• 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.


    October 17,2014, 14:42 PM

    Florida Evangelicals Recognize Science of Climate Change and are Calling for Action

    The premise of Miami Herald reporter Patricia Mazzei's question about "science [being] at odds with religion" is fundamentally flawed. As evangelical Christians throughout Florida, we believe in the science of climate change and are calling for solutions for overcoming climate change, driven by our faith to defend our children and the Biblical imperative to care for what God has created. ENN believes that caring for God's creation is a matter of life.

    Witness ENN's scientific advisor, Dr. Katherine Kahoe " a Texas Tech climatologist and evangelical Christian " who was just named to the TIME 100. She defies the notion that faith and science are antithetical. Or witness me, a registered Republican minister who once worked in the coal industry, leading an organization that is committed to Creation Care.

    Witness the over 63,000 petitions signed by pro-life Christians in Florida that we recently delivered to the governor's office, calling upon him to come up with a comprehensive plan to address not only the impacts of climate change " a topic discussed in the recent debate -- but the power plant pollution that is causing it as well. Gov.Scott continues to insist that when it comes to climate change impacts on Florida he is interested in "solutions." To that end, one immediate step he can take is to offer his support for EPA's Clean Power Plan.

    Witness the many churches across the nation showing leadership when it comes to solutions to address climate change. For instance, more than 350 pastors from across Florida have made commitments through EEN's Joseph Pledge to make their churches 'energy efficient,' 'clean,' and 'healthy'for present and future generations.

    Witness the hundreds of pro-life,pro-family evangelicals in Florida who are sharing their testimonies and speaking out directly to Gov. Scott with the clear message that it's time for all of us who are reconciled unto Christ to take personal responsibility for addressing climate change to defend the health of all God's children.

    EEN believes so strongly insolving climate change that we recently launched "testimonial" radio ads across the state, calling on Gov. Scott to address this moral, pro-life issue.

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

  • Testimony at Pittsburgh EPA Hearing

    July 31,2014, 13:55 PM

    Testimony of Rev. Mitch Hescox, President & CEO, Evangelical Environmental Network
    To Be Delivered Friday August 1, 2014

    "See!" he said to all the people. "This stone will be a witness against us. It has heard all the words the Lord has said to us. It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God." Joshua 24:17

    Good Morning,

    I am the Rev. Mitchell Hescox, President/C.E.O. of the Evangelical Environmental Network, a native and resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, an evangelical pro-life Christian, and life-long registered Republican. I am here in support of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) purposed Clean Power Plan and to offer my unique perspective not only as an evangelical Christian but as someone who spent eighteen (18) years as a local church pastor, fourteen (14) years as a professional in the coal and power industries, and who is also a father and grandfather.

    Today marks the opportunity for a new day. We have a choice to make: will we as citizens of the United States of America defend the lives and health of our children and provide them the opportunity for new clean energy economy, or will we burden them not only with a national monetary debt but the even more harmful burden of an increasing climate changed world? Will we stop the special favors that the coal industry has enjoyed and allow the real cost of coal to affect our energy decisions?

    With four (4) children and five (5) grandchildren, I have a considerable interest in their future and the future for all God's children. My kids have never experienced a June below the 20th century average June temperature, and with June 2014 as the hottest June in history and marking the 352nd month above the 20th century average, my grandchildren already live in a changed world. The future is upon us, and the question remains, will we cling to a threatening past or stretch for a new future?

    There are many good people testifying today that also are concerned for their children. They fear the loss of jobs and a way of life. At the same time, we must be concerned for coal miners and power plant workers and find ways to address their fears. Circa 1900 there were similar fears as the third largest industry in terms of workers and dollars, the horse industry, faced a similar situation from the quickly developing automobile industry. But living in a country whose economy is market based means we must allow the markets to work to create new opportunities and brighter futures, and not be hindered by political roadblocks from special interests.

    For years, we have subsidized the cost of coal generated electricity in the brains, lungs, and bodies of our children and privatized the profits. Asthma, cancers, autism, birth defects, and brain damage have a direct link to the use of fossil fuels and petrochemicals. Even today, according to the American Lung Association 2014 State of the Air Report, Pittsburgh's air still flunks, and over 26,000 children live asthma-impeded lives - with climate change making smog worse. These threats to our children make caring for God's creation a matter of life and Christian discipleship.

    The proposed Clean Power Plan begins a market correction that is long overdue. Some wish us to believe that coal provides cheap electricity. But according to several studies, when you add in the cost to our health in medical bills, lost lives, property damage and the like, coal electricity is at least triple what you pay at the meter. Coals appears cheap, but each of us pays the price in our children's health, insurance premiums, fouled air, and polluted water.

