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EPA Issues Important New Climate Standards

EPA Issues Important New Climate Standards

Yesterday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued the first-ever greenhouse gas limits for power plants, marking the end of new conventional coal plants in the United States and encouraging cleaner-burning alternatives. In response to the announcement of these important new climate standards, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

"Climate change is one of the greatest social justice challenges of our time and as a leading global emitter of greenhouse gases, the United States must take bold steps to reduce climate-altering pollution and shift to clean, renewable energy sources. As such, we welcome the EPA’s new limits on greenhouse gas emissions. These vital regulations will place a check on new coal-fired power plants that contribute so significantly to the climate crisis.

The EPA’s new rule, called the New Source Performance Standards, will prevent any new power plant from emitting more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt of electricity produced. With conventional coal plants currently emitting more than 1,800 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt, we have already waited too long for pollution controls to set higher technology standards. These standards represent an important shift in support from coal and other fossil fuels that pose serious environmental and health risks - especially to our nation’s poorest communities - and will spur innovation in green technologies, creating new jobs and strengthening our economy.

We read in Midrash, “Do not corrupt or destroy my world; for if you corrupt it, there will be no one to set it right after you" (Kohelet Rabbah 7:13). Greenhouse gases and climate change not only pollute the air we breathe – compromising the breath that sustains us -- but the water we drink and the land on which we rely for food and shelter. In the past few months we have witnessed increasingly frequent extreme weather events including devastating floods, droughts, and hurricanes, both at home and abroad. Climate change is a both an environmental and a moral crisis, and our response must be rooted in our compassion for all of God’s creation and all of human kind. The rule issued today also reflects this value.

Although today’s stricter greenhouse gas standards apply only to new, rather than existing, facilities, they are a needed first step. There is still much to be done to develop a comprehensive climate policy that also accounts for the U.S.’ moral responsibility as the largest emitter of carbon pollution in the world. We applaud Administration’s continued efforts toward that goal."

Image courtesy of Reuters.

Published: 3/28/2012

Categories: Social Justice
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