Public Policy Archives
With the guidance of the U.S. Catholic bishops, EJP is active in the public square advocating for environmental policies which protect the poor, promote environmental health and safety, ensure that the right to private property is balanced with the claims of the common good, and promote sustainable environmental and economic development.
Children’s Environmental Health
The concern for children's environmental health combines our interests in family life, children, health and the environment. Major Catholic constituencies meet regularly to insure that our policy priorities in this area are heard at the national, state and local levels. Partners include:
Catholic Charities USA
Catholic Health Association of the United States
National Association of Catholic Facilities Managers
National Council of Catholic Women
National Catholic Education Association
Pro-Life Secretariat, USCCB
Office of Domestic Policy, USCCB/SDWP
Environmental Justice Program, USCCB/SDWP
- Health Tracking Action Alert
- Children’s Health and the Environment Backgrounders
“Takings” refers to the Constitutional protections requiring the government to pay the owner of private property seized for public purposes. Today there are efforts to expand this definition to include environmental regulations that may deprive the private property owner of earnings potential from the use of his/her property. This expanded definition often pits large economic interests against smaller property owners and the larger community.
The Church’s teaching about property says that while individuals have a right to own land and other property such ownership also has a social mortgage: subjecting all property to the needs of the larger common good. As urban sprawl and other land and natural resource issues continue to be “front burner issues” the USCCB has crafted testimony and sent letters to Congress expressing Catholic teaching on these issues.
Global Climate Change
Since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, the impact of global climate change and the warming of the earth's atmosphere has captured increased policy attention. The ensuing scientific and political debate has been and continues to be contentious, but the consensus is that human activity is impacting the earth’s climate. A rise in global temperature could have devastating effects on individuals and nations with poor nations likely to be most aversely impacted: they have access to fewer resources to mitigate against climate change.
The bishops have weighed in on climate change not to offer specific policy solutions, but to call for prudence and shared responsibility of rich nations to assist poorer countries who may be severely impacted by a rise in earth’s temperature.
- U.S. Bishops’ Statement on Climate Change
- U.S. Bishops’ Statement on Climate ChangeSpanish
- U.S. Bishops' Statement on Environment
- February 2002 Backgrounder
- February 2001 Backgrounder
Urban Sprawl and Brownfields
Besides the environmental impacts created by sprawl on the health of children (above), EJP has also urged Congress to approve funding to assist local communitiesmany of them poor communitiesin cleaning up lower level toxic industrial sites. Not as environmentally hazardous as Super Fund sites, many of these former factories and filling stations need only relatively small amounts of funds to assist local communities in clean up and to further the goal of redevelopment for other retail or industrial uses. In many cities, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (link to www.usccb.org/cchd) has helped fund low income community groups in accessing these sites for locally-controlled economic development.
Energy Technology, Energy Use and Energy
In towns and cities across the U.S., many low-income residents rely on government assistance to help pay heating (especially in northern states) and cooling bills. Low-income families, who often have to choose between rent or heat, can access the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As part of our concern about access to energy for low-income families and in our ongoing effort to ensure the health and safety of children and the elderly, the USCCB has consistently supported efforts to increase the budget amount allocated to this important program.
In addition to this important program, the USCCB has gone on record to support increases in energy saving measures such as the federal government’s weatherization program and energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives such as the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewables.