Rabbi Arthur Waskow
"I call as witness against you today the heavens and the earth; life and death I place before you, blessing and curse. Now choose life, in order that you may stay alive, you and your seed."
Today the choice between blessing and curse has unprecedented meaning. We are told by such preeminent bodies as the Union of Concerned Scientists that every life system on the planet is in decline, and the very ability of God's creation to sustain life is being undermined. America's heritage is one of choosing blessings as bastion of liberty, land of opportunity, compassionate friend to nations afflicted with disaster. However, in reckless disregard for such values, the current Administration and Congress are systematically dismantling thirty years of environmental safeguards that protect our citizens. They have abandoned promises to mitigate the scourge of global warming, endangering the lives of millions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns of severe impacts on humanity. Our leaders are choosing the curse over the blessing.
WE IMPLORE OUR LEADERS TO CHOOSE LIFE!
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that Life, Liberty and Happiness are inalienable rights. But what life awaits our increasing number of sisters with breast cancer? The Environmental Research Foundation points out that seven of eleven published studies show elevated levels of organochlorines in tissues of women with breast cancer. What liberty does an elderly person in Chicago have when dying from a heat wave? A record setting heat wave killed over 250 people across the eastern U.S. in July 1999. The IPCC predicts such increases in "heat stress mortality" with global warming. What happiness awaits an elderly person suffering with West Nile Virus? The virus has became the most lethal mosquito-borne illness in decades, with thousands of cases nationwide. The IPCC predicts such increases in mosquito-borne diseases with global warming. As people of faith, we are called upon to love our neighbors as ourselves. We can not stand idly by the suffering of our neighbors.
The history of the current Administration and Congress of the United States of America, is a history of repeated assaults on creation, and the planet's ability to sustain life. It is also a history of distortion of facts and intentions. To prove this, these facts are submitted for the public to witness.
Abridged list of assaults on creation in 2002
"The biggest challenge is going to be how to best utilize tax-payer dollars to the betterment of industry." Mike Smith, Bush Administrative Assistant, Secretary for Fossil Fuels at the U.S. Department of Energy, Charleston Gazette, Jan. 31, 2002
8/31/02 New York Times. Power Plant Scheme finally Introduced, repealing community protections of Clean Air Act.
8/21/02 NYT. EPA weakens Clean Water Act, allowing increased discharges from factories and sewage plants.
7/1/02 NYT. President expects citizens to pay for toxic cleanups, refusing to reauthorize tax on polluting industries.
6/14/02 NYT. Administration proposes weakening Clean Air Act, allowing older factories to forgo modern pollution controls.
5/30/02 NYT. Administration weakens air conditioner efficiency standards, which will increase global warming pollution.
5/18/02 NYT. Administration to leave Tongass Rainforest, last largely intact temperate rainforest in world, open to clearcutting.
5/4/02 NYT. EPA allows mine waste to be dumped in rivers, which could have far-reaching impacts, especially in Appalachia.
3/14/02 NYT. Senate deletes higher mileage standard on energy bill, allowing largest emissions of green house gases to go unabated.
3/1/02 Washington Post. Eric Schaeffer, head of EPA enforcement, resigned, expressing frustration with Administration's cozy relationship with the very industries the agency is charged with regulating, and the Administration's unwillingness to pursue legal action against polluters.
2/16/02 NYT. President backs Yucca Mountain for nuclear waste dump, while Nevada officials and experts formerly with the Department of Energy and General Accounting Office believe facility will not protect public from radioactive contamination.
2/15/02 NYT. Administration rolls back Power Plant Pollution Rules, delaying up to 10 years life-saving reductions in pollution that are now required under the Clean Air Act. Plan allows three times more toxic mercury, and 50 percent more sulfur emissions which cause acid rain and premature death from respiratory disease.
"Blessing and curse" are placed before us. These abuses of power are a curse, not a blessing, to the American people and to all humanity. It does not have to be this way.
- We look towards an America that leads the effort to end the reign of fossil fuels, knowing this will yield tremendous material, political, and spiritual benefits, as did our journey to the moon.
- We look towards an America whose leaders uphold and strengthen visionary laws such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and Wilderness Act laws that served as models for other nations.
- We look towards an America whose leaders restore toxic Superfund sites and other environmental insults, allowing people of color and the poor to live without fear of toxic exposure and debilitating illness.
- We look towards an America that regards its natural wonders with reverence, protecting such treasures as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from drilling, and our National Forests from commercial logging.
We, American citizens of faith, pledge to continue bearing witness to the actions of our government, and to hold our leaders accountable, until they implement policies that honor God's creation and protect the precious gift of life. To live in a healthy, life sustaining world is the foundation for life, liberty and happiness. It is the ultimate right of every human being.
May the One who blessed our founding fathers with the profound insights of our Declaration of Independence, bless our leaders with the moral courage and spiritual audacity to uphold these rights for all people and all generations.