WASHINGTON (USCCB) — The U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Conference welcomed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed standards for mercury and air toxics produced by power plants, according to a June 20 comment filed with the Environmental Protection Agency, by Bishop Stephen Blaire, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.
“Such standards should protect the health and welfare of all people, especially the most vulnerable members of our society, including unborn and other young children, from harmful exposure to toxic air pollution emitted from power plants,” said Bishop Blaire.
Bishop Blaire cited Catholic teaching on the protection of the environment and the need to protect human life and dignity at all stages.
“Children, inside and outside the womb, are uniquely vulnerable to environmental hazards and exposure to toxic pollutants in the environment,” he said. “Their bodies, behaviors and size leave them more exposed than adults to such health hazards. Furthermore, since children are exposed to environmental hazards at an early age, they have more extended time to develop slowly-progressing environmentally triggered illnesses.”
Bishop Blaire also urged the EPA to take steps to not disproportionally impact the poor and vulnerable in the implementation of this rule. He noted that “[w]hile there are short-term costs involved in implementing this standard, the health benefits of such a rule outweigh these costs.”
The Domestic Justice Committee chairman stressed the urgency of acting on this health and environment priority. He called upon “leaders in government and industry to act responsibly, justly and rapidly to implement such a standard” to significantly reduce toxic air pollution.
Full text of Bishop Blaire’s comment is available online: http://www.usccb.org/ogc/2011-usccb-letter-to-lisa-jackson.pdf.
In a similar letter to the EPA, the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA) also expressed support for mercury and air toxics standards to reduce harmful pollution and its health effects. The CHA’s letter is posted on their website: http://www.chausa.org/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=4294968373