Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Once again, partisan political activists are defending job-killing regulations that will harm the most vulnerable people, while providing no demonstrable environmental benefits. Unfortunately, these activists are also working hard to seduce sincere church leaders.

Well-meaning, prominent liberal evangelicals are using radio spots to target Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. We know and respect several of these leaders. Yet the activists’ panic over speculative or imagined risks to American children dominates their proclamations, even as they condemn legions of Third World children to death from real diseases the simplest of modern technologies and living standards would prevent.

The Evangelical Environmental Network’s ads claim the congressmen want to “delay” and “disarm” Environmental Protection Agency regulations that the EEN asserts would safeguard the health and neurological development of unborn children, by reducing mercury emissions from power plants.

In our opinion, this is another misinformation campaign.

As pastors and parents, we stand tall in protecting children. But as concerned civic leaders actively engaged in energy and environmental discussions, we know the EEN radio spots are partisan and misleading. We cannot leave them unchallenged.

First, we must look at the facts. There is no credible evidence that American children are born with dangerous levels of mercury in their blood, or have impaired mental or neurological abilities due to mercury. The Centers for Disease Control says mercury in US children is well below even EPA’s “safe” levels.

The Food and Drug Administration, US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and World Health Organization have all established risk levels that are 2-3 times less restrictive than EPA’s. Under those guidelines no American children, in the womb or otherwise, are remotely at risk from mercury from power plants, fish or other sources.

As independent natural scientist Dr. Willie Soon has documented (read his report at www.AffordablePowerAlliance.org), US power plant emissions account for barely 0.5% of mercury in America’s air. The rest comes from forest fires, volcanoes and other sources. Even closing every US power plant will not make us safer than we already are.

Disregarding these facts, EPA’s proposed mercury, cross-state pollution and “maximum achievable control technology” rules for major power plants and other generating systems will increase electricity prices by up to 24% in just a few years, NERA Economic Consultants and other experts predict. That means factories, schools, offices, shops and hospitals will be forced to raise prices, cut services and lay people off.

Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.