all of us to follow our Risen Lord. May our encounter with the risen Jesus transform our lives, overcome the divide, and guide us over the mountain to work together.

    The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox is President/C.E.O. of the Evangelical Environmental Network and lives in New Freedom, PA.

  • EEN Statement on Finalizing The Tier 3 Fuel Standards

    March 03,2014, 08:15 AM

    Statement by Rev. Mitch Hescox, President & CEO, Evangelical Environmental Network:

    We're proud to stand together with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, The American Lung Association, the car industry and wide variety of other manufactuters to celebrate the promulgation of the Tier 3 Motor Vehicle Emissions and Fuel Standards.

    We've made good process in cleaning up our air, but our children are still at risk. The American Lung Association calculates that these standards will prevent more than 2,000 premature deaths and more than 19,000 asthma attacks each year by 2030. For pro-life evangelicals like myself this is great news, given that medical research links vehicle pollution to birth defects. It's simple: cleaner fuels lead to purer air and healthier kids. And all for one penny a gallon. That's a good deal for all of us.

    The Tier 3 Standards are another great example of industry, government, and citizens working together for a healthier, cleaner America. The more we work together the better for us all.

  • Protecting Our Water, Small Pockets at a Time

    January 30,2014, 11:01 AM

    In the blast of northern cold, my friends left and right are finding broken pipes. One friend reports a neighbor gone for five days, who had 250 gallons of water a day pouring into her basement. Another is in a hotel because of broken pipes in her apartment complex. While my water pipes have been fine in the shock of the polar vortex, an abundance of water is the norm in my life as well.

    My yard is full of snow and ice, frozen water lies across the countryside. Slick puddles crowd my drive. When it rains, as it did last weekend, the frozen ground repels and floods of water make their way down the street, bearing debris, and grit and salt. Come spring, that salt and grit and water will run across lawns and streets, and into wetlands and streams.

    Some of my favorite places are small wetlands, and I have spent years studying a set of 22 small wetlands in forested areas in Essex county. They provide valuable habitat for salamanders, turtles, and some unusual invertebrates. Many water birds use them as breeding sites. Small water bodies also affect humans by being a part of the water cycle. Some are large, some are small and many are in floodplains. Most importantly, they hold water. This lessens flooding downstream and allows water to enter the ground water, to "recharge" water under the soil. The millions of small water bodies in our uplands, especially forests, keep us from both floods and droughts. They also provide some or our drinking water, at least eventually.

    DOROTHY BOORSE AND STUDENTS STUDY A MARSH.   PHOTO COPYRIGHT: GORDON COLLEGE
    DOROTHY BOORSE AND STUDENTS STUDY A MARSH. PHOTO COPYRIGHT: GORDON COLLEGE

    It helps to understand where you fit into the water cycle. The water coming out of my (not yet frozen!) pipes originates from Wenham Lake, a reservoir that stores water from the Ipswich River. Water comes from the headwaters in eastern Middlesex and Northeastern Essex counties. Its tributaries cover a 155 square mile watershed. Dozens of smaller streams join a meandering river about 45 miles long. This river provides drinking water for my city of Beverly, MA and 13 other communities, giving drinking water for more than 330,000 people. For a small river this is a great deal of use, and in some years the Ipswich river has dried up in some stretches. Many towns in the watershed have water bans (periods of time when certain types of water use are not allowed) every summer.

    Wenham Lake is closer to the ocean and my town is lower in the watershed than some of the other towns. What it means is this: I am downstream from many of the 330,000 people served by the Ipswich River. Decisions they make about land use will affect how much water is available to me. I am not unique in this dependence. We are all downstream of something, in some part of our lives. Therefore, what other people do (upstream) affects us. At other times, we are the upstream neighbor in our complex human ecosystem. I think this is a good metaphor for a spiritual reality as well- we are dependent on each other and responsible for how our actions affect others, in part because God has made us to live in relationships. God has made us to have to share.

    It's easy to see this principle at work when we read of the chemical spill in West Virginia last week, that has made the water for 300,000 people in nine counties undrinkable. A spill of 7,500 gallons of a dangerous coal-cleaning chemical has stopped daily activities in numerous towns and cities as people use bottled water for drinking, cooking, bathing, dishes, and are unable to wash their clothes. Such a big event , with a single source, is called "point-source" pollution. Distributed small pollution events, the kinds that occur across the landscape over longer periods of time, and from many small sources, are called "non-point source" pollution. Such pollution is harder to detect and prevent, but this pollution matters as well.

    What developers and industries do up stream, even to small water bodies, affects underground water, determines flooding, and in turn affects the Ipswich River--the water supply of hundreds of thousands. This reality is the main point behind a recent report and proposed rule by the Environmental Protection Agency. The report, Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters, uses scientific findings to describe just how important small water bodies upstream are to their connected downstream waters. Discharge in a small floodplain wetland for example, might affect swimming in a state park miles away. What we see here in Massachusetts with the Ipswich River watershed is repeated in large and small watersheds all over the country; even tiny water ponds and streams that periodically dry are important to water used downstream by cities and towns.

    Dredging, draining, filling, paving and releasing chemicals in a forested area pool, or stream in some distant place will cause flooding, contamination, and drought in lower areas. We are all neighbors. Our water is your water. Your water is our water. An EPA proposal that came out of this extensive study is designed to recognize that interconnectedness. It won't bring more areas under EPA jurisdiction, but it will make it more clear- who gets to do what to an upstream headwater or water source and why does it matter?

    Here's where people of faith come in. Many people are leery of government intervention in our lives. Their concerns are certainly reasonable. However, reasonable people also want to protect people downstream from actions that can contaminate their water, making it impossible to use or expensive to treat. We can see that with a clear case of pollution in West Virginia that leaves hundreds of thousands without water to drink or cook with and that closes thousands of businesses such as restaurants who depend on the availability of tap water. Understanding how the water cycle works can help us see how our water can be harmed by less obvious activities as well. Being people who care for our neighbors, makes us people who care for water. So this winter as you use water, be thankful for the neighbors, the watchdogs, and the agencies protecting it for you, and be a part of that protection for others.

    For more on the issue, see the EPA FAQ sheet Why Streams and Wetlands Matter to You and the description of the report and proposed rule.

    **********************************

     (Darren) In response to Dr. Boorse's excellent article I asked her the following question:

    While I understand that the management of streams, rivers and wetlands very much seems like a regulatory issue, I was wondering if you had any additional thoughts or suggestions with regards to what individuals can or should do, with respect to their personal water usage, in addition to supporting the EPA proposals?

    (Dr. Boorse): Using water carefully is an important part of being a steward, not only because it helps our neighbor but also because treating, pumping and heating water takes a great deal of energy, costs money, and keeps water from being used for other purposes.

    If you care about water, be careful about what you put on your lawn, maintain native vegetation around streams and wetlands (this cuts down on run-off), and conserve water. You might also want to find out about water conservation groups in your area. Lake and river associations, for example, are full of good ideas about taking care of water. In my area, the Ipswich River Watershed Association is one such group.

    If you're a teacher, do a class unit on water. What we do on land affects the ocean as well, so you might want to look at a book like Going Blue: a Teen Guide to Saving our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, and Wetlands. Also see what your church or other group can do to adopt a river, stream or pond, clean it up and protect it.

    **********************************

    Dorothy Boorse, Ph.D. is Professor of Biology at Gordon College. She studies wetland ecology and is passionate about connecting science and faith communities and supporting science literacy. She teaches, does research with students, and has just co-authored an environmental science textbook for undergraduates. She was lead author on Loving The Least of These:Addressing a Changing Environment, a publication about poverty and climate change.

    re-posted with permission. You can view the original post here.

  • The Comments of Our President At EPA Philadelphia Listening Session Of Carbon Pollution

    November 09,2013, 15:56 PM

    On September 20, 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the first uniform national standards for carbon pollution standards for new power plants. This action coupled with the eventual existing source standard provides a historic step in the right direction to defend our children's health, and limit the already experienced threats of our changing climate.

    Children,both born and unborn, are our most precious gift. Each child should be born into a welcoming world, not one threatened by a changing climate. For people like me who are pro-life evangelical Christians and life-long Republicans, defending our children, theunborn, and those yet to be born, is at the heart of who we are.

    I live inSouthern York County, Pennsylvania. According to the American Lung Association, Central Pennsylvania,including the Harrisburg and York areas, already receives failing marks forhigh ozone and particulates, leading to over 27,000 cases of pediatric asthmaand over 270,000 children at risk. Higher temperatures caused by a changing climate simply multiply theharm. Already York has the same climateas Richmond, VA twenty years ago.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's September 2013 Report stated, "The global land surface temperature was 0.89°C (1.60°F) above the 20th centuryaverage of 12.0°C (53.6°F), marking the sixth warmest September on record. For the ocean, the September global sea surface temperature was 0.54°C (0.97°F) above the 20th centuryaverage of 16.2°C (61.1°F), tying with 2006 as the fourth highest for September on record." Those under the age of 29 have only known a warming world, because every month since February 1985 has been above the 20th Century average.

    Isaiah 24:5 (NCV)
    5 The people ofthe earth have ruined it,
     because they do not follow God's teachings
    or obey God's laws
    or keep their agreement with God that was to lastforever.

    "The simple fact isthat if man [sic] is not able to solve his ecological problems, then man'sresources are going to die." Noted evangelical Francis Schaeffer correctly stated those words in 1970 and they remain true today. The earth has a fever, and the fever's impacts threaten all of us. Simply put, climate change is the greatest moral challenge of our time.

    Climate Change resulting from carbon pollution makes bad things worse. It intensifies natural processes, making natural events unnatural or extreme, and hits the most vulnerable the hardest.

    The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Malawi, Sierra Leone, and Bangladesh are already some of the most difficult places to survive in the world, and with climate change, they are at the most at risk. These threats are not some future event. They are happening now,and God's children across this planet cry for our help. The Cape Town Commitment issued by the Lausanne Movement (founded by Billy Graham and John Stott,another internationally respected evangelical leader) recognizes the need for climate action, as does the global evangelical network Micah Challenge.

    The changing climate kills thousands a year, multiplies diseases, and forces millions to flee their homelands, as food and water security simply do not exist. Without basic needs met,conflict ensues. In October 2009, Burke et. al. published WarmingIncreases the Risk of Civil War in Africa. They conclude that for each 1 degree Celsius warming there willbe a 49% increase in African civil wars,a 54% increase in conflict, and an additional 393,000 battle deaths within the next 20 years. They are not alone in predicting increased instability. The 2010 United States Department of Defense Quadrennial Review states:

    Climate change will affect DoD in two broad ways. First, climate change will shape the operating environment, roles, and missions that we undertake.
    The U.S. Global Change Research Program, composed of 13 federal agencies,reported in 2009 that climate-related changes are already being observed in every region of the world, including the United States and its coastal waters. Among these physical changes are increases in heavy downpours, rising temperature and sea level, rapidly retreating glaciers, thawing permafrost, lengthening growing seasons, lengthening ice-free seasons in the oceans and on lakes and rivers, earlier snowmelt, and alterations in river flows.

    Assessments conducted by the intelligence community indicate that climate change could have significant geopolitical impacts around the world, contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and the further weakening of fragile governments. Climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease,and may spur or exacerbate mass migration.
    While climate change alone does not cause conflict, it may act as anaccelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world. In addition, extreme weather events may lead to increased demands for defense support to civil authorities for humanitarian assistance or disaster response both within the United States and overseas.

    Just a fewmonths ago, my dad, an 87-year-old former coal miner, and I were sitting at hiskitchen table and having a discussion. "We just don't have the winters we used to have," he said, "Snow used to stay around all winter, and we had a lot more of it. I think it's time to do something about this climate change stuff before it's too late." My dad gets it, and most of us feel it inside. In 2012, Pennsylvania experienced atotal of 24 broken heat records, 5 broken snow records, 40 broken precipitation records, and 5 large wildfires. Ourweather is more extreme and getting worse.

    In addition to my Dad, most of my family worked in coal; and before becoming a pastor, I worked fourteen years designing and supplying equipment to both the coal mining and utility industries around the world. While businesses like Dow Chemical, M&M Mars, and even Wal-Mart spend billions for energy efficiency, big coal spends hardly anything to study how to clean up their act. Only when forced by regulations did the coal industry address mine safety, acid rain, mercury pollution, and all forms of water pollution and land reclamation. My childhood play grounds near my Cambria County home were un-reclaimed strip mines that spewed sulfur and heavy metal contaminated water into the remaining forests and streams.

