• Gov. Scott Doesn't Open the Door

    July 24,2014, 08:44 AM

    by Rev. Mitch Hescox

    Gov. Scott doesn't answer the knock on his door from fellow evangelicals. Yesterday, I received a less than gracious reply (see below) to meet with Florida's governor on a conservative approach to addressing climate change. Recently, I sent a letter (see below) to Governor Scott through his scheduler Rebecca Wood, and also through the Governor's website. I tried reaching out to the Governor to convey the request of over 57,000 pro-life Christians who believe Florida needs a plan to address climate change.

    Climate change already impacts Floridians, and over 57,000 pro-life Christians have asked Gov. Scott to make a plan to defend our children and protect human health and well-being. Climate change is a moral issue that threatens our life, our health, and even our wallets. For us caring for God's creation and God's children is a spiritual issue and not some political football. We believe the issues transcends political parties and all Americans need to find common ground and work together for overcoming the challenges and seeking the opportunities.

    After receiving the reply, I forwarded the answer to Rebecca Wood and Diane Moulton, Director of the Governor's Executive Staff, asking if this was the Governor's response to a fellow Christian (no response).

    So, I am going to knock again. On Tuesday, July 29, I will knock on the door of Government Scott's office in Tallahassee, provide the staff our request and the thousands of Floridians asking for help. Then I will go and pray for the Governor's heart and that the door be opened for the need to defend our kids from our changing climate.

    My Original Letter

    July 16, 2014
    Governor Rick Scott
    State of Florida
    The Capitol
    400 S. Monroe St.
    Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

    Dear Governor Scott:

    You and I share two common and profound allegiances that unite us together: love of country and love of Jesus Christ.

    Our shared belief in Jesus calls us to love our neighbors, protect the vulnerable ("the least of these"), and care for God's creation. These commands are directly linked to a great moral threat to humanity, climate change.

    The Lausanne Movement, founded by Billy Graham and John Stott, states in the Cape Town Commitment:

    Probably the most serious and urgent challenge faced by the physical world now is the threat of climate change. This will disproportionately affect those in poorer countries, for it is there that climate extremes will be most severe and where there is little capability to adapt to them. World poverty and climate change need to be addressed together and with equal urgency.

    We know of your outstanding mission efforts in Africa and caring for those in need, especially children. We too share those values and are working with the Assembly of God in Malawi to adapt and mitigate the climate change's current impacts. (You can learn more from this brief video.)

    Climate change just isn't in faraway places. Florida, your home, literally represents "ground zero." Sea level rise, more extreme weather, saltwater contaminated wells, loss of farm land and increased air pollution all pose significant threats to the health and well-being of Floridians.
    This points to why for us Creation Care is a Matter of Life, human life. For we share another value, life. As committed evangelicals our understanding of Scripture calls us to protect life from conception until natural death. As Focus on The Family recently put it, "It's a world view...it's a life-view. It's a way of looking at each human life that transcends culture, class, race, age and opinion""

    Unfortunately, a few in our nation are attempting to portray addressing climate change as liberal issue. It's not "it's a moral challenge to all Americans. It is a call to follow our Risen Lord and act to prepare for the impacts, many of which are already happening, and to work to reduce our carbon pollution to help our children, now and in the future.

    While a great challenge, overcoming climate change is also a great opportunity for clean energy, new technologies, increased employment, and restoring American leadership in manufacturing and business. One of the rising stars in this clean energy economy is Florida's own Algenol.

    Preparing for climate change impacts and making plans to address the cause are not just my concerns. To date, over 50,000 pro-life Christians in Florida are asking you lead and take action on climate change. They too share the understanding that climate change is not a political football but a moral challenge and grand opportunity.

    During the week of July 28, I will be in Florida to follow-up on a very successful evangelical climate change meeting in Orlando and finish planning for a Latino evangelical gathering in Miami on creation care. At your convenience during the early part of the week, I ask to meet with you in Tallahassee to present the names of those urging you to lead on climate change, and to offer my hand in Christian friendship to work together for conservative ways to address this great moral challenge.

     In Christ,

    The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox
    President/C.E.O.

    Governor's Response

    Governor Rick Scott
    10:46 AM (24 hours ago)

    to me, Sunburst

    Thank you for contacting Governor Rick Scott's office and sharing your concerns. The Governor asked that I respond on his behalf.

