From the Worldwide Faith News archives

NCC - Christian Leaders Chastise President Bush's 'Clean Air'

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Thu, 22 Apr 2004 16:19:31 -0700

  Christian Leaders Chastise President Bush's 'Clean Air' Policy as Immoral

Campaign Launches with Letter to President Bush from US Christian Leaders
100,000 Congregations Receive Protecting the Sacred Gift of Air Resource
4,000 Local Leaders Sign A Call for Power Plant Cleanup
Full Page Ad Scheduled to Run in The New York Times

News Release About the Campaign
Text of April 22 Letter to President Bush, with signatories

April 22, Washington, D.C. - With a major mobilization of its base, U.S. 
Christian leaders are using their clout to call attention to the Bush 
Administrations "clean air" policy that they say goes against Christian 
principles of stewardship and care for Gods creation and Gods children.

In a letter sent today to President Bush, nearly 100 national and state 
Christian leaders in the country, representing millions of congregants, 
expressed grave moral concern and dismay over the Presidents stewardship 
of Americas environment and the implications for Americans health - 
particularly for children, women and the elderly.

Ever since taking office, the Administration has weakened critical health 
standards, especially the Clean Air Act, said Bob Edgar, General Secretary 
of the National Council of Churches, whose 36 member denominations count 45 
million adherents in more than 100,000 congregations nationwide.

Edgar, one of the faith leaders who signed the letter to the President, 
added that President Bush says that moral values are a cornerstone in this 
Administration, but this Administration is failing the call to protect 
Gods children. As our Bible teaches us, whatever one fails to do to the 
humblest of our brothers and sisters, one fails to do to God (Matthew

Citing passages from the Bible such as defend the poor and the orphan; do 
justice to the afflicted and the needy (Psalm 82:3), the letter highlights 
Christian values of protecting Gods creation, caring for ones neighbor, 
and protecting the least fortunate among us. Other signatures include those 
of Bishop Melvin G. Talbert, Ecumenical Officer, Council of Bishops, The 
United Methodist Church and the Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley, General Secretary 
of the American Baptist Churches (U.S.A.)

Their concerns also are reflected in a national advertisement set to run in 
The New York Times, calling on President Bush to stop dismantling the New 
Source Review (NSR) provisions of the Clean Air Act and to vigorously 
enforce the integrity of the Act, to protect public health against mercury 
pollution, and to include carbon among the pollutants regulated from power 
plant emissions.

Religious Americans from across the country have joined national religious 
leaders in a growing concern over the quality of the air they breathe. Over 
100,000 congregations have received a resource titled Life-giving Breath 
of God: Protecting the Sacred Gift of Air (available on-line at, resulting in a coordinated national congregational 
effort to celebrate Earth Day Sunday on April 25.

Sunday services will include liturgy praising the Creator God, the ruler 
of the sky, and study pieces on the state of air quality that includes 
ideas for personal and congregational actions. Congregants will also be 
called to pressure the president to strengthen air quality standards. In 
addition to congregational efforts, nearly 4,000 local religious leaders 
have signed A Call for Power Plant Cleanup that applies moral principles 
of justice and stewardship and concludes with: Cleaning up dirty power 
plants that cause harmful pollution must therefore be a policy priority.

These are moral values shared by millions of people across America, Edgar 
added. Yet the Bush Administration continues to prioritize the interests 
of polluting energy corporations over the health and well-being of Gods 

According to information recently released by the Environmental Protection 
Agency, more than half of Americans live in or around areas where air 
pollution levels exceed clean air standards. Most of them are minority 
groups from low-income families who often lack the means to relocate to 
cleaner, environmentally safer neighborhoods and have limited access to 
health care.

President Bushs record on the environment has repeatedly come under fire 
not only from environmentalists, but from leading scientists as well as 
other Republicans. In February, the Union of Concerned Scientists issued a 
statement signed by dozens of scientists, medical experts, and Nobel 
laureates questioning the integrity of the scientific research behind 
administration environment policies, and leading U.S. Senators sent a 
letter to EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt asking him not to stall 
expected implementation of mercury protections from dirty power plants.