    Some say coal produces the cheapest electricity. In York County, I could pay around $0.08 per kWh for electricity but thanks to Pennsylvania's Switch Program, I elected to pay $0.085 per kWh for renewable energy. This is hardly an economic burden that you may hear from some today. However, sustainable energy costs much less when you factor in all the external costs from coal like medical bills, lost lives, property damage, and the like;coal electricity is triple what you pay at the meter, according to one study. It may appear cheap, but each of us pays the price in our children's health, insurance premiums, and polluted water and air. They are hiding their costs in the bodies of our children and in the changing climate.

    Defending our children's health now and in the future must be a national priority. It's the greatest moral challenge of ourtime, one we are all called to do something about. We need creative minds making new energy discoveries, energy efficient cars, appliances, homes, and buildings. We also need state specific plans that wil lallow each region the maximum flexibility to reduce carbon pollution. Pennsylvania is not Iowa or even New Jersey. State flexibility provides the advantage for local wisdom, industry, and opportunities.

    Let's worktogether as one nation under God to defend our children, and understandovercoming carbon pollution as an All-American Opportunity.

    Blessings

    The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox

  • Pro-Life Evangelicals Believe in Common Sense Reductions in Carbon Pollution

    September 20,2013, 05:57 AM

    While we do not agree with President Obama on all issues, we agree on the overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change's threat to America, our children, both unborn and born, and all God's children across God's creation.

    If science shows that life begins at conception, then we cannot deny the threats of air pollution, water pollution, toxin exposure, and carbon pollution are also threats to our children, unborn and born. As pro-life Republicans, we must set aside partisanship and come together to protect God's creation from climate change. We need solutions that engage all of America. American ingenuity can help us cut down on pollution, champion energy efficiency and create the next generation of jobs, while protecting our kids from harm.

    According to the American Lung Association, over 32.3 million U.S. children are at risk from air pollution that our increased temperatures will only exacerbate. This does not include the additional threats from extreme weather, droughts, or raising sea levels. Nor does this include the millions of children already impacted in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the South Pacific. The poorest of the poor, who bear the least responsibility for carbon pollution, already pay the cost.

    Today, EPA Administrator McCarthy unveiled the proposed New Source Standard for Carbon Pollution for Power Plants. We are pleased at the revised proposed standard considered the views of all stakeholders, including over 52,000 pro-life Christians who wrote positive comments in support of the original proposed rule last year.

    We are encouraged that the road map shared for the upcoming existing source guidelines will provide individual state-by-state flexibility. Once side benefit after promulgation, the carbon standards will provide each individual a choice selecting energy sources based on real costs, not the hidden burden of our children's health.

    "For people like me who are pro-life evangelical Christians and life-long Republicans, the protection of children, the unborn, and those yet to be born is at the heart of who we are. It's time to stop playing games with our children lives, accept the reality of our changing climate, and act as one nation under God and work for solutions. Evangelical theologian, Francis Schaeffer, wrote in 1970, 'The simple fact is that if man [sic] is not able to solve his ecological problems, then man's resources are going to die,'" stated EEN's President Rev. Mitch Hescox.

    A group of evangelicals leaders went to Malawi this past May to hear about some of the current and future impacts of climate change on Malawi. On our trip we learned that economic growth is a key factor in growing climate resiliency. That is why we believe that decentralized power can be a part of the solution for rural Malawians. When folks have access to clean air, clean water, abundant and reliable clean energy, the internet, and a stable food supply they can really begin to flourish and thrive. We don't want give more hand-outs in foreign aid, but we want to work with their God given talent so that they can move forward in a way that builds their capacity to thrive.

    With governance issues in Africa and the overwhelming cost of building centralized power, we do not see centralized power as being the only solution to the challenges of Africa.There is a place for centralized power, but if Africans have to wait on their government or our government to act they will never move forward. Far better for local folks to be empowered and equipped with market based local solutions. Mini-grids and other local energy solutions can be a real part of the future.

    Here's what one of our partners Victor Mughogho Executive Director of Eagles Relief and Development in Malawi said about climate change and the need for action:

    "It's one globe only and the word of God tells us that we are to rejoice with those who are rejoicing and that we are to mourn with those who are mourning. If part of humanity is in pain, it calls on others to join with them, to be part of the solution. There are millions of children impacted by climate related hardships. These are brothers and sisters that are part of the body of Christ, and God calls all of us to respond."

    Another one of our partners John Kanthungo the Executive Director of the Assemblies of God Relief and Development Malawi had this to say to the American Chruch:

    "The issues of climate change is real and the impact is being felt and people are being affected. The message that I have to the Assemblies of God Church or other Christians, we need your help through innovative initiatives like irrigation. On our own the church here is doing something but on a small scale, but if we have more assistance more communities could be reached out to."

    This is not an either/or proposition. It's a both/and that God is calling us to. We have to all move forward in such a way where we do better by the health of our children, and we help to inspire real long lasting solutions. This is about looking for common sense steps to be good stewards of God's creation. Let's work together.

  • Stop Playing Games with Gina McCarthy

    May 09,2013, 12:53 PM

    by the Rev. Mitch Hescox

    One of the latest examples of gridlock in Washington occurred this morning when my fellow Republicans on the Senate's Environment and PublicWorks (EPW) Committee boycotted a confirmation vote for Gina McCarthy to become the next head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Without the Republicans, the committee didn't have a quorum, and so no vote could be taken.

    Across the nation, Christians are sick and tired of Washington's gridlock. We want decisions and not political games. To that end, in March I organized a group of Christian leaders to pray on the lawn of the US Capitol for an end to gridlock; around the country Christians joined us in prayer -- including the states from where these Republican senators on the EPW Committee come from. We prayed that our elected officials would seek common ground for the good of our nation.

    I'm on record supporting Gina's nomination. She has excellent qualifications, has the record of listening to all sides, and even has the support of many in industry. I consider her a "good cop" in protecting the health of our children. Even a few weeks ago, not a single Republican during her EPW nomination hearing questioned Ms McCarthy's qualifications. Senator Sessions (AL) even stated she would be confirmed.

    If a Senator, Democrat, or Republican, wishes to vote no on Ms McCarthy's nomination, that's their right. But cast a vote, and live by our American democracy and way of life. Too many of our service men and women put their lives on the line everyday (including my own son) to protect our way of life to have Senators play such games.

    If Congress doesn't like the Clean Air or the Clean Water Act that protects our children's lives and health, then change the law -- that's part of their job. Just don't play games with the "top cop" for environmental health whose job is to enforce what Congress already passed.

    Give Gina McCarthy the confirmation votes she deserves, and let's put in place the "top cop" to protect our children from pollution.

    The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox is President/CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network.

  • A Good Day For Protecting Our Children

    April 19,2013, 13:16 PM

    Thursday, April 11, 2013, was a good day. First, I had the honor to speak with one of my senators, Bob Casey, and thank him for continuing to stand firm in protecting our children from mercury poisoning. During the recent Senate budget vote-a-thon,Senator Casey voted no on an amendment offered by Senator Coats that would have delayed the implementation of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. These standards are critical to reducing the one in six babies born with threatening levels of mercury. Senator Casey understands that protecting our children from toxic chemicals both inside and outside the womb is a pro-life issue.

    Additionally, I asked Senator Casey to support Gina McCarthy as the new Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency. "Why?" asked theSenator. I replied, "Gina and I have become friends over the last several years and I am confident she will make an excellent EPA Administrator. She is a good cop for protecting our childrenand considers all viewpoints." (Please see my March 4 post.) Senator Casey was a bit surprised that that a former coal miner's son personally knew the EPA Administrator nominee. Hopefully, my opinions were helpful as the Senator expressed his support for Gina.

    Second, I was privileged to attend the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee confirmation hearing of Gina McCarthy. Right before the hearing I told Gina I was praying for her. I continued praying in the EPW hearing room. My prayers were for peace and wisdom not only for Gina but also for all the senators. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of Washington's partisanship. It's long past time for all America,including our elected and appointed political leaders, to work together. And yesterday demonstrated that prayer works.

    From the beginning of the Obama Administration my fellow Republicans have used the EPA as their favorite political punching bag. Here's the problem with that: no one should try to score political points at the expense of our children's health.

    But I'm proud to say that las tweek's hearing was respectful all around. The top Republican (or Ranking Member) Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) did have some tough things to say about the EPA, but treated Gina fairly, as did the rest of my fellow Republicans on the EPW Committee. I especially liked Senator Sessions approach,and the prediction that Gina would be confirmed.

    Last week was more proof in power of prayer. I'll continue prayers for Gina as she leads the EPA, but I will also pray for all our elected and appointed leaders. I would encourage you to do the same.

    In Christ,

    Mitch Hescox

  • We Need a Good Cop at the EPA

    March 04,2013, 08:57 AM

    Contact: Alexei Laushkin,Evangelical Environmental Network, 202-352-9920

    A Statement by the Rev. Mitch Hescox, President/CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network On the Nomination of Gina McCarthy to be the Next EPA Administrator:

    "Protecting our children's health testifies to the moral character of our nation. With one in three American children now suffering from asthma, autism, ADHD, and allergies, all linked to environmental toxins, we need someone to champion our kids' health. Gina McCarthy's nomination as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) places her in the position of our country's top cop on children's environmental health. We support her nomination wholeheartedly. Ms McCarthy's record as a champion for our children in Massachusetts under Governor Romney, running Connecticut's Department of Environmental Protection, and as Assistant EPA Administrator, testifies to her ability to get the job done.

    In my experience, Gina is tough, but also fair. She listens to all sides and strikes a balance in enforcing our nation's laws.

    We are a nation who lives by the rule of law. It's been over twenty years since the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments and only now are important portions of that law being enforced, such as reducing mercury pollution. Our children's health must be protected, and Gina McCarthy is the good cop we need to get the job done.

  • EEN Praises New Soot Standard

    December 14,2012, 13:26 PM

    EEN Praises New Soot Standard

    by Mitch Hescox

    The health of our children took an important step forward today when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its new standard for soot pollution that provides a 20% reduction in fine particulates. To get technical for a second, it reduces fine particular matter (PM2.5) to 12 micrograms per cubic meter from the existing 15 microgram per cubic meter. These emissions come from vechicals, power plants, and industrial sources.

    While our children's health will always push us towards the ultimate goal of eliminating pollution that harms them and limits their future, we believe the new standard strikes an acceptable balance between public health and current economic conditions.

    Simply put, this new soot standard represents important progress in creating a brighter future for our kids.

    We at EEN are grateful for the strong leadership provided by Administrator Jackson and for all the hard work that her team at EPA has put forward on this vital new soot standard.

    The Rev. Mitch Hescox is President and CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network.

  • Remembering Russell Train, Environmental Statesman, Republican

    September 20,2012, 13:06 PM

    by Jim Ball

    Recently the heads of 12 environmental organizations were asked to rank the greenest Presidents in US history. Now, think to yourself, what's the most liberal, the most radical of the major environmental organizations? Many of you will have chosen Greenpeace for that distinction.

    Now, which President would you think the head of Greenpeace, Phil Radford, would choose as the greenest President? Barack Obama? Nope. Nyet. Nada.

    Maybe Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton or LBJ or FDR? Gotta be a Democrat, right?

    Phil's choice for the greenest President was Richard Milhous Nixon.

    Yep. That guy.

    Phil's second choice was Gerald Ford -- meaning the man who fulfilled the remainder of Nixon's second term, fulfilling his policies with Nixon's environmental point men.

    President Nixon signing the Clean Air Act on Dec. 31, 1970, flanked by his environmental dynamic duo of Bill Ruckelshaus (left) and Russell Train.
    President Nixon signing the Clean Air Act on Dec. 31, 1970, flanked by his environmental dynamic duo of Bill Ruckelshaus (left) and Russell Train.

    Nixon had a "dynamic duo" on the environment: Russell Train and William Ruckelshaus. Mr. Train died Monday at the age of 92. Much of the credit for President Nixon's and President Ford's environmental achievements goes to Mr. Train. He is rightly regarded as one of the most important environmental policymakers in the history of the United States.

    Unlike another "green" Republican President, Teddy Roosevelt (who came out number 1 in the rankings), President Nixon wasn't motivated by a strong love for the rest of God's creation. The other part of Nixon's environmental dynamic duo, Bill Ruckelshaus, his first EPA chief, recalled that not only did Nixon not care about the environment personally, "he wasn't [even] curious about it."

