Author Archives: Cricket Hunter

Catholic Social Teachings: methane, morality, and delay

Sister Mary Elizabeth ClarkOn July 10, several Pennsylvania religious leaders traveled to Washington DC to offer in-person testimony to the EPA regarding delay of implementation of New Source Performance Standards for Methane emissions from oil and gas operations.  EPA-HQ-OAR-2010-0505

My name is Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark, a Sister of St. Joseph of Philadelphia, special assistant for sustainability to the President of Chestnut Hill College. I am also an Ambassador of the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Catholic Climate Covenant. Speaking from a faith perspective and the moral imperative of doing no harm to God’s creation, I support what Pope Francis has said in his call to us all, “Whenever human beings fail to live up to environmental responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened.  “Let us be protectors of creation.”

The tradition of Catholic social teaching offers a developing and distinctive perspective on environmental issues. We believe that the following themes drawn from the Catholic Social Justice tradition are integral dimensions of ecological responsibility:

  • A consistent respect for human life which extends to respect for all creation;
  • A world view affirming the ethical significance of global interdependence and the common good.

When considering the regulation of emissions of methane gas, which is Continue reading

Shareholders, stakeholders, and the Common Good

On July 10, several Pennsylvania religious leaders traveled to Washington DC to offer in-person testimony to the EPA regarding delay of implementation of New Source Performance Standards for Methane emissions from oil and gas operations.  EPA-HQ-OAR-2010-0505

Sr. Nora Nash at EPA (1)

I am Sr. Nora Nash of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. I thank you for the opportunity to publicly recommend that the EPA implement the methane New Source Standards without delay.

I represent my congregation, a community of over four hundred Franciscan women, whose charism calls us to be strong proponents of climate justice, care for creation, and sustainability. I also speak for the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, and the Investor Environmental Health Network — two organizations who continue to have positive interaction with corporations on their social and environmental responsibilities and policies. Members work with corporations to build a more just and sustainable world by integrating social and environmental values into investor actions. We accept our moral responsibility to protect our environment, speak for the human rights of communities, human health and the over-all “common good” of society.

As responsible shareholders and stakeholders, we have consistently engaged major oil and gas companies on the need for monitoring and disclosure of methane leakage, on the grounds that what “gets measured gets managed.” Many of these companies have already established performance standards and Continue reading

Mom’s values and methane

Joy at EPAOn July 10, several Pennsylvania religious leaders traveled to Washington DC to offer in-person testimony to the EPA regarding delay of implementation of New Source Performance Standards for Methane emissions from oil and gas operations.  EPA-HQ-OAR-2010-0505

My name is Joy Bergey, and I testify today as the director of the Environmental Justice Center at Chestnut Hill United Church. We are based in Philadelphia, PA.

As I was preparing this testimony, I heard clearly in my mind the life lessons my mother taught me decades ago:

  • Clean up after yourself.
  •  Spend your money wisely.
  • Leave things better than you found them.
  •  Don’t procrastinate.
  • And most of all, always be fair.

These simple messages embody our testimony on delaying the proposed rule.

Let’s start with the most important: Always be fair. This is at the heart of our work at the Environmental Justice Center. We are particularly concerned about environmental racism, which occurs when communities of color are hurt disproportionately by pollution. That’s not fair, or just.

Refusing to regulate methane pollution exacerbates climate change. And this hurts first and worst our most vulnerable populations: the very young, the very old, those living in poverty, those in fragile health, and almost invariably, communities of color.

In Philadelphia, the asthma rate is 21.5 percent, more than twice the national average[1]. In the Continue reading

Speaking the Truth in Love, within and beyond the walls

Alison CornishOn July 10, several Pennsylvania religious leaders traveled to Washington DC to offer in-person testimony to the EPA regarding delay of implementation of New Source Performance Standards for Methane emissions from oil and gas operations.  EPA-HQ-OAR-2010-0505

I am Rev. Alison Cornish. I serve as the Executive Director of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power& Light. We are 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.  I am ordained minister in the Unitarian Universalist tradition.

When I accepted my call to ministry, I made a commitment to always speak the truth in love.  I also accepted the charge to remember the needs of those beyond any one congregation’s walls.  It is this charge and commitment that have compelled me to travel to Washington DC today to be here.

