Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day Action: Water, Holy Water

Today is Earth Day! How are you and your church community planning to commemorate Earth Day and celebrate God’s beautiful gift of Creation?  Have you chosen a Sunday to hold an Earth Sunday worship service?

Make sure to check out the annual Earth Sunday worship resource from Creation Justice Ministries (formerly the NCC Eco-Justice Program). This year, we are focusing on Water, Holy Water, with which we have been blessed throughout our faith story. “Throughout the Bible, water plays a significant role in helping us understand the nature of God… [from] the crossing of the Red Sea [to] Jesus’ baptism… [from] the woman at the well [to] Jesus describing himself as ‘living water.’”[1] Indeed, water – fresh, clean water – has an essential role in our lives even beyond its spiritual significance. Clean water is essential for life and identified by our faith tradition as a human right. [2]

And in the Reformed tradition, we engage our faith beyond the church walls as well. Take action today to support a new rule that will provide greater protection for U.S. water.

This month, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a draft rule that will provide clarity, protecting streams and wetlands that connect to larger watersheds and protecting the quality of the water that we depend on for drinking, cooking, washing, swimming, and fishing. Under the proposed rule many of the streams and wetlands that were historically covered under the Clean Water Act will again be covered. The proposed rule works within the more narrow definition of "waters of the United States" given by the two Supreme Court rulings and clarifies that under the Clean Water Act:
  • Most seasonal and rain-dependent streams are protected.
  •  Wetlands near rivers and streams are protected.
  • Other types of waters that have less certain connections with downstream will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine if their connection to overall water quality is significant. 

The process opens the rule up for public comment, so this is a great opportunity to weigh in for a proactive regulation that will protect our water. The EPA needs to hear from you in support of U.S. waters and safe and clean water for all. 

“The health of rivers, lakes, bays, and coastal waters depend on the streams and wetlands where they begin. Streams and wetlands provide many benefits to communities – they trap floodwaters, recharge groundwater supplies, remove pollution, and provide habitat for fish and wildlife. They are also economic drivers because of their role in fishing, hunting, agriculture, recreation, energy, and manufacturing.” [3]

The most recent Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly (2012) acknowledged protection of the environment as vital to the Christian faith, supported a strong and proactive EPA, and affirmed a statement urging strong oversight authority over waters of the U.S. [4]

For more information on the proposed rule, visit the EPA site on Waters of the United States.


[1] Excerpted from Water, Holy Water, published by Creation Justice Ministries, Earth Sunday Resource, 2014. http://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/50750/p/salsa/web/common/public/signup?signup_page_KEY=7497
[2] 219th General Assembly (2010), Minutes, p. 332.

[4] 220th General Assembly (2012), Minutes, p. 241.