The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a death sentence for thousands of Americans with its deceitfully named “Affordable Clean Energy Rule.” This is gaslighting at its finest.
The Trump administration is once again manipulating the public with subterfuge, claiming that their new rules rolling back regulations on the coal industry will benefit America. Nothing could be further from the truth.
By the EPA’s own unashamed admission, the new rule will allow even more dirty coal particulates into our lungs, resulting in 1,400 premature deaths annually by 2030. That’s 16,800 deaths over the next 12 years.
This plan is only “affordable” for the fossil-fuel industry, while the rest of us will bear the costs of 15,000 new cases of upper respiratory problems, a rise in bronchitis, asthma and heart disease. Not to mention tens of thousands of missed school days for vulnerable children.
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Over the past decade, I have testified in EPA hearings as they sought public feedback when considering regulations about the coal industry. In 2011, I urged the EPA not to succumb to industry pressure to weaken life-saving measures protecting pregnant women, unborn children and babies from mercury pollution.
In 2014, I testified that President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan should set reduction targets for greenhouse-gas emissions for each state to avoid increases in methane gas from the fracking industry.
America should not be made into a sacrifice zone just to prop up a dying energy sector. The future is in true clean power — solar, wind, efficiency, and new technologies that protect the health of our communities. We need to train workers in these high-paying jobs that will sustain their families without demanding the tradeoffs of sickness and death.
As a person of faith and an ordained minister in the Lutheran Church, I remind Christians that according to the Bible, one of the duties of leaders is to protect those who are most vulnerable, those who have no voice, those who are least able to protect themselves.
The harm that will be endured by fragile bodies for the sake of keeping the coal industry on life support is unconscionable. The new energy rule is immoral, unethical, unpatriotic and against common sense.
Christians are called to cherish and tend God’s creation as part of loving and serving God and neighbor. Whether you are a Christian, a member of another faith community, or following a nonreligious path, I appeal to your sense of justice and your commitment to the common good. We need to speak out and push back against this assault.
I call on this country to do all we can to protect our most vulnerable citizens — including coal industry workers who deserve medical care, job training, respect and dignity as we transition to a clean-energy economy.
Clean, renewable energy is now more affordable than coal. It creates good jobs, reduces greenhouse gases that exacerbate climate disruption, and powers our world in sustainable ways. Don’t be fooled by a program title that hides the truth about EPA’s intention to sacrifice lives for the sake of profit.
The Rev. Dr. Leah D. Schade is author of “Creation-Crisis Preaching: Ecology, Theology, and the Pulpit (Chalice Press, 2015)” and teaches preaching and worship at Lexington Theological Seminary; firstname.lastname@example.org.