Following is the full text of the April 22 letter to President Bush:

* * * *

Dear Mr. President,

In a spirit of shared faith and respect, we feel called to express grave 
moral concern about your Clear Skies initiative --- which we believe is 
The Administrations continuous effort to weaken critical environmental 
standards that protect Gods creation. Our concern over the Clear Skies 
initiative follows our strong disapproval over your Administrations 
decision to change federal air pollution rules that weaken "New Source 
Review" provisions of the Clean Air Act -- allowing some of the country's 
biggest polluting facilities to avoid installing air pollution-control 
equipment when they significantly increase polluting emissions.

We do not come to these positions casually, nor are we alone in our views. 
A growing number of religious Americans have come to recognize a solemn 
obligation to measure environmental policies against biblically mandated 
standards for stewardship and justice.

Respected scientific estimates, some by the federal government itself, 
cause us to question whether this Clear Skies proposal meets fundamental 
moral responsibilities as set out by the Bible.

The book of Genesis records that God beholds creation as very good 
(Genesis 3:1) and commands us to till and tend the garden (Genesis 2:15).

Protection of the global climate is an essential requirement for faithful 
human stewardship of Gods creation on Earth. Our own National Academy of 
Sciences --- joining an overwhelming scientific consensus --- concluded in 
2001 that carbon emissions from power plants are significantly contributing 
to the increase in global warming. Yet, your initiative pointedly does not 
set mandatory standards of reduction for these emissions. A multi-pollutant 
approach must address all significant emissions from power plants, 
including carbon emissions.

Clean air is as essential to life as a stable climate. Yet the 
Environmental Protection Agency reports that millions of Americans live in 
areas that have been deemed unhealthy to breathe. Power plants are the 
single greatest source of industrial air pollution in the nation. The 
American Lung Association asserts that the attainment of reductions of 
sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury that would take effect under 
the existing Clean Air Act will be delayed for years if Clear Skies is 
adopted by Congress.

Our Bible sets forth a paramount obligation to defend the poor and the 
orphan; do justice to the afflicted and the needy (Psalms 82:3) and calls 
us to satisfy the needs of the afflicted, [and] then your light shall rise 
in the darkness (Isaiah 58: 10).

Poor people, who have limited access to health care; senior citizens, who 
may have compromised immune systems; and children, who pound for pound 
breathe 50 percent more air pollution than adults, are disproportionately 
hurt by air pollution. Epidemiological studies from leading health 
scientists have shown that air pollution from power plants increases 
respiratory distress, asthma attacks, visits to the emergency room and even 
premature death. Again, Mr. President, we question the rationale of 
delaying power plant pollution reductions by the enactment of your Clear 
Skies initiative, as the American Lung Association has pointed out, rather 
than simply enforcing the reduction attainments of the Clean Air Act. This 
means more trips to the emergency room, more asthma attacks, more chronic 
bronchitis and more premature death, with the greatest impact falling on 
those least able to defend themselves: the poor, the elderly, and our

We are reminded that The Earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof 
(Psalm 24:1). And we are also reminded that a nation is judged for its 
transgressions because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy 
for a pair of sandals (Amos 6:2).

The private use of creations bounty must serve the needs of all Gods 
children. Yet we are concerned that powerful corporate interests have had 
disproportionate influence in shaping and reaping benefits from a clean air 
program which should serve the common good.

Finally, we have a solemn duty to the future well-being of Earth and all 
life within it, the covenant which I make between me and you and every 
living creature for perpetual generations (Genesis 9:12).

Yet we believe that the Administrations energy, clean air and climate 
change programs prolong our dependence on fossil fuels, which are depleting 
Earths resources, poisoning its climate, punishing the poor, constricting 
sustainable economic growth, and jeopardizing global security and peace.

We represent broad perspectives from communities of faith. We do not seek 
confrontation. But we believe there are reasonable and prudent alternatives 
to the course you have set. And, in light of fundamental mandates of 
scripture, we believe we must bring forward our perspectives to members of 
our respective communities and denominations.

We have written previously to you voicing our concerns on these important 
issues. We now request an opportunity to meet with you in person to discuss 
our concerns.