    Providing pure water and clean air shouldn't be a hindrance to our economy, jobs, and future. In fact, having a fruitful creation enhances existing industries, new industries, the attractiveness of communities, and satisfied employees. If Pennsylvania, for example, takes advantage of the standard's flexibility, there will be an equal amount of employment created in the natural gas industry as lost from fuel switching.[i] More importantly, 13,000 new jobs will be created by 2020 based on Pennsylvania's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) Act of 2004. And if Pennsylvania's implementation plan for the Clean Power Plan returns the Commonwealth to its former leadership position, renewable energy jobs in solar and wind will increase significantly.[ii]

     Job creation is vital, but defending life remains paramount, and the proposed Clean Power Plan accomplishes significant pollution reduction in both carbon and additional co-pollutants, including particulates, SO2, and NOx. According to a recent Syracuse University and Harvard medical study, Pittsburgh and the entire Ohio River Valley will benefit with the greatest improvements in air quality from EPA's Clean Power Plan.[iii] This is something to celebrate; and with cleaner air, our out of pockets expenses will decline and so will our electric bill. The Analysis Group's recent report on EPA's new standard supports EPA own analysis that electric rates might increase slightly in the short term but will decline overall.[iv]

    The Clean Power Plan is a key aspect of a needed comprehensive national effort to mitigate and prepare for climate change's threats to the United States. The Clean Power Plan makes economic sense as well. Harvard's Robert Stavins wrote recently:

    The combined U.S.-only estimates of annual climate impacts of CO2 ($3 billion) and health impacts of correlated pollutants ($45 billion) greatly exceed the estimated regulatory compliance costs of $9 billion/year, for positive net benefits amounting to $39 billion/year in 2030.[v]

    His analysis focusing on U.S. benefits states what is obvious to many of our nation's businesses. Act now before it's too late and the costs skyrocket.[vi] Delaying action simply costs more, but procrastinating also removes the great opportunity in creating a new clean energy economy. Businesses like Caterpillar, Dow Chemical, General Electric, General Motors, Procter & Gamble, Sprint, and Walmart all have climate action plans. They have a clear vision of both the costs of climate change and the vision for the future.[vii]

    All God's children deserve a future where they can breathe freely, think clearly, and pursue their dreams for a brighter America and an entire world not threatened from the food insecurity, water scarcity, foul air, extreme weather, forced migration, and sea-level rise. We can do nothing less as a nation.

    Addressing carbon pollution from the largest single polluter, the power industry, is an essential step in facing climate change's threat and embracing the opportunity of a new future. But it is one of many steps. We need a comprehensive plan to:

    • Police methane leaks from production, distribution, and transportation of natural gas;
    • Provide coordination in preparing for the climate impacts already upon us;
    • Unify research efforts to set our American creativity and ingenuity free to be the world leader in clean energy design and manufacturing;
    • Set reasonable standards and accountability for coastal development;
    • Protect American workers from those nations who fail to establish their own climate plans.
    • Focus our assistance to the majority world in terms of renewable, locally operated electricity.

    The Clean Power Plan, once promulgated, will be the most important action to date in overcoming climate change. It shows our nation's resolve in doing the right thing, the moral action. It returns The United States to the leadership position and sets the standard for a worldwide clean energy economy. This provides the signal the market needs to spur development and action. It removes the burden of cost from our children's health and begins to establish true costs for electric generation.

     The simplest and most enforceable action to reduce carbon pollution would include a carbon pollution fee. This would simplify state implementation and be the most accountable direct market mechanism to price carbon. As such, we ask the EPA to include explicit language in the final standard assuring states the option for a carbon tax/pollution fee.

    Now is the time to act. We are quickly approaching the deadline to keep God's marvelous creation below the two (2) degree Celsius maximum urged by experts and agreed to by the United States in the international climate negotiations. While some understand climate action as political, from my evangelical Christian faith it's a scriptural and moral imperative. In the opening of this testimony, I quoted a portion of a longer biblical passage. The patriarch Joshua calls the nation together and commits to a plan to follow God and work together for the betterment of all. He even states the rocks will act as witness. Creation already witnesses our changed and changing climate. Looking out your kitchen window and going for a walk it is easy to see the changes.

    Let's join together as Christians, as people of all faiths, as Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, and become Americans, Americans working together to solve the great moral challenge of our time and to begin the greatest energy and economic revolution. Then maybe our kids and grandkids will commend us for helping them reach their American Dream, instead of a nightmare.


    [i] http://csis.org/event/remaking-american-power
    [ii] http://cleanenergywins.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/CleanEnergyWins_PolicyRoadmap.pdf
    [iii] Driscoll, C.T, Buonocore, J., Reid, S., Fakhraei, H, and Lambert, K.F. 2014. Co-benefits of Carbon Standards Part 1: Air Pollution Changes under Different 111d Options for Existing Power Plants. Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY and Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. A report of the Science Policy Exchange. 34 pp.
    [iv] EPA's Clean Power Plan: States' Tools for Reducing Costs and Increasing Benefits to Consumers
    Analysis Group -Paul Hibbard, Andrea Okie, Susan Tierney, July 2014
    [v] http://www.robertstavinsblog.org/2014/06/19/what-are-the-benefits-and-costs-of-epas-proposed-co2-regulation/
    [vii] http://www.ceres.org/resources/reports/power-forward-2.0-how-american-companies-are-setting-clean-energy-targets-and-capturing-greater-business-value

  • A Letter To The Enviroment and Public Works Committee, US Senate

    January 20,2014, 07:20 AM

    The Honorable Barbara Boxer, Chairman
    The Honorable David Vitter, Ranking Member
    The United States Senate Committee on
    Environmental and Public Works
    Washington, DC 20510-6175

    Dear Chairman Boxer and Ranking Member Vitter:

    Too many issues in Washington today are being dragged into partisan politics. Our children's health should not be one of them. Defending our children from harm remains central to who we are as Americans and for the pro-life evangelical Christians we represent. Climate change should be a non-partisan issue. It simply makes sense to save our children from the threats of environmental degradation, including carbon pollution.

