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Leading Evangelicals Object to EPA Restrictions on Power Plant CO2 Emissions

Cornwall Alliance Counters Effort to Portray CO2 Emissions Regulations as “Pro-Life”

(June 26, 2012, Washington, D.C.)—More than 100 leading evangelical scientists, economists, theologians, and pastors endorsed a formal comment sent Monday by The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) opposing its intent to put restrictions on carbon-dioxide emissions from electric power plants.

The comment to EPA was in stark contrast to an effort by the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) to portray evangelicals as supporting the new regulation as “pro-life.”

“It’s really disappointing to see EEN adopting this tactic again, after over 30 major pro-life leaders repudiated it in February,” said Dr. E. Calvin Beisner, National Spokesman of The Cornwall Alliance. “At that time, EEN praised some members of Congress for supporting EPA regulations on mercury emissions because their doing so supposedly showed they were ‘sensitive to pro-life concerns,’ even though they had 100 percent pro-abortion voting records, and castigated others for opposing EPA on mercury even though they had 100 percent pro-life voting records. The result, whether EEN intended it or not, was to obscure the meaning of ‘pro-life,’ divide the pro-life vote, and delay Congressional action to curtail and end abortion on demand in America.”

“The life in pro-life denotes not quality of life but life itself,” the February statement said. “The term denotes opposition to a procedure that intentionally results in dead babies. In stark contrast, most environmental causes promoted as pro-life involve little threat to human life itself, and no intent to kill anyone.”

“Carbon-dioxide emissions, even if EPA’s fears about global warming were true—which they aren’t—would kill no one intentionally,” Beisner said, “and any deaths they might cause would be outnumbered by the deaths prevented by the robust economic development abundant, reliable, and affordable energy makes possible. But taking coal—one of the least expensive and most abundant and reliable sources of electricity—off the table, as EPA’s new regulations would effectively do, undermines that economic development. Ironically, EEN’s reasoning would call opposition to EPA’s new regulation pro-life because it would prevent more deaths. But we’re not making that claim.”

“More directly to the point,” Beisner explained, “calling either support for or opposition to EPA’s CO2 regulations ‘pro-life’ would miss the fundamental distinction between accidental and intentional harm. Historically, ‘pro-life’ is a term that denotes opposition to abortion, which intentionally kills a baby. It just doesn’t describe the unintended, speculative, and counterbalanced harm that might come from CO2 emissions.”

Cornwall’s June 25 comment to EPA states its “opposition … to the carbon-dioxide endangerment finding and regulations, past and future, predicated on it, including those limiting carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants” and urges EPA “not to implement and enforce but to vacate the endangerment finding and all regulations predicated on” its controversial 2009 ruling that CO2 is a “dangerous pollutant” as defined by the Clean Air Act.

Citing Cornwall’s 2010 research paper A Renewed Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Examination of the Theology, Science, and Economics of Global Warming, the comment argued that fears of dangerous manmade global warming driven by CO2 emissions are unjustified and that the benefits of affordable electricity far outweigh any harms that might come from the slight warming they might cause. Rather than doubled CO2 causing 5.4 F° or more of warming, as some fear, it is more likely to cause under 1 F°, which would do far more good than harm by lengthening growing seasons in high latitudes while making little temperature difference in equatorial regions.

Among the 119 evangelical scientists, economists, theologians, pastors, and other leaders who endorsed Cornwall’s comment to EPA on CO2 regulation were:

• Gary Bauer, President, American Values, Washington, DC;
• Kenneth W. Chilton, Ph.D., Senior Environmental Fellow, Institute for Study of Economics and the Environment, Lindenwood University, St. Charles, MO;
• Marjorie Dannenfelser, President and Chairman of the Board, Susan B. Anthony List, Washington, DC;
• Rev. Bryan Fischer, Th.M., Director of Issue Analysis, American Family Association, Tupelo, MS;
• Guillermo Gonzalez, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Astronomy and Physics, Grove City College, Grove City, PA;
• Rev. Dr. Daniel R. Heimbach, Senior Professor of Christian Ethics, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC, and Chairman of the Christian Ethics Section, Evangelical Theological Society;
• Roy Innis, National Chairman, Congress of Racial Equality, Author, Energy Keepers, Energy Killers, New York, NY;
• Stephen D. Livesay, Ph.D., President, Bryan College, Dayton, TN;
• Anthony R. Lupo, Professor of Atmospheric Science, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO;
• J. Douglas Oliver, Ph.D. in Ecology, Professor of Biology, Department of Biology and Chemistry, Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA;
• James Spann, CBM, Chief Meteorologist, ABC 33/40 Birmingham, AL.

The full comment to EPA, with the complete list of 119 signers, is online at www.cornwallalliance.org/docs/Cornwall_comment_to_EPA_on_power-plant_CO2_restrictions_Scanned.pdf.