BY ISN STAFF | August 24, 2018

In light of Tuesday’s Trump administration Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announcement that the Clean Power Plan (CPP), an Obama administration policy aimed at combating climate change, will be replaced by the new and significantly weaker Affordable Clean Energy Rule, the Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology has released the statement below.

The Clean Power Plan was enacted in 2015. On March 28, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order mandating EPA review of the rule. In October of 2017, the EPA announced plans to end the CPP. Catholic leaders and laity across the U.S., responding to Pope Francis’ call in Laudato Si’ to care for creation and those most affected by climate change, have spoken out in support of fully implementing and maintaining the CPP to significantly reduce climate-changing greenhouse gas pollution.

Statement from the Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology on EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy Rule

(Washington, D.C., August 24, 2018)—As the nation and the world suffer unprecedented heatwaves, devastating wildfires, and increasingly severe weather, the Trump administration continues to ignore the reality of climate change.

On Tuesday, Acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler released a proposal to scrap the Clean Power Plan and replace it with a significantly weaker rule.

The proposed Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule is reportedly meant to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector by allowing states to decide whether and how they want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Addressing climate change is not an optional matter. The EPA has a moral and legal obligation to reduce carbon pollution to protect human health,” said Ted Penton, SJ, Secretary of the Office of Justice and Ecology of the Jesuit Conference, the organization that represents the Jesuits in Canada and the United States. “We are deeply disappointed in this inadequate proposal that prioritizes the interests of the fossil fuel industry and threatens human health, particularly those who are most vulnerable and at risk from harmful pollution and an increasingly unstable climate.”

According to the EPA’s own analysis, more than 1,000 lives could be lost annually by 2030 under this proposal due to the health impacts of exposure to increased air particulates, compared to the Clean Power Plan that would have significantly reduced carbon pollution and saved lives.

We echo Pope Francis’ urgent call to hear “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor,” by shifting away from an extractive model of development and developing “policies so that … the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced” (Laudato Si’, n.49 and n.26).

We call on the president to work with the administration and Congress to develop and advance bipartisan climate policies that protect our common home and lead us toward a sustainable, clean energy future.

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