    As pro-life Christians, we urge the Senate to defend life by establishing a price on carbon or regulating it and other toxic emissions from fossil fuel burning power plants. These emissions impact the most vulnerable in our communities and around the world. It is time for our government to act wisely and prevent carbon pollution from despoiling creation, our children's health, and the lives of the poorest populations around the world who are most severely impacted.

    Our children deserve clean air and pure water. Carbon pollution exacerbates smog and leads to escalating respiratory disease; climate change already affects our water supply, and increased extreme weather threatens us all. The evangelical community is already voicing their concerns. To date, over 38,000 pro-life Christians have provided supportive comments for The Environmental Protection Agency's New Source Carbon Standard, and the comment period has just started.
    Defending our children's health must be our national priority. It is the greatest moral challenge of our time and it calls America into action.

    As such, we are pleased to know that you will be conducting a hearing on January 16, 2014 to consider the President's Climate Action Plan. The President calls us to come together as a nation and act, and we are grateful for his leadership. Let's work together as one nation under God, make the President's plan better where needed, and defend our children " it's the American thing to do.


    The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox

  • Celebrate Abundant Life

    January 20,2014, 07:04 AM

    by The Rev. Mitch Hescox

    On Wednesday, January 22, 2014, many in the Roman Catholic and evangelical communities will rally to celebrate the right to life. Some see this day as a time to be anti-abortion, but I see this as a day to celebrate life and life in abundance with God. Catholic social teaching has long lifted high a pro-life theology as dignity for all life and in the past decade, more and more evangelicals see the same consistent theology. My friend, Shane Claiborne likes to shout out, "We're pro-life from the womb to the tomb."

    We in the Church need a consistent theology of love and grace around life itself. As a former local church pastor, I know the struggle most women have in the decision to terminate pregnancy. I have walked beside too many women who have had their abundant life spoiled as they have dealt with aftermath of their decision. At such time, love and grace provide the healing, not guilt or shame. So to have I witnessed firsthand brain injuries that resulted from the spraying of toxic chemicals, hunger that raged from destroyed crops ravaged by drought exasperated by our changing climate, and our supposedly pure water so filled with synthetic hormones that puberty starts much earlier leading to increases in breast and other cancers.

    Medical research states that one in four of our children in the United States suffer from asthma, ASHD, autism, or allergies caused at least in part by our poor care of God's creation. Human life, especially defending our children's health must be a national priority. However, too often we put other interests above our children. A couple of years ago during a Congressional Hearing, a conservative Representative tried to override my concern for children my saying, "Pro-life is only about abortion and nothing to do with the quality of life." A few weeks later, a more liberal Senate staffer denied me the opportunity to testify on the same children's health issues because I am pro-life.

    Both positions are simply wrong, and they stem from fear. On one hand, we have a conservative elected leader wanting to continue claiming to be pro-life and receiving support from our community while pushing the interests of a special interest, namely the fossil fuel industry. On the other hand, we have "liberals" so afraid to respect evangelical Christian values our voice is ignored.

    These positions typify American dialogue today in both the public agenda and in private discussion. Everyone is so afraid in his or her own ideology, we refuse to have reasonable dialogue and work toward common ground. "My way or the highway" might as well be our national slogan. However, from my understanding of faith and being a Christian, the answer comes from following Jesus' way and that way has always been love.

    Scriptures teach that "perfect love drives out fear" and Jesus' final command to his disciples was, "love each other." It's time to work together in love, respecting our differences, and find the common ground to defend our children and rekindle the grace given our nation.

    Nowhere is this more apparent than the national shouting match regarding our changing climate. Climate is changing. One doesn't have to be a scientist to recognize the signs, only eyes. Look around at the increasing wacky weather, sea level rise, plants blooming earlier, and insect born diseases spreading into areas they never were. Climate change threatens human well being, period. Hundreds of thousands die each year from climate change threats and the future for our children and all God's children looks bleak. Poverty, forced migration, increased disease are already bad problems that will get worse. From 2012's Super Storm Sandy, 2013's Colorado floods and wildfires, and even January's Arctic Vortex weather derive in part from climate change. They are just the beginnings of what our future world will be unless we act.

    Unfortunately, climate change instead of being a human life or pro-life threat became labeled as a liberal cause and many Americans started to react in fear and anger. These fears are fueled by a denial campaign by those who desire unfair protection of their products instead of bearing the true costs. Unfair protectionism for one industry doesn't support a market economy; it only burdens the rest of us.

    It's time to break away from fear, act in as love as Jesus' teaches and move beyond the shouting matches to sensible solutions from all perspectives. No one side has the answers, but if we start to care for each other, love our children, listen, and love God, we will find the WAY. We believe in a God of hope who desires abundant life for all.