    Governor Scott wants to know how Floridians feel about the many critical issues we face and your input is important to him. You can influence legislation by contacting your local legislative delegation. To contact your legislators and track bills as they proceed through the legislative process, please visit www.leg.state.fl.us.

    Thank you again for taking the time to contact the Governor's office. Information about the Governor's administration and initiatives can be obtained online at www.flgov.com.

    Sincerely,

    Kelly Pacchioli
    Office of Citizen Services
    Executive Office of the Governor

  • Hugs for Life

    June 04,2014, 13:40 PM

    by Rev. Mitch Hescox

    In my family we hug a lot. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but what can I say, we're huggers. My wife Clare and I especially love it when our grandkids give us hugs.

    My seven-year-old grandson runs into my arms to give me the biggest hug he can muster, and when I say, "I love you" he replies, "I love you more!" My three-year-old just jumps in my arms, plants a big wet kiss, and says, "Love you, Poppop!" The youngest, just 4 weeks old, simply looks at me when I hold and hug him.

    My grandkids and their future immediately came home to me on Monday morning as I received a hug from a friend. It just happened to be at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the friend giving me the hug was the head of the EPA, Administrator Gina McCarthy. She did so immediately after she signed the proposed standards for reducing carbon pollution from existing power plants.

    I've made no secret of the fact that Administrator McCarthy and I have a good working relationship. Our ministry at the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) has supported Administrator McCarthy and the EPA on a number of occasions. We worked hard to put the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards into effect because mercury harms the brains of our unborn and newly born children. We stood alongside EPA and others to support new fuel standards that would make cars more efficient and therefore reduce harmful air population linked in numerous medical studies to birth defects. And now, we are standing with the EPA for a proposed standard for reducing carbon pollution from the single largest source, electric power plants.

    Administrator McCarthy and I make an odd couple. I'm an evangelical pro-life Christian and have been a registered Republican my entire life. McCarthy grew up with an Irish Catholic background and is a member of President Obama's cabinet "much more progressive. She's also a Red Sox fan while I support the Orioles.

    However, what we have in common is so much greater than our differences. We love our kids and grandkids. Climate change is a serious threat to those we love and a tremendous opportunity for creating a better life for them via a clean energy economy. Following the leadership of our Risen Lord Jesus, we can work to provide an abundant life in tune with God's plan for humanity as caretakers for His world.

    As a fiscal conservative, I would prefer a market based approach to reducing carbon. It is simply egregious that we put the costs of carbon pollution in our children lungs and brains while the profits are privatized. Simply put, the market has never realized the true cost of fossil fuels. As an example, we might like our neighbors and be thankful for ways that they helped us, but none of us would be happy with the same neighbors tossing their trash into our yards and expecting us to clean it up. That's exactly what has been happening with our fossil fuel use and it's time to act before it's too late.

    Common sense and our own experience tells us it is better to act sooner to address a looming threat than to ignore it and wait until it's harder and more expensive. That's what economists tell us about climate change: act now or the costs both human and economic will escalate. With each year of delay, the costs multiply for addressing increased disease, sea-level rise, extreme weather, food scarcity, and resource conflicts.

    It would be great to have a national discussion on the best policy approaches to address climate change, and as I've said, I think a market-based approach is best. But it's hard to have a discussion when one team refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem. Now there are many reasons that Republicans don't want to discuss climate science, but I believe it's time that we start to engage and I think most conservative policy makers agree, at least privately. A few months ago, during a private meeting, a leading Republican in U.S. House of Representatives said, "We all know we have to price carbon."

    As a Republican, I am proud of my party's conservation legacy. Ronald Reagan signed the Montreal Protocol to save our ozone layer (and bought us some time in addressing climate). President George H.W. Bush revised the Clean Air Act and reduced acid rain. These basic protections did not significantly impact the economy, in fact, they produced a lot of co-benefits and spurred new industries.

    My prayer is that people I respect, like Speaker Boehner and Senate Minority Leader McConnell might lead a new discussion on addressing our environmental challenges. Perhaps we could share a pat on the back as well. For me, hugs celebrate not only the importance of love and life but a job well done.

    We're not there yet. Addressing global warming will take all of us working together. So for the moment at least, I will keep hugging and praying for my grandkids, follow our Risen Lord, and help provide hope for a new future. Our kids, grandkids, and all God's children deserve the best from all of us.

