Not a religion? Greens pray outside EPA for CO2 cuts

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Belief in man-made global warming has been derided by skeptics as a “religion,” but yesterday environmentalists gathered outside the Environmental Protection Agency to pray and urge the agency to cut carbon emissions from coal plants.

The environmental justice group Creation Justice Ministries hosted a morning prayer outside the EPA with Interfaith Power & Light to offer “blessings and hopes for this auspicious process, and for the diverse religious leaders who will be offering testimony.”

Politico reports that “Christian, Jewish, Baha’i, Unitarian Universalist, and Muslim” leaders attended the prayer and that some testified at the hearing. “Evangelical and other groups, citing moral issues, have called for strict regulations to combat climate change,” reports Politico.

Citing moral response to climate change faith leaders pray at #EPA, urge reducing #carbon emissions. #coal

— M. Scott Mahaskey (@smahaskey) November 7, 2013

Creation Justice Ministries says environmental justice “includes all ministries designed to heal and defend creation, working to assure justice for all of creation and the human beings who live in it.”

The EPA was holding a listening sessions at its Washington, D.C. headquarters about pending regulations that would heavily impact coal-fired power plants. The hearing was heavily attended by representatives of the coal industry, environmentalists and members of Congress.

The coal industry and members of Congress have been hammering the EPA for not holding a single listening session in major coal states, like Kentucky or West Virginia. Instead, the agency opted to hold sessions hundreds of miles from major coal mines.

“It is my understanding these sessions are intended to gather stakeholder input on what people think about future carbon regulations on existing power plants,” said Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell. “However, I couldn’t help but notice these sessions are scheduled only for states where coal does not have a large presence, like California and Massachusetts.”

At one point during the session, an environmentalist broke out into song and urged EPA officials to cut carbon. He sang, “We got to cut that carbon. No more delays, no more delays!” The singer even got an applause at the end of the song.

Outside the meeting, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity commissioned a moving billboard to travel around the city that read “Protect American Jobs.” ACCCE wants the agency to consider the impacts of its pending power plant regulations on coal country.

#TPA is going to tell the @EPAGov that harmful regulations hurt job growth in America! #epalightsout

— TPA (@Protectaxpayers) November 7, 2013

The EPA recently proposed carbon emissions caps for new power plants that would essentially prevent new coal plants from being built unless they utilize carbon capture and sequestration technology — which is not commercially proven.

The agency is also planning on imposing emissions limits on the country’s existing power plants, which the industry argues will force many plants to shut down prematurely.

“The president has outright stated his intentions for the coal industry. He has said, and I quote: ‘If somebody wants to build a coal power plant, they can — it’s just that it will bankrupt them,'” McConnell added. “But before you do, you’re going to hear from us.”

Brian Patton with the James River Coal company also attended the meeting to tell the EPA his concerns about regulations that make it harder to burn coal. James River Coal has been hit hard by federal regulations that make it harder to get mining permits and for power plants to burn coal.

Recently, the company announced it was idling four mines and laid off about 200 workers in central Appalachia. This comes after the company was forced to close down several mines in eastern Kentucky and lay off 525 workers earlier this year.

However, environmentalists welcomed new emissions limits on coal-fired power plants, arguing that the Obama administration needed to act now if it wanted to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.

“The time to act on climate is now,” said Pete Altman, clean air campaign director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “EPA needs to set strong standards that curb the huge amounts of dangerous and unlimited carbon pollution coming from the nation’s power plants.”

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