  • 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.


    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.

  • The President is Right - Let's Defend Our Children's Health

    July 29,2013, 05:18 AM

    The President is Right " Let's Defend Our Children's Health

    The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox

    President and CEO " The Evangelical EnvironmentalNetwork, New Freedom, PA

    This week the President of the United States offered the first comprehensive national plan to combat in a serious way the greatest moralchallenge of our time " climate disruption and carbon pollution. It calls on all Americans to unite and fightthis threat to our children's health and well-being. I believe in no greater cause than protectingour children. This most fundamental task of parents and adults remains central to who we are as Americans.

    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. As such, climate change should be anon-partisan issue. It simply makes sense to protect our children from all harm, including environmental degradation.

    Recently, Harvard University issued a new study linkingi ncreased mercury and other toxins to birth defects, including autism; this is thethird major medical study connecting birth defects to pollution. According to the American Lung Association, Central Pennsylvania, including the Harrisburg and York areas, already receives failing marks for high ozone and particulates, leading to over 27,000 cases of pediatric asthma and over 270,000 at risk children. Higher temperatures caused by changing climates simply multiply the harm.

    Our climate is changing. Just a few weeks ago, my Dad, an 86-year-old former coal miner, and I were sitting at his kitchen 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 a total of 24 broken heat records, 5 broken snow records, 40 broken precipitation records, and 5 large wildfires. Our climate in South Central Pennsylvania has changed to equal that of Richmond, VA twenty years ago. Our weather is more extreme and getting worse.

    Carbon pollution is the major cause of our changing world. We have thrown another blanket on God's creation. Without the natural carbon blanket, our earth would be 70 degrees colder and life couldn't exist,much like Mars, but our continuing pumping out more carbon pollution heats the earth to look more like Venus. We are giving the Earth a fever.

    Of course, some in the coal industry immediately cried foul. While I have considerable empathy for coal industry workers, the industry itself is another story. Since its beginning, the coal industry's reputation as a good neighbor has been lacking. I know first hand stories of company towns, poor working conditions, and maximizing profits at the sake of others. 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&MMars, and even Wal-Mart spent billions for energy efficiency, big coal spendshardly 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 playgrounds 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. But when you factor in all the external costsf rom coal like medical bills, lost lives, property damage, and the like, coal electricityis 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 futuremust be our national priority. It's the greatest moral challenge of our time, one we are all called to do something. The President calls us to come together as a nation and act. We need creative minds making new energy discoveries, energy efficient cars,appliances, homes, and buildings. We also need to be prepared. Climate changeal ready intensifies our weather, impacts our food supply, and multiplies extreme heat. In short, all of us are threatened, especially the most vulnerable our children. Let's work together as one nation under God; make the President's plan better; and defend our children. It's the American thing to do.

    This post first appeared in Harrisburg (PA) Patriot News on June 30, 2013

  • A Good Moment for our Kids

    July 19,2013, 08:56 AM

    EEN was pleased with yesterday's 59-40 vote to confirm Gina McCarthy as the next head of the Environmentla Protection Agency. Gina is well positioned for success at EPA during some of the most crucial years to clean up pollution that harms our kids, the unborn, and those yet to be born. As pro-life evangelicals we believe that human life needs to be protected. As such, it's time for all of America to come together to champion energy efficiency, the next generation of clean energy, while we take steps to reduce carbon pollution for the sake of our children and future generations.

    We are especially thankful for the bipartisian leadership from Senators Alexander, Pryor, Corker, McCaskill, McCain, Hagan, Brown, Casey, Landrieu, Ayotte, Kirk, Collins, Donnelly, Flake, Warner, Kaine, and Heitkamp. Yesterday's vote sends a signal that Republicans and Democrats are willing to work together for the sake of our kids.

    When you have groups as diverse as the American Public Health Association, Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates, and the American Sustainable Business Council you now that you have a very capable civil servant.

  • 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 Supports Strong Act

    December 20,2012, 11:35 AM

    As part of our soon to be released All American Plan for Protecting Our Children's Future, The Evangelical Environment Network strongly supports the THE STRONG ACT OF 2012: STRENGTHENING THE RESILIENCY OF OUR NATION ON THE GROUND introduced by Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Extreme weather events such as Superstorm Sandy and the 2012 summer drought will only continue in frequency in coming years the cost of which will be disproportionate on our children and generations yet unborn. The Strong Act offers an initial step for national preparedness and planning efforts to coordinate regional, state, and local communities to ready our nation for the increasing severity of extreme weather events. We strongly agree with the assertion that "economic savings can be achieved by considering the impacts of extreme weather over the short- and long-term" in federal, state, and local planning.

    We prayerfully hope that The Storm Act becomes a bipartisan effort to protect our children from extreme weather events. We encourage conservative members of Congress to take a serious look at the benefits of short and long term planning around extreme weather.

    Strong coordination and analysis is critical in mitigating impacts that range from long term infrastructure failure, such as the lengthened power outages in Long Island and West Virginia in 2012, greater risk of injury and property loss from inadequate planning, and the potential local impact on human health from the release of unsecured toxins and other hazardous waste from an extreme weather event. "Extreme weather simply hurts our children the most," stated The Rev. Mitch Hescox, EEN's President, "The trauma let alone the physical harm inflicted on kids will only worsen as extreme weather becomes more intense and more frequent."