    But Russell Train did care. In the early-60s he founded a conservation group and then quit his job to head the Conservation Foundation in 1965. In 1968 he led President-elect Nixon's transition committee on the environment. As part of the Administration, Mr. Train spearheaded both the creation of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) at the White House and the creation of the EPA. In the Ford Administration he became EPA Administrator.

    Notable environmental legislation during these Administrations included:

    • The 1970 Clean Air Act
    • The Endangered Species Act
    • The National Environmental Policy Act

    The creation of the EPA, and CEQ, and the environmental legislation passed during the Nixon and Ford Administrations represent the foundation upon which most environmental policy rests.

    In 1991 President George H. W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation's highest civilian honor, which was richly deserved.

    Please pray for his family and all who mourn his passing. And let's all celebrate his life.

    Well done, good and faithful servant.

  • 50,000 Pro-Life Christians Support EPA on Climate Change Action

    June 29,2012, 09:18 AM

    This past Sunday morning the organization I work for, the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), ran TV spots in key states -- Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri and in D.C. -- asking viewers to tell their Senators "that defending the EPA's ability to reduce carbon pollution is the right thing to do."

    On Monday, EEN's President, the Rev. Mitch Hescox, and I met with the Environmental Protection Agency's Assistant Administrator for air pollution issues, Gina McCarthy, played the TV spot for her, and hand-deliver more than 50,000 messages of support from pro-life Christians.

    Here is what that message said:

    Dear EPA Administrator Jackson:

    As a pro-Life Christian, I urge you and the EPA to remain strong in your efforts to address carbon pollution through the authority of the Clean Air Act.

    The reality of climate change is already being felt here in the U.S. and around the world in the form of extreme weather and health impacts, which most affect the unborn, poor, and powerless. It is time for America to tackle this great moral challenge. Doing so protects life and abides by Christ's teaching to love one care for the least of these who will be hit hardest by climate change.

    Thank you.

    As we told Gina, we're happy to stand side by side with the EPA as it leads our country in reducing carbon pollution.

    The TV spots highlight the extreme weather that has been plaguing the United States and point out that the poor in poor countries are and will continue to experience more frequent and intense heatwaves, droughts, floods and other harmful impacts due to climate change.

    "You do whatever it takes to protect someone you love," the video narrator says. "What about the less fortunate in poorer countries? Climate change is threatening their lives. Jesus taught us to care for 'the least of these,' and today this means working to overcome climate change."

    I'm sure it will surprise some to know that over 50,000 pro-life Christians are supporting the EPA's efforts to overcome global warming. Support for climate action has been quietly growing, despite our economic troubles and the disavowal of climate change by prominent political leaders. Christians are seeing that climate action is part of Christ's lordship in our lives, even in the midst of hardship and opposition.

    Support for climate action within the evangelical community began in February 2006 when more than 80 senior evangelical leaders, including Rick Warren of Saddleback Church and Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church, formed the Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI) and issued a statement calling for strong action on climate change, including federal legislation to put a price on carbon. Since then evangelicals have authored numerous books climate change and creation care, including Katharine Hayhoe and Andrew Farley's "A Climate of Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions," Jonathan Merritt's "Green Like God," Ben Lowe's "Green Revolution" and my own "Global Warming and the Risen LORD."

    In addition, for the first time an evangelical denomination, the Christian Reformed Church, recently adopted a special report on creation care and climate change, which included the following statement:

    "Urgent action is required to address climate change. Action is needed at the personal, community, and political levels toward reducing human causes of climate change and mobilizing ourselves in urgent assistance to those who are forced to adapt to its negative effects. We have an opportunity now to reduce the future impact of climate change by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases. These emissions are increasing at an exponential rate. Waiting to act until more data accumulate limits our ability to reduce future impacts and ensures that future climate change will be greater rather than smaller" (p. 57).

    Christ's Lordship over climate action is reaching more and more evangelicals, and support for the EPA's climate regulations will continue to grow.

    As my colleague and EEN's President, the Rev. Mitch Hescox, says: "So goes our community on this issue, so goes the country."

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD. This article originally appeared at the Huffington Post.

  • The Mercury Rule \ A Tipping Point

    December 29,2011, 15:58 PM

    by Gary Bergel

    "Pollution is essentially a by-product of our vastly increased per-capita consumption, intensified by population growth, urbanization, and changing industrial processes. In the coming years, problems of environmental degradation will rise exponentially." (Ash Council Memo to President Richard Nixon, 1970)

    The close of 2011 finds the U.S. at an historic ecological tipping point.

    On Friday, December 16, 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). On Wednesday, December 21, these MATS were publically unveiled by EPA Administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC.

    Also termed "The Mercury Rule" because they will sharply limit the emissions of mercury, a long-studied neurotoxin, the MATS will also set overall federal standards on emissions of other toxic heavy metals like nickel and selenium, as well as on arsenic, acid gases, cyanide and other carcinogenic chemicals routinely emitted by the burning of fossil fuels -- for the first time in the history of the U.S.

    "By cutting emissions that are linked to developmental disorders and respiratory illnesses like asthma, these standards represent a major victory for clean air and public health " and especially for the health of our children," Administrator Jackson stated.

    The risk of neurological disorders to America's unborn children by mercury and other toxic emissions was documented at a November 30, 2011 U.S. Senate Staff Briefing hosted by Sen. Robert P. Casey, Jr (PA), the National Association of Evangelicals, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Evangelical Environmental Network. Cynthia F. Bearer, MD PhD, Chief of the Division of Neonatology, Dept. of Pediatrics, University of Maryland Hospital for Children outlined the toxins, including mercury (Hg++) she looks for when examining newborns exhibiting neurological disorders.

    Rev. Mitch Hescox President of the Evangelical Environmental Network, spoke at the briefings and MATS ceremony and pointed out that the MATS were "over 20 years in the making." "We are glad this moment has finally arrived, our unborn children and infants deserve it!" he declared. In his meetings with officials and in public appearances, Rev. Hescox boldly proclaims that evangelical Christians believe life is sacred and that human life begins at conception. He explains that it is this biblical "pro-life" belief, coupled with an evangelical believer's commitment to Christ, that compels them to work to protect the weakest members of society, the unborn, and to ensure their right to the "abundant life" that Jesus offers.

    Various secular media reported on the support of MATS by evangelical Christians. Public Radio International (PRI) included a segment on Living on Earth, and chose to post and make their full audio interview with Rev. Hescox available.

    When MATS were proposed in mid-March, 2011, officials such as John Bachman who worked for the EPA's Office of Air Quality Planning for 30 years, pointed out that the fossil fuel industry-funded lobby efforts, political in-fighting and resultant decades-long delay in proposing toxic emissions standards has "cost thousands of lives."

    According to law, the EPA actively sought public feedback, regional public hearings were held, and the public comment period was extended to 140 days. More than 900,000 comments were received. Full review required an additional 30-day extension before the MATS were issued on December 16.

    That these MATS were "over 20 years in the making" actually reflects back to the first legislation involving air pollution, The Air Pollution Control Act of 1955. Additional Clean Air measures were passed in 1963, 1967 and 1970. It was Republican President Richard Nixon, and his Special Message to the Congress on Environmental Quality on February 20, 1970, that really moved the Clean Air ball down the political playing field. In his speech President Nixon stated this about Stationary-Source Pollution:

    Industries, power plants, furnaces, incinerators -- these and other so-called 'stationary-sources' add enormously to the pollution of the air.... Such pollution can quite literally make breathing hazardous to health, and can cause unforeseen atmospheric and meteorological problems as well.... Air is no respecter of political boundaries: a community that sets and enforces strict standards may still find its air polluted from sources in another community or another state.

    In this February Special Message, President Nixon referenced that his Advisory Council on Executive Organization, headed up by Mr. Roy Ash, would be making recommendations to him by April. One of the Ash Council recommendations was for consolidation of regulatory protection and enforcement authority over matters related to the environment. The 1970 Ash Council Memo was prophetic in nature and predicted the "The Environmental Crisis" we are facing today:

    Pollution is essentially a by-product of our vastly increased per-capita consumption, intensified by population growth, urbanization, and changing industrial processes. In the coming years, problems of environmental degradation will rise exponentially.

    While our population will increase from 200 to 260 million by the year 2000, pollution will increase much more rapidly. Even if 50 percent of the nation's electric generating capacity is nuclear-powered by the year 2000, pollutants from fossil-fuel generations will double by 1980 and redouble by 2000.

    At the same time, our demand for fresh water will increase from 350 to 800 billion gallons a day -- considerably exceeding the dependable supply of fresh water now available, some 650 billion gallons daily. More and more clean water will have to be retrieved from progressively dirtier waterways.

    The enormous future needs for land, minerals, and energy require that the protection of our environment receive a powerful new impetus. In this, the nation will be on the "horns of a dilemma." The economic progress which we have come to expect, or even demand, has almost invariably been at some cost to the environment.

    Various measures, including the National Environmental Policy Act which established the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), were swiftly passed by Congress. Richard Nixon created the EPA on May 2, 1971. This agency was specifically mandated to implement the Clean Air Act of 1970. Amendments calling for protection from mercury and other heavy metal toxins were signed into law by George H. W. Bush in 1990.

    "The nation will be on the 'horns of a dilema.'"  (Ash Council Memo, 1970)

    Fortunately, while waiting for federal action since 1990, regulations similar to the MATS have been initiated by more than a dozen states, resulting in the installation of "scrubbers" by about half of the nation's energy-producing coal and oil utilities. Clean utility operators are calling their "dirty" peers forward in implementation of the new and reasonable standards.

    While the MATS are projected to cost non-compliant utilities $10.6 billion by 2016, agency analysts project that the lowered toxic emissions will save $59 billion in annual health costs, preventing 11,000 premature deaths a year, debilitating heart and lung conditions, and lost workdays.

    "On the whole, industry can comply in a timely and cost-effective manner." (Michael Bradley, Executive Director, Clean Energy Group)

    Last-minute negotiations between the White House and EPA added a provision for extensions to power plant operators who apply for a waiver and demonstrate that they cannot meet the MATS three to four year deadline. Michael Bradley, Executive Director of the Clean Energy Group, testified at MATS hearings that, "on the whole, industry can comply in a timely and cost-effective manner."

    Already-compliant utility executives, such as Ralph Izzo of New Jersey's largest electric utility, Public Service Enterprise Group, said the MATS were "long overdue" and that the new standards provide enough flexibility to allow all power generators to come into compliance without any threat to the nation's power grid. Contrary to scare tactics by MATS opponents, leading electric grid officials are assuring U.S. citizens that "no lights will go out."

    Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) decried the MATS as a "thinly veiled electricity tax," and said that they are part of an Obama administration "war on affordable energy." Prominent Republican members of Congress fiercely opposed the MATS and are declaring that they will counter the regulations in Congress. Some utility heads said that they will challenge the MATS in court.

    The oldest coal power plants in the U.S. have been spewing out mercury and other toxins for 90 years. Public awareness and scientific data regarding pollution has been building for almost a century. Earlier Clean Air standards have removed lead and toxins from gasoline and automobile exhaust. Work on mercury standards was set aside in the Clinton administration so that the industry emissions of nitrogen and sulfer oxides causing acid rain could be curbed through, ironically, a successful cap-and-trade program spearheaded by Republicans as they controlled Congress.

    And now, at the close of 2011, even though huge sums of money were put into campaigns and behind rhetoric to make mercury and toxic emissions look innocuous and spin distortion that the MATS and cleanup would be "disastrous for jobs," another giant is falling.

    We are at a positive tipping-point. Significantly, more conservatives are calling for conservation. Corporate corruption can be curbed and environmental degradation can be mitigated and even reversed. America can still regain moral leadership in the international community -- once again by example.

    Some angry, shrill voices call for the abolishment of the EPA and decry the collaborative efforts of Evangelical Christians, Roman Catholics, and others in the Church who are standing and battling together against abortion, euthanasia, slavery and sex-trafficking, lack of religious freedom, racism, environmental degradation, climate crisis, threats to public health, and a host of other ills. Some say that the meaning of being "pro-life" is being "obscured."

    Just the opposite is true. Biblically, being "pro-life" is far more than being "anti-abortion." The Evangel, "abundant life" Kingdom message of Jesus Christ, Savior of the world, is being unveiled and actualized. "You will know them by their fruits," Christ declared. (Matthew 7:16)

    The Church is called to be authentically and totally pro-life. If we were really "getting it," then abortion would not be happening among so many "Christians," and there would be few rather than millions of foster children left to adopt in the U.S. The Church could be taking over health care, or at least starting new hospitals. Thank God for some new Christian clinics and at least a token concern for the handicapped. We each often fall far short of being "pro-life."

