Please print this out or otherwise share this important letter from one of CPNY’s cofounders, Maura Stephens, with your faith community, if you have one.
Dear Friends in Faith,
Please read the brief article pasted below, about Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light’s statement on fracking for shale-gas. PIPL is “a community of congregations, faith-based organizations, and individuals of faith responding to climate change as a moral issue, through advocacy, energy conservation, energy efficiency, and the use of clean, renewable energy.”
PIPL’s statement is flawed in that it leaves open the door for a certain amount of poisoning of air, water, croplands, and communities — but it offers a good starting-point model for a New York interfaith initiative based on more solid legal, health, and scientific ground. CPNY can help your faith community or interfaith community craft a meaningful and effective statement.
Many people of various faiths share a deep commitment to social justice and the greater good. We do not know if there is a similar coalition of faith groups already working on this issue in New York State, but if there is not, we urge faith communities to get together and make something like Pennsylvania’s IPL quickly take shape here. This is truly an issue of morality and social justice. And industry is moving quickly. Governor Andrew Cuomo makes no secret that he is eager to let drilling begin here, and New York is not even remotely safe from fracking, despite what you may have read or heard.
We sincerely hope you will learn more about fracking, if you have not already, and then get together quickly to discuss crafting and issuing a statement and mobilizing your congregations to fight for a total ban on fracking. A total ban in New York State is the only way to save God’s beautiful creations, which we laud and cherish, as well as people, from this destructive, filthy, and soulless industrial activity.
Not only is New York at great imminent peril; 34 states and numerous countries are under attack by this increasingly rapacious and reckless industry that is pulling out all the stops — spending more than $130 million this year alone — to hoodwink legislators and the public into thinking that “natural” gas is a “clean, safe, and domestic bridge fuel” to a sustainable energy future.
As far as such propaganda goes, nothing could be further from the truth.
If you need more information to help get you started, we recommend showing the Academy Award-nominated 2010 documentary film Gasland as the basis for congregational conversation. CPNY can also provide several documents from our own publications as well as from Food & Water Watch and other groups, all of which offer good background on fracking and why we cannot allow it to ruin our our precious water, air, and croplands; our health; our communities; and our way of life.
This is not hyperbole; we really are in a fight for our lives and our future.
Here’s the link to Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light’s page on this issue: http://www.paipl.org/index_files/marcellus.htm
Please forward this to others in your interfaith circles, and if you already have a statewide interfaith list with which you can share this, please do so.
We are just the messenger and can’t help to coordinate activities, but the Coalition to Protect New York can help by recommending speakers and providing resources. We do hope that some among you, perhaps especially those with more resources and staff than others, will take the initiative and begin a dialog on how an interfaith group can come together quickly to help fight this very real and very fast-moving threat. Perhaps you and your congregations would be interested in joining the Coalition to Protect New York as well; we are a loose collection of individuals and grass-roots groups joining forces to keep our communities safe.
cofounding member of Coalition to Protect New York
Interfaith group outlines opposition to drilling, moral considerations for Marcellus Shale
By Laura Legere (Staff Writer)
Published: September 19, 2011
A coalition of Pennsylvania faith groups dedicated to addressing climate change announced its opposition to Marcellus Shale drilling in its current form on Sunday and outlined ethical considerations for extracting and using gas in the state.
Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light released a position paper detailing what it would take for the faith groups to find Marcellus drilling morally acceptable, including using natural gas to help make a “rapid transition” away from coal and other fossil fuels and toward clean, sustainable energy sources.
The coalition, which includes the Scranton Area Ministerium and Temple Hesed and Temple Israel in Scranton, also said it could only support shale drilling if “overall environmental and health impacts are sharply reduced” and if a state-level system is established to avoid the energy boom and bust cycles that have devastated Pennsylvania communities in the past.
“We believe that we serve God through establishing justice – and economic gains that come at the expense of harming others are unjust,” the position paper says.
Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light’s membership includes 23 congregations and faith-based organizations, including Unitarian, Baptist, United Church of Christ, Lutheran, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Jewish and Mennonite churches and groups in the state.
In taking a position on gas drilling, the coalition joins a handful of faith groups that have alternately supported or raised questions about drilling through letters to elected officials, leases on church or cemetery grounds, shareholder resolutions and faith forums.
In June, United Methodists in the Susquehanna Conference passed a resolution calling for a temporary halt to Marcellus Shale drilling and supporting a tax on the gas that is produced.
“Here and there there were religious voices, but by and large the faith community was absent on this,” said Rabbi Daniel Swartz, spiritual leader of Temple Hesed and the coalition’s vice president. “It’s clearly a major issue in Pennsylvania that will affect our future for a long time and we shouldn’t be silent.”
In its position paper, which was distributed at a press conference in State College during the group’s annual meeting and conference, the coalition also called for a fee or tax on shale gas, for all Pennsylvania elected officials to decline campaign contributions from gas companies and for all congregations and faith-based organizations to refrain from signing leases or entering other financial agreements with gas drillers until the issues outlined in the paper are addressed.
“We’re tempted by money like anybody else,” Rabbi Swartz said. “Yes, you can justify to yourself, this money is going to go to a good purpose and they would drill anyway, but you’re condoning a process that’s morally questionable if not outright wrong as it’s often being practiced. No matter what the sums of money are, that’s not something that we should be countenancing.”
Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light plans to collect signatures from religious leaders and organizations on the position paper and to ask people who support it to present it to their elected representatives, Rabbi Swartz said.
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/interfaith-group-outlines-opposition-to-drilling-moral-considerations-for-marcellus-shale-1.1205326?cache=03D163D03D163Dp%3A%2Fhe3D03Dn63Freporti3D19.11145issed-1.1176%3FparentPage%3D2.1188%3FcacOHGEF0#ixzz1Z5Rrarzn