  • 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.

  • My Meeting with Brother Cal

    November 27,2012, 11:09 AM

    By Mitch Hescox

    My wife had a co-worker walk into her area some time ago and proclaimed, "Christians are idiots!" Certainly, the claim smacked of prejudice, extremely poor taste, and perhaps even harassment as the colleague knows my wife's faith. Notwithstanding the negatives, part of me understands the comments and the damage many Christian brothers and sisters pile on those outside the Church with ideologies that go beyond what God intended. We are called to be different " in the world but not of it. Radical discipleship means loving the least, hilarious giving, and self-denial in following our Risen Lord. However, Christian leaders making misstatements to serve their own ends, attacking other believers for not agreeing with their worldview, and misusing science turn people away from the good news in Jesus. As Paul reminds us I have the right to do anything," you say"but not everything is beneficial. "I have the right to do anything""but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others (1 Corinthians 10:23-24).

    A couple of weeks ago, I shared radio airtime with Dr. Cal Biesner, Cornwall Alliance, on Moody Radio to discuss Hurricane Sandy and climate change. While Dr. Biesner and I agree that climate change didn't cause Sandy, we both believe climate change made Sandy more intense. In Dr. Biesner's view, climate change made Sandy fractionally worse This is a view that he has held for some time even in the face of mounting studies and evidence that shows that changes to our global system are happening faster than we could have imagined a decade ago.

    According to meteorologist Scott Mandia, coauthor of the new book Rising Sea Levels: An Introduction to Cause and Impact, for every one inch of the 8 " 9 inches of total sea-level rise 6,000 more people were impacted in New York City alone. Almost 50,000 more people and additional billions of dollars in destruction isn't just a fraction and this only accounts for New York City, not including New Jersey, Connecticut, or Rhode Island. More detailed research will appear in the coming weeks and months that more accurately determines Sandy's increased force and destruction from climate change caused sea-level rise, but let's not downplay the human impacts that we are already facing in the United States. Eight inches of sea level rise contained in a 9 feet storm urge is significant, along with a two degree Fahrenheit warmer ocean temperature, and a left turn into the eastern seaboard only happening once before. They are unusual to say the least.

    Another misuse of the evidence made by Dr. Biesner's on Moody Radio, "There is no correlation between rising carbon dioxide levels and the increase in the earth temperature." The graph on the left taken from the National Academy of Sciences Climate Change Website clearly shows the relationship over time. Carbon Dioxide levels and temperature track identically. Now look at temperature and carbon dioxide record from Biblical times to the present. Notice the unprecedented rapid temperature rise in the last 150 years. With the beginning of the industrial age, we started burning more and more fossil fuels and thus changing the delicate balance God created for sustaining life on His creation.

    Figure I
    Figure I " Bible Time Frame of Temperature vs. Carbon Dioxide, Katharine Hayhoe & Andrew Farley, A Climate For Change

    Without the normal 285 ppm of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, our earth would be a chilly place with an average 70oF colder climate. One of the true miracles of creation is the greenhouse gas effects that make this earth habitable for humanity. Take a look into the sky some evening or early morning to get a glimpse of Mars or Venus our nearest planet neighbors. While there is a difference between the energy the other planets receive from the sun, the largest factor single factor in freezing to death on Mars or burning-up on Venus are the greenhouse gases. Small amounts of carbon dioxide make a difference. Dr. Biesner often states that changes in CO2 couldn't have a significant impact on temperature. The "natural" 285 ppm of CO2 or new record levels set in 2011 of 390.1 ppm CO(that translates to 412 billion tons of carbon pollution since the beginning of the industrial revolution) are very significant. Perhaps an easy way to understand that small amounts of gas are deadly requires a quick look at carbon monoxide. At levels below 100 ppm, carbon monoxide causes headaches, dizziness, and nausea but at exposure of 150-200 ppm for approximately one hour may be deadly.[1] At concentration levels less than half the current carbon dioxide levels, carbon monoxide kills. Small percentages upset the created balance and put human life at risk. No one is saying the earth will be destroyed, but climate change already impacts millions around the world, especially the poor, and some estimates place climate deaths over 300,000 annually.

    Figure II
    Figure II " The darker the color on the map indicates greater difficulty in scrapping out life. 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 things get that much harder. These impacts are not some future event, they are happening now!

    Before going any further, I invite you to look at the world around you. The past two years resulted in record droughts, massive forest fires, high temperatures, floods, and even a superstorm in the United States. Extreme weather is the new normal and here's a simple example for every 1 record low temperature there are 10 record highs just in the United States. In Pennsylvania where I live, 2012 was the year without winter. However, go beyond all the recent extreme weather and remember twenty years ago. My home in South Central Pennsylvania now has same climate as Richmond, VA twenty years ago. Trees and flowers bloom sooner; the grass requires cutting earlier in the spring and later in the autumn. Just last week, my 86 year old Dad said, "This climate change stuff is real. We have nowhere near the snow or winter cold temperatures we once had." My Dad gets it, and so do the vast majority of the world's scientists. As the graphic at the beginning of this post illustrates, at least 97% of the scientists who study climate agree that our climate is changing and humanity is the cause, not the sun, not natural cycles, but the burning of fossil fuels.