    This MATS protective victory from toxic poisoning for mothers and their unborn children is evidence that the Holy Spirit, the Parakletos, "He who draws alongside to comfort and help," is mightily at work! The Lord is restoring the full meaning and requirements to being "pro-life."

    As 2011 ends, we pray that "the meekness of wisdom" and "wisdom from above" (James 3:13-18) might be granted, enter in, and prevail. Christ, our Hope, stands smiling with arms outstretched before us on the 2012 horizon.

    Soli Deo Gloria!  For the Glory of God Alone!

  • Senate Briefing Remarks by Mitch Hescox, November 30, 2011

    December 16,2011, 07:15 AM
    Luke 18:15-16 (ESV)
    Now they were bringing even infants to him that he mighttouch them.
    And when the disciples saw it, theyrebukedthem. But Jesus called them
    to him, saying,"Letthe children come to me, and do not hinder them, for
    tosuch belongs the kingdom of God.

    Children are precious; they are a gift from God and the most vulnerable members of our society. Those gathered here today from the National Association of Evangelicals, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Evangelical Environmental Network, two different traditions in the Christian community, but together we believe not only is life precious but sacred. Anything that threatens and impedes life, especially impacts on the unborn and young children should be a moral outrage. Mercury poisoning is such an outrage.

    We've waited since the 1990 Clean Air Act to clean up mercury. Because of our foot dragging approximately 1 in 6 children in the United States are born with threatening levels of mercury.[i][ii] The mercury impairs neurological development, lowers IQ, linked to cardiovascular disease, and a host of other potentialadverse health impacts.[iii] These are lifetime effects. The economic loss attributed to reduced IQ from US coal fired power plants equals 1.6 billion per year in 2010 dollars.[iv] When added to the co-public health benefits from particulates and acid rain reductions in the proposed Utility MACT Rule,the health care savings potentially reaches $140 billion per year returning $5 to 13 dollar per $1.00 spent on controls.[v]

    Public opinion continues to support regulations that protect children's health. Yet, Congress has largely ignored public concern and given a free pass to the largest domestic source of mercury pollution, coal fired electric utilities.[vi] Coal electric generation produces 50% of the domestic mercury emissions; yet this sector is currently not required to meet the same emission standards as solid or medical waste incinerators. This is simply wrong.

    No amount of mercury is safe[vii] and more enters the food chain each year. The USGS in its Biannual National Listing of Fish Advisories states that approximately 17million acres of lakes and over 1.2 million miles of rivers have mercury advisories, an of 1.1% (lakes) and 0.2% (rivers) increase from 2008.[viii]

    2011 USGS Fish Advisories
    2011 USGS Fish Advisories

    Currently, the Evangelical Environmental Network is mountinga serious campaign strengthening public concern on mercury and its effects onthe unborn. In six states ranging fromthe northeast, Midwest, and southeast over 10 million emails have been sent to pro-life voters and radio ads are running at saturation rates on over 60 Christian, Country and News/Talk stations with billboards placed in strategiclocation in many states.

    This campaign refutes the fears generated by some that allowing the EPA to perform its Congressional mandated mission will raise utility prices, cost jobs, and decrease electricity reliability.

    Psalm 82:3 (ESV)
    Give justice totheweak and the fatherless;
    maintain the right of the afflicted andthe destitute.

    Our Holy Scriptures calls us to defend the weak, and the weakest, unborn children, pay the greatest cost in not reducing mercury emissions. Some will mistakenly cry out that the poor will be most affected in higher electric rates as the implementation costs will approach 10 billion dollars per year. Ten billion is a huge sum, but distributed per consumer in the United States results in an average maximum cost of $7.00 per month per household. While the poorest might face impacts, the pollution reductions will return $5 " 13 in health benefits for every $1 spent on emission reduction as mentioned previously.[ix]

    Still others will claim massive jobs loss in jobs stillfaltering economy. These facts simply donot add up. EPA modeling provides amodest 31,000 construction jobs and net 9,000 new permanent positions.[x] Nor does it match the conclusion from the Economic Policy Institute, the labor movement's premiere analytical shop. It states: "The toxics rule would have amodest positive net impact on overall employment, likely leading to the creation of 28,000 to 158,000 jobs between now and 2015."[xi]

    Perhaps the greatest current fear tactic centers on electricity reliability. But utility representatives themselves debunk this. In testimony at EPA's public hearing in Philadelphia, Exelon's Bruce Alexander stated that "nothing about this rule [the mercury regulation] will jeopardize the reliability of the electric system." [xii] Testifying before a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing, Michael Bradley, representing a coalition of utilities, stated that "we do not believe compliance with the rule willbcompromise the reliability of the electric system."[xiii] The Bipartisan Policy Centers rebuts the reliability question in stating, "While an emergency reliability issue isunlikely and should be preventable with proper planning and oversight, DOE and FERC have authority to address such situations if they arise."[xiv] The November 2011 Clean Energy Group report affirms, "" the electric industry can comply with EPA's air pollution rules without threatening electric system reliability."[xv] Even this week's NERC report that bases it conclusions on more stringent rules than EPA proposes, assumes no new generation capacity, and attributes all plant closing do to EPA regulations states that there are risks but they can be manageable with proper planning and coordination.[xvi]

    One of the greatest joys in my life is being a "pop-pop." Jack is my seven-month old grandson and like me lives in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania, one of the largest mercury emitters, has no state regulations as several years ago the Commonwealth's Supreme Court struck down the state laws as the responsibility of the Federal Government and EPA. One of our greatest prayers is that Jack has not suffered IQ loss or other developmental disability. We pray because many of mercury conditions are not diagnosable for 24 to 48 months post-natal, well after the damage occurs. We stand a good chance because of my involvement and on the advice of her physician, my daughter ate very little fish during her pregnancy. How many will not be as unfortunate, one out of six. That's simply unacceptable to God and itshould be to Congress as well.

    Next week, I understand the House Energy and CommerceCommittee are marking up more legislation to stop the EPA. I pray the Senate is wise enough to put ourunborn children first and stop this terrible threat upon our children.

    The bottom line is children are God's most precious gift. We have a known hazard that impacts each unborn child's life from conception to death, and we must do all we can as a government and as a society to offer our children an opportunityfor an abundant life. To do anything else is simply immortal.

    [i] See Mahaffey et al., "Blood Organic Mercury and Dietary Mercury Intake" Environmental Health Perspectives, 112,#5 (April 2004).
    [ii]Trasande, et al., "Public Health and Economic Consequences of Methyl MercuryToxicity to the Developing Brain," Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol.113, No. 5 (May 2005): p. 590
    [iii] http://www.epa.gov/ttn/ecas/regdata/RIAs/ToxicsRuleRIA.pdf
    [iv] Trasande,et al., "Public Health and Economic Consequences of Methyl MercuryToxicity to the Developing Brain," Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol.113, No. 5 (May 2005): p. 590
    [v] EPA,Power Plant Mercury and Air Toxics Standards: Overview of Proposed Rule andImpacts
    [vi] http://www.lawandenvironment.com/uploads/file/CRS-EPA.pdf
    [vii]Bose-O'Reilly, et. al., Mercury Exposure and Children's Health, Curr. Probl. Pediatr HealthCare, 2010 September: 40(8): 16-18.
    [viii] http://water.epa.gov/scitech/swguidance/fishshellfish/fishadvisories
    [ix] EPA, Power Plant Mercury and Air Toxics Standards:Overview of Proposed Rule and Impacts, p. 2.
    [x]EPA, Power Plant Mercury and Air Toxics Standards: Overview of Proposed Ruleand Impacts
    [xi]Economic Policy Institute, A Lifesaver,Not A Job Killer: EPA's proposed "air toxic rule" is no threat to job growth,Briefing Paper #312 (June 14, 2011): http://w3.epi-data.org/temp2011/BriefingPaper312%20%282%29.pdf.
    [xii] http://www.exeloncorp.com/assets/newsroom/speeches/docs/speech_Alexander_PhilaEPAHearing_110524.pdf
    [xiii]U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee onEnergy and Power Hearing on "The American Energy Initiative" regarding RecentEPA Rulemakings Relating to Boilers, Cement Manufacturing Plants, andUtilities, April 15, 2011. For Bradley'stestimony, go to: http://republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/Media/file/Hearings/Energy/041511_2/Bradley.pdf.
    [xiv]Bi-Partisan Policy Center, Environmental Regulation and Electric SystemReliability, June 2011: http://www.eenews.net/assets/2011/06/13/document_pm_02.pdf.
    [xv] http://www.mjbradley.com/sites/default/files/ReliabilityUpdateNovember202011_1.pdf
    [xvi] http://www.nerc.com/files/2011LTRA_Final.pdf
    ont-. �l:�B 0j( w Roman";mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA'>[xii] http://www.exeloncorp.com/assets/newsroom/speeches/docs/speech_Alexander_PhilaEPAHearing_110524.pdf
    [xiii]U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee onEnergy and Power Hearing on "The American Energy Initiative" regarding RecentEPA Rulemakings Relating to Boilers, Cement Manufacturing Plants, andUtilities, April 15, 2011. For Bradley'stestimony, go to: http://republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/Media/file/Hearings/Energy/041511_2/Bradley.pdf.
    [xiv]Bi-Partisan Policy Center, Environmental Regulation and Electric SystemReliability, June 2011: http://www.eenews.net/assets/2011/06/13/document_pm_02.pdf.
    [xv] http://www.mjbradley.com/sites/default/files/ReliabilityUpdateNovember202011_1.pdf
    [xvi] http://www.nerc.com/files/2011LTRA_Final.pdf
  • An Evangelical Call to Protect Our Unborn From Mercury In Pennsylvania

    December 09,2011, 14:06 PM

    An Evangelical Call to Protect Our Unborn From Mercury

    The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox

    I'm an evangelical Christian. I believe in Jesus Christ and tell his goodnews at every moment I can. I also believe that life is a precious gift from God and do all in my ministry to protect, preserve, and offer the abundant life to all through Jesus.

    I also believe in medicine, public health, and science. I expect my Pennsylvania elected officials to follow sound medical advice when protecting public health. That's why I am so troubled that Governor Corbett, most of our state legislators, and many of our Congressional leaders appear to take the opposite view in protecting our children when it comes to mercury pollution.

    Across our nation, 1 in 6 children are born with threatening levels of mercury in their blood.[i][ii] Mercury poisoning lowers IQ, impairs neurological function, results in developmental delays, and is linked to cardiovascular disease. There is no known "safe" level of mercury in our unborn children.[iii] Unborn babies and infants are extremely susceptible to mercury, as the bloodbrain barrier is not yet fully developed. Unlike adults, unborn children have no way to excrete mercury. It just keeps recirculating inside their mother's womb. Medical research indicates that mercury cord blood is twice that of their mothers' blood.[iv] Therefore, even if a mother's blood remains below "risk levels" doses, the unborn child's blood does not.

    By December 16, 2011 the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) will issue mercury regulations commonly known as "Utility MACT." This regulation would require coal-fired utilities, the largest domestic mercury pollution source, to curb their mercury emissions by 90%. It would also reduce soot and acid gases, resulting in up to 8.2 billion dollars in health savings in Pennsylvania alone.[v]

    Perhaps because Pennsylvania's utilities make us the nation's number two mercury polluter, Governor Corbett and his administration stand against EPA's clean air regulations and have written to President Obama asking him to delay this life saving regulation. This is simply terrible news for the most vulnerable in our society,unborn children.

    While no one wants unnecessary federal regulations, stopping mercury's impacts on our children remains critical, especially here in Pennsylvania. Our state passed its own mercury emission standard several years ago. However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found the law unconstitutional,and essentially stated that mercury regulation was the responsibility of the Federal government and therefore the EPA. As a result, Pennsylvanians continue burdened with enhanced levels of mercury pollution, particulates, and acid gases that harm our children. Our rivers and lakes remain polluted with mercury and the threat continues expanding.

