The Sisters of St Joseph of Carondelet, a congregation of over 700 Catholic sisters, strongly supports the Biden Administration’s new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules that will restrict carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, which generate approximately 25% of the planet-warming pollution in the United States. The draft EPA rules require that:
- New and existing gas plants (except for those that only run part-time) capture 90 percent of their emissions by 2035.
- Existing coal-fired power plants would need to capture 90 percent of their emissions by 2030 if operators plan to keep them in operation in 2040.
As Catholic Sisters committed to the vision of Pope Francis’s Laudato Si’, the Catholic Church’s teaching on preserving our common home, we are acutely aware of the importance of this action, as the United States is one of the major producers of greenhouse gases. These EPA rules will reduce our contribution to the destruction of our environment and are consistent with the United States’ commitments to the Paris Agreement made at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2015.
Power plant pollution disproportionately affects marginalized communities, amplifying existing racial disparities. Low-income neighborhoods and communities of color often bear the brunt of power plant emissions, with these facilities more likely to be situated in their vicinity. Studies have consistently shown that communities of color experience higher exposure to harmful pollutants, leading to increased health risks and environmental injustices. By supporting the new EPA rules on power plant emissions, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet recognize the imperative to address these racial disparities. These regulations offer an opportunity to prioritize environmental justice by ensuring that vulnerable communities, particularly communities of color, are not disproportionately burdened by the harmful effects of power plant pollution.
We applaud the administration’s willingness to use its administrative rule-making power to regulate carbon emissions as part of the authority given through the Clean Air Act and clarified by the U.S. Supreme Court. We appreciate that these standards will be phased in for currently operating plans over several years since fewer than 20 of the 3,400 U.S. coal- and gas-fired plants would meet these new standards immediately. We believe this is not an undue burden on power companies, some of which are already retiring their most polluting plants, moving to alternative renewable energy sources and exploring carbon capture technology.
The proposed EPA rules, when combined with the benefits of the Inflation Reduction Act and the new regulations on auto emissions, mark significant progress in meeting the U.S. goals outlined in the Paris Agreement. They also provide all Americans, regardless of race, with the same degree of protection from environmental health hazards, thus addressing current environmental injustices.
Take action with us
We encourage all United States citizens to submit a comment to the EPA Administrator Michael Regan in support of these regulations in the next 60 days. Please use our letter-writing tool below to send an email in seconds, and then share it with family and friends.