Letter supporting a full fracking ban to the Delaware River Basin Commission

Sign on to this Action Network letter here!

To: DRBC Commissioners –

You adopted a permanent ban on fracking throughout the Delaware River Watershed last year, a historic and righteous decision by the DRBC. The public has been clamoring since then for you to complete the job and prohibit the pollution and depletion caused by fracking taking place elsewhere by revising the pending fracking regulations and voting for a full ban.

This will protect both the Watershed’s communities – human and nonhuman – and its irreplaceable water supplies for up to 17 million people by prohibiting the fracking industry’s effort to dump its toxic and radioactive wastewater in the Basin and preventing their use of Delaware River water for water-intense, wasteful and destructive fracking processes. In 2018, the fracking industry produced 2.9 billion gallons of wastewater[1] in Pennsylvania alone, and the longer well bores being drilled since 2018 mean even higher volumes of both water use and resulting toxic wastewater.[2] The industry is searching for new places to exploit, which is why they are knocking on the Delaware River Basin’s door.

A full ban will also ensure that the DRBC’s regulations do not enable the industry to emit considerable greenhouse gasses by continuing to frack without restraint. DRBC must do its part to restrain the polluting fracking industry and the spewing of methane, the most powerful of greenhouse gasses on the all-important 10- and 20-year time scale.[3] In other words, we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today! And this is part of DRBC’s mission.

The climate crisis appears unrelenting as we face record-breaking heat waves, storms, fires, droughts and flooding, nationwide and globally. People are demanding an all-out offensive by leaders and all branches of government to fight climate change. To reach goals that scientists say we need – like 50% reduction of GHG by 2030 – decisive action at the regional and state level is more important than ever to move us away from polluting fossil fuels and towards clean renewables.

This is where you come in, Commissioners. The DRBC has recognized that climate change is directly affecting its water resources program.[4] Climate change impacts on the basin’s water resources include changes in precipitation and runoff that increase flooding and drought, impairment of habitats and water quality (including salt water intrusion to Delaware Estuary water supplies) and sea level rise.[5]

Reports covering the specific impacts of climate change on the Delaware River, Estuary and Bay back up this conclusion. A 2019 report from Rhodium Group ranks Salem and Cape May counties among the 3 NJ counties that are expected to experience the highest increase in average annual damage costs due to changes in sea level and hurricane activity since the 1980s.[6] A Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission report found that sea level rise would result in rising water levels in the Delaware Estuary, causing permanent change to the landscape and new flooding.[7] In an earlier DVRPC report, the study concluded that sea level rise over the next 100 years will inundate almost all of Pennsylvania’s 1,500 acres of tidal wetlands along the Delaware, the salt line in the Delaware River will migrate further upstream (threatening Philadelphia and South Jersey’s drinking water supplies), and pollutants in contaminated sites could be released into estuary waters.[8]

Will DRBC allow the fracking industry to take advantage of the Delaware River watershed to get rid of its polluting wastewater and deplete our water by fracking, all the while emitting climate-killing methane? Or will DRBC do the right thing by prohibiting this abuse?

Here in the Delaware River Watershed, our future hangs in the balance as you decide on final regulations regarding fracking wastewater and water operations in the Basin. We, the undersigned, ask you, the voting members of the DRBC, to revise the draft regulations to completely ban imports of fracking wastewater and exports of water for fracking, to protect the public, water supplies, the watershed’s ecosystems, and to help alleviate the climate crisis.

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[1] https://www.fractracker.org/2019/10/want-not-waste-not-fracking-wastewater/

[2] The supersized gas wells being drilled today in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations use 10-20 million gallons of water per well. According to FracFocus data, the average well in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale used 11.4 million gallons in 2017, up from 4.3 million gallons reported by agencies in 2011. This means not only more water is needed to fracture the extended horizontal well bores but also means there are greater volumes of wastewater produced by these wells – between 1-1.5 million gallons of wastewater (for 10 M gallons of water used in fracking a well), increasing the volumes many times over the amount typically produced previously in Pennsylvania. FracTracker Alliance Issue Paper, “Potential Impacts of Unconventional Oil and Gas on the Delaware River Basin”, March 20, 2018. Main Author: Matt Kelso. https://www.delawareriverkeeper.org/sites/default/files/FT-WhitePaper-DRB-2018%20%28003%29.pdf

[3] Natural gas is primarily methane, a greenhouse gas 86 times more efficient at warming the atmosphere than carbon over a 20-year time frame (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 2013. Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and its effects persist for hundreds of years (http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/01/03/1612066114.full) The well documented vented and fugitive losses from natural gas systems contribute to atmospheric warming; current technology and practices have not controlled these releases.