National Signatories

     * Dr. Bob Edgar, General Secretary, National Council of Churches USA
     * Bishop Melvin G. Talbert, Ecumenical Officer, Council of Bishops, 
The United Methodist Church
     * Ronald Brugler, President, Swedenborgian Church
     * Ronald J. Sider, President, Evangelicals for Social Action
     * Bishop Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church of 
     * John H. Thomas, General Minister and President, United Church of
     * Rev. Dr. Seung Koo Choi, General Secretary of the General Assembly, 
The Korean Presbyterian Church in America
     * Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, 
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
     * William Chris Hobgood, General Minister and President, The Christian 
Church (Disciples of Christ) in the USA and Canada
     * Rev. Tony Campolo, Tony Campolo Ministries
     * Thomas H. Jeavons, General Secretary, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of 
the Religious Society of Friends
     * Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, General Secretary, Reformed Church 
in America
     * Stan Hastey, Executive Director, The Alliance of Baptists
     * The Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley, General Secretary, American Baptist 
Churches USA
     * Stanley J. Noffsinger, General Secretary, Church of the Brethren 
General Board
     * Dr. Ronald M. Cunningham, Bishop, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
     * Rev. Michael E. Livingston, International Council of Community
     * Rev. Dr. Richard L. Hamm, Former General Minister & President, 
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the U.S. & Canada

