EPA Oral Testimony presented February6, 2014 Washington D.C.
My name is Rev. M. Dele and I am here as a steering committee member of Virginia's Interfaith Power and Light affiliate. We have 4000 members who agree with President Obama that we should serve and preserve the land as instructed in Genesis 2:16. I am also a pastor in the United Church of Christ, a denomination which passed a national fossil fuel divestment resolution at our national SYNOD last summer. This action encourages each of us to do what is personally possible to reduce the economic incentive to use coal generated power. We all agree with the Small Business Majority who support EPA standards because they recognize our economy can never be so desperate that we sell off our children’s right to fresh air. And we agree with the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth which says the inherent right of Mother Earth includes the right to clean air and the right to be free from pollution and toxic waste. For as we treat Mother Earth, we treat ourselves.
Over 75% of African Americans are treated to a house within 30 miles of a coal fired power plant that is spewing unbridled carbon pollution into the air. We see racial disparities in carbon polluting when we realize that an African American family making $50,000/year is more likely to live near a toxic facility than a European American family making $15,000/year. This disparity continues in increased rates of respiratory illnesses in African Americans.
Even though we have lower rates of smoking , we are more likely to die of lung disease. Nationwide African American children are 5 TIMES more likely to DIE of asthma and 3 times more likely to be admitted to the hospital for an asthma attack. This is directly related to unbridled carbon pollution in the air. When combined with the other toxins that come from power plants such as arsenic, mercury, and lead; carbon pollution creates a lethal gas chamber/ a death dome which hovers over our communities and snuffs out lives prematurely. It is unbridled carbon pollution that is the number one driver of climate change. Those most impacted by climate change are the most vulnerable members of society we are called to serve.
So we call on you Environmental Protection Agency and ask you to do just that.: Protect the environment, protect our health and pass stringent carbon pollution standards. Pass these standards so that the death domes hovering over our communities will stop sending children to the hospital just because they played outdoors. Some of these children will never come home again. Pass the standards to restore our "beautiful for spacious skies" so we can all freely breathe the breath of life.
I end with a quote from a Negro Spiritual, “Keep your lamps trimmed and burning for this world will soon be done.” This is an age old common sense instruction for those who are burning any type of fuel. Whether you are burning beeswax or coal, you must remove the soot/the carbon, so that generating power doesn’t smother and kill you.
Universal Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth Passed April 22, 2010
World People’s Conference on Climate Change
and the Rights of Mother Earth
Cochabamba, Bolivia [With its 9,947,418 people, Bolivia is the 83rd largest country in the world by population. It is the 28th largest country by area with 1,098,581 square kilometers.]
Small Business Majority Public Opinion Poll, April , 2012
Coal Blooded Report by the Indigenous Environmental Network; Little Village Environmental Justice Organization; NAACP,