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


  • Evangelicals Support Historic Effort to Address Climate Change

    June 02,2014, 06:25 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • This Earth Day, Love the Least of These

    April 22,2014, 08:02 AM

    By Kelli Trujillo

    Being green and caring for the planet is about a lot more than caring for fish or trees or birds or rivers or dirt or air. As Christians, we care for creation as a means of loving our neighbors (Matthew 22:36-40). We believe that human life is of inestimable worth"far beyond the value of diamonds or gold or rubies or dollar bills. Because of our belief in the sanctity of life, we take seriously Scripture's call to protect the vulnerable (Isaiah 58), care for the "least of these" (Matthew 25:31-46), and do unto others as we'd want others to do unto us (Luke 6:31).

    love least these

    It's a basic biological fact: Human life is inextricably tied to the health of the created world. The harsh reality is that environmental degradation directly and negatively impacts human lives! All over the globe, people are getting sick, remaining mired in cycles of poverty, and even dying as a result of environmental degradation. Air pollution, water pollution, deforestation, climate change, and many other factors are directly hurting humans whom God created, whom God loves, and whom God has called us to love like he does.

    So as Christians we care that unborn babies are born with toxic levels of mercury in their blood as a result of the pollution caused by certain forms of energy production. And we care that other babies are born with birth defects linked directly to air pollution.

    We care about kids who live in dumps or polluted urban areas"who suffer from cancer, heart disease, asthma and worse as a result of the toxins they're exposed to daily.

    We care about impoverished subsistence farmers and fishermen who must attempt to feed their family from depleted soil, unsanitary water, and contaminated fish.

    We care that the global poor are profoundly affected by erratic weather patterns, droughts, rising water levels all linked to pollution and carbon emissions.

    I could go on and on here listing example after example of how human-caused environmental degradation directly and disproportionately harms the most vulnerable around the globe . . . but I won't. These examples suffice to make my point: Being green isn't just about the "earth""but it's also about caring for human life. I firmly believe that being pro-life is about more than just abortion; more broadly, the reiterating biblical call is to speak up for all who are vulnerable.

    I'd never want my kids to eat toxic food or drink polluted water, to starve or suffer from preventable disease! Would you? This is where God calls us to embrace Scripture's profoundly-challenging Golden Rule: To care for the global poor the same way we'd care for ourselves and our loved ones. To defend, to love, to protect.

    And this love for humankind compels us to consider the environmental implications of our lifestyle and daily choices. Though "greening" our lifestyles can seem like an overwhelming task, I believe we can make small and simple choices, then build upon them with more small choices, as we each grow as stewards. (I'm still growing! It's still a journey for me and my family, one small choice at a time!)

    Friends: God calls us to love.

    It's worth it.

    Re-posted with Permission. View the Original Post here.

    Kelli B. Trujillo writes to encourage Christian women in discovering the sacred opportunities hidden in the seemingly mundane aspects of their everyday lives. With a focus on spiritual formation, Kelli's books lead women to encounter God in ways that fit the reality of their often busy lives"as wives, as mothers, as employees, as leaders, and more. Kelli's works invite women to re-imagine what their relationship with God could be, emphasizing that faith isn't about perfection, idealism, or fitting into some cookie-cutter version of what it is to be a Christian woman. Read more of her writing by clicking here.

  • Caring For God's Creation is Pro-Life

    April 14,2014, 06:57 AM

    by The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox

    From the formation of a child's first tiny cell to life's final breath, all life has dignity and value because each and every one of us is made in the image of God. And that is why when we talk about being "pro-life," it's not just about a political issue. It's a world view...it's a life-view. It's a way of looking at each human life that transcends culture, class, race, age and opinion.

    --- The Dignity of Life by Focus on The Family

    My organization, the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), has long believed "creation-care is a matter of life." For us this means protecting human life from conception until natural death. As the recent video, The Dignity of Life, by Focus on the Family puts it: "From the formation of a child's first tiny cell to life's final breath, all life has dignity and value because each and every one of us is made in the image of God."

