1. Letter
  2. Environment & Energy

Faith and Environmental Advocates Oppose Weakened Mercury Rules

April 17, 2019

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is moving to weaken regulations on coal-fired power plants, which are the most significant mercury polluters.

The EPA itself projects that its current rule--the 2012 Mercury and Air Toxics (MATS) standards--prevents more than 11,000 premature deaths and 130,000 asthma attacks each year. A bipartisan group of senators have opposed this change. They urged the EPA to keep the lifesaving standards in place in a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

Emily Wirzba, FCNL’s Legislative Representative for Sustainable Energy and Environment, joined more than 50 faith and climate activists in sending a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler on April 17, opposing this dangerous action.

Coal Power Plant Environment

April 17, 2019

Administrator Andrew Wheeler
Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460

Dear Administrator Wheeler,

As faith leaders from a broad spectrum of religious traditions, we write to urge you to not weaken the Environmental Protection Agency’s Mercury and Air Toxic Standards. Faith traditions teach us the importance not only of protecting God’s creation from environmental hazards like mercury pollution, but also urge us to care for vulnerable populations.

Mercury pollution disproportionately impacts people of color and lower income families and has devastating impacts on children and pregnant women including damage to developing lungs, kidneys, heart and brain. Because of mercury pollution’s impact to human health and especially vulnerable populations, we are compelled to speak out against any weakening of the mercury pollution standards.

The current standards have been instrumental in reducing dangerous mercury and other toxic air pollutants released from coal and oil burning power plants. As projected by your own agency, the mercury standards avoid up to 11,000 premature deaths, 5,000 heart attacks and 130,000 asthma attacks each year.

Mercury pollution standards should not discount human health or limit co-benefits in the cost-benefit analysis. We support the 2003 guidelines issued by the George W. Bush Administration that work to protect human health. The standards should put the wellbeing of vulnerable communities and all of God’s creation at the forefront.

We believe that weakening the mercury standards does not fulfill EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment and will not protect the common good. The current Mercury and Air Toxic Standards help us care for God’s creation and should not be weakened.


Rev. Jessica Abell
Founding Pastor
Living Waters Community Church of Denver

Jeffrey S. Allen
West Virginia Council of Churches
Charleston, WV

Rabbi Katy Z. Allen
Jewish Climate Action Network Massachusetts
Ma’yan Tikvah

Shantha Ready Alonso
Executive Director
Creation Justice Ministries

Peter Bakken
Wisconsin Interfaith Power & Light

Rebecca Blachly, M.Div.
Director of Government Relations
The Episcopal Church

Rev. Anna Blaedel
United Methodist Elder
Director, Wesley Center at the University of Iowa

Sr. Joan Brown OSF
Executive Director
New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light

Cassandra Carmichael
Executive Director
National Religious Partnership for the Environment

Patrick Carolan
Executive Director
Franciscan Action Network

Rev. Dr. Christopher Carter
United Methodist Elder and Assistant Professor of Theology
University of San Diego

Marianne Comfort
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas’
Institute Justice Team

Rev. Dr. Jennifer Copeland
Executive Director, NC Council of Churches
United Methodist Clergy

Carol Devine
Green Chalice
Disciples Home Mission

Rev. Dr. Timothy Eberhart
Assistant Professor of Theology and Ecology
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

Rabbi Sam Feinsmith
Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob Synagogue
Skokie, IL

Dr. Mirele B. Goldsmith
Jewish Climate Action Network-DC

Rabbi Lisa Grant
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Rev. Dr. H. William Gregory
United Church of Christ retired pastor
Yarmouth, Maine

Rabbi Steve Gutow
Visiting Scholar at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and Immediate past chair of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment

Rev. Susan Hendershot
Regeneration Project
Interfaith Power & Light

Glenda Hill
United Methodist
Flagstaff, Arizona

Rev. Dr. Douglas B. Hunt
Board Member
Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth

Rev. Mark David Johnson, MDiv, STM
Pastor, Emanuel Lutheran Church, New Brunswick NJ

Rev. Dr. Dong Hyeon Jeong, PhD
United Methodist Church
Southwest Philippine Annual Conference

Dr. Laurel Kearns
Associate Professor
Drew University

Rev. Richard Killmer
Retired Presbyterian minister
Yarmouth, Maine

Sarah Withrow King

Sarah King
Former chair
Arizona Faith Network

Avery Davis Lamb
Interfaith Power & Light
Washington, DC

Rev. Ken Brooker Langston
Disciples Center for Public Witness

Rev. Greg Davison Laszakovits
Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren

Dr. Hyo-Dong Lee
Associate Professor
Drew University Theological School

Scott Lewis
Higher Ground Initiative
Temple Solel, Hollywood, FL

The Rev. Dr. Russell L. Meyer
Executive Director
Florida Council of Churches

Rev. Abby Mohaupt
Fossil Free Presbyterian Church USA

Mary Elizabeth Moore
Dean and Professor of Theology and Education Boston University School of Theology

Beth Norcross
Executive Director
The Center for Spirituality in Nature

Rev. Kerri Parker
Executive Director
Wisconsin Council of Churches

Rev. Jenny Phillips
Creation Care Program Manager
General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church

Rev. David Radcliff
Executive Director
New Community Project

Bonny Rodden
Maine Council of Churches

Terra Schwerin Rowe, PhD
Assistant Professor
Philosophy and Religion Department
University of North Texas

Nigel S. Savage
President & CEO

Rev. Peter Sawtell
Executive Director
Eco-Justice Ministries, Denver, Colorado

Rev. Katie Sexton
Executive Director
Arizona Faith Network

Ann Scholz, SSND, PhD
Associate Director for Social Mission
Leadership Conference of Women Religious

David K. Shumate
District Executive Minister
Virlina District Board - Church of the Brethren, Inc.

Rev. Sandy Sorenson
Director, Washington Office
United Church of Christ

Rabbi Daniel Swartz
Executive Director
Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life

Mark Terwilliger
Pastor, Countryside Community Church, a United Methodist Fellowship Clarks Summit, PA

Susannah Tuttle
Director, Interfaith Power and Light
North Carolina Council of Churches

Emily Wirzba
Legislative Representative, Sustainable Energy & Environment
Friends Committee on National Legislation

Melody Zhang
Rochester Hills, Michigan