We have a responsibility to develop clean energy policies that protect our children and our air, land and water.
Each morning I start my day with gratitude and awe for the world in which we live. As I look out the window at the flowers and vegetables in my garden, I see their sacred beauty, and remember that in Genesis 2:15 we learn that God expects humanity to serve and protect God’s creation. As I see my neighbors starting their day, I hear the powerful message in Leviticus 19:18 to love our neighbors, and the countless times we are commanded to protect the vulnerable. These moments give me strength to use my calling as a rabbi to speak out when I see injustice.
Recently, I have also been waking up at all hours to the cry of someone who is a constant reminder of why I do the work I do. Every day I make sure my newborn daughter is fed, comforted, and healthy. I also think ahead to her future, as she learns to swim in the fresh water of Michigan’s lakes, as she explores our state’s majestic forests and as she simply breathes clean, fresh air. But it is increasingly clear that ensuring our children’s health in the long run requires us to work together—and with our lawmakers—to take significant actions to protect the air, land, and water on which our children will rely.
Michigan currently depends heavily on burning coal for electricity generation. But burning coal releases toxins and carbon pollution into our air—there is no such thing as “clean coal.” Carbon is a heat-trapping gas that creates smog, contributes to climate change, and worsens serious health problems, particularly for vulnerable children and seniors. While EPA regulations have greatly improved air quality by limiting toxic emissions since the 1970s, there are currently no national safeguards to curb carbon pollution. The EPA’s Clean Power Plan would build on the success of past regulations by putting common sense limits on carbon pollution—a move that would help speed our transition toward clean, renewable energy sources.
This presents a great opportunity for Michigan, where we can rely on abundant renewable resources like the sun and wind to meet more of our state’s energy needs. Governor Snyder’s energy report indicated that Michigan could get 30 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2035 and reduce its energy consumption through efficiency measures by a third over the next decade. Following the recommendations of the Governor’s report would put Michigan on a path to meeting the EPA’s carbon reduction targets with ease.
Moving away from coal and towards more renewable and efficient energy would allow us to be responsible stewards of the Earth, protect the vulnerable, and guard the health of our kids, seniors and families.
As a rabbi and a mother, I cannot remain silent. My faith and my concern for my child compel me to speak up, and the EPA’s public comment period is our opportunity to do so. I have let the EPA know that I strongly support common sense limits on carbon pollution.
When I fall asleep at night I want to know that I have done my part to protect God’s creation and to ensure a cleaner and healthier future for my daughter, and for all of God’s children. As the public comment period for the Clean Power Plan closes on December 1, now is the time to make our voices heard.
Rabbi Ariana Silverman serves as the rabbi of the Grosse Pointe Jewish Council and is on Michigan IPL’s Clergy Advisory Team
To submit your comment to the EPA, click here!