Social and Environmental Justice

The Cleaner Valley Campaign: http://cleanervalleycampaign.org
Valley Fact Sheet

More than 24,000 people live within a mile of We Energies’ dirty coal plant in the Menomonee Valley in Milwaukee. When air pollution is high, our friends and neighbors suffer more frequent, more severe, and more deadly asthma attacks, heart attacks, and strokes. In fact, the American Lung Association gave Milwaukee an “F” for the number of unhealthy air days in 2006-’08, making it clear that the plant’s pollution is a health risk.

We have a rare opportunity to weigh in on pollution coming from the plant as the DNR prepares the plant’s federal air permit. The DNR is currently preparing the federal air permit for the Valley Coal Plant in the Menomonee Valley, the dirtiest plant operated by We Energies. The plant lacks modern pollution controls and is a significant source of soot and smog. This comes at a time when Milwaukee and its surrounding counties currently violate health standards for soot and smog, two of the biggest pollution hazards for public health. Read more, click here PDF.

Social Justice Implications of Climate Change
The threat of climate change is significant because its potential affects are catastrophic; from the migration and mutation of diseases to severe weather patterns, we face an unimaginably vast threat. For Americans of faith, climate change is a social justice issue; IPCC Working Group argues the poor and disenfranchised will suffer disproportionately from the effects of climate change.. Indeed, if some climate models are correct, rises in global mean temperatures, the accelerated rate of extinctions of certain species, and many of the droughts, famines, and plagues now affecting the poorer nations of the world are signals that climate change is already underway.

Climate change also demands an ethical response in that its causes are systemic and related to many other woes. Modern societies, in their combustion of fossil fuels, not only release carbon dioxide, the most common of the “green house gases,” but a host of other toxins including nitrogen-oxides, mercury, sulfur-dioxide and particulate matter. Publications by the American Lung Association, Center for Disease Control, Union of Concerned Scientists, and the Environmental Protection Agency point to research showing that a number of respiratory illnesses, some fatal and many primarily affecting children, are caused by industrial pollutants. It would seem that our political and economic systems, our very lifestyles, are severely threatening the health and well-being of local populations as well as the global environment.

Dr. Peter Bakken, State Coordinator
Wisconsin Interfaith Power and Light
750 Windsor Street - Suite # 301
Sun Prairie, WI 53590-2149
PH: (608) 837- 3108
(c/o Wisconsin Council of Churches)
(c) 2010 WIPL. All rights reserved.