Bishops urge EPA to protect poor with climate regs

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is urging the Obama administration to fight climate change and to use its upcoming power plant carbon emission regulation to protect poor and vulnerable communities.

In a Thursday letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy, the bishops cited power plants’ position as the largest stationary sources of carbon dioxide emissions. The administration plans to unveil carbon emission limits for existing power plants next week.

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“Power plants have often been located near low-income neighborhoods and communities of color,” the bishops wrote. “Air pollution from these plants contributes to respiratory problems, especially in the young and the elderly.”

The bishops said the United States should work to fight the impacts from climate change, and that the poorest communities are already experience the impacts through increased droughts and storms, disease and limited access to water.

“Action to mitigate global climate change must be built upon a foundation of social and economic justice,” they said.

The bishops’ group also urged the administration to protect workers from the negative effects of new regulations and ensure that local communities have a say in how they are written.