    For us, being pro-life includes not only defending our unborn children, but also the biblical mandate to care for all life. Toxins and other pollutants foul our water, air, and soil, impacting the purity of life God intends for His creation. Every concern mentioned in the video by Focus on the Family is impacted by our poor stewardship of God's creation; creation-care is foundational to our quest to overcome poverty, human trafficking, racism, women's rights, and Jesus' call for abundant life. That's why creation-care remains integral to being pro-life. As the Focus video states, being pro-life is "not just about a political issue. It's a world view " it's a life view."

    Last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its latest study on the human impacts of climate change already occurring, and the more serious threats yet to come. On a recent EEN trip to Malawi, one of the world's poorest countries, we saw the consequences ourselves and listened to those whose lives have been made worse. Listen to this firsthand account from Lifnette James, mother of six. Recently the Assembly of God's relief agency in Malawi sent a letter asking the American Church to awaken to their plight. Will pro-life Christians answer this call? Will we answer the call of the one who is leading the way in overcoming climate change, our Risen Lord?

    As we approach Easter, our current inability to seek the opportunities for overcoming climate change reminds me of my favorite Bible passage describing Jesus' resurrection. In John's gospel, there is a unique and often overlooked story:

    14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.15 He asked her, "Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?" Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him."16 Jesus said to her, "Mary."She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means "Teacher"). 17 Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" 18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her." (Jn. 20:14-18, NIV).

    This text has caused lots of thoughts and opinions throughout the Church's life. To me the text is quite simple. Mary, so overcome with joy in finding Jesus alive, wanted to hold on to him. Mary clings to what she knew. She desires holding on to the past and is completely blind to a new future.

    Most of us can identify with Mary. We don't like change and are apt to live in the past. Mary couldn't understand that Easter was a transforming moment. The past, wiped clean at the cross, became a new hope and new opportunity in the resurrection. Beginning with Mary on that Easter morning, the Risen Lord offers us the choice to follow Him into a new future, a new reality.

    Today part of following our Risen Lord means letting go of our outdated dependence on fossil fuels and seeking new opportunities. Coal, oil, and natural gas provided some great benefits, but with a cost long unknown and a price unrealized. Now we know that part of the price we have paid and will pay is the health of our children. Dirty air, fouled water, and contaminated soil have left a legacy of brain damage, malfunctioning lungs, and a host of other health concerns.

    It's hard to let go. Our history remains filled with examples of people and industries failing to grasp new ideas. In the 1800's Western Union turned down the opportunity to buy the telephone; in the early 20th century the equine industry believed automobiles to be a fad, and the list of foolish decisions could go on and on. Let's not make the same mistakes again.

    Climate change already impacts food production, water resources, increases disease, and forces more and more of God's children to flee their homes. Addressing these pro-life concerns will require us to let go of the past, dream big, and together follow our Risen Lord toward a new day.

    Here's what I see: I see cleaner skies and purer water; healthy children free to enjoy the beauty of God's creation, their bodies not hindered by pollution, their brains not diminished by toxics. I see an economy that is the envy of the world, producing the technologies that help us achieve life, liberty and happiness, ones that lead to a cleaner environment, plentiful, affordable energy to power our homes and vehicles and businesses, freeing up time to spend with family and loved ones, to rebuild community life, and to be creative with the gifts God has given each of us. I see such a life being made possible in the Majority World, where American technology creates clean energy that empowers sustainable economic progress, lifting billions out of poverty and into prosperity.

    It's time to see visions of a new day, a new beginning. Let's move beyond our fear in holding on to the past and see what Risen Lord is doing. Being pro-life is caring for life and following our Risen Lord. This Easter let's move beyond our past and rise to a better future; Jesus did.

  • EEN Statement on Climate Report

    March 31,2014, 10:12 AM

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

    The current Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report provides even more evidence for what we have known for some time: climate impacts have and will continue to hit the poor the hardest, those least able to cope with the consequences, especially children and the elderly.

    Pro-life Christians should be especially concerned about what these conclusions will mean for young children and the unborn. Pollution impacts young children and even developing children in utero. Both groups are at increased risk for Asthma, developmental challenges, environmental toxins, severe allergies, and more in a world where pollution will become more common as the world warms.

    Even though the news is becoming stark, we have hope. Hope that God will empower us to develop the next generation of technologies and adaptations to address climate change. Hope that God will work through His people to provide better outcomes for the unborn and the vulnerable.