[4] https://www.nj.gov/drbc/library/documents/Res2019-08_EstablishesACCC.pdf

[5] https://www.epa.gov/climate-impacts/climate-impacts-water-resources

[6] RHODIUM GROUP, “NEW JERSEY’S RISING COASTAL RISK”, October 2019. p. 2 https://rhg.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Rhodium_NJCoastalRisk_Oct2019final.pdf

[7] DVRPC, Coastal Effects of Climate Change in Southeastern PA, Introduction and Project Background, November 5, 2019. https://www.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=8080c91a101d460a9a0246b90d4b4610

[8] DVRPC, “Sea Level Rise Impacts in the Delaware Estuary of Pennsylvania”, Product No.: 04037, 6/2004, Abstract. https://www.dvrpc.org/Products/04037/

Solutions for Pollution

An Open Letter to President Biden

As we kick off the Solutions for Pollution campaign, we call on President Biden to urge him to carry out his responsibilities under our nation’s bedrock environmental laws, such as the Clean Air Act, by advancing approximately 20 protections across federal agencies that could cut climate pollution in half by 2030, advance vital public health and environmental justice goals, accelerate the transition to clean energy, and create new economic opportunity.

Read the letter below and then sign on here.

To: President Joe Biden
From: [Your Name]

Dear President Biden:

​When you were campaigning for and then elected President, you laid out the most ambitious climate plan in American history, including a pledge to cut climate pollution in the United States in half by 2030 to take the urgent action on the climate crisis that science demands. You rightly committed to fighting environmental injustices and setting strong standards to protect our health and the environment.

To keep your climate promise and protect our health and our communities – especially those that have traditionally been overburdened with pollution – we need action NOW. That is why, together, we are launching the Solutions for Pollution campaign to urge you to carry out your responsibilities under our nation’s bedrock environmental laws, such as the Clean Air Act, by advancing approximately 20 protections across federal agencies that could cut climate pollution in half by 2030, advance vital public health and environmental justice goals, accelerate the transition to clean energy, and create new economic opportunity. We are calling on you to ensure that the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, and other federal agencies set the strongest possible standards to clean up power plants, transportation, industrial sources, and other pollution–and that they move swiftly as the science demands.

While we have numerous priorities and perspectives, one thing we all agree on is that adopting strong solutions for pollution will protect our health and environment, advance environmental justice in traditionally overburdened communities, and accelerate the transition to clean energy like wind, solar, and other renewables to power America into the future.

Our communities desperately need clean air and a healthy climate. By implementing the Solutions for Pollution Action Plan, your administration will reduce the pollution driving climate change and aggravating chronic diseases like heart disease, asthma attacks, and other respiratory issues that disproportionately harm vulnerable populations, including traditionally overburdened communities, children, outdoor workers, and the elderly.

Time is running out. The longer we delay, the higher the cost of inaction is to Americans in lives, dollars, and harm to the environment. We need your administration to implement the Solutions for Pollution Action Plan now to ensure clean air, clean water, and healthy communities across the country. Climate can’t wait. Neither can we.

Respectfully,
Sign Here

Join IPL’s Faith Climate Voter Text Bank

Voting is a pivotal and sacred duty you have not only to uphold for yourself but also for your community. Elections are a reflection on the values that will shape our future. However, many Americans of faith and conscience are unlikely to vote in the midterm elections this November. You have the power to help change that! How? By reaching out to people where they are–on their cellphones via text message.

Each text is sent by a volunteer like you from our easy-to-use online system, not your own phone or phone number. All you need is a computer and an Internet connection.

We will quickly train you on how to connect with potential voters using pre-written messages in a text bank event on Zoom.

Sending text messages to voters works. In 2020, Interfaith Power & Light volunteers like you texted more than 235,000 infrequent voters of faith and your outreach increased voter turnout by 1.7% — three times more effective than benchmark campaigns!

Their voices matter, and with your help they can make themselves heard.

Sign up to join a text bank.

Senate Passes Inflation Reduction Act with Historic Climate Investments

August 5, 2022

Washington, DC – Today the U.S. Senate voted to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, the most significant climate bill in history. The bill will put the nation on the path to cut climate pollution emissions up to 44% by 2030, create millions of good-paying clean energy jobs, invest in environmental justice, and reduce energy bills for working families across the country. 

With $369 billion in energy and climate investments, this is the single biggest U.S. investment aimed at tackling climate change. It includes:

  • Clean energy tax credits for wind and solar, electric vehicles, efficiency upgrades, and heat pumps
  • More than $60 billion for environmental justice priorities
  • Up to $60 billion for domestic clean energy manufacturing
  • $27 billion to speed the development of emissions reductions technologies, especially in disadvantaged communities

The Inflation Reduction Act also includes troubling provisions around fossil fuel expansion and other false solutions that will continue to place frontline communities at risk. Interfaith Power & Light is concerned about a deal for a proposal to include drastic permitting changes in must-pass legislation Congress will take up this fall. We will work to address those provisions in this bill, oppose any weakening of our environmental review process, and advocate for bold executive action from the Biden Administration so that the U.S. can meet our climate goals.

