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Evangelicals Praise EPA's Mercury Rule for Protecting Unborn Children

Contact: Alexei Laushkin, Senior Director Communications, Evangelical Environmental Network, 202-352-9920

WASHINGTON, Dec. 21, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- This afternoon the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released their long-awaited regulations on mercury pollution. The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) has played a key role in pushing for this day, having just completed a $250,000 media campaign over the past month drawing attention to the fact that mercury pollution is a pro-life issue. EEN's President/C.E.O., The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox, will be speaking at the signing later today and issues the following statement:

    For many it might seem highly unusual for an Evangelical Christian to stand alongside EPA Administrator Jackson this morning. I am standing with her today because we agree on the need to protect children from mercury. Christians are called to protect life, it's sacred, and evangelicals take very seriously the Biblical belief that life begins at conception. As Scripture states:

    Psalm 139:13 (ESV)
    13For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.

    The unborn are the weakest members of our society. We must protect them and insure their right to an abundant life. Currently 1 in 6 babies are born with harmful levels of mercury in their blood. The largest source of domestic mercury emissions are coal-fired electric utilities and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards promulgated today will provide significant reductions, over 90%, of the mercury contained in the coal that is burned.

    We have been waiting since the 1990 Clean Air Act for this day to come. It's been a long road, but we're glad it has finally arrived; our unborn children and infants deserve it. As a father and now a grandfather, this is personal. It is also central to the Evangelical Environmental Network's ministry of creation care, because for us creation care is a matter of life. We understand the gift of creation as a sustainable gift empowering and providing for human life. Unfortunately, humanity has too often endangered creation and therefore endangered human life with pollution like mercury.

    My organization, along with those we work with in the faith community including the National Association of Evangelicals and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, are thankful for recently finalized National Mercury and Air Toxics Standards and their life-saving benefits from mercury, particulates, and acid gases. Bishop Stephen Blaire of USCCB stated, "The U.S. Catholic bishops welcome this important move by the Administration to adopt long-awaited standards to reduce mercury and toxic air pollution from power plants and to protect children's health. In the end it just makes good sense to want to have clean air for our children and families to breathe and for future generations."

    However, protecting our unborn children from mercury doesn't end with today's action. Addressing mercury from other sources, both domestic and international, remains a priority. We look forward to EPA's leadership in helping to protect our most vulnerable lives from these other major sources of mercury. For now, however, this mercury regulation marks a significant milestone in the fight to protect our unborn children from toxic pollution and is something to be celebrated. We appreciate the leadership of the President and Administrator Jackson in bringing this day about.
 
Having been engaged on mercury's impact on the unborn since 2005, EEN stepped up its efforts this year as the regulation was being finalized and as efforts to thwart it began to appear in Congress.

EEN's $250,000 campaign included TV spots and radio ads that ran on Christian, Country and News-Talk stations across OH, PA, NH, ME, MI, AR, MA and TX. Billboards are also up in key districts in OH, AR and PA, which feature an image of an unborn child saying that support for the EPA regulations is support for the unborn. Over a million people have already responded to emails currently being sent to evangelicals and Catholics in the targeted states. Learn more by visiting creationcare.org/mercury.

In addition to EEN's efforts, a letter signed by pro-life evangelical leaders was hand delivered to members of the Congressional Pro-Life Committee. This letter follows on a previously issued statement, An Evangelical Call to Stop the Mercury Poisoning of the Unborn, signed by over 120 evangelical pastors and leaders. (Go to: mercuryandtheunborn.org.)