    It's not just the climate scientists who form the world-wide consensus; it's every national academy of science including our National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Beisner, of course, offers a different take. Real science, according to Cal, doesn't take place in consensus meetings, but in the work of skeptics. This is where I believe his contrarian worldview has blinded him on the science. He over relies on the skeptics despite the real stakes not just to the economy but also to the global poor.

    Watch this video, from the PBS series, Earth: The Instruction Manual. The video offers a look inside our National Academy of Sciences. The NAS formed by President Abraham Lincoln to advise our government on the best scientific evidence without profit or political agendas to distort their conclusions. When charged with a task, the Academy gathers the best scientific minds, reviews all the current research, proposes new research when the evidence remains uncertain, and offers recommendations based on rigorous debate. The National Academy of Sciences conclusions on climate change are summarized on their video, America's Climate Choices or by reading the full report of Advancing the Science of Climate Change.

    Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for"and in many cases is already affecting"a broad range of human and natural systems.[2]

    However, much more importantly than correcting misstatements on science is that climate change hurts God's children now and will have greater impact in the coming years. Currently harvests here at home and around the world are impacted by extreme weather and it will get worst.

    We are beginning to live in the new normal as far as weather goes. Evangelical Christians represented through both the World Evangelical Alliance and the Lausanne Movement are crying for us to take action on climate change. The poor across Africa now face shortfalls in rain leading to food and water shortages. Flooding resulting from glacier melt and sea level rise force migration, diseases spread more rapidly as temperature warms, and the struggle for resources will result in more conflict. Climate change is not the end of the world, but human life will be radically effected. We must come together under the leadership of our Risen Lord and take action that will reduce the human suffering. God gave us a sustainable planet, providing for our needs. Seeking our own good over others destroys God's creation. Trusting in the Christ will transform us to develop clean energy, sustainable food production, and care for all creation.

    Christians aren't idiots, but misleading statements, or claims based on ideologies rather Biblically truth hurts the Church's efforts in sharing the gospel and living life as faithful stewards. Creation care is a biblical imperative, and we remained committed to being a missional ministry proclaiming God's love for all, telling the good news in Jesus, and caring for the least of these. Although he is out of favor for some in our evangelical community, Tony Campolo once wrote, Following Jesus Without Embarrassing God. Too often, the church embarrasses God, by denying the physical laws ordained by Our Creator, and replacing God's precepts with our political and economic human desires. Believe in God, listen to His creation suffering groans, and act to help humanity by understanding creation care as a matter of life.



    [2] National Academy of Sciences, Advancing The Science of Climate Change,National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 2010.

  • Historic Carbon Pollution Standards

    March 27,2012, 10:32 AM

    On March 27, 2012 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the first ever national power plant carbon pollution standards for electric generating stations. "This is an historic step in the right direction to overcome global warming. It starts returning American leadership to our moral responsibility for the poor around the world, those most threatened by climate change's impacts. However, comprehensive legislation is still needed, and we hope the President will state clearly that passing such legislation will be a top priority," stated the Rev. Mitch Hescox, President & CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network.

    The carbon pollution standard will do the following:

    • Empowers American utilities as the world's leader for future electricity produced in the safest and cleanest fashion;
    • Combined with MATS and Air Transport Rule, save the lives and protect the health of millions of our children;
    • Help capture the true total cost of electric generation.

    The New Source Carbon Pollution Standard is an important step in reducing carbon. We urge the Administration, Congress, industry, and the American people to work toward a market based policy solution to reduce current carbon pollution and insure a safer and healthier world for all God's children.

  • 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
  • National Association of Evangelicals Releases Climate and the Poor Study Paper

    December 14,2011, 12:31 PM

    by Mitch Hescox

    On Tuesday, December 13, 2011, The National Associationof Evangelicals released its study paper on climate change and the poor.  Loving the Least of These isn't a policy report or even a position paper, but a study document offered as a conversation starter on climate change's impacts on the least of these around the world.

    The document authored by Dr. Dorothy Boorse of Gordon College takes climate change from partisan politics and places it squarely where the discussion belongs, Christian discipleship. Climate change isn't about politics or even good science; it's about people, people in the United States and around the world already suffering from our changing climate. Hopefully, the NAE's publication sparks a meaningful dialogue that is free of sound bites. Loving the Least of These portrays the impacts of real people, our Christian brothers and sisters who suffer now as climate change further degrades their lives.

    I had a God moment on my way to the study's release. I live in Pennsylvania, and on my way to catch the train to Washington, DC I realized I left my reading glasses on the kitchen table. The train was already pulling away from the station so I had no time to buy new glasses. I stored away my iphone, and resigned myself to fifty minutes of doing nothing instead of reading and replying to the usua lmultitude of morning emails. So instead of busy work, I closed my eyes and prayed. Suddenly, in what, I believe, was pure inspiration, the old hymn, We've A Story to Tell to the Nations, kept filling my thoughts.