    In light of this hope, we believe we can take steps towards a brighter future, one where we have:

    1. increased our energy efficiency, thereby saving money;

    2. reduced air and water pollution that harms children and the unborn;

    3. created good, well-paying jobs from developing the next generation of clean energy and climate friendly innovations in the United States;;

    4. created more effective responses by governments, businesses, and churches and non-profits to help everyone impacted by climate-intensified weather events and increased pollution.

    We urge Christians to set aside this Thursday (April 3rd, 2014) for the first National Day of Prayer for Climate Action.

  • EEN Statement on Finalizing The Tier 3 Fuel Standards

    March 03,2014, 08:15 AM

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

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

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

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Advance Praise for President Obama's Climate Speech

    June 24,2013, 10:57 AM

    In one of the most anticipated speeches of his second term, President Barack Obama will announce tomorrow afternoon at Georgetown University his plan for overcoming climate change.

    In his video announcing the speech President Obama recognized we all have an obligation to protect God's creation.

    "As a fellow Christian, we greatly appreciate President Obama's acknowledgement that all Americans must do our part 'to preserve God's creation for future generations' by helping to overcome climate change," said the Rev. Mitch Hescox, President and CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN).

    Bold action is needed to both protect ourselves from current and future impacts and ensure that we reduce climate pollution to levels that avoid dangerous and destabilizing consequences (or keeping the world's temperature from exceeding 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels).

    Unfortunately, without bold action, the U.S. will not meet its commitments to help keep the world safe from destabilizing impacts and help the poor in poor countries deal with the climate disruption that has and will occur.

    "Having just returned from a fact-finding trip to Malawi, I have seen first-hand the devastating consequences the poor are already experiencing from the climate crisis," said Ben Lowe, national spokesperson for Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (Y.E.C.A.). "From the day we were born my generation has never experienced a world unaltered by climate change. We need bold leadership from the President and Congress to ensure our future remains bright, unhindered by dangerous climate impacts. We stand ready to support the President and leaders in Congress in efforts to protect our future from climate change," said Lowe.

    "With God's help, our country has faced big moral challenges before like World War II and the Civil Rights struggle and come out better on the other side," said Rev. Hescox. "We agree with President Obama that overcoming climate change will require all Americans to play our part in this great cause of freedom. There is no time to delay, as the health and well-being of our children is already being affected. As a pro-life Republican, let me add that we must set aside partisanship and come together to protect God's creation from climate change."

  • Leaning into the One Who Loves You

    September 24,2012, 13:42 PM

    by Pattrick Watters

    For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand"
    when I awake, I am still with you. (Psalm 139:13-18 NIV)

    For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

    "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33 NIV)

    Whatever the circumstances, lean into the One Who loves you infinitely and abundantly

  • What does Pro-Life Mean?

    September 20,2012, 13:49 PM

    by Mitch Hescox

    As Focus on the Family so beautifully depicts in the video below on the Dignity of Life "When we talk about being "pro-life," it's not just about a political issue. It's a worldview . . . it's a life-view."

    Pro-life is so much more than being against abortion, it's also about protecting humanity from poverty, human trafficking, and for us the threats from pollution. Abortion is a nationally tragedy, but so is 1:6 children born with mercury levels that could cause brain damage, or the 78% increase in autism in the past decade, or the fact women now face a 1:8 chance of developing breast cancer " all linked to increases in toxic pollution. The Christian Church has long supported pro-life as whole life, from conception to natural death. Pro-life has everything to do with quality of life as well as preventing abortions. The long Biblical history promotes pro-life as a true concern for all life. To limit pro-life to only abortion weakens the Church's witness in caring for all God's children.

    Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)

    For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother's womb.
    I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.

    God created us in His image and breathed into us the breath of life. We were created special --with special responsibilities to care for each other and to care for all of God's creation. Hopefully, no one will dispute the Christian call to be faithful stewards of all God has entrusted to us and this especially includes the earth. We live at a critical time as new chemical compounds are developed by the thousands each year, and many have never been tested for their effects on human life, especially in the combinations in which they are marketed in pesticides, herbicides, and even plastics. Lakes, streams, and ground water contamination continues from lead, mercury, organic compounds, and synthetic hormones. All these are threats to human life, especially our unborn children and "the least of these" that Jesus commands us to care. Moreover, this doesn't include another serious threat to human life - the climate disruptions caused by carbon pollution that result in extreme weather leading to drought and severe temperatures that menace human life, both here at home and around the world.

