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Reform Movement Comments on the Federal Implementation Plan for the EPA's Clean Power Plan

Reform Movement Comments on the Federal Implementation Plan for the EPA's Clean Power Plan


Today, Barbara Weinstein, Director of the Commission for Social Action of Reform Judaism and the Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, testified to the Environmental Protection Agency about their new federal implementation plan for the Clean Power Plan.

“I’m Barbara Weinstein, Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism and Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. We advocate on behalf of the Reform Jewish Movement’s 900 congregations, 1.5 million congregants and 2000 rabbis across North America. Thank you for the opportunity to speak today in support of the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan federal implementation plan. This proposal reflects our nation’s commitment to combating climate change and ensuring the well-being of the most vulnerable populations at home and around the world.

Our Reform Jewish values teach us to be stewards of the Earth for the benefit of those with whom we share the planet today, and also for future generations. Biblical commentary on  Ecclesiastes Rabbah (7:13), teaches us that God says to Adam, “see to it that you do not spoil or destroy My world, for if you do, there will be no one to repair it after you.”

We know that the impacts of climate change are real and visible today. Nearly one-half of Americans live in areas where the air is unsafe to breathe. Extreme weather events, such as the recent flooding in South Carolina, Texas and Oklahoma, and droughts in California, highlight the wide range of challenges faced by Americans due to climate change. Similar challenges affect communities worldwide. Indeed no person and no part of our planet is immune, although at particular risk are members of vulnerable populations: the young, the old, and the poor. Their struggle brings to mind the words of Leviticus 19: “Do not stand idly by while your neighbor bleeds.” Each of us has a responsibility to act personally to address the climate crisis. Our Reform Jewish Movement’s support for the EPA’s proposed federal implementation plan to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants is a reflection of that responsibility.

As you know, 2014 was the hottest year on record, and predictions for 2015 show that this year is on track to break that record. Carbon emissions are the main cause of increased global temperatures, and it is imperative for the U.S.’s status as a global leader that significant action is taken to cut our carbon emissions, 40% of which come from power plants.

The Clean Power Plan is a vital step in that direction.  The United States is home to only 5% of the world’s population, yet we produce about 19% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The Plan is also an opportunity to address the fact that the burdens of climate change fall disproportionately on marginalized communities. Thus, the federal implementation plan should promote equity in the allocation of limited resources and make long-term investments into those communities. The plan should also promote sustainability and stewardship, providing incentives for clean, renewable energy and minimizing the harmful impacts of carbon emissions on land, water and air. The federal implementation plan can serve not just as a fall back but as a model for states, spurring them to achieve the most equitable and sustainable plans possible.

On the threshold of the international climate negotiations in Paris, the United States must assert itself as a leader in international efforts to reduce global climate change, with strong plans and a commitment to reduce our own greenhouse gas emissions and assist vulnerable populations.  Implementing the proposed federal limitation on carbon emissions from existing power plants targets a key source of carbon pollution and helps address the impacts of that pollution. It also demonstrates our country’s commitment to the health and wellbeing of our planet and its inhabitants.

We applaud the EPA and President Obama’s leadership in strengthening and enforcing limits on harmful carbon emissions and call on you today to implement an equitable and sustainable federal plan.”

You can take action to protect the environment too! Sign the Faithful Call to Address Climate Change, calling for U.S. leadership in a strong international climate agreement to lower global greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, you can urge your representatives to support funding for the Green Climate Fund, an international fund to help vulnerable populations mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change. 

Rachel Landman is the assistant director of 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy in Byfield, MA, where she ran the inaugural summer Israel program, which focused on exploring Israel through the lens of science and technology. She holds a degree in biology from Hamilton College and served as an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. She is an alumna of URJ Crane Lake Camp and grew up at Brooklyn Heights Synagogue in Brooklyn, NY. 

Rachel Landman

Published: 11/19/2015