    We've a story to tell to the nations,
    That shall turn their hearts to the right,
    A story of truth and mercy,
    A story of peace and light,
    A story of peace and light.

    For the darkness shall turn to dawning,
    And the dawning to noonday bright;
    And Christ's great kingdom shall come on earth,
    The kingdom of love and light.

    Today, while the evangelical church declines in the United States and western world, the 2/3 world represents a great explosion in Christianity continues. Just as Orlando Costas prophesied almost thirty years ago in Christ Outside the Gate, the 2/3 world will teach us about evangelismand. It will also teach us climate change. That's exactly what Loving the Least of These does. By telling the stories of those already impacted, the effects of climate change become real. It's not some political debate, it's real lives being impacted every day. Some studies report that climate will take as many as 300,000 lives this year alone.

    It's the same story that evangelicals from Micah Challenge have been telling for years and the Lausanne Movement's Cape Town Commitment shared earlier this year. The story that our Christian brothers and sisters are sharing from around the world is simple" climate change is real and we are affected. Please help us. For more on what evangelical leaders are asking, please watch the video interviews from two African pastors who travelled to the US in Novembe. Here's the video of both of them in front of the U.S. Capitol, one of Rev. Moses Mwale giving an interview of Jim Ball, and one of Rev. Osborne Joda-Mbewa giving an interview with Jim.

    Loving the Least of These isn't the final word on understanding climate change's impacts, however it's a good beginning. Use it as a study guide for your local church, a small group, or read it for yourself. Then continue your study with EEN's Bible study "Why Christians Should Care About God's Creation" written by Ed Brown, then for the seminal work on Christian discipleship and climate change move to our Jim Ball's Global Warming and The Risen Lord.

    Two years ago, Deborah Fikes from the World Evangelical Alliance spoke in Washington, DC and stated:

    The crisis of climate change does not allow evangelicals a non-participatory rolebecause of its impacton our work of promoting peace and helping the poor. Unlikehere in the U.S., there is little controversy about climate change among our alliance members.

    They know that it is real and they are grieved as they interpret that their brothers and sisters in Christ, in the U.S. are self-absorbed and lack the spiritual will toconsider altering our lifestyles to help solve a problem that is life threatening to them and willplace billions at increased for violent conflicts.

    The way for all God's children to have an abundant life calls us to hear the story from the nations of the world. NAE's Loving the Least of These makes a good start. Let's not deny the realities that face God's creation and truly understand that creation care is a matter of life.

    The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox is President/C.E.O. of The Evangelical Environmental Network
  • 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.



    [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.



  • Time Mag Online's Story on Pro-Life Mercury Campaign; passage of TRAIN Act by House

    September 23,2011, 10:37 AM


    We thought you would want to know about some great coverage the evangelical and Catholic efforts to protect the unborn from mercury has received from Time, and urge you to check out the full story here. Below are some excerpts.

    Unfortunately, the bill we are opposing, the TRAIN Act that includes stopping EPA from moving forward on mercury pollution, just passed the House. This is disappointing but expected. We were hoping that more Republicans would vote against, but only 4 were on the right side of this one and voted No. Nineteen Democrats voted the wrong way.

    Excerpts from Time story by Elizabeth Dias:

    You might not expect evangelical Christians to get involved in a political fight over mercury regulations. But when the Environmental Protection Agency proposed in March to tighten limits on industrial mercury emissions, the move caught the attention of an influential group of religious environmentalists who are now butting heads with pro-business Republicans seeking to weaken the regulations with a measure that the House of Representatives is voting on Friday afternoon.


    Not all Republicans in Congress have met the EPA's rules with open arms, however. The House will vote today on the TRAIN Act, a bill that creates a committee to determine whether the cost of proposed EPA regulations, including its latest mercury standards, is worth the benefit. Republicans argue that a weak economy is not the time for potentially costly changes. Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, proposed in July to wrap mercury regulations into this yearlong review. "What I have proposed is that we go forward with regulations that are reasonable and workable but which allow a little more time for compliance, so as to temper the job loss impact as well as the increased costs on electricity consumers," he explained to TIME. Michigan Rep. Fred Upton and Joe Barton of Texas have supported the delay on similar grounds.


    Yet this delay faces strong opposition from the rule's supporters, including evangelicals who argue that mercury pollution is an immediate crisis for the unborn. At the forefront is the Evangelical Environmental Network, a coalition of religious leaders that calls its work "grounded in the Bible's teaching of the responsibility of God's people to 'tend the garden'" of Earth. The group's leader, Rev. Mitch Hescox, is a registered Republican who worked in the utility and coal industries for 14 years before becoming a pastor.

