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Reform Jewish Movement Celebrates 34th Anniversary of Earth Day

Contact:Alexis Rice or Zach Rosenberg
202.387.2800

Weinstein: Enforcement of existing laws must be vigorous, regulations that allow companies to pollute at levels harmful to humans and animals must be opposed, and we must recognize our environment as the precious and fragile resource it is.

WASHINGTON, April 22, 2004 - In honor of the 34th International Earth Day, Barbara Weinstein, Legislative Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

As millions of individuals around the world celebrate the 34th annual Earth Day, Reform Jews across the globe are reminded of the miraculous work of creation. We add our voices to the chorus of those who champion our environment and proudly join the many environmental groups, faith communities, and caring citizens around the country in celebrating our nation's environmental achievements to date. We also renew our resolve to address the environmental challenges that remain before us.

Since the first Earth Day in 1970, we have seen the passage of landmark legislation that has sought to protect our air, rivers, forests and wildlife. Thanks to enforcement of the 1970 Clean Air Act and the 1972 Clean Water Act and subsequent environmentally-friendly laws, our air and water quality have improved, communities have been protected from toxic pollution and dumping waste, and wildlife habitats have been saved from destruction.

Still, and perhaps always, there is more work to be done. Nearly 160 million Americans live in counties that violate air quality standards, and nearly half of American waterways remain unsafe for swimming and fishing. Yet the levels of air pollution enforcement by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been cut nearly in half under the Bush Administration's direction. The President's proposed Fiscal Year 2005 budget cuts $500 million from Clean Water enforcement. New rules have been championed by the Administration to help power plants expand their operations without requiring additional pollution controls, and current EPA proposals to address mercury emissions from coal-powered power plants fail to meet Clean Air Act standards. Relaxed restrictions on the release of inadequately treated sewage threaten our beaches and coastal waters with more exposure to bacteria and viruses.

We ignore our environment at our peril. Enforcement of existing laws must be vigorous, regulations that allow companies to pollute at levels harmful to humans and animals must be opposed, and we must recognize our environment as the precious and fragile resource it is. Even as we rejoice in God's creation, we are mindful of our role, that we are instructed "to till and to tend," to maintain creation for the generations yet to come. On this Earth Day, let us take that challenge to heart.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews , and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis .



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