Annika Harley, the Creation Justice Ministries Fellow gave a testimony at the Mercury Rule Hearing at the EPA on 3/18/19. Read her statement below.
Hi my name is Annika Harley and I am a Fellow at Creation Justice Ministries and an active member in the Mennonite Church. My whole life I have learned and practiced the peace traditions that my faith community has taught me. Our core value is peace and nonviolence which translates into many facets beyond physical violence, including in our natural environment. I have been a lifelong advocate of caring for God’s creation and that is why I am here to say that this proposed rollback is immoral and violent.
Rolling back this vital Mercury Rule would undermine the environmental and health progress we have made as a nation since it was finalized in 2011. This environmental and structural violence would cause massive developmental and neurological damage of children and youth. Because infants and children cannot speak for themselves, we must speak for them. It is immoral to harm children for the benefit of industry.
As previously mentioned, I am a Fellow at Creation Justice Ministries. At Creation Justice Ministries we work to protect and restore God’s creation through mobilizing faith communities. We represent 38 member communions and denominations ranging from mainline protestant to Orthodox to historically Black to peace traditions. When we speak as Creation Justice Ministries, we speak on behalf of these 38 members. We as a collective say that this rollback is immoral.
We in the faith community are convinced that children should not bear the consequences of mercury poisoning simply because coal companies do not want to spend money on environmental protection. How can we look in the faces of infants and children and ethically choose to value coal company profit over their health? This group can’t speak for themselves so it is up to adults in positions of power to make the right decision on their behalf. The children of today will inherit the earth and we in the faith community are determined to make the moral choice to defend it and the lives of those to come.
This rule currently protects children and pregnant mothers in marginalized communities where coal pollution is at its worse. If these regulations are relaxed, people of color, and impoverished Americans will bear the costs that the coal companies save. This perpetuates the violent system of racism and inequity. As a Mennonite I am committed to eliminating these vicious structures, not building them up.
When the Mercury Rule was first finalized in late 2011, hundreds of religious leaders from a wide variety of faith backgrounds, celebrated alongside concerned parents, scientists, health care professionals and many others. If fully implemented, the plan would have eliminated 90 percent of the mercury emitted by power plants, protecting the developing brains of countless children. These standards are projected to save over 11,000 lives each year. Particularly in lower income communities and communities of color, they have helped prevent some 130,000 asthma attacks each year, keeping kids in school and out of the emergency room.
However, the Trump Administration’s proposed rollback of the Mercury Rule would change these statistics dramatically. This potential rollback contradicts the science, professional healthcare opinions, and moral integrity.
Mark 9:37 states “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” God calls all people of faith to value and care for children. As a nation our environmental legislation should protect children, not harm them. Rolling back this Mercury Rule would be a dangerous mistake. Thank you.
Throughout Women's History Month, Creation Justice Ministries is honoring women who make a difference for God's creation. If you also would like to honor a woman, submit her information here.
About Mama Lila Cabbil
Mama Lila Cabbil was a lifelong activist and strong woman of faith. She was actively part of the Church of God in Christ and a leader in ecumenical and interfaith circles. Rooted in Detroit, and global in her impact, Mama Lila stood for racial justice, and respect for God's earth. In particular, she self-identified as a "Water Warrior."
I had the honor of working with Mama Lila to put together a "Healing Waters Retreat" in Fall 2018 that brought together Christian community leaders and community activists on the front lines of Michigan's water crises. The retreat helped us connect with leaders involved in the Peoples' Water Board, which Mama Lila co-founded.
Our collaboration to call the Church into action for water justice taught me so much. At the beginning of our retreat, Mama Lila exhorted all participants to resist the temptation to "other-ize" the problem of lost access to safe, affordable water. She challenged each of us to “find the we” in the interconnected stories of the water crises of Flint, Detroit, and beyond. What she meant by this is that not take long to recognize that some of the fundamental problems leading to the water crises in Flint and Detroit are more universal than we readily see. In mainstream U.S. culture, we view water as a “natural resource.” Rather than a gift from God which is necessary for all of creation to flourish, or a living relative with which we share kinship in God’s creation, most of us view water as a commodity. However, we don’t just do this to water: we do it to people, and to entire communities. Mama Lila actively challenged this destructive myth.
Compared to many others who work in the water justice community, my relationship with Mama Lila was young. Yet her impact on me was profound. Mama Lila unexpectedly died in February 2019, and the news shook many of us who looked to her for leadership. I will carry her witness with me into all our future work to defend and restore safe, affordable water for all.
Prayer for Mama Lila:
Loving God, Mama Lila Cabbil has left this Earth and made a homecoming to You. Her love-of-neighbor led her to stand strong for racial justice and to defend water as a human right. Many people she mentored and taught remain to carry on her earthly legacy. We pray in gratitude for Mama Lila's strength and leadership. May she rest in peace and power.
Recognized by: Shantha Ready Alonso
About this Blog
This blog shares the activities of Creation Justice Ministries. We educate and equip Christians to protect, restore, and rightly share God's creation.