    Taking the fight to Republican critics of the EPA move, the EEN is mounting an ad campaign targeting Republicans Whitfield, Upton and Barton for opposing mercury restrictions while running on pro-life platforms. "I expect members of Congress who claim that they are pro life to use their power to protect the life, especially the unborn," says a local pastor and mother in one of the ads. "I can't understand why Congressman Ed Whitfield is fighting to stop the EPA from enforcing its plan specifically meant to protect the unborn by cleaning up dangerous mercury pollution." The ads have run on 120 Christian and country radio station in Whitfield, Barton and Upton's districts for the week prior to the Train Act vote. More than 100 evangelical pastors and leaders have also signed the "Evangelical Call to Stop The Mercury Poisoning of the Unborn," including representatives from over 10 Christian colleges, National Association of Evangelicals President Leith Anderson and Christianity Today's Editor-in-Chief David Neff. The United States Council of Catholic Bishops submitted similar concerns. "A national standard limiting mercury and other toxic air pollution represents an important opportunity to protect the health and welfare of all people, especially our children and poor and vulnerable communities," wrote Bishop Stephen Blaire. "While there are short-term costs involved in implementing this standard, the health benefits of such a rule outweigh these costs."

    Supporters of the regulations cite studies that jobs and costs are not at stake if the regulations go into effect as the EPA hopes. An analysis by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute analysis shows the toxins rule would create a net 28,000 to 158,000 jobs over the next four years; the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts puts the overall estimate even higher at 1.5 million in positions associated with the new pollution controls. The EPI also argues that the new standards could save $55 billion to $146 billion per year in health costs, dwarfing the $11.3 billion annual cost of imposing the regulations. Some inside the industry also agree the rules should pass soon. Over 30 energy companies, including PSE&G and National Grid, urged Congress in a July 11 letter to follow the EPA's regulations. Concerns about the industry's ability to implement new standards are, they say, "based on assumptions that underestimate the ability of America's electric sector to invest, retrofit, and construct new clean generation."

    Even so, some of the Republicans under pressure are suspicious of the EEN's motives. "This is an activist environmental group parading under the banner of evangelical Christianity and the right to life," Whitfield's chief of staff John Sparkman told TIME. "I don't think it will have resonance in our district."

    We at EEN especially love this last quote from Congressman Whitfield's Chief of Staff. You know you're making headway when people resort to calling you names.

    We'd also like to highlight what the article points out: this isn't just EEN, but over 100 senior evangelical leaders and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. We're in this together fighting to protect the unborn from mercury pollution.

  • 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).




    [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.

  • A Day of Prayer for the People of the Gulf

    July 16,2010, 11:57 AM

    By Rev. Mitch Hescox and Alexei Laushkin

    The Deep Water Horizon oil spill represents one of the largest environmental disasters in American history. We are thrilled and thank the Lord for what seems to be some positive recent developments for the oil spill. We will need to wait over the weekend to see what this ultimately means for the full containment of the spill. One thing remains clear, the disaster show cases both our God given human ingenuity and limitations. We have shut down an area of the coast line roughly the size of Kansas, over 81,000 sq mi,  to contain one of the largest man made oil spills on record. We cannot forget that this crisis doesn’t end with a plugged well, but will affect the Gulf’s inhabitants for years if not decades. As in all crises the Gulf Oil Spill will fade from public view, but not from the lives of those impacted.

    Given the size of the spill scientists and health experts have no immediate way to calculate the long term impacts or the years of havoc on the people, animals, water, and land, but they will be severe and enduring. One thing is certain the lives of those who depend on the Gulf will be changed.  Shrimping and oyster waters will be reduced, commercial fishing boats will devalue, which will force some into bankruptcy; and for many a way of life will be lost, in some cases forever.

    The spill in the Gulf is a vivid reminder that God has given humanity responsibility for caring over His creation, including the seas and sea life, the wetlands and the waterfowl. We were created in the image of God to be his image bearers; representatives of His reign to all that he made. We were made in God's image to reflect how He would care for His creation. That reflection became dimmed as sin entered the world and all creation suffers as a result.

    Our hopes for humanity and the restoration of all creation does not exist in a new well head, but the freedom and restoration offered in Jesus Christ.  Our Lord Jesus Christ died and rose that all God’s children and all creation might attain true freedom in Him. A creation regained not by our will but by the will of the Father in the fullness of time.

    In the present we must consider what being the people of God means in the context of our stewardship of the world that God made. In short we must care for creation. Rather than simply being a stain on our stewardship, we must let the Gulf spill be the impetus that propels us to better works; our Holy Scripture tells that we were redeemed for such a purpose.  If the terrible impacts of the oily water on communities and wildlife have made one thing clear, it is that we must do a much better job of being God's stewards, of protecting His creation and the livelihoods of those who depend upon it while we all benefit from its resources.

    We were created to love God and others as summarized by Jesus in the Great Commandment. Creation care is done to honor the Lord our God and to care for our neighbor. Those environmental impacts that have an overt human impact merit the church’s attention. Many of the problems in the world today have some connection to the brokenness that humanity lives in apart from God. Separation from God, self, neighbor, and creation, only with God is full restoration possible.

    That is why on Sunday July 18, 2010 the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) are calling for a National Day of Prayer for the people of the Gulf, for God's creation in the gulf, and for the Lord's intervention and deliverance. We believe that the transformative power of prayer extends beyond our human limitations.

    We invite you and your church or house of worship to join us in this show of faith and solidarity with our neighbors in the Gulf.

    Whether your church chooses to participate by saying a single prayer or centering an entire service on this challenge to our stewardship of creation to learn more about the National Day of Prayer visit http://creationcare.org.

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