U.S. Bishops Chairman Opposes Environmental Executive Order

March 29, 2017 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—President Donald J. Trumpissued an Executive Order on March 28, 2017 that rescinds and weakens numerousenvironmental protections, and effectively dismantles the Clean Power Plan(CPP), the national program designed to reduce carbon emissions from powerplants by 32% in relation to 2015 levels by the year 2030.Fossil fuel-fired powerplants are the largest pollution emitting sector, making up just under one-thirdof U.S. total greenhouse gas emissions.

"The USCCB, in unity with Pope Francis,strongly supports environmental stewardship and has called consistently for'our own country to curtail carbon emissions,'" said Bishop Frank J. Dewane ofVenice, Florida, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and HumanDevelopment, in response to the order. "This Executive Order places a number ofenvironmental protections in jeopardy and moves the U.S. away from a nationalcarbon standard, all without adopting a sufficient plan for ensuring proper carefor people and creation. Yesterday'saction means that, sadly, the United States is unlikely to meet its domesticand international mitigation goals."

The USCCBhas voiced support for a national carbon emission standard in recent years, thoughthe Church does not privilege one set of technical, economic, or politicalapproaches over another.  Bishop Dewanestresses that, although the CPP is not the only possible mechanism for reducingcarbon emissions, the lack of a current viable alternative is a seriousconcern.    

"The EPA Administrator has repeatedlystated that policies must be pro-growth and pro-environment.  An integral approach can respect human andnatural concerns and still achieve these aims, if properly done.  Many states have already made great progresstoward carbon mitigation goals under the CPP, and this momentum ought to beencouraged and not hindered. PopeFrancis' encyclical, Laudato si', focuses on both the 'the cry of theearth and the cry of the poor.'  With thisrecent order, the Administration risks damage to our air, our waters and, mostimportantly, our people, particularly the poor and vulnerable, without proposinga concrete and adequate approach to meet our stewardship obligations as anation."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB,Environmental Executive Order, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Clean Power Plan (CPP),Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, environmental protection,carbon emissions, Environmental Protection Agency, carbon mitigation, PopeFrancis, Laudato si', air quality,stewardship.

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