The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Faith leaders back new carbon emission standard
There’s nothing in the Bible or other religious texts about reducing carbon emissions.
But some area pastors, and the leaders of two Virginia interfaith and evangelical groups, gathered in Fredericksburg Thursday to support the EPA’s plan to cut carbon pollution from new power plants.
They argue that cleaning up air polluted by the burning of fossil fuels is part of God’s commandment that humans be good stewards of the environment.
The occasion was a news conference at the University of Mary Washington to announce support for the Environmental Protection Agency initiative announced on Sept. 20. And the group is promoting a letter-writing campaign urging EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to move forward with the new rules. About a dozen area residents and clergy have signed on.
“It starts here, but it doesn’t end here,” said Marco A. Grimaldo, president and chief executive officer of the Richmond-based Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.
“Our goal is to have 300 faith leaders throughout the commonwealth” join the campaign. The center is Virginia’s oldest faith-based advocacy group, which Grimaldo said met recently in Northern Virginia to discuss the “moral imperative to address climate change.”
Grimaldo noted that the EPA continues to collect public comments as part of its process to finalize the carbon-pollution rules for new power plants. Rules for existing plants will be considered later.
He called on “our sisters and brothers throughout Virginia to join us in support of commonsense rules to reduce carbon pollution.”
The Rev. Toby Larson, pastor of Celebration Anglican Church in Fredericksburg, said, “The Gospel is more than taking care of creation, but not less.” People of faith, he added, are called to be good neighbors, as well as stewards of God’s creation.
Larson said he has spoken on environmental stewardship on several occasions, and has mentioned it in a blog.
“I became passionate about air and water [quality] after spending many years in Beijing; we lived next to a power plant.” The Chinese city has some of the world’s worst air pollution, much of it coming from coal-fired plants.
On the larger question of weighing in on environmental issues, Larson said, “My hope is that the church will make this a passion.”
He said he recently asked a colleague in New York, who had preached more than 1,000 sermons, how many had to do with taking care of creation and the planet.
“He said, ‘Zero.’ I think these are topics we should all think about.”
The Rev. Rich Cizik, president of New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good and a resident of Stafford County, said, “We know that our nation’s air can be cleaned up. No industry that pollutes it with toxic chemicals or carbon emissions should be allowed to profit at the expense of public health and well-being.”
Cizik also served for a decade as vice president for governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, and is spokesman for the Good Steward Campaign.
He recalled that when President Obama announced his Climate Action Plan at Georgetown University this summer, conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer dubbed it “Obama’s Folly,” and that the plan “required more faith than science” as if to suggest that faith itself was contravened by good science.
“I thought that was an outrageous statement.”
Read more about the Virginia Interfaith Center: virginiainterfaithcen ter.org
The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common good: newevangeli calpartnership.org
Rusty Dennen: 540/374-5431
In September the EPA announced its first steps under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants.
The federal agency is proposing carbon pollution standards for new power plants, and is kicking off the process of engagement with states, stakeholders and the public to establish carbon pollution standards for existing power plants.
—U.S. Environmental Protection Agency