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Caring for God's Creation: Called to be Stewards
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Eco-Justice Resolutions
from the Episcopal Church

Environmental Justice

Final Resolution from the
76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, USA, July 2009

Resolution D014: Environmental Justice

Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 76th General Convention support an environmentally just treatment of all in God's Creation; and be it further

Resolved, That the General Convention through the Executive Council direct Diocesan Environmental Commissions or Committees to educate our congregations about public environmental decisions that adversely affect the lives and health of the most vulnerable in our society, especially children, indigenous peoples, and communities of people of color; and be it further

Resolved, That Diocesan Commissions or Committees encourage each congregation to refer this resolution to their outreach committee or other such venue in order to ensure the education of their members and to encourage environmentally just actions.


Proposer: Canon Charles (Chuck) H. Perfater

EXPLANATION

It has been well documented that environmental injustice is common experience for groups that have an age or racial mix different from the majority of the population.

Children are helplessly subjected to breathing the cigarette smoke of their close family members, resulting in very high rates of childhood asthma in the United
States. By virtue of their rapid development, they are also the most vulnerable of the population to airborne particulates including lead, mercury, and other heavy
metals from paints, industrial processes, coal-burning power plants, and the like, with some of the highest blood lead levels of all U.S. children being found in urban environments throughout the United States.

Indigenous peoples have borne the brunt of nuclear waste and mines as a result of the mining of radioactive materials for or from nuclear power plants and weapons development, or they have become repositories of nuclear waste or have received grants to site nuclear waste dumps in their territories. At least fifteen indigenous tribes within the U.S. either have a nuclear waste site or have received grants for such sites or have applied for grants to site nuclear waste dumps, or they already have such mines on their tribal lands or have such sites
within a short distance from their lands, polluting their water supplies with resultant dramatic illnesses and morbidity, including the Prairie Island Mdewankanton Dakota Community, the Mescalero Apache reservation, the Mesa Grande reservation, the Prairie Island Indian Community of Minnesota, the Yakima Nation of Washington, the Apache Development Authority in Oklahoma, the Absentee Shawnee Tribe in Oklahoma, the Alabama Quassarte in Oklahoma, Tetlin Village in Alaska, the Ahkiok-Gaguyaka Tribe in Alaska, the
Lower Brule Sioux in South Dakota, the Eastern Shawnee Tribe in Oklahoma, the Skull Valley Band of Goshute Tribe in Utah, the Ponca Tribe in Oklahoma,
and the Caddo Tribe in Oklahoma. http://www.ejnet.org/ej/toxicthreattoindianlands.pdf

Waste incinerators and hazardous waste dumps are generally sited in non-white communities in many parts of the United States, as evidenced by the largest waste incinerators in New Jersey, which are in a black neighborhood Rahway, a black neighborhood in Camden, and a black neighborhood in Newark, and similar patterns that prevail throughout the United States, such as the largest hazardous waste landfill in the United States is located in Emelle, Alabama, a poor, predominantly African-American community that receives toxic materials from forty-five states and several foreign countries; and the South Side of Chicago, which is predominantly African-American and Hispanic and has the greatest concentration of hazardous waste sites in the nation. The proportion of minorities living in communities with existing incinerators is 89 percent higher than the national average. http://www.mapcruzin.com/ejigc.html

We recall the advice of the prophet Micah, to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. Educating adults about how their smoking affects our children, making all aware of how environmental wastes are hidden from sight unjustly, and calling our society to review and correct the inequitable siting of waste depositories and incinerators would put the Episcopal Church on a track to become a leader for environmental justice.

Original text available here
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The EpEN is a national network of active lay and clergy persons within the Episcopal Church, USA, who share a common concern for the environment and a common belief in the presence of God in all Creation and who work to make these concerns and beliefs known throughout all Provinces and Dioceses within the church. Members come from around the Episcopal Church USA. The activities of the EpEN are focused on the areas of Reflection, Education, and Action. 

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last update: 2012-05-07

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