On March 18th Melody Zhang and Tori Goebel spoke out at the EPA public hearing in D.C. on the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard (MATS). Mercury is a threat to our most vulnerable neighbors and MATS has saved more than 11,000 lives per year since its implementation. Melody and Tori both offered testimony about how our faith compels us steward creation, protect life, and to advocate for alternatives to fossil fuels. Check out their testimonies below to learn more!
Good morning. My name is Melody Zhang. I am a Christian and a member of Young Evangelicals for Climate Action. We are motivated by our Christian faith to act as responsible stewards of creation and to protect the abundance and diversity of the fullness of life by advocating for alternatives to fossil fuel energy which are more equitable and just, for the sake of the most vulnerable among us. This includes women, children, and the poor. In the US, coal-fired mercury pollution threatens the health and well-being of these people groups most severely, and in disproportionate ways. That is why I am compelled to testify before you today.
My name is Victoria Goebel and I am here today as a Christian, a representative of Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, and citizen who is deeply troubled by the attempt to alter the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard. I am here because my faith compels me to speak out against this reckless, dangerous action that will endanger countless lives and contribute to the degradation of God’s creation. Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (Y.E.C.A.) advocates for climate action in order to secure a healthy future for ourselves and our neighbors as an act of faithfulness to God. Mercury threatens my health, your health, and the health of our neighbors just as much as greenhouse gas emissions. It would be nothing short of irresponsible and unjust to not address these threats with smart, evidence-based action.
I call Detroit my home. As some of you may know, there is a zip code in Detroit well-known for being the most polluted area in the entire state of Michigan, and that is 48217. They are my neighbors. Over the last 8 years, they have benefited from the MATS rule and were able to breathe in cleaner air because of it. Now 44% of them live in poverty, 82% are black, and 100% of them will have their livelihoods jeopardized if this life-saving standard is removed. I cannot sit idly by and watch my neighbors bear the brunt of this rule change. I must speak up for them because this is a classic issue of environmental justice. EPA, your very mission is to protect human health & the environment. When I hear the words protecting human health, I think of the example of Jesus, who both proclaimed and demonstrated the gospel by performing acts of spiritual and physical healing. Jesus always acted out of compassion for and intentionally went towards the overlooked and under-heard. Read Melody's full statement.
Mercury is a highly dangerous neurotoxin that can be ingested by pregnant women and result in irreversible brain damage in unborn children. Mercury can contribute to long-term impacts on a child’s memory, cognitive function, language and fine motor skills. Other health impacts include damage to the nervous, digestive and immune systems as well as the eyes, lungs, and kidneys. There are no known safe levels of mercury. Many pregnant women live in communities with varied access to health care and clean drinking water and are in close proximity to pollution sources such as coal-fired power plants. Studies conducted by the EPA prior to MATS found that 1 in 6 babies born in the U.S. had dangerous amounts of mercury. It is reported that this rule has saved 11,000 lives per year. My commitment to Jesus Christ compels me to do all I can to protect vulnerable people, like unborn babies and pregnant women, from mercury poisoning. This is a concern for life. Read Tori's full statement.
Photo Credit: JeffreyGrounds Photography