Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Celebrating an Historic Week for our Environment

Saperstein: "After years of neglect, protection of our environment is again becoming the national priority it must be if our children's children are to enjoy the bounty of clean air, land, and water."

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Washington, D.C., May 22, 2009 - Following an historic vote on comprehensive climate and energy legislation in the House of Representatives, progress by the EPA toward regulating greenhouse gas emissions, and the announcement of new fuel economy and emissions standards for automobiles, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

Today we celebrate a momentous week for the health of our environment and all its inhabitants. I applaud Chairmen Waxman and Markey, and their colleagues on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, for moving with urgency toward comprehensive, clean energy solutions to the climate crisis through the American Clean Energy and Security Act. While the bill remains imperfect, we are encouraged by the Committee's work bringing diverse voices to the table to craft policies supported by the business, labor, environmental, economic, and religious communities alike.

Last night's committee vote marked the culmination of an historic week in the fight against climate change. On Monday I joined friends and colleagues from many diverse communities to support the EPA's finding that greenhouse gases are a threat to public health and to call on the Agency to act swiftly to address this scientific reality. On Tuesday, we welcomed the White House's new program to set emissions standards for cars and light trucks for the first time in American history. As the week drew to a close, we were heartened to see the most significant piece of environmental legislation in a generation clear a major congressional hurdle. However, much work remains to be done. In particular, we remain concerned that the bill fails to provide the necessary resources to help the most vulnerable developing nations address climate change. But after years of neglect, protection of our environment is again becoming the national priority it must be if our children's children are to enjoy the bounty of clean air, land, and water.

As people of faith we are commanded to protect God's creation and seek justice for the most vulnerable, and there is great potential to achieve both goals in tackling climate change. We will continue to call for policies that set science-based greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and ensure that poor and vulnerable communities in our nation and around the world are protected from the impacts of both climate change and new energy policies.

Climate change is fundamentally an issue of justice, and we look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to create just and equitable solutions that protect our environment and protect and create new opportunities for those most in need. Today we celebrate the unofficial start of summer encouraged that we and our children will enjoy cleaner air and a healthier planet for many seasons to come.

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, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis

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