Philadelphia Inquirer: Citing pope, foes of drilling press Wolf
Philadelphia Business Journal: Pope inspires faith leaders to call for fracking ban in Pa.
Erie Times-News: Lupo heads to Harrisburg for anti-fracking rally
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 17, 2015
Contact: Sam Bernhardt, Food & Water Watch, 267-428-1903
Tracy Carluccio, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, 215-692-2329
Karen Feridun, Berks Gas Truth, 610-678-7726
More than 100 Faith Leaders Call on Governor Wolf to Halt Fracking, Act on Climate Change in Anticipation of Papal Visit
Letter to be announced with full-page ad in Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday
Faith leaders highlight concern over dangerous effects of fracking in country’s most fracked state
Harrisburg, PA (September 17, 2015) – In a letter delivered today, more than 100 faith leaders from across Pennsylvania called on Governor Wolf to halt fracking and act on climate change in anticipation of the papal visit to Philadelphia later this month. The letter will be announced as a full-page ad in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday, September 20.
Faith leaders were moved to action in response to Pope Francis’ encyclical (Laudato Si’), which focuses heavily on climate change, and out of concern over the harmful effects fracking may have on the climate and has already had on Pennsylvania’s environment, health, and natural resources. The signatories call for Wolf to heed warnings from Pope Francis and climate change experts and transition one of the most heavily fracked states in the country into a clean energy producer.
“Fracking has become an issue that Pennsylvanians can no longer ignore,” said Sister Pat Lupo, OSB, who last year was appointed to then Governor-elect Wolf’s Environmental Transition Team and was one of the prime authors on the letter to Wolf. “As leaders in our communities, we are following Pope Francis’ call to speak for those without a voice and ‘leave behind a testimony of selfless responsibility.’ We want to create a decent, healthy environment for our friends and neighbors. Fracking has poisoned our environment, threatened our health, and destroyed our natural resources. It’s time that we cast this dangerous practice aside and transition to clean, renewable energy that does not put our lives at risk.”
In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis cautioned, “The human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together.” The letter from faith leaders reaffirms the Pope’s warning, and calls for Governor Wolf to honor his responsibilities as a leader of the state.
The letter states, “Our Pennsylvania Constitution states that the people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all people. This statement encompasses two basic principles: Pennsylvanians have a right to a decent environment; and Pennsylvania government has a trustee responsibility to protect the environment on behalf of future generations. We join together to call on you, Governor Wolf, to be the leader who will help our state chart a sustainable course.”
The letter goes on to outline the profound impact fracking has already had on communities in Pennsylvania, including:
- Pennsylvanians living without clean water in their homes due to contamination;
- Poor air quality near drilling and related infrastructure;
- The exposure of children, infants, and the in utero to risks to their health and development due to proximity of gas well and compressor sites to schools;
- The range of symptoms frontline residents of all ages began to experience after gas drilling came to their communities;
- Higher rates of hospitalization in heavily fracked areas; and
- Diminished property values.
Additionally, faith leaders highlight the risks fracking poses to global climate change. While climate scientists agree that combating climate change requires leaving 80% of fossil fuels in the ground, Pennsylvania ranks only behind California and Texas in total methane emissions, a known contributor to climate change. The most powerful action Governor Wolf can take to curb climate change is to stop fracking in Pennsylvania.
If fracking persists, problems Pennsylvanians face will only deepen and the climate crisis will worsen.
The letter asserts, “If the industry has its way then shale gas development is only in its infancy in Pennsylvania. The problems Pennsylvanians are already facing will multiply. The effects of climate change will be much more pronounced and irreversible.”
In closing, the letter asks the governor to change course and maintain Pennsylvania’s long history as a leading energy producer, but as a producer of clean and renewable energy, rather than continue its dependence on drilling:
“Pennsylvanians are eager to embark on a better path. Many have enacted or are working to implement a statewide moratorium on fracking. We are looking to you as our Governor to lead the way.”
Rev. Sandra Strauss, Director of Advocacy and Ecumenical Outreach at Pennsylvania Council of Churches said, “The Pennsylvania Council of Churches believes all of creation is a gift from God, given to us to hold in sacred trust, and that it is our responsibility as humans to protect and preserve it. This is why we have called for a moratorium on fracking in Pennsylvania. We are thrilled that Pope Francis has taken such a bold step in his release of Laudato Si—joining fellow faith leaders in the call to address climate change.”
Rabbi Mordechai Liebling of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College signed the letter and stated, “The health and well-being of Pennsylvanians in fracking country is at serious risk, as new studies continue to document. By stopping fracking, Governor Wolf has the power to save lives; Pope Francis has powerfully made the case for the moral responsibility to exercise it.”
Diane Sipe, of Marcellus Outreach Butler, on behalf of the Pennsylvanians Against Fracking coalition said, “The natural gas industry sallied into our state like an invading army, turning healthy communities and lovely landscapes into unhealthy industrial sites and profit centers. Governor Wolf should listen to the unified outcry from faith leaders to reassert the moral and ethical imperative to protect the environment and support the people being trampled in the rush for gas.”
About Pennsylvanians Against Fracking
Pennsylvanians Against Fracking is a statewide coalition of organizations, institutions, and businesses calling for a halt to fracking in the Commonwealth. Learn more about Pennsylvanians Against Fracking at paagainstfracking.org.