    Eleven out of the top fifteen utility executives, including Exelon, have stated they can comply with this mercury regulation.[vi] Medical groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics have stated:

    We agree with the strong evidence the EPA provides to support their decision that
    the proposed rule is both appropriate and necessary to protect public health "
    Exposure to likely harm from mercury and methylmercury continues,
    as does strong evidence of exposure to multiple, recognized carcinogens
    and other toxics that cause or increase risk of cardiovascular,
    respiratory, and other acute and chronic systemic damage.[vii]

    Yet so many political leaders continue supporting actions that continue harming our children. Their excuses center on costs, jobs, and electricity reliability. Installing mercury controls will be expensive and will cost a maximum of $7.00 per month per household in electric costs. However, our children are worth it, and the medical cost savings from reduced medications, doctor visits, etc. will more than pay the cost. For each dollar spent on pollution controls, medical savings will return anywhere from five to 13 dollars.[viii]

    Jobs won't be effected either. According to Economic Policy Institute's A Life Saver, Not A Job Killer, the EPA regulations would promote modest job growth[ix]. Finally, recent reports from the Departmentof Energy[x], M. J. Bradley and Associates[xi],and National Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC)[xii] all state reliability questions are manageable or not a concern.

    The 1990 Clean Air Act, signed into law by the elder President Bush, established the requirement for the mercury regulations that are currently being finalized some twenty years later. Unborn children have waited far too long for protections that should have been theirs years ago.

    As an evangelical Christian, my concern is life. Protecting the most vulnerable from threats that are controllable remains a biblical and moral imperative. Today's world provides enough threats to our children's future. Let's not endanger our children with a substance we can control. Exposing children to mercury poisoning in their mother's womb, a poisoning that will last a lifetime, is simply wrong. Let's work together to put our children first and stop the political games that hurt the least of these. As EPA promulgates the mercury regulations next week, let's rejoice for one-step in protecting our unborn children.

    The Rev. Mitchell Hescox is President of the Evangelical Environmental Network and lives in New Freedom, PA. More information on mercury and the unborn is available at www.creationcare/mercury.

    [i]See Mahaffey et al., "Blood Organic Mercury and Dietary MercuryIntake" Environmental HealthPerspectives, 112, #5 (April 2004).

    [ii]Trasande, et al., "Public Health and Economic Consequences of Methyl MercuryToxicity to the Developing Brain," Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol.113, No. 5 (May 2005): p. 590

    [iii]Bose-O'Reilly, et. al., Mercury Exposure and Children's Health, Curr. Probl. Pediatr HealthCare, 2010 September: 40(8): 16-18.

    [iv]http://ccceh.hs.columbia.edu/pdf-papers/LedermanEHP2008.pdf

    [v]http://www.epa.gov/cleanairactbenefits/whereyoulive/pa.html

    [vi]http://www.mjbradley.com/sites/default/files/ReliabilityUpdateNovember202011_1.pdf

    [vii]http://www.lungusa.org/get-involved/advocate/advocacy-documents/epa-mercury-other-health.pdf

    [viii]EPA, Power Plant Mercury and Air Toxics Standards: Overview of Proposed Ruleand Impacts

    [ix]Economic Policy Institute, A Lifesaver,Not A Job Killer: EPA's proposed "air toxic rule" is no threat to job growth,Briefing Paper #312 (June 14, 2011): http://w3.epi-data.org/temp2011/BriefingPaper312%20%282%29.pdf.

    [x]http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2011%20Air%20Quality%20Regulations%20Report_120111.pdf

    [xi]http://www.mjbradley.com/sites/default/files/ReliabilityUpdateNovember202011_1.pdf

    [xii]http://www.nerc.com/files/2011LTRA_Final.pdf

  • Responding in Love for Our Unborn

    October 11,2011, 09:05 AM

    Responding in Love for Our Unborn

    The Rev.Mitchell C. Hescox

    "If your brother or sister sins,go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you,you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.  (Matthew 18:15-17 NIV)

    Serving as a pastor for almost twenty years, one of the first things I learned was that few people in the church know and even fewer practice the above passage. Every pastor I know has been the subject of numerous parking lot meetings, telephone calls, emails, and even a few letters involving a difference in opinion or understanding.

    The one thing different in my current ministry as President of the Evangelical Environmental Network is that, instead of parking lot meetings, those "well meaning" leaders and church folk use blogs and op-eds on the Internet for sharing their differences. When attacked, I re-read the Book of Acts. In the stories of the Apostle Paul being beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned, and even left for dead, I find comfort. Paul's travails always put mine in prospective.

    This past week a few brothers and sisters in Christ wrote blogs and opinion pieces deriding my organization and me. They refuse to accept that mercury emitted from coal-fired utilities is a threat to our children and that it is a critically important pro-life issue for me and for more than 100 other evangelical leaders. Forgetting or ignoring the Biblical instruction noted above, these brothers and sisters never once came to me privately. In fact, when I attempted to contact one organization to correct their mistaken view and discuss our position in private, they forwarded my letter to another party who elected to attack me publicly the next day. The attacks have been rather fierce, but the most serious problem is their failure to acknowledge the fact that mercury is a poison to our unborn children.

    One of the body's protective shields against damage to the brain, called "the blood-brain barrier," is not fully developed until the first year of life. Thus, in the unborn child, mercury can cross this incomplete barrier and accumulate in the brain, causing developmental disabilities and brain damage resulting in lowered intelligence and learning problems. This has lifetime implications. One study found that "The resulting loss of intelligence causes diminished economic productivity that persists over the entire lifetime of these children."[i]

    The cause of all the chatter is a proposed EPA rule to be finalized in November that would require utilities to reduce mercury emissions by 90%. Coal fired power plants are the largest single domestic mercury polluter and the basis for this regulation was the 1990 Clean Air Act passed through the efforts of the first President Bush. It has taken twenty years of footdragging by the EPA, Congress, and several Presidential administrations for this regulation to be demanded by the Supreme Court. Twenty years is a long time to wait for protection for the unborn.

    The uproar this week centered on the mercury dose set by EPA. To the best of my knowledge not one of my critics is a medical expert nor is anyone at EEN. But I do trust the American Academy of Pediatrics, the doctors trained medically to care for our children. They wrote:

    We agree with the strong evidence the EPA provides to support their decision that the proposed rule is both appropriate and necessary to protect public health as required under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act. Exposure to likely harm from mercury and methyl mercury continues, as does strong evidence of exposure to multiple, recognized carcinogens and other toxics that cause or increase risk of cardiovascular, respiratory, and other acute and chronic systemic damage.[ii]

    For some perhaps, the attacks stem from fear of government involvement in anything and the EPA in particular. No reasonable Christian wants unnecessary government regulations. But, contrary to what you may have been told or read, many utilities support this regulation of mercury (known as "Utility MACT"). Exelon,Constellation Energy, Pacific Gas and Electric, to name a few, are electric power companies that strongly support mercury reductions.[iii] In fact, a large percentage of generating stations have already installed the required pollution equipment either as the result of controlling other pollutants or individual state regulations. Even with the compliance by many utilities, mercury still poses a threat to our unborn and without this regulation toxic mercury levels are projected to increase.

    Corporations, just like people, are fallen and live in a fallen world. Although companies have known for years that these regulations would be issued to protect our unborn, they delayed and stalled in their self-interest, not for the benefit of the 1 in 6 unborn children threatened by mercury poisoning. This is simply sin. Something all of us do far too often.

    The reality of sin is also why I support a reasonably regulated free market. There are libertarians and others who believe in a totally free market; they are the ones speaking the loudest against our position. Consider the unleashing of anarchy if all government and regulation are removed. Try driving on a road without speed limits or eating foods that don't have the proper labeling, especially if you have an allergy. It's simply naïve to believe that corporations, like individuals, will always do the "right" thing. Sin is always present and that why we need Jesus and the delegations of good government He would desire.

    Standing in opposition to laissez-faire economic principles is why several of the posts this week called me a liberal. I have been a registered Republican since I was old enough to vote and, worked for 14 years in the business world. Even though it doesn't really fit, I'm happy to wear the"liberal" label because it's the same derogatory label placed upon the Christian saints I admire most. William Wilberforce, Charles Finney, William Booth, Orange Scott, Luther Lee, and John Wesley were tagged with the same fame. All of these Godly men worked tirelessly, empowered by the Holy Spirit to change society and its laws to end slavery, stop child labor, provide women rights,and protect the poor. As 19th Century, evangelical William Arthur wrote:

    Nothing short of the general renewal of society ought to satisfy any Soldier of Christ " Much as Satan glorifies in his power over the individual, how much greater must be his glory over a nation embodying, in it laws and usages, disobedience to God, wrong to man, and contamination to morals? To destroy all holds of evil; to root out sin out of institutions; to hold up to the view the gospel ideal to the righteous nation " is one of the first duties of those position or mode of thought gives them any influence in general questions. In so doing they are glorifying the Redeemer, by displacing the benignity of his influence over human society, and removing hindrances to individual conversions, some of which act by direct incentive to vice, other by upholding a state of things the acknowledged of which is, "Forget God."

    Satan might be content to let Christianity turn over the subsoil, if he is in perpetuity to sow the surface with thorns and briers; but the gospel is come to renew the face of the earth.[iv]

    Renewal and transformation by Christ for individuals, for institutions, and our nation is at the heart of the gospel. God has called me to this ministry. Having a few brothers and sisters launch a few attacks will not deter me in my calling; too many children face mercury poisoning to worry about being hurt by verbal or written stoning. I will pray for those who attack and will ask God to forgive my anger that, all too humanly, occasionally surfaces.

    Instead of giving any credence to these false attacks, I ask you to consider the facts:

    • One in six unborn children face mercury poisoning in the United States.[v]
    • The largest domestic source for the poison is coal fired electric utilities.
    • The American Academy of Pediatrics confirms the EPA proposed regulation is appropriate and necessary.
    • A large percentage of utilities support the regulation.
    • Organized labor's policy think-tank wrote that the rule was "A Life Saver Not A Job Killer."[vi]
    • A Congressional Research Service Report stated that industry claims were overstated.[vii]

    Children are God's most precious gift and I believe they are worth protecting. Reducing mercury is pro-life no matter how many parking lot conversations or Internet posts say differently.

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    [i]Trasande, et al., "Public Health and EconomicConsequences of Methyl Mercury Toxicity to the Developing Brain," EnvironmentalHealth Perspectives, Vol. 113, No. 5 (May 2005): p. 590.

    [ii]http://www.lungusa.org/get-involved/advocate/advocacy-documents/epa-mercury-other-health.pdf

    [iii]http://www.exeloncorp.com/assets/newsroom/speeches/docs/speech_Alexander_PhilaEPAHearing_110524.pdf

    [iv] William Arthur, TheTongue of Fire, 1854

    [v] See Kathryn R. Mahaffey et al., "Blood OrganicMercury and Dietary Mercury Intake: National Health and Nutrition ExaminationSurvey, 1999 and 2000," EnvironmentalHealth Perspectives, 112, #5 (April 2004): http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/members/2003/6587/6587.html, and Leonardo Trasande, et al., Public Health andEconomic Consequences of Methyl Mercury Toxicity to the Developing Brain, Environmental HealthPerspectives, Vol. 113, No. 5 (May 2005): p. 593; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1257552/pdf/ehp0113-000590.pdf. Mahaffey usedthe 1-in-6 figure in a presentation she made while she was the EPA's topmercury scientist. See http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/fish/forum/2004/presentations/monday/mahaffey.pdf.

    [vi]http://www.epi.org/publication/a_life_saver_not_a_job_killer/

    [vii]http://www.lawandenvironment.com/uploads/file/CRS-EPA.pdf

  • Speaking the Truth in Love

    September 28,2011, 13:05 PM

    by Mitch Hescox

    (please note the numbers in the text are linked to citations at the end of the piece)

    Our old "friend," Cal Beisner sure likes to keep hammering away against another brother in Christ. Last week the Family Research Council issued an Action Alert slamming our work to protect the unborn from the threats to mercury poisoning, which was apparently written by Cal. We disagreed with their release and as Christians are called to respond in love, I wrote Tony Perkins and two other FRC staff members of my concern. The letter appears below.

    Dear Mr. Perkins,

    What a sad review of Jesus' Church when fellow Christians attack other Christians without first reaching out to the other. In accord with Scripture, I am writing to you and asking for your organization to retract your Mercury Action Alert and the innuendo suggested in your alert. Certainly, the mistakes in your alert could have been avoided had you contacted us.

    First, our efforts to protect the unborn have nothing whatsoever to do with the recently passed health care law. Yet you attempt to make such a connection " quite misleading. Our concern, as well as the wide evangelical support by the signers to the "An Evangelical Call to Stop the Mercury Exposure to the Unborn," understands the threats to our unborn children as a Biblical issue.

