By: Wanda Guthrie
Karen Feridun, founding member of Berks County Gas Truth and Better Path Coalition will be in Pittsburgh May 15 and 16th. Don’t miss her presentations!
Karen will speak on Wednesday, May 15, at at Thomas Merton Center Potluck beginning at 6:30 pm. 5129 Penn Avenue.
She will also speak at 7 pm May 16th at the Allegheny Department of Human Services, One Smithfield Street, at an event co-sponsored by the EcoJustice Working Group, Thomas Merton Center, and the Izaak Walton League of America – Allegheny County Chapter.
A year ago Karen Feridun gathered a group of long-time Pennsylvania grassroots ecojustice advocates and formed a coalition to say loudly and repeatedly: “We Choose a Better Path, Governor Wolf.”
Their clear message is that Pennsylvania’s Government is Failing Its Citizens. Pipelines have allowed the impacts of fracking to metastasize from the shale fields to communities across the state that are being damaged by processing plants, petro-chemical plants, waste treatment facilities, water withdrawal operations, injection wells, natural gas power plants, export facilities, and the pipelines themselves.
Pennsylvanians Continue To Fight Back. Our efforts have been ignored, dismissed, criticized, side-stepped, and trivialized by our state government. Our government has spied on us, pushed legislation to criminalize us, and characterized us as eco-terrorists.
Pennsylvanians Are Choosing a Better Path. We choose a path to a government that is responsive to its people. We choose a path to elected officials who put the interests of the people they represent before those of the shale gas industry. We choose a path to elected officials who are climate leaders moving Pennsylvania toward a clean energy future.
On April 11, members of the Better Path Coalition met with the Auditor General Eugene DePasquale and some of his staff working on a report on the state’s response to climate change. Below are pieces of the statement given by Karen Feridun: “The shale gas boom in Pennsylvania began 11 years ago. That’s roughly the same number of years we have left, going forward, to address climate change.
Only six studies had been done when the boom began. Physicians for Social Responsibility and Concerned Health Professionals of New York published a compendium of research on fracking. When the 6th edition is released in a few weeks, it will cite roughly 1500 peer-reviewed studies that reveal a wide range of concerns, many that could not have been predicted 11 years ago. The research is far from complete. We find ourselves in the position now where we are simultaneously filling in the blanks on shale gas development, grappling with the unknowns of climate disruption, and trying to understand the nexus of the two.
“Neither the unknowns nor the unaddressed issues have diminished our government’s support of continued expansion of gas extraction. Governor Wolf called petrochemicals a ‘once-in a generation opportunity.’ That may be true of some past generation, but not this one. This generation’s opportunity is to build the green economy needed for the transition to a clean, renewable energy future we truly can’t live without. The European Parliament recently announced plans to ban single-use plastics, some of which are made from ethane extracted in Pennsylvania. The world is turning away from fossil fuels and petrochemicals at the very time our government is going all in. According to Forbes, over the past ten years, ‘Pennsylvania’s gas output has exploded 32-fold.’ We have yet to tally up the direct costs to the state of all that extraction, much less the indirect costs of the climate impacts it exacerbates. And none of that takes into account the myriad unrelated costs of climate change. The costs will surely be staggering. If we continue as we have, investing in yesterday’s industries, Pennsylvania will be a graveyard of stranded assets unable to deal with them.
“To borrow a metaphor Annie Leonard, the Executive Director of Greenpeace, used in a recent op-ed, when the bathtub is overflowing, what do you do first? Do you grab towels and start mopping up the water or do you turn off the tap?
Our government has chosen a third option, a preposterous one, to turn up the water pressure. What communities in the shale fields, on the paths of pipelines, and near the sites of the attendant infrastructure already know is that there simply aren’t enough towels. We need to turn off the tap.”
What’s next for the Better Path Coalition? Come to one of the two events and find out. Contact Wanda Guthrie 412.596.0066 or email environment @thomasmertoncenter. org
Wanda Guthrie is convener of the EcoJustice Working Group TMC