Posted by: tylere108 | May 25, 2011

We Have Waited Too Long (for better mercury standards)!

As some of you might know, public hearings are being held around the US this week to hear public comments on the proposed mercury rule that would drastically reduced the amount of mercury and arsenic emitted from power plants. David Creech (Ph.D.), Director of the ELCA’s World Hunger Program and a member of the NCC’s Eco-Justice Working Group testified at the hearing in Chicago yesterday. Here is what he had to say: 

“Thank you for the opportunity to testify on this important rule.  My name is David Creech and I am  the director of hunger education for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s World Hunger program.  I come as a representative of the World Hunger program and as a member of the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Working Group.  The ELCA, a national denomination with over 4 million baptized members, has a long standing commitment to working with and on behalf of those who are poorest and most vulnerable.  The National Council of Churches represents 37 denominations and more than 45 million people around the United States.  The member churches don’t agree on everything, but we do agree on the vital importance of this rule.  This rule is important to us because mercury contamination disproportionately affects those who are most vulnerable.

For the ecumenical Christian community, the regulation of mercury and air toxics is first and foremost a moral issue. As people of faith, we are called to work for justice, especially with and for those who are vulnerable.  In addition, we understand our role is to serve as stewards of God’s great creation. The air toxics addressed in this rule, including mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel, and acid gases have been shown to result in serious impacts on people (particularly women and children), communities, and this little blue marble we call home. We believe it is unacceptable (I would even perhaps go so far as to say immoral) to sacrifice our children’s health and their future for the sake of current consumption patterns and lifestyle choices.  Moreover, the integrity of creation is a precious gift from God entrusted to our care and collective responsibility. 

You are aware of the statistics and they are staggering.  The proposed rule, according to your figures, would reduce mercury emissions from power plants by over 90%. This would result in the following benefits in the first year alone: 6,800 – 17,000 premature deaths avoided (if we had done this 20 years ago when we were supposed to we could have prevented a minimum of 136,000 premature deaths based on these numbers); 12,200 fewer hospital and emergency room visits; 220,000 fewer cases of respiratory symptoms, 850,000 additional days of work; 120,000 fewer cases of aggravated asthma; and 5.1 million days of unrestricted activities.

Mercury contamination is particularly harmful to children and the unborn.  Studies estimate that nearly 15 percent of women of child-bearing age have blood mercury concentrations higher than the level considered safe for fetal development – putting as many as 630,000 newborns each year at risk for serious developmental impairment.  (This statistic hits particularly close to home as my wife is now into her third trimester.)  We believe every child is a precious gift from God entrusted to our care and collective responsibility.

We are supportive of the proposed rule that would reduce mercury, acid gases and other toxic pollution from power plants and believe, once implemented, it will go a long way in our efforts to protect children, communities and creation.  Families and communities have waited a long time (too long!) for these standards to be put in place.  We ask that you not weaken the standards in any way and nor delay the release of the final rule.

Thank you for making the time to hear our concerns and comments.”

You can add your voice to David’s and the hundreds of others who spoke in favor of the mercury rule.

Click here to share your comments on the proposed rule.

Click here to read the entire proposed rule (Warning: its 172 pages).

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