    Second, the science is quite sound that mercury pollution harms the unborn, which is why doctors tell women to watch their fish intake.You cite Cal Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance, the Wall Street Journal, and the National Mining Association, but none are experts in the adverse health effects of mercury on the unborn.The Evangelical Environmental Network attempts to seek the best medical and scientific research available; therefore, we choose to depend on the National Academy of Sciences1 and such respected organizations as the American Lung Association and The National Academy of Pediatrics.2 All fifty (50) of our United States have issued some type of fish consumption advisory due to mercury, and the FDA has published extensive guidelines for fish consumption during pregnancy.

    Third, you mention that some progress has been made in reducing mercury. That is true. However, you fail to mention that those reductions are in fact the result of state regulations and investments by electric utilities who recognized that federal regulation of mercury as required by the Clean Air Act would eventually occur. Absent federal regulation, many utilities without state regulations continue to spew mercury into God's creation. For example, in my home state, the Portland Power Station in Mt. Bethel, PA (near the New Jersey border) emits more mercury than the entire state of New Jersey " and the citizens of New Jersey cannot protect their unborn children from this harmful pollution.

    The proposed regulation to reduce mercury pollution rewards those coal-burning utilities that have already invested in public health. All utilities have known that regulation was in the works for over twenty years and many electric utilities have spoken publically in support of the proposed regulation.3,4Yet because of the special benefits given utilities by Congress,5 our unborn children have not been protected from mercury pollution from power plants. Your article would reward poor concern for our unborn and in fact penalize the utilities that already have acted to protect public health.

    Lastly, the Evangelical Environment Network has not received funds from the Rockefeller Foundation, George Soros, or Ted Turner, to the best of my knowledge since my tenure as President and C.E.O.

    My prayer is that you will retract your statement and speak the truth in love for protecting our unborn from mercury emitted from coal fired utilities. And if you wish, I would be happy to walk with you at the next "Right to Life March." EEN staff are regular marchers and prayers during the event.

    Instead of a personal reply from Mr. Perkins, my email this morning contained a public blast from Cal, refuting our claims that mercury threatened the unborn and questions our moral belief that mercury is a pro-life issue. His reply would just be a sad commentary on his belief in a totally non-regulated free market system, if he didn't make errors in understanding the science and especially his commentary on the reference dose for mercury poisoning.

    While, I freely admit to not being a scientist, I do admit to trusting the National Academy of Sciences and health experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics. All of who say that mercury is a threat at the level the proposed regulation states. Additionally I read enough of the research to know that the actual reference dose (the lowest level for no appreciable risk) does not mean any risk as the article implies. It is simply not true that the reference dose implies no risk but is the reasonable standard determined by scientific research.6 Please feel read to read the information yourself at the referenced link and draw your own conclusions.

    Another unfortunate mistake made in Cal's data, EPA calculated the benefits of this rule but using slightly more than 85% and not the 90% quoted. The benefits were also calculated only on examination of mercury reduction in fresh-water fishing and based solely on the reduction of IQ points because they were easily quantifiable. Because of budget constraints, EPA did not include in the benefit analysis the most serious impacts of impaired cognitive development, language skills, genetic abnormalities, and a host of other potential health effects. However, Cal is correct on one item. The majority, of calculated benefits, result from the reduction in acid gases (acid rain) and particulates saving up to 17,000 lives per year, 4,500 cases of chronic bronchitis, 11,000 nonfatal heart attacks, 12,200 hospital and emergency room visits, 11,000 cases of acute bronchitis, 220,000 cases of respiratory symptoms, 850,000 days when people miss work, 120,000 cases of aggravated asthma, and 5.1 million days when people must restrict their activities." 7 When one adds up the threats to children and the other human health benefits, how can any say reducing mercury is not pro-life?

    It is just wrong to say that our organization doesn't understand the costs associated with implementing this proposed rule, again as quoted in his email. Far from "skyrocketing", EPA suggests $3 " 5 per month electric bill increase per household and in my written testimony to EPA as well as other postings on our website, we believe based on an independent analysis that in the highest area of mercury reduction the cost might raise to as high as $7.00 per month or $84.00 dollars per year. Most reasonable people, even in the current economy, would pay the $84 per year for a return of $5.00 " 13.00 in health cost savings, let alone the moral call to protect our unborn children and others benefiting from this rule.

    Our efforts to support protecting our children stem from our love of God and not to hinder our children in any way, and we are not alone. Broad coalitions of pro-life evangelical leaders across the nation have also stood to protect our unborn children as well as the US Conference of Catholic Bishops8 and the Catholic Health Association.9

    The bottom line is whom do you believe. Do you trust the reports issued by some utility industry groups, the mining trade associations, and those who promote an unregulated free market? Alternatively, do you place your faith in a wide coalition of faith leaders, medical experts, and such scientific bodies as the National Academy of Sciences?

    For me, mercury is a pro-life issue and the recent thoughts of fellow evangelical, Russell Moore, summarize my position: "Because we believe in free markets, we've acted as though this means we should trust corporations to protect the natural resources and habitats." He goes on to say that this "is akin to the youth minister who lets the teenage girl and boy sleep in the same sleeping bag at church camp because he 'believes in young people.'" Moore adds, "A commitment to the free market doesn't mean unfettered license any more than a commitment to free speech means hardcore pornography ought to be broadcast in prime-time by your local network television affiliate."

    The proposed mercury regulation protects the unborn, creates jobs, doesn't reduce electricity reliability, and produces real dollar savings in health benefits. I say that is definitely pro-life.

    ______________

    [1]http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309071402&page=1

    [2]http://www.lungusa.org/get-involved/advocate/advocacy-documents/doctors-letter-to.pdf

    [3]http://www.bcse.org/images/2011EPA/Advocacy/AirToxics/07.11.11%20business%20coalition%20ltr%20air%20toxics.pdf

    [4]http://www.exeloncorp.com/Newsroom/Pages/20110914_exc_epacleanair.aspx

    [5]http://www.lawandenvironment.com/uploads/file/CRS-EPA.pdf

    [6]http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/utility/ria_toxics_rule.pdf,page 5-3, 5-4.

    [7]EPA Fact Sheet, Proposed Mercury and AirToxics Standards, p. 3; http://www.epa.gov/airquality/powerplanttoxics/pdfs/proposalfactsheet.pdf.

    [8]http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/rulemaking/upload/comments-to-epa-on-mercury-2011-06.pdf

    [9] http://www.chausa.org/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=4294968373

  • Let Freedom Ring!

    June 27,2011, 07:10 AM

    by Candace Carrillo used through flickr creative commons


    by Candace Carrillo used through flickr creative commons

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, - Declaration of Independence, 1776

    by Mitch Hescox

    My evangelical Christian faith holds life as both precious and sacred, as does the founding document of these United States. However, such fundamental rights and our government's ability to secure these rights is based upon knowing the truth about things that might contribute to or impede life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This is why the First Amendment to our Constitution provides for freedom of the press. But for journalists to fulfill their beneficial function in our society they must get us in the neighborhood of the truth. When they actually lead us away from the truth, especially when it comes to human health - something absolutely fundamental to our pursuit of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - then they not only fail to fulfill their constructive role of finding the truth, they find themselves in opposition to the values of our country.

    A perfect example of such journalistic failure appeared in an editorial by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on June 13, 2011, entitled "The EPA's War on Jobs," criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rule to reduce mercury pollution.

    The WSJ is one of the most respected news and financial publications in the world. Yet how its editorial board could not do a thorough fact check before printing this piece is troubling.

    Below are just a few examples:

    First, the Journal states "even by the EPA's lowball estimates, it is the most expensive rule in the agency's history." Contrary to the assertion that EPA does "low ball estimates," it is a historical fact that the opposite is true; EPA traditionally overestimates the cost of compliance. This is especially the case with the Clean Air Act regulations. Cleaning up acid rain provides most comparable analogy to the proposed mercury regulations; it's the same industry with similar technology. During the discussions on acid rain, EPA estimated $750 per ton of sulfur dioxide removal, the utility industry suggested $1500 per ton, and the actual cost less than $200 per ton.1 As for the claim that it will be an expensive rule, this is true. But it is an investment that will produce a net increase in jobs and reap $5-13 in health benefits for every $1 spent. That's quite a deal.

    The WSJ editorial does mention the claims about the terrific health benefits the regulation will produce, but wrongly asserts that because they are primarily from particulate reductions rather than from mercury, that this is analogous to "a corporation double-counting revenue."

    There is no double-counting here whatsoever. The particulate reductions achieved by this regulation are new and additional reductions, resulting in new and additional health benefits.

    By falsely ignoring the substantial health benefits from the particulate and other toxin reductions, the WSJ then claims that we will have to spend $1,847 to achieve $1 in benefits from mercury reduction. That's like purchasing a new car for $20,000, removing a front tire, and then saying that tire is worth about what we paid for the whole car.

    Another false claim is that the process for creating this regulation has been "overly rushed," and that industry needs more time to comment on the proposed regulation. How is something 20 years in the making overly rushed?

    From the perspective of human health, from the perspective of providing all unborn children a fuller life, liberty from the debilitating impacts of mercury poisoning, and a chance at happiness, freedom from this pollution is long overdue. Overly rushed? Quite the opposite.

    The WSJ editorial also falsely claims that "reliability downgrades will hit the South and Midwest."

    But utility representatives themselves debunk this. In recent testimony at EPA's public hearing in Philadelphia, Exelon's Bruce Alexander stated that "nothing about this rule [the mercury regulation] will jeopardize the reliability of the electric system." 2 Testifying before a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing, Michael Bradley, representing a coalition of utilities, stated that "we do not believe compliance with the rule will compromise the reliability of the electric system."3 And a recent report from the Bipartisan Policy Centers says, "While an emergency reliability issue is unlikely and should be preventable with proper planning and oversight, DOE and FERC have authority to address such situations if they arise."4

    Lastly, the WSJ editorial quotes the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers opinion that the mercury regulation would be a job killer. While the IBEW source was not revealed, this simply doesn't match with EPA modeling that provides a modest 31,000 construction jobs and net 9000 new permanent positions.5 Nor does it match the conclusion of a just-released report from the Economic Policy Institute, the labor movement's premiere analytical shop. It states: "The toxics rule would have a modest positive net impact on overall employment, likely leading to the creation of 28,000 to 158,000 jobs between now and 2015."6

    All Americans have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Let's stop jeopardizing our well-being by partisan politics, misstatements, or poor research. We can have true dialogue that rises above today's ranker. For the sake of our children, let us uphold the values enshrined in our Declaration of Independence, which call us to stop the mercury poisoning of children here today and those yet to be born.

    The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox is the President/C.E.O. of the Evangelical Environmental Network. To learn more and act on mercury & the unborn click here.

    _____________

    1 William Reilly, The EPA's Cost Underruns. Washington Post, Oct. 14, 2003.

    2
    http://www.exeloncorp.com/assets/newsroom/speeches/docs/speech_Alexander_PhilaEPAHearing_110524.pdf

    3 U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power Hearing on "The American Energy Initiative" regarding Recent EPA Rulemakings Relating to Boilers, Cement Manufacturing Plants, and Utilities, April 15, 2011. For Bradley's testimony, go to:

    http://republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/Media/file/Hearings/Energy/041511_2/Bradley.pdf.

    4 Bi-Partisan Policy Center, Environmental Regulation and Electric System Reliability, June 2011: http://www.eenews.net/assets/2011/06/13/document_pm_02.pdf.

    5 EPA, Power Plant Mercury and Air Toxics Standards: Overview of Proposed Rule and Impacts

    6 Economic Policy Institute, A Lifesaver, Not A Job Killer: EPA's proposed "air toxic rule" is no threat to job growth, Briefing Paper #312 (June 14, 2011):
    http://w3.epi-data.org/temp2011/BriefingPaper312%20%282%29.pdf

  • When Justice is Delayed

    June 22,2011, 04:54 AM

    by John Elwood

    On a summer evening in 1787, a trio of 27-year-olds sat under an oak tree in the Kent countryside south of London. These days, age 27 is considered awfully young to impact the world. But these guys were different. That evening they decided to commit themselves the ending the worst injustice of their time: the African-Atlantic slave trade.

    In their day, European ships were carrying African slaves to the sugar and tobacco plantations of the New World at a pace of more than 100,000 per year. The slaves were part of a great Triangular Trade: European manufactured goods to Africa; African slaves to the Americas; and American sugar and tobacco to Europe. A lot of people were getting rich, and many more were suffering unspeakable horrors. Over time, more than 10 million Africans were seized, chained, and dragged ship-board to a life of misery, or death en route. And more than 40% of them were carried in British ships.