State Signatories

     * Rev. Sarai Beck, Executive Director, Ecumenical Ministries of Iowa
     * Rev. Marshall Peters, Executive Minister, Mid-American Baptist Church
     * Dr. Richard Guentert, Regional Minister and President, Christian 
Church of the Upper Midwest
     * Rev. Connie Burkholder, District Executive, Northern Plains 
District, Church of the Brethren
     * Rev. Philip Hougen, Bishop, Southeastern Iowa Synod, Evangelical 
Lutheran Church in America
     * Right Rev. Alan Scarfe, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Iowa, The 
Episcopal Church
     * Rev. Phil Barrett, General Presbyter, Presbytery of Des Moines, 
Presbyterian Church (USA)
     * Rev. Harry Olthoff, General Presbyter and Facilitator, Presbytery of 
Eastern Iowa, Presbyterian Church (USA)
     * Bishop Gregory Palmer, Resident Bishop, Iowa Area, United Methodist 
     * The Rev. Elaine Hewes, Redeemer Lutheran Church, ELCA, Bangor, Maine
     * The Rev. David Heald, The Rev. Susan Curtis, St. Bartholomews 
Episcopal Church, Yarmouth, Maine
     * Sister Claire B. Lepage, CSJ, Justice and Peace Coordinator, Sisters 
of St. Josephs of Lyon, U.S. Province, Lewiston, Maine
     * The Rev. Richard A. Cullen, United Methodist Church of Auburn, 
Auburn, Maine
     * Sister Kathleen Smith, RSM, Earth Sisters of Maine
     * Barbara K. Foust, Co-Clerk, Midcoast Friends Meeting, Religious 
Society of Friends, Damariscotta, Maine
     * The Rev. Dr. Marvin M. Ellison, Professor of Christian Ethics, 
Bangor Theological Seminary, Presbyterian Church (USA)
     * The Rev. William Bliss, Bath United Church of Christ, Bath, Maine
     * Sister Joanne Roy, SCIM Congregation, Saco, Maine
     * Peggy Dunn, D.Min., Berwick United Methodist Church, Berwick, Maine
     * The Rev. John J. Ward-Diorio, First Parish Church Congregational 
(UCC), Freeport, Maine
     * Sister Jackie Moreau, RSM, Sisters of Mercy Justice Committee, 
Portland, Maine
     * The Rev. Dr. Richard Brownlee, Synod Executive, Synod of the 
Covenant, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
     * Mr. Marvin Hall, Executive Secretary, Wilmington Yearly Meeting, 
Religious Society of Friends
     * The Rev. Gary M. Straughan, President of Eastern District Executive 
Board and, Vice-President of Provincial Elders Conference, Northern 
Province, Moravian Church in America
     * Bishop Bruce Ough, West Ohio Conference, United Methodist Church
     * The Right Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Bishop, Episcopal Church, Diocese 
of Ohio
     * Rev. Darryl Fairchild, Executive Director, Greater Dayton Christian 
     * Rev. Larry Clark, Executive Director, Toledo Metropolitan Ministries
     * Ms. Jane Gray, Regional Director, Church World Service
     * The Rev. Albert Otto Baumann, II, Program Director, Toledo Council 
of Churches
     * Rev. Karen M Shepler, Chair, Toledo Council of Churches
     * Ms. Chloe Ann Krista, Executive Director, Akron Area Association of 
     * The Rev. Bob Erickson, Executive Director, Hunger Network of Ohio
     * Mr. Alvin Hadley, Executive Director, Columbus Metropolitan Area 
Church Council
     * Rev Dr. Kurt Keljo, University Pastor, Capital University, Columbus, 
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
     * Sr. Leanne M. Jablonski FMI, PhD, Coordinator, Environmental Justice 
& Earth Stewardship Task Force, Ohio Council of Churches
     * The Right Rev. Charles E. Bennison, Jr., Bishop, Episcopal Diocese 
of Pennsylvania
     * Kathleen Coll, S.S.J., Commission for Justice, Sisters of St. 
Joseph, Philadelphia
     * The Rt. Rev. Michael W. Creighton, Bishop, Diocese of Central 
Pennsylvania, The Episcopal Church
     * Gary L. Harke, Exec. Director, Pennsylvania Council of Churches
     * The Rev. Joy Kaufmann, General Presbyter, Huntingdon Presbytery
     * Bishop A. Donald Main, Upper Susquehanna Synod, Evangelical Lutheran 
Church in America
     * Gary Straughan, President, Eastern District Executive Board, and, 
Vice-President, Provincial Elders Conference, Moravian Church in America, 
Northern Province
     * Bishop Peter D. Weaver, Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, United 
Methodist Church
     * Bishop Elias G. Galvan, Pacific Northwest Annual Conference, United 
Methodist Church
     * The Rt. Rev. Sanford Hampton, Assisting Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of 
     * The Rev. Randal Hyvonen, Conference Minister, Pacific Northwest 
Conference, United Church of Christ
     * The Rev. Donna Roberson, Presiding Elder, Pacific Northwest 
Conference, African Methodist Episcopal Church
     * The Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan, Jr., Regional Minister, Northwest 
Region, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
     * The Rev. Thomas Quigley, Acting Executive Minister, Washington 
Association of Churches
     * Rev. Dennis Sparks, Executive Director, West Virginia Council of 
     * Rev. Ralph W. Dunkin, Bishop, West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod, 
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
     * His Eminence Metropolitan Maximos, Greek Orthodox Metropolis of 
     * The Rev. Eugene Ross, Conference Minister, Central Pacific 
Conference, United Church of Christ
     * The Rev. Dr. Daniel Byrant, First Christian Church and, 
President-elect, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon
     * David A. Leslie, Executive Director, Ecumenical Ministries of 
Oregon, Portland, Oregon
     * The Rev. Mark Knutson, President of the Board, Ecumenical Ministries 
of Oregon, Augustana Lutheran Church, Portland
     * The Rev. Kent Harrop, Chair, Environmental Ministries Committee, 
Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon
     * The Rev. Wayne Hill, Chair, Oregon Interfaith Global Warming Campaign
     * Bishop John G. Vlazny, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon
     * Virginia Robertson, Member of the Board, Ecumenical Ministries of
     * The Rev. Karen Blatt, Restoring Creation Enabler, Presbytery of Lake 
Huron, Presbyterian Church ( U.S.A.)
     * Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton, Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of Detroit,
     * Mary Katherine Hamilton, IHM, Vice President, IHM Sisters of Monroe, 
     * The Rev. John K Hooper, Chair, Environmental Concerns Task Force, 
Episcopal Diocese of Detroit
     * Rev. Charles Morris, Director, Michigan Interfaith Power and Light, 
Lansing, MI
     * Rev. James Zelinski, OFM Cap, Capuchin-Franciscan Justice, Peace and 
Ecology Office, Detroit, MI
     * Bishop Robert A. Rimbo, Southeast Michigan Synod, Evangelical 
Lutheran Church in America
     * Sara Streed, Director, Wisconsin Interfaith Climate and Energy
     * Rev. Mel Carraway, Sr. Pastor, First United Methodist Church, 
Lancaster, TX

       Rev. Hal Nilsson, President, New Mexico Conference of Churches, 
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

       Jim Gleason, President Elect, New Mexico Conference of Churches, 
Roman Catholic Church

       Rev. Jane Harmes, Pastor, Las Placitas Presbyterian Church (USA), 
Placitas, NM, and Vice-President, New Mexico Conference of Churches

       Rev. Sandy Burley, Pastor, First United Methodist Church, Truth or 
Consequences, New Mexico, and Secretary, New Mexico Conference of Churches

       Ruth Tribou, Executive Committee Treasurer, New Mexico Conference of 

       Rev. Dr. Barbara Dua, Executive Director, New Mexico Conference of 


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