    Recently, a few Roman Catholic and evangelicals developed A Joint Declaration on Life. Their goal was to call attention to the political partisanship that attempts to disrupt true Christian witness in favor of one party over another. The degree of partisanship of those concerned with our whole life message is troubling. No single political party has the full solution to life issues. The church must carefully speak on the need for action to reduce abortion and to reduce harms to all of life including harms that come from chemical exposure and the world we will leave to generations yet unborn. I signed the declaration as it represents a balanced whole biblical approach to pro-life and rejects a partial Christian understanding of pro-life.

    Let's rebuff any worldview that "waters down" the Biblical message and witness that calls us to protect all life at all time in all ways. Pro-life as whole-life doesn't confuse the message but completely and fully describes our biblical witness.

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

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

    June 29,2012, 09:18 AM

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

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

    Here is what that message said:

    Dear EPA Administrator Jackson:

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

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

    Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Evangelicals Praise Senate For Protecting the Unborn from Mercury Pollution

    June 20,2012, 09:17 AM

    WASHINGTON, DC - In a full vote Wednesday morning the Senate rejected a measure intended to roll back the EPA's implementation of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), a rule that would limit mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants.

    "Today is a great day for our kids and the unborn. The U.S. Senate did the right thing by rejecting efforts to kill mercury regulations at the expense of our children's health," said the Rev. Mitch Hescox President & CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN). "20 years was too long to wait but we've finally done the right thing by regulating mercury from power plants for the first time."

    Since 2005, EEN has worked to overcome the mercury poisoning of the unborn. In the last year EEN has run a media campaign featuring radio, TV, and billboard ads, as well as emails to over 10 million evangelicals and Catholics, in key states to raise public awareness of the dangers of mercury and urging Christians to contact their elected officials to protect the unborn from this poison.

    "I'm especially thankful for the bi-partisan leadership of Senators Alexander (R-TN), Casey (D-PA), and Pryor (D-AR) for voting for life" said Rev. Hescox.

    EEN has worked with the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and over 100 senior evangelical leaders to lift up the impacts of mercury on the unborn. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 1 in 6 children in the United States are born with harmful levels of mercury.

  • EEN Op-Ed in the Hill Today

    June 18,2012, 20:12 PM

    EEN's President, Mitch Hescox, shares thoughts on mercury poisoning of our unborn babies and infants in the Hill newspaper today. Click here for the full piece.

  • [Action Alert Mercury and the Unborn]

    June 13,2012, 06:11 AM

    Next week the U.S. Senate is likely to vote on a resolution which would strike down EPA's Mercury Air Toxics Standard for Utilities (Utility MACT). The resolution of disapproval is being sponsored by Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma. These resolutions have the ability to nullify any similar rule making on pollution covered by the Utility MACT (for background on these sorts of resolutions click here).

    In our view the Utility MACT is 20 years too late. While the EPA has waited to implement this rule up to one in six children are born exposed to toxic mercury. The unborn child is exposed to mercury when their mothers eat fish with doses of mythlmercury that can be harmful causing brain damage, lowered intelligence, and other neurological disorders. The level of mercury exposure for the unborn child is twice that of the mother as there is no easy way for the unborn child to rid itself of mercury. This sort of mercury is emitted by coal-fired power plants. Utility MACT would reduce the mercury emitted by over 90%.

    Won't you take a moment to contact your Senator? Urge your Senator to vote no on Senator Inhofe's CRA on Utility MACT.

    Click here to find out who your Senators are and how to contact them

    If you contact an office please let us know at support@creationcare.org.

    .For more information about mercury and the unborn click here.

  • On Grief, Politics, and the Cornwall Alliance

    February 27,2012, 07:19 AM

    by Jeff Greenberg

    I am truly grieved after having read the Cornwall Alliance's (CA) response to Mitch Hescox's testimony before Congress. Even sadder is that the response does not surprise me. The CA folks are consistently hyper-political, abusive of good science, and assuming the undeserved role of speaking for conservative, Bible-believing, Jesus followers. Mitch pleaded with our nation's leaders to change out-of-date technologies that threaten the lives of anyone nearby a coal-fueled power plant. Those facilities are well known for the reality of mercury contamination emanating from exhaust smokestacks. Mercury is bad news for living things, even in very small amounts. The medical problems associated have been documented for many years. The most vulnerable, potential victims of poisoning are the very young, including the unborn, as they receive doses of all sorts of chemicals through their mothers.

