Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
We are currently advocating for the FOREST Act, a bill before the US Congress that would ban the importation of goods sourced through illegal deforestation. More than 60 faith groups – most of them congregations of Catholic women religious – have signed a letter expressing the conviction that we have a moral imperative to protect forests and support indigenous peoples struggling to protect their land.
We are advocating for the reform of a mining law from 1872, to cover the issue of mining for minerals required for a clean energy transition. Realising the Sustainable Development Goals 14, Life under water, and 15, Life on land, will require attention to the harms of extractivism, particularly considering the threat of expanded mining operations to meet the needs for minerals critical to this transition, e.g. for electric vehicles, solar panels, battery storage, and so on.
A member of the Justice Team of the Sisters of Mercy chairs an interfaith coalition which seeks to address the harms of extractive industries to terrestrial ecosystems, in the US and around the world. In coalition with secular partners, we are calling for mandatory clean-ups of abandoned mining sites, for meaningful consultation with indigenous communities and others impacted by proposed mining projects, and for federal agencies to be granted the authority to reject mining proposals on environmentally or culturally sensitive land. We are also calling for support for a circular economy, in which minerals and materials are reused and recycled to minimise the need for new mining.
Our Justice Team is participating in a campaign to pressure Congress to allocate more funding to supporting low-income countries with climate change mitigation and adaptation. Governments need to make clear plans to minimise the degradation of terrestrial ecosystems, and the proliferation of “sacrifice zones” where mining is allowed to flourish at the expense of vulnerable communities. Proposals to expand mining underneath oceans and seas also need to be carefully considered in order to mitigate potential harm to sensitive underwater ecosystems, allowing for outright bans where mitigation is not possible.