    Slaves from Africa were the lynchpin of the Atlantic trade

    It happens that all three young men were named William. Two of the Williams would serve as Prime Minister (Pitt and Grenville). The other (Wilberforce) would become a tireless crusader against the slave trade, inspired by his new-found faith in Jesus Christ, to confront entrenched injustice upon which much of British wealth relied. It's probably just as well that he didn't know how desperately the beneficiaries of the trade would fight him, and how much of his life the fight would consume.

    It might have seemed pretty easy, at first. After all, his friend and ally Pitt was a hugely popular Prime Minister (even at age 27), and many newly-awakened Christian churches were beginning to raise their voices against slavery. When Wilberforce introduced his slave-trade-abolition bill in 1787, Pitt mobilized the Privy Council to assemble data and testimony from many regarding the horrors of the trade.

    As a result, Parliament was confronted with real data on the trade for the first time: the inconceivably cramped conditions aboard ship; mistreatment, rape and killing of slaves at the hands of sailors; the continual use of chains and shackles to prevent overboard suicides; the Caribbean practice of starving aging slaves at the end of their "productive" lives; and other disclosures unfit for civilized eyes.

    This diagram of the slave ship Brookes shocked many Britons into action

    But money talks. The British economy of the day reaped huge benefits from the Triangular Trade. From the textile mills of Manchester and London to the shipyards of Liverpool and Bristol, the British prospered on the backs of the captive Africans. In any age, you don't take on the "engines of prosperity" without bare-knuckle consequences. So perhaps it's not surprising the hear the arguments marshaled by the establishment:

    • The slaves lived much better in the Americas than tribal princes did in Africa;
    • Slaves sang and danced for their amusement every day aboard ship;
    • Slave quarters were washed and fumigated with frankincense and lime juice every day;
    • Ending the trade would cost 58,000 poor Britons their jobs, throwing countless men, women and children into destitution (our economy will suffer);
    • France and Spain would fill the void if the British outlawed the trade (our enemies will prosper); and
    • A black market in slaves will arise, and the onboard conditions will be worse than with the legal trade (the slaves will suffer even more).

    The pro-slave-trade lobby even found churchmen willing to give the slave trade the sanction of divine authority, citing Bible passages that recognized the existence of slavery. And they persuaded others by redirecting the focus to domestic ills, calling for "reform at home before venturing to make romantic trials of compassion abroad!"

    Few Britons ever saw slaves in chains

    As the debate wore on the following year, they had persuaded many MP's of the value of collecting more evidence: Who knew if they could trust the Privy Council testimony? And once testimony began, filibuster tactics virtually ground things to a halt.

    But nothing happens in a vacuum, does it? Across the Channel, the French had risen up against their king and nobility. Early English approval turned to disgust and alarm as royal heads began to roll. Anything looking like a challenge to the status quo began to look like the beginnings of revolution in the British Isles. And so, when Wilberforce's vote was finally called in 1891, it failed by a 2-to-1 margin. And the slave trade continued unabated for another 15 years, before Wilberforce could marshal enough votes to finally kill it.

    The delay cost 1.5 million additional human souls their freedom or their lives.

    End Note:

    Last Monday, the EPA announced that it was delaying by two months the release of a proposed rule on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other major pollution sources, in the face of intense opposition in Congress and from industry.

    "The agency said it was pushing back the new greenhouse gas proposal to the end of September to allow more time to consider comments from generators of electricity, environmental advocates and others during public-comment sessions," reported the NY Times.

    But nothing happens in a vacuum, does it?

    John Elwood is author of the The Clothesline Report, a weekly blog, dealing with issues of environmental degradation, climate change, and their effects on people everywhere.

  • Fish Stories

    June 08,2011, 14:17 PM

    The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently published an op-ed "The Myth of Killer Mercury" by Willie Soon and Paul Driessen. You can find the original piece here. EEN submitted the following note to the editors of the WSJ and received no reply. Please note this piece contains footnotes linked at the end of the author's tagline.

    by Mitch Hescox

    We all tell fish stories. Those wonderful stories of the fish that got away, and it was much larger in the veracity of our imagination than reality. All of us tell tales greater than the truth. Maybe the motivation for the fish story resides in our desire for others to believe our stories; or perhaps we become so convicted in our beliefs that the reality of the truth goes beyond our capacity to see past our prejudices. Researchers know that no one is unbiased " that is why peer-review is so critical. Having others evaluate one's work minimizes the bias.

    photo by Jasin Bushnaief used through Flickr Creative Commons
    photo by Jasin Bushnaief used through Flickr Creative Commons

    Unfortunately, fish stories make it more and more into respected publications. Certainly, I have made mistakes in my writing, but through proper vetting my embellishments are reduced and the truth hopefully emerges. Seeing something in print filled with misstatements or that is poorly researched raises my blood pressure and also raises the question the author's intent. Just last week the Wall Street Journal published, "The Myth of Killer Mercury" by Willie Soon and Paul Driessen. The op-ed clearly stands against the new EPA proposed standards for mercury and other air pollutants, something my organization supports. Hopefully the authors just made errors in research and were not attempting any misinformation. Below are just a few of the op-ed's faulty assertions with an attempt to correct the record.

    " EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson claims that while the regulations will cost electricity producers $10.9 billion annually, they will save 17,000 lives and generate up to $140 billion in health benefits.

    The EPA is not claiming that the 17,000 lives saved and $140 billion in health benefits will come from mercury reductions. Rather, these particular savings come from the health benefits of the reductions in sulfur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter, and the EPA makes this abundantly clear. For these claims there is a substantial factual basis. It is hard to understand how Soon and Driessen could have misunderstood this.

    " Mercury is found in air, water, rocks, soil and trees, which absorb it from the environment. This is why our bodies evolved with proteins and antioxidants that help protect us from this and other potential contaminants"

    Health professionals for over 100 years have known that mercury is a serious threat. The term "Mad-Hatter" started from factory workers inhaling mercury used in the felt hat industry in 19th century England. While mercury poses less of a health problem to adults, unborn children are extremely vulnerable because their bodies are too young to have developed our natural defenses against it. Currently 1 in 6 unborn children have harmful levels of mercury in their blood.1 The FDA has issued detailed warnings on fish consumption during pregnancy and all 50 states have either complete or partial fish advisories for locally caught fish.2,3 Soon and Driessen must know that the unborn and young children are much more vulnerable.

    " But U.S. forest fires emit at least 44 tons per year; cremation of human remains discharges 26 tons"

    While reputable researchers have estimated that forest fires place 44 tons tons of mercury into the air each year as Soon and Driessen claim, the mercury actually originates from coal-burning power plants, the very sources Soon and Driessen don't want us to regulate. The emissions from burning coal fall into forests, and then spread from the hot updrafts as the forest burns.4 As for their assertion about cremation, according to the latest mercury assessment, crematoriums emit less than 1 ton, not the 26 tons they erroneously claim.5 It's hard to understand how Soon and Driessen could have so completely mischaracterized and misstated these facts.

    Soon and Driessen also seem to place the blame for our mercury problem on foreign nations. Depending upon where you live, anywhere from 10 to 80% of US mercury pollution comes from domestic sources6 and over 50% of domestic anthropogenic mercury emissions come from coal-burning power plants, making them the largest such source.7 Global mercury emissions do remain large in Asia, but I for one don't wish to wait for the Chinese to protect our unborn children. Individual state efforts8,9 prove we can reduce mercury and the threats to our unborn. With a national standard, we can continue removing mercury as a threat by reducing 91% of the mercury emissions and 55% of the SO2 emissions from the largest source of these emissions in the US: coal-burning power plants.10

    " A 17-year evaluation of mercury risk to babies and children by the Seychelles Children Development Study found "no measurable cognitive or behavioral effects" in children who eat several servings of ocean fish every week, much more than most Americans do". Instead, the agency based its "safe" mercury criteria on a study of Faroe Islanders"

    The authors place huge weight on the Seychelles Island study over against the Faroe Islands study. First, the Faroe Islands research selection came not from the EPA but from a report by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, who clearly thought it was appropriate. Second, there is no mention of a similar study with matching results to that of the Faroe Islands study, completed in New Zealand. Finally, the updated research from the Seychelles study (2010) correlates to both the Faroe Islands and New Zealand research.11 The selective use of an older study, which itself has been superseded by an updated version that now agrees with the other studies, raises serious questions about the reliability of this op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.
    We have a tendency to laugh at fish stories. Our hearts know that when told at a family picnic they are harmless and part of our American culture. Yet our new American culture allows fish stories to end up as op-eds in the Wall Street Journal. The unfortunate "fish story" here is that many fish contain dangerous levels of mercury, and the fish threaten our unborn children. They deserve more than a fish story; the unborn deserve our protection and an abundant life.

    The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox is President/C.E.O. of The Evangelical Environmental Network, a ministry dedicated to promoting Creation Care: It's a Matter of Life.

    ___

    [1]Maffey et al., "Blood Organic Mercury and Dietary Mercury Intake",Environmental Health Perspectives, 112, #5 (April 2004).

    [2]http://water.epa.gov/scitech/swguidance/fishshellfish/outreach/factsheet.cfm

    [3]http://toxics.usgs.gov/highlights/mercnet.html

    [4]http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=110320

    [5] EPA website, http://www.epa.gov/mercury/about.html. Data from the 2005 National EmissionsInventory

    [6]Selin, "Global Biogeochemical Cycling of Mercury: A Review," Annual Review of Environmental. Resources(2009) Vol. 34 (2009): p. 48

    [7]EPA website, http://www.epa.gov/mercury/about.html. Data from the 2005 National EmissionsInventory

    [8]Florida DEP, Integrating Atmospheric Mercury Deposition with Aquatic Cycling inSouth Florida, Nov 2003.

    [9]Mark Smith, http://www.env.state.ma.us/eea/09-met-conf-presentations/met_event_sharon_weber.pdf

    [10]EPA, Power Plant Mercury and Air ToxicsStandards: Overview of Proposed Rule and Impacts, p. 2.

    [11]Lynch, ML, L-S Huang, C Cox, JJ Strain, GJ Myers, MP Bonham, CF Shamlaye, AStokes-Riner, JMW Wallance, EM Duffy, TW Clarkson and PW Davidson. 2010. Varying coefficient function models to explore interactions between maternal nutritional status andprenatal methylmercury toxicity in the Seychelles Child Development Nutrition Study. Environmental Research http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2010.09.005.

  • The Rev. Mitch Hescox's Testimony to the EPA Hearing in Philadelphia on May 24, 2011

    May 26,2011, 08:04 AM

    Good Morning;

    I am the Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox, President & C.E.O.of the Evangelical Environmental Network, a group founded in 1993 dedicated to helping others understand that creation care is a matter of life. Before my current ministry, I served for 18years as Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Shrewsbury, PA and before that served for 14 years as a worldwide supplier of grinding/processing equipment to coal-firedutilities and coal mining. Coal has been in my blood before birth as my father, most uncles, grandfathers, and childhood friends all worked at one time or another as miners or in coal-fired electricgenerating stations.

    Testimony

    Christians are called to protect life; it's sacred, and for most evangelicals that includes the unborn. We take very seriously the biblical belief that life begins at conception as God knits us together:

    Psalm139:13 (ESV)

    For youformed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.

    The unborn are the weakest members of our society. We must protect them and insure their right to an abundant life. We already lose 1.2 million unborn children in the United States to the painful choice of abortion each year, but few realize that each year we jeopardize another 700,000 unbornchildren to the neurological damage from mercury poisoning. One in six babies is born with harmful levels of mercury in their blood,[i] and coal-burning power plants are the largest source of domestic mercury pollution.

    Mercury is extremely toxic to the brain and nervous system, especially to the rapidly developing brain of the unborn child during early pregnancy. Simply consuming mercury-contaminated fish during pregnancy exposes the unborn. Eating fish with its high levels of Omega 3's and other healthy nutrients should be encouraged,but most physicians recommend eating only one serving per week as mercury accumulates in the unborn's brain, causing developmental disabilities, resulting in lowered intelligence, and learning problems. This has lifetime implications. One study found that "The resulting loss of intelligence causes diminished economic productivity that persists over the entire lifetime of these children."[ii] We are hindering our children from an abundant life and their pursuit of the American dream because we have failed to clean up this terrible poison.

    Luke 18:15-16 (ESV)

    Now they were bringing even infants to him that he mighttouch them. And when the disciples saw it, theyrebukedthem. But Jesus called them to him, saying,"Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.