I am here to speak this truth: there is abundant documentation that methane, including the methane that is released by the oil and natural gas industry, is a danger to public health.  In recent years, researchers, industrialists, citizens and governments have learned a great deal about the extent of emissions from oil and gas operations.   The New Source rule, the subject of today’s hearing, would cover 836 wells in PA, which is Continue reading

Green Justice Philadelphia: strategy session

Green Justice Philly (GJP) is a diverse and growing coalition of organizations committed to building a healthy, sustainable and economically just Philadelphia region.  The Philadelphia Chapter of PA IPL is one of the founding organizations of GJP and has been playing a key leadership role in strengthening the coalition.  On Thursday, June 8, GJP held a strategy session to develop our new campaign, which is focusing on stimulating the City of Philadelphia’s transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy while working wth under-resourced Philadelphia neighborhoods to develop local wealth and jobs.

The strategy session included a presentation about DC’s campaigns to move towards renewable energy.  Some 70% of greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to cities; thus, cities have a significant role to play in reducing emissions.  The complexity of a campaign of this nature requires bringing together leaders, activists, communities, policy experts, and technical experts, and it is inspiring how we are coming together to find common solutions to support the health of our local and global community.  Stay tuned for more details and how you can get involved as the campaign develops.  

[NOTE: This emissions reduction work aligns with the All Hands on Deck: Going to Zero Emissions in Pennsylvania effort by a statewide coalition to work in municipalities toward specific climate pollution reduction targets; the Paris Pledge from IPL nationally allows congregations or other institutions and individuals to publicly commit to similar targets.]Green Justice Philadelphia

Gratitude to PA IPL for providing lunch and to Summit Presbyterian Church for hosting the strategy session.  

—Submitted by Rabbi Malkah Binah Klein

The strategy session was attended by about 16 people from coalition partners PA IPL, Delaware Riverkeepers Network, Clean Air Council, PA Federation Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way (a union for rail workers), Neighborhood Networks, Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT), Sierra Club, 350 Philly, solar industry (plus a call-in from an organizer of DC’s solar campaign)…with facilitation by Matthew Armstead of Training for Change.  Note that Food & Water Watch is a member of the coalition but their representative was not available.  

Moving forward with municipalities.

We can move forward boldly and fairly to meet the goals of the Paris Accord even when our President chooses not to lead.  It’s already happening.  Now is the moment to invite your mayor, your city council, and your community to join the action.

Ready for 100 and Cities 100
A number of our members are working with the Ready for 100 campaign to move their cities forward, and drastically reduce their emissions.  Mayors can sign on officially — before the 2017 US Conference of Mayors meeting at the end of June is ideal.  Cities 100 is the Climate Reality Project’s effort, with varied examples to share locally.

All Hands On Deck: Going to Zero Emissions in Pennsylvania
Our friend (and 2012 recipient of our PA IPL Visionary Award) Don Brown brought together a statewide group of organizations (including PA IPL) to commit to working together getting to zero emissions by 2050.  Click through to read the declaration, which is full of official Whereas-es so that it can be used easily in official contexts, but which is also highly readable; it gives important background, and sets clear goals.  Board members Bill Lochstet and Behzad Zandieh were on hand for the official announcement in the Capitol Complex on April 25, and for the leaders’ discussion afterwards.

Ferguson Township climate resolutionAnd on Monday, May 15, Peter Buckland (2015 PA IPL cyclist, and member of the Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors in greater State College) introduced this resolution to his township. Read Peter’s excellent piece on his personal blog  — he is willing to make himself available to other municipal officials wanting to move this forward.  The Board of Supervisors voted overwhelmingly to continue work toward adopting the resolution.  Township staff will review and edit, and then it will come back for public discussion, followed by supervisor deliberation.  As you see above, the supervisors heard the resolution and made their decision in the company of many.  Residents and those excited by this bold action attended the meeting, with PA IPL cyclists gathering to riding to the meeting together.  The resolution and decision were covered by WTAJ-TV news, the Johnstown Altoona CBS affiliate, and by the Public News Service.

The campaign calls on all levels of Pennsylvania government and Pennsylvania public and private sector organizations to immediately begin to adopt strategies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to achieve net zero between 2045 and 2075.   Although the challenge to prevent catastrophic warming is staggering, leadership from sub-national governments around the world is arising that offers hope. Local leadership is aware of local resources that may be invisible at national scales, and non-fossil energy prices are rapidly falling.

Cosponsors of this campaign are: