Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Moral Voice Against Toxics

Written by Jessica Zimmerle
Earth Ministry Outreach Coordinator
Dear friends,

Earth Ministry/WAIPL continues to fight the good fight by storming the steps of the capital this Legislative Session. As the session progresses, we are getting more creative with our faithful advocacy to ensure that our elected officials know the importance that these bills hold for the faith community - my favorite was a Valentine's Day Lit Drop in which we delivered handmade valentines asking Senators to have a heart and support the Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act, as well as ones thanking our rock star Representatives who already voted yes on the bill in the House.

We have also attended hearings to advocate for strong toxics legislation in the Senate Energy, Environment, and Telecommunications Committee. I want to share my testimony with you because, as the moral voice on this issue, it is important that we continue to articulate the values behind our campaign about why this is an issue of faith and stewardship.
My name is Jessica Zimmerle. I am a lifelong Lutheran, a recent graduate of Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, and a current staff member at Earth Ministry through a year of service with the Lutheran Volunteer Corps. I oppose SB 5984 and SB 6540 as written because they do not create a long-term systemic solution to the injustice of toxic chemicals in our homes.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is currently affirming our mission with a “God’s Work, Our Hands” campaign; which is why I am here today to put my faith into action by supporting a strong Toxic Free Kids and Families’ Act that bans all chemicals of high concern and stops the toxic treadmill. I am advocating for effective protections against the use of harmful flame retardants because my faith calls me to be a good steward of God’s creation and to stand up for vulnerable populations, including children.

As a future mother, I want strict limits on the chemicals in the products in my home. I have, at the age of 22, already watched friends lose battles with cancer, and I cannot imagine how these tragedies will escalate in the future if you, our State Senators, do not protect citizens from harm that we cannot control. The presence of dangerous and unnecessary toxics in children’s products and family furniture actually makes me question whether or not I feel safe having children because of my inability to protect them from the world they would inherit.

You have heard the frightening scientific risks of these toxics. I am here to remind you of your moral responsibility to protect your constituents. You wouldn’t let your baby play around with a bottle of bleach, so why is it acceptable to ignore the invisible flame retardants that permeate our homes? How can we stand by when we do not know what types of cancer, learning disabilities, and reproductive harm will result from the toxic cribs, car seats, and couches that Washington’s children and grandchildren come into direct contact with every day?

The burden will inevitably fall on my generation to bear the impacts of the decisions you make now. Please prioritize the health of our families by ensuring that toxic flame retardants stay out of our homes. This is a moral responsibility that only the legislature can fulfill. Thank you for your time.
A weakened version of ESHB1294 passed out of this committee today. The good news is that this bill can still be strengthened to phase out of the worst flame retardants and create a system to prevent them from being replaced with equally toxic chemicals. It is time to raise up our moral voice and be sure that our Senators know that our families and firefighters deserve better. It only takes a moment to ask your Senator to restore ESHB 1294 to its strong original version, and it will make a world of difference for the well being of future generations.

In peace,

*If you are unfamiliar with Earth Ministry/WAIPL's legislative priorities this session, please check out the previous blog post entitled "Faithful Advocacy in Action."

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