The faith community has been advocating for passage of climate and clean energy investments for the last two years and celebrates this huge victory.

In response, Interfaith Power & Light’s President Rev. Susan Hendershot released this statement:

“Budgets are moral documents, and where we choose to invest as a nation is an indication of what we value. Today, the Senate chose to take moral leadership and demonstrate that they value the health of our families and communities; jobs that can provide good wages; clean air, water, and soil; environmental justice for historically marginalized communities; and care for our common home, through the historic climate provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act. We applaud and celebrate the passage of this critical legislation in the Senate, and now call on the House of Representatives and President Biden to act swiftly to pass this bill because climate can’t wait.”

Rev. Robin Blakeman, West Virginia Interfaith Power & Light Steering Committee Member:

“Climate change is already taking an enormous toll on our communities. We have a moral obligation to protect people and the planet. I am glad that Senator Manchin finally supported the legislation to address the critical needs of our nation. Addressing the urgency of climate change is key to ensuring survival of our society and economy.”

Rev. Doug Bland, Executive Director of Arizona Interfaith Power & Light: 

“People of faith and conscience in Arizona have demanded congressional action on climate. We’re grateful to Senator Sinema and Senator Kelly for supporting this historic bill to transition rapidly to clean energy, and make our country healthier and more prosperous for all communities.We have a moral imperative to act — fires are raging and communities are flooding. We can’t afford not to act boldly for the future of our children and our precious planet home.”

Codi Norred, Executive Director of Georgia Interfaith Power & Light:

“The Inflation Reduction Act is an essential initial investment in our future and our common home. We have no time to waste. The climate care provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act are historic and are imperative in addressing the urgent moral issue of climate justice. We are thankful to Senators Warnock and Ossoff for supporting these bold investments that will match the scale of the crisis our communities need.”

David Heayn-Mendendez, Executive Director of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light:

“We have a moral obligation to protect people and the planet and climate change is already taking an enormous toll on our communities. This is the most significant climate bill in history and will put our nation on the path to cut climate pollution emissions up to 44% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels while creating millions of good paying clean energy jobs, invest in environmental justice, and reduce energy bills for working families across the country.”

Article: Faith groups respond to Sen. Manchin’s surprise climate deal with shock, optimism

Washington, D.C.
July 28, 2022

Great and relevant article in the National Catholic Reporter yesterday:

Democrats in the U.S. Senate reached a deal July 27 to secure $369 billion in investments on energy and climate change in what would represent the nation’s largest-ever spending package to address the impacts of global warming. (CNS/Tyler Orsburn)

Faith groups responded to the historic, and for many unexpected, milestone of a potential breakthrough on climate legislation . . . with a mixture of joy, shock and cautious optimism after years of prayer and advocacy.

Read the full article here!

Community Health, Climate, and the Failure to Act: Local Health Solutions to Pollutions

July 15, 2022

Philadelphia, PA – Last month the Supreme Court sided with coal companies and their allies, limiting the EPA from setting the kind of highly-effective standards we need. There is still room, however, for the EPA to exercise its authority – and duty – to cut climate pollution.

Today Senator Manchin of West Virginia again dealt a blow to the hope for sufficient let alone substantial and dire investments in mitigating climate change, protecting our environment, and ensuring the health of our communities. Combined with the decision by the Supreme Court to limit the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon pollution from power plants the government is hamstring in its efforts to fight climate change. This means local solutions are more important than ever. We need local leaders today to do everything they can to help our communities suffering from cancer, respiratory illness, and many other effects from pollutants we can control. We can do better. We must do better.

On Thursday, July 21 at 2:00pm, Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light will hold a “Health Solutions to Pollution” Rally outside the EPA’s Philadelphia Office 1650 Arch St, Philadelphia, PA 19103.

Confirmed attendees include Philadelphia Council Member Helen GymRussell Zerbo of the Clean Air Council, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

We have a moral responsibility as a nation, and a sacred task as people of faith, to care for our climate and to leave a safe and thriving world for future generations. 

Who: Councilwoman Helen Gym, Russel Zerbo, the Clean Air Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light

What: Rally in support of the Community Health Act and climate investments in the reconciliation bill. 

Where: EPA Region 3 Office (1650 Arch Street Philadelphia)

When: 7/21/2022 from 2PM to 4PM

Interested reporters should RSVP to David Heayn-Menendez – info@paipl.org.


About Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light:
Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light inspires and mobilizes people of faith and conscience to take bold and just action on climate change. PA IPL is the Pennsylvania affiliate of Interfaith Power & Light, a national religious response to the threat of climate change. We see climate change as a moral issue, one that demands a response from people of faith.