WASHINGTON (May 21, 2001) -- The United States Catholic Conference has been awarded $300,000 for a two-year environmental justice program to include innovative projects in the Archdioceses of Detroit, Hartford, and Los Angeles, the Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa and the state of Florida.
The grant was awarded by the Nathan Cummings Foundation to the USCC's program, "Common Good of Creation: Integrating Justice, Ecology and Community." The program is part of the Environmental Justice project, overseen by the bishops' Department of Social Justice and World Peace.
Descriptions of the projects follows.
- Archdiocese of Detroit, Environmental Equity Project, $50,000 for two years. The project aims to reduce excessive dependence upon the automobile and thereby reduce toxic emissions. Studies show that Detroit citizens spend more time in their cars than citizens of any other U.S. city, a problem exacerbated by the fact that there is no regional transportation system. The archdiocese will work with groups to develop a stream of funding for regional public transit.
- Archdiocese of Hartford, Center Edge Parish Education Project, $50,000 for two years. The project aims to build a coalition to educate Catholics around sprawl related issues. The State Catholic Conference and the Archdiocese of Hartford will offer training and education events around the state in up to 35 parishes, motivating specific parishes to become Ariver stewards,@ and developing a state-wide public policy network to focus on water and other environmental issues.
- Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa Groundwater and Air Stewardship Project, $50,000 for two years. Iowa's groundwater and air is threatened by some factory farms. Research has linked large-scale livestock confinement to ground water contamination. Other research has linked emissions of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide at these confinements to the health problems of those who live nearby. This state-wide project will bring together universities and state agencies doing the research and the dioceses and parishes throughout the state, the state Catholic conference, for development of policies to address the situation and protect people and the environment.
- Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Sprawl Hits the Wall: Los Angeles Urban Sprawl Project, $50,000 over two years. The project aims to develop and implement an education, outreach and advocacy effort on urban sprawl and equity in partnership with the Southern California Studies Center at the University of Southern California and other organizations. The University of California has just released a new publication, Sprawl Hits the Wall. The project will use this study for workshops and training sessions in parishes in five regions of the Archdiocese. The goal is to develop a broad-based constituency of Catholics to work together on environmental policy related issues, especially their impact on the poor.
- Florida, Florida's Water Problems, $50,000 for two years. This project will be under the auspices of the Florida Catholic Conference and in cooperation with the dioceses of Miami and Orlando, St. Thomas University, the Audubon Society, and the Florida Department of Environmental Concerns. They will build a state-wide network in each of seven dioceses to focus on the Everglades Restoration Project.
In l993, the USCC established its Environmental Justice Program (EJP) to encourage new initiatives and integrate care for God's creation into existing arenas of social policy. Among its major environmental accomplishments, the EJP has:
Sent educational kits to every parish (19,000) for three successive years with scientific data, theological perspectives; sermons, liturgies, and education programs; liaison with environmental groups; public policy advocacy linking economic justice and environmental protection.
- Provided annual leadership training for 400 regional social action directors and state conference directors for 8 years; 700 regional activists over 4 years; 250 scholars over 6 years; and 3,500 lay leaders at national conferences in the past two years.
- Established over 100 model parish/diocesan programs: Our Lady Gate of Heaven parish in Chicago worked with Acme steel to stop toxic emissions; "River of Life" in Detroit (44 parishes) addressed the cleanliness and impact of development on the Clinton River; the Sustainable Farms project in Amarillo, TX trained 150 Mexican-American small farmers in organic practices; the Maryland Eastern Shore project addressed environment and labor issues linked to poultry industry; the Catholic Conference of North Dakota helped defeat state Takings legislation; and Lady of the Miraculous Medal Environmental Justice Committee of the diocese of Venice, Fl helped purchase land to preserve Pine Island.
- Established collaborations among national agencies such as CASE (Children and a Safe Environment), linking the well-being of families to the impact of chemical substances. Participants from national agencies which serve millions of Americans include: Catholic Charities USA, National Council of Catholic Women, National Catholic Educational Association, National Catholic Facilities Managers, Catholic Health Association.
- Prepared legislative testimony and perspectives on takings and regulatory reform, clean air, brownfields, migrant labor, sustainable agriculture, pesticides.
- Established a two-year process of scholarship, conferences, and public hearings on globalization as it impacts workers, the poor, and the environment.