    Twenty years of inaction by the EPA, Congress, and the utility industry is far too long. In ourt radition and in many other faith traditions, children are special " indeed all life is sacred. We have waited since the amended 1990 Clean Air Act signed by President George H. W. Bush for mercury protection for the unborn to be instituted. Some here today will claim that the EPA is acting too quickly and more time is needed. How many lives have been hindered by our inaction to limit our unborn children's exposure to this threat? One child hindered from reaching his or her fullest potential because of our sinful inaction is too many.

    In May 2011, I walked over 300 miles from West Virginia toWashington, DC as part of our Creation Care Walk. We traversed areas of mountaintop removal,some of the most beautiful landscapes God created in the eastern United States, rural towns, suburbs, and cities. However, the most horrific signs along the way were the mercury fish advisories posted along so many of our streams and rivers. Mercury contaminates over 6 million acres offreshwater lakes, 46,000 miles of streams, and 225,000 wetland acres across the United States. Much of our fresh water in every corner of America contains dangerous mercury levels. In fact, every state has some type of fish consumption advisory, including the recommendation for pregnant women not to eat any locally caught fish. Just three weeks ago, we had a family outing to Valley Forge National Park. My daughter-in-law is a photographer and as we passed the covered bridge she asked for a photo. We walked around the bridge and right there was a sign posted, "Attention All Fishermen " No Fish May be Killed or Held in Possession From This Stream." Just 30 feet away, a man was fishing. Returning home, we went to the Pennsylvania Fish Advisory Website and learned that the stream was filled with both mercury and PCB's.

    In a recent meeting with a pastor from York County, PA, he shared how his family once depended on locally caught fish as a source of protein. Now he is afraid of even taking his sons fishing in Pennsylvania because of the mercury warnings. It is time to act. No more delays, no more inaction. We must protect our unborn from mercury poisoning, the weakest in our society.

    Psalm82:3 (ESV)

    Give justice totheweak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.

    Our Holy Scriptures calls us to defend the weak. Others may offer testimony that this rule will be far too costly, hurting the poor. They cite the 10 billion dollars per year cost to implement the complete rule for mercury and the other toxins. Ten billion is a huge sum, but distributed per consumer in the United States results in an average maximum cost of $7.00 per month per household. While the poorest might face impacts, the pollution reductions will return $5 " 13 in health benefits forevery $1 spent on emission reduction.[iii] Still others will claim a massive loss injobs in our still faltering economy. These facts simply do not add up. While Pennsylvania may lose some jobs, the nation will have a net increase of approximately 30,000 jobs during installation.

    Lastly, some at today's hearing will cry foul. They will state mercury emitted, especially from Asia, provides the source for the threat to our unborn. Significant mercury transports into the United States, but in many states east of the Mississippi, the largest mercury deposition comes from domestic sources.[iv] International mercury sources must be addressed. But for us to ignore our responsibility wanting for others violates both the Biblical instruction to order our house:

    1 Timothy3:4a (ESV)

    He must manage his own household well,"

    and something just about every mother, including mine, said at one time or another, "Two wrongs don't make a right." To wait for China to clean up its act before we protect our unborn children from our own mess makes absolutely no sense.

    Mercury threatens one (1) in six (6) unborn children, and we can help them and others. This is a pro-life Biblical imperative and I therefore urge implementation of the NESHAP proposed rule for utility boilers to address the largest domestic source of mercury poisoning without any additional delays or weakening modifications.

    [i]See Mahaffey et al., "Blood Organic Mercuryand Dietary Mercury Intake" EnvironmentalHealth Perspectives, 112, #5 (April 2004).

    [ii] Trasande, et al., "Public Health and EconomicConsequences of Methyl Mercury Toxicity to the Developing Brain," Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol.113, No. 5 (May 2005): p. 590.

    [iii] EPA, Power Plant Mercury and Air Toxics Standards:Overview of Proposed Rule and Impacts, p. 2.

    [iv] Noelle Selin, "Global Biogeochemical Cycling ofMercury: A Review," Annual Review ofEnvironmental. Resources (2009) Vol.34 (2009): p. 52; http://globalchange.mit.edu/files/document/MITJPSPGC_Reprint_09-15.pdf

  • Mercury and the Unborn Child

    March 18,2011, 05:02 AM

    We Stand in Support of New EPA Mercury Standard

    by Mitch Hescox

    On March 16, 2011, the EPA proposed the First National Standard for Mercury Pollution from Power Plants. This new national standard offers a historic opportunity for the evangelical Christian Church to put its preaching into action. Life, as sacred, has long been a foundational tenet of our faith. We are pro-life and have struggled long to protect the unborn from harm, especially abortion. Over 1,000,000 unborn children die each year from abortions. However, another great threat faces the unborn, mercury poisoning. Unborn children are the most at risk as they are developmentally unable to protect themselves.

    According to research, at least 1 in 12, and as many as 1 in 6 women of childbearing age have unsafe levels of mercury in her blood, enough to put a baby at risk for brain damage, autism,and other neurological imparities. These effects are not just temporary but are irreversible. Other research depicts that mercury levels continue elevating in American women, putting more unborn at risk. Mercury easily transmits from mother to child. One UCLA research project found mercury in 30% of US females of childbearing age in 2006, up from only 2%of same age group in 1999. This threat to our unborn is simply not acceptable.

    The primary domestic source of mercury comes from the burning of coal. Industrial and utility coal consumption represents at least 87% and as much as 99% of the mercury poisoning of the unborn. Smokestacks emit the mercury that then falls into our streams, lakes, and rivers. Fish consume the mercury we eat the fish and for pregnant mothers the contaminated fish finally accumulates in the weakest -- unborn children.

    This isn't a limited problem. Mercury contaminates over 6 million acres of freshwater lakes, 46,000 miles of streams, and 225,000 wetland acres across the United States. The vast majority of our fresh water in every corner of America contains dangerous mercury levels. In fact, every state has some type of fish consumption advisory, including the recommendation for pregnant women not to eat any locally caught fish.

    The Evangelical Environmental Network is putting action to our faith by standing in support of EPA's proposed standards limiting mercury and its threats to the unborn. The standard, twenty years in the making reduces 91% mercury released to the air. Some will attempt to weaken this proposed standard. However, unborn children deserve our greatest protection, and we believe the rule as proposed provides the best protection for the weakest in our society, the unborn child. This is an issue in life's sacredness. We encourage all who stand for life to stand with us and especially the unborn.

    For more information, please visit www.creationcare.org/

  • EPA Administrator Jackson Successfully Defends Views Before House Committee

    February 10,2011, 15:01 PM
    EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson
    EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson

    by Jim Ball

    I have just finished watching the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Administrator Lisa Jackson, successfully defend the EPA's regulation of greenhouse gases at a hearing of the House Energy and Power Subcommittee. I hope the Committee will post up video of Administrator Jackson's appearance and I urge anyone who can to watch some or all of it to do so. (We'll post a link if/when it becomes available.)

    I think any fair-minded individual who watched the hearing would come away grateful that a person of Administrator Jackson's gifts, abilities, and temperament was heading up the EPA. I also think that she successfully: (1) defended the need for regulations to protect human health, (2) explained that the EPA was doing what the Supreme Court said the Clean Air Act (CAA) required the EPA to do, and (3) explained that the EPA had taken economic consequences into consideration in promulgating the various GHG rules. Indeed, she successfully made the case that it would actually benefit the overall economy.

    The stated purpose of the hearing, according to the Chair of the Energy and Power Subcommittee, Rep. Whitfield (R-KY) was as follows:

    "Today's hearing will focus on a greenhouse gas (GHG) rulemaking within the Environmental Protection Agency that many of us believe attempts to address an issue properly within the purview of the Congress, and legislation that would restore the proper balance to decision-making affecting it."

    The draft legislation referred to by Chairman Whitfield is the Upton-Whitfield-Inhofe Energy Tax Prevention Act, which according to today's hearing would prevent the EPA from regulating GHGs. While EEN agrees with Congressman Whitfield that the best public policy approach would be a new law passed by Congress, we oppose any efforts to roll back the authority of the EPA to regulate global warming pollution absent such legislation. If Congress wants to pass a law that would actually have our country play its proper role in overcoming global warming, terrific. But a do-nothing stance is not acceptable. From what I heard at the hearing, the Upton-Whitfield-Inhofe bill is a do-nothing approach

    Rev. Jim Ball is Executive Vice President at EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Oxygen is not a pollutant; . . .neither is CO2

    February 08,2011, 09:34 AM

    by Lowell Bliss

    The first scientific paper I ever wrote was about atmospheric gas concentrations, and I submitted my writing years before James Hansen's seminal work on climate change. Mind you, I wasn't a climatologist; I was a seventh grade student in fifth period General Science. I doubt if Mr. Shanahan, my teacher, would appreciate me claiming his grade as "peer review." Nonetheless that paper"which furthermore was about oxygen, not carbon dioxide; and about only the 210 cubic feet of atmosphere in the Apollo 1 command module"has held me in good stead as I consider how best to respond to climate change skeptics.

    Public domain (NASA)
    Public domain (NASA)

    I can understand how the EPA must consider labeling CO2 as a pollutant if it hopes to bring warming carbon emissions under its purview, but it does seem a little silly, doesn't it? Carbon dioxide is so obviously a natural component of the processes of flora and fauna alike. More importantly, I fear that labeling CO2 as a pollutant deprives us of a direct application to a whole host of environmental problems, and arguably to the one root behind them all. The issue isn't "good vs. bad," but rather "sufficient vs. too much." Here's where the analogy of the Apollo 1 fire is useful.

    How could anyone blame oxygen for anything? Surely if there's one innocent molecule in the world, it's oxygen. The command module in which Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee met their deaths on January 27, 1967 while on the launch pad during a pre-flight test, was pressurized at 16.7 psi with a 100 percent oxygen environment. Investigations later determined that such a pure oxygen environment at launch represented a combustion hazard. Later, Apollo 2 launched with an atmosphere of 60% oxygen and 40% nitrogen (taking a cue from the Russians.) The cabin vented down to 5 psi for orbit and all nitrogen was eventually purged by incoming oxygen, so that the Apollo 2 cabin did return to pure oxygen, but only at low pressure. When Dr. Floyd Thompson (chair of NASA's review board) and Col. Frank Borman (who would later command Apollo 8) appeared before a Senate committee, they defended pure oxygen. A two-gas system would add weight to the spacecraft. Nitrogen ran the danger of producing the bends. Apollo 2 and all missions that followed proved that NASA was capable of doing the science. Dr. Thompson's testimony however was: "Oxygen has to combine with something else in order to make a complete combustion process. Oxygen by itself is a very useful gas. We all use it and we depend on it, but when it gets in close proximity with certain fuels or what we call fuels or combustible materials, they will then get in trouble."

    Similarly carbon dioxide is "a very useful gas. We all use it and we depend on it." But in the famous quotation of James Hansen's on which Bill McKibben (of 350.org) has so wonderfully capitalized: "If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its [then] current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm." The problem isn't that carbon dioxide is bad; it's that there's too much of it"relatively. Similarly, the warming (greenhouse) effect of carbon dioxide isn't the problem. We need the re-radiation of infrared heat back to the planet's surface for our survival. But what if there is too much re-radiation?

    I have long since abandoned my science classes for the humanities. Whatever definition of "pollutant" the lawyers of Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency (2007) argued over COz seems lost in its connotation. Pollution is bad. Therefore CO2, the pollutant, is bad. Really? As one who appeals for the care for creation, I'd much rather have the ready-made rhetorical bridge that crosses over from too much CO2 to the too much consumerism which drives the too much burning of too much fossil fuel. There's nothing inherently wrong with the consumer goods that I enjoy for the glory of God, is there? But I also need to know when to quit. . . also to the glory of God, and for the good of my neighbor, and for my own physical and spiritual health. When a climate skeptical friend wants to argue that CO2 is NOT a pollutant, I wholeheartedly agree with him or her. But then I pull out an analogy from seventh grade General Science class, and together we give thought to the biblically-informed adage that "Enough is as good as a feast."

    We are pleased that Lowell Bliss has accepted our invitation to be a regular contributor to the Creation Care Blog. A fourteen year veteran of India and Pakistan, Lowell is the director of Eden Vigil, and, while this first post is an exception, he'll primarily be writing about issues related to environmental missions. Eden Vigil publishes the Environmental Missions Prayer Digest. You can read Lowell's Oct 6, 2010 article: "What is an Environmental Missionary?" in our archives.

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