The Reform Movement's Campaign for Climate Justice Concludes with Major Victory to Limit Soot Pollution

In 2023, thousands of Reform Jews across North America took action in support of stronger regulations to limit harmful pollutants, prevent the devastation of climate change, and advance public health.

February 7, 2024 - In 2023, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) launched its Power for Purpose campaign for climate justice. Nearly 3,000 Reform Jews participated in the campaign to demand the White House and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cut climate pollution in half by 2030, contributing to over one million public comments on climate regulations through a partnership with Climate Action Campaign. As a result of these efforts, today the EPA took a stand for the freedom to breathe, announcing strong final rules limiting soot pollution.

"We are incredibly proud that the Reform Movement has played a significant role in the EPA's decision to cut soot pollution," said Jacob Kraus-Preminger, the U.S. campaign manager for the RAC. "This is a bold and necessary step to protect communities across the country from this harmful pollutant, one of the leading causes of climate change. It is a moral and spiritual imperative to ensure that all people have freedom to breathe clean air, and today's announcement is a crucial step forward in protecting that freedom."

Inspired by the words from Psalm 150: "Kol han'shamah t'halleil Yah! Let all who breathe praise God," the Reform movement mobilized volunteers across North America to advocate for steps to cut climate pollution in half by 2030 on a local and national level. The RAC brought together hundreds of members for face-to-face meetings with legislators and EPA and White House officials, and hundreds of members gathered in Washington, DC to advocate on this issue for a Day of Action in May 2023. Over 2,200 individuals sent in written messages to specifically advocate for the reduction of soot pollution, which could save 4,500 lives and avoid 5,700 cases of asthma in children. Over one million individuals contributed to public comments on the soot, mercury, and carbon rules.

"As people of faith, we are obliged to stop this unjust policy that affects so many vulnerable communities and ensure a more equitable and moral future for all people," said Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director of the RAC. "By calling on the EPA to advance strong climate standards, we can stop these harmful chemicals from causing serious health issues and perpetuating the cycle of environmental injustice and racism. I am enormously proud that, today, our tireless efforts have yielded results that can save millions of lives from the devastation caused by climate pollution."

In 2024, the RAC will continue to build power to ensure that all have the freedom to participate in decisions that impact their lives, whether those decisions are about climate change, reproductive healthcare, racial justice, and more. The upcoming Every Voice, Every Vote Campaign brings this work back to the ballot box, as Reform Jews across the country will again act together to ensure that all people have access to participate in the 2024 elections. More information and updates on the 2024 campaign can be found here.