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Pope's Visit Inspires Climate Change Activism in Arizona

Climate activists in Arizona are cheering Pope Francis' visit to the U.S., hoping it will inspire action on the issue. Credit: Nicolo Campo/iStock
Climate activists in Arizona are cheering Pope Francis' visit to the U.S., hoping it will inspire action on the issue. Credit: Nicolo Campo/iStock
September 24, 2015

PHOENIX - Today, as Pope Francis addresses a joint session of Congress, a group of religious leaders in Arizona is pressing America's leaders to take the pope's call to action on climate change to heart.

The pontiff released an encyclical in June that called climate change a global problem with grave implications. Pastor Doug Bland is executive director with Arizona Interfaith Power and Light, a group of congregations from multiple religions that works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the Grand Canyon State.

He says fixing climate change is a moral issue.

"We're hoping and praying his message about caring for the poor, the least of these, and caring for the planet will be heard by our nation's leaders and other nations' as well," he says.

Bland led dozens of people in a rally in front of Senator John McCain's office Wednesday evening, calling on political leaders to support the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan, which calls for a 30 percent cut in carbon-dioxide emissions from existing power plants by 2030 as compared to their 2005 levels.

Arizona has eight coal-fired power plants, facilities that Bland says should clean up their act.

"We do have power plants impacting especially the Navajo reservation and also polluting the air at the Grand Canyon," says Bland. "So, we see a higher incidence of asthma among children near coal-fired power plants."

Interfaith Power and Light's founder, the Reverend Canon Sally Bingham, was part of the religious delegation that greeted the pope at the White House on Tuesday.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - AZ