    Not only does the CA response blatantly call the EEN (Mitch's organization) liars, but they then make great efforts to educate everyone in the meaning of "pro-life". According to their definition, I am not really pro-life. Apparently your only concern has to be a life and death issue. Children severely disabled by poisoning don't count, because that's a "quality of life" concern. More than grieved, I am sickened by that faulty, heartless logic.

    I want to refute completely everything the CA document asserts. First of all, I AM PRO-LIFE! Just as Saint Paul established his spiritual and cultural credentials against the attack of all opposition, I can offer my background against any on the list of CA response signers. I have four adopted children, two with obvious physical disabilities (and not uncommon targets for abortion) and two with significant, though less apparent "birth defects" of fetal alcohol syndrome, including severe learning disabilities. My wife and I have served crisis pregnancy centers in Wisconsin and Illinois. My wife was a center director, and I have been on centers' boards. We are authors of a book article describing realities of crisis pregnancy ministry. We have spoken before large groups to support adoption and oppose abortion funding (March of Dimes and testimony before the Wisconsin legislature). We have taught classes about the full spectrum of pro-life issues, including loving care for those coerced into abortion. I could go on much further. The CA definition is miserably lacking in accuracy.

    I am also an environmental geologist. My understanding of science and respect for God's good Creation, leads me again to throw an idea back at the CA responders. Put most simply, IF THE ENVIRONMENT SUFFERS, PEOPLE SUFFER. This principle makes complete scientific sense and it is completely supported in the Bible. Even non-human animals know not to defecate in their living areas. Scripture instructs the Israelites to bury their filth and keep unclean things outside the camp. Those coal plants are dropping sickness right into neighborhoods populated by people made in God's image, including the very young and the unborn.

    Finally, I want to hurl back the claim of "disingenuous" and "dangerous" made against Mitch, the EEN and many, many more of us evangelical Christians by association. The CA itself clearly portrays itself falsely. It is in fact a politically and economically stilted association that does not speak for God, the Bible, good science, or multitudes of compassionate people. Unfortunately, in the moral-political world of today, their kind of arrogant rhetoric plays well before too many in Washington, DC.

    Dr. Greenberg has served on Wheaton's faculty for over twenty years. He is married and the father of five children, the older four being adopted.

  • My Definition of Pro-Life

    February 14,2012, 08:20 AM

    by Kristen Hayes-Yearick

    As a Pro-Life Catholic Mother of three beautiful children, I was surprised by the joint statement released by The Cornwall Alliance about Reverend Mitch Hescox and the Evangelical Environmental Network's mercury campaign. I was shocked when the Cornwall Alliance joint statement declared the definition of Pro-Life as merely an "opposition to a procedure that intentionally results in dead babies."

    I am an ardent Pro-Life and Children's Environmental Health Advocate. In the Cornwall Alliance statement they note that "most environmental causes promoted as pro-life involve little threat to human life itself, and no intent to kill anyone." I have spent the past six and a half years researching environmental toxins and their impact on our born and unborn Children's health. The toxic environmental exposures, like mercury, are directly linked to many life ending, life threatening or life altering diseases in our children.

    Here are just a few statistics on Childhood illnesses that are either triggered and/or exacerbated by environmental toxic exposures:

    • 1 in 3 American children have Allergies, Asthma, ADHD or Autism
    • CDC reports that childhood cancer incidence continues to rise
    • Girls are entering puberty years before previous generations-breast development beginning at the age of 7: increasing their risk for reproductive and breast cancers.
    • Male infertility appears to be on the rise, and studies suggest that more boys are being born with genital malformations.
    • Chronic Childhood illness statistics continue to rise.

     The Cornwall Alliance statement adds:

    "This doesn't mean we should ignore environmental risks. It does mean they should not be portrayed as pro-life. Genuinely pro-life people will usually desire to reduce other risks as well " guided by cost/benefit analysis. But to call those issues 'pro-life' is to obscure the meaning of the term."

    I believe we've heard similar "unplanned pregnancy" arguments from the Pro-Choice movement. Genuinely pro-choice people will usually desire to reduce abortion incidence as well- guided by cost/benefit/convenience analysis. Does the concept sound familiar?

    At what point did the Pro-Life movement start analyzing the sanctity of life on a cost/benefit scale?

    If we're going to determine the importance of protecting our born and unborn children's health in dollar and cents: On May 4, 2011 the Mount Sinai School of Medicine researchers revealed the estimated costs on Environmentally-Induced Childhood Disease at $76.6 Billion.

    The Mount Sinai site states: "The researchers found the annual cost in the United States to be an estimated $76.6 billion, representing 3.5 percent of all U.S. health care costs in 2008. The breakdown includes: lead poisoning ($50.9 billion), autism ($7.9 billion), intellectual disability ($5.4 billion), exposure to mercury pollution ($5.1 billion), ADHD ($5 billion), asthma ($2.2 billion), and childhood cancer ($95 million)."

    Dr. Trasande also reviewed an earlier study of 1997 data, which was conducted by Philip J. Landrigan, MD, and documented $54.9 billion in annual costs for Childhood diseases associated with environmental toxins in the United States.

    Marilyn Musgrave, a joint statement signer and Vice President for Government Affairs of the Susan B Anthony List, said, "As a pro-life leader I am amazed that some in the far left environmentalist movement would try to hijack the term 'pro-life' and use it to further their agenda. It is my life's call to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves and work to end abortion in this country. The term pro-life has profound meaning and should not be used deceitfully in this way."

    As a pro-life Catholic Mother, I am amazed that I am being accused of being a part of the far left environmentalist movement with the implied insidious goal of hijacking the term 'pro-life' to further my agenda. I am acting according to God's will for me to be a voice for our born and unborn children. I work tirelessly to defend and protect God's children from abortion and environmental toxins. I do this because I've been called to do it. I am not making a statement to protect my major donors' profit margin. There is an agenda here, but it's not mine.

    The term pro-life has a very profound and personal meaning to me. I would never use it in a deceitful way. I had an unplanned pregnancy and I chose life. I never saw my daughter as a 'choice' because I believe in the sanctity of all life- from conception to natural death. I saw her as a gift from God. I can look into my daughter's eyes and see the gift that God gave me, but I can also see pain"real pain. My children's health was harmed by environmental toxins. I look into my children's eyes and I see the gifts from God and the damage done by greed, ignorance and negligence. I look into their eyes and I can see God's Grace and what human political posturing and polarization does to our born and unborn children's health. I look into their eyes and I can see God's will and how adults have failed to protect them. I can look into their eyes and see God's pure love and human egos, labels, preconceived notions and reckless, territorial-sanctimonious rhetoric that is threatening the health of our unborn and born children. I can look into their eyes and see God's plan and what we should be doing together"as one--to protect His most valuable and vulnerable population, His children. The only agenda that I follow is God's agenda.

    What would you do if your children's health was damaged or threatened by environmental toxins? Would you continue defend and protect the industries that donate to your organizations or your child?

    As a Catholic, I believe that we have a moral obligation to protect God's children and creation. As a Mother, I can't silently watch our most vulnerable and valuable population, our born and unborn children, losing or fighting for their lives through abortion or environmental toxins. It's a matter of life.. I am Pro-Life!!

    Kristen Hayes-Yearick is the founder of Protecting the Sanctity of All Life Movement

  • The Mercury Rule \ A Tipping Point

    December 29,2011, 15:58 PM

    by Gary Bergel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Soli Deo Gloria!  For the Glory of God Alone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

    2011 USGS Fish Advisories
    2011 USGS Fish Advisories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    October 11,2011, 09:05 AM

    Responding in Love for Our Unborn

    The Rev.Mitchell C. Hescox

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    _______________________________________________________________________________

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

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

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

    [iv] William Arthur, TheTongue of Fire, 1854

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

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

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

  • Speaking the Truth in Love

    September 28,2011, 13:05 PM

    by Mitch Hescox

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

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

    Dear Mr. Perkins,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ______________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    May 26,2011, 08:04 AM

    Good Morning;

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

    Testimony

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

    Psalm139:13 (ESV)

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

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

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

    Luke 18:15-16 (ESV)

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

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

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

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

    Psalm82:3 (ESV)

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

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

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

    1 Timothy3:4a (ESV)

    He must manage his own household well,"

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2011 Evangelical Environmental Network.
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