Evangelicals Support Governor Wolf’s Veto of Toxic Bill

Statement by Rev. Mitch Hescox:

We are thankful to Governor Wolf for vetoing HB 1327, the fiscal code legislation.  As pro-life Christians, we are deeply concerned for the impacts HB 1327 would have on our children’s health. We urge the General Assembly to allow this toxic version to fade away and pass a clean fiscal code without amendments.

If the General Assembly were to override Governor Wolf’s veto of HB 1327, this would:

  • Take away $12 million from energy efficiency programs contained in the Alternative Energy Investment Act to provide natural gas connection grants.
  • The bill would make it easier to drill near schools, playgrounds, and public water supplies.
  • Allows either chamber of the General Assembly to unilaterally disapprove Pennsylvania’s Clean Power Plan. This is not only unconstitutional, but would slow down Pennsylvania’s transition to a clean energy future for our children.

“Today 1 in 3 of our kids has asthma, autism, ADHD, or allergies with direct links to fossil fuels and petrochemicals,” stated EEN’s President, Rev. Mitch Hescox, “That’s why pro-life Christians in Pennsylvania have voiced their support for reducing carbon pollution, methane leaks, and producing clean energy.”

Gov. Wolf Strengthens Governors Push for Clean Energy

Yesterday Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Wolf joined a bipartisan group of 17 Governors, whose states represent over 40% of the US population, in signing an Accord where they pledge to help create a cleaner more prosperous future for our children.

Gov. Wolf and his 16 fellow Governor’s believe that:

“American prosperity has always depended on embracing new ideas and technologies. By deploying renewable, cleaner and more efficient energy solutions, we can make our national economy more productive and resilient.”

We wholeheartedly agree with Gov. Wolf and his colleagues and are grateful for their leadership –  and we have two things to offer from our Pro-Life Clean Energy Campaign.

First, the Accord would be strengthened by a clean energy goal, and we have just the right one from our Campaign: 100% clean electricity in each of their states by 2030.

Second, when their efforts help us achieve 100% clean energy by 2030 we will be there to support them; this year we will be organizing half a million pro-life Christians to be a part of our Campaign.

The public here in Pennsylvania is already with us even before we get started.  Eighty-Two percent of Pennsylvanians support a clean energy future and among them are at least 67,000 pro-life Christians already working with us who demand a pollution-free future our children and grandchildren.

Here is where the Governors Accord and our Pro-Life Clean Energy Campaign align:

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We have launched our Pro-Life Clean Energy Campaign because pollution harms the unborn, causing damage that last’s a lifetime.  Dirty air and water has serious consequences for the health of our children and other vulnerable populations like the elderly.  It is time to stop poisoning the womb and our environment and create a cleaner, brighter future for our children, free from pollution.

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform how we create electricity for our homes and businesses – not with the old, dirty, outdated, wasteful approaches from the past, like coal-burning power plants run by state-sanctioned monopolies – but with clean, new, innovative approaches like those powered by wind and  by sunshine, such as rooftop solar, owned by families and individuals.

That’s why we support Gov. Wolf and this bipartisan group of 17 Governors, and will be encouraging them to do even more by affirming our goal of 100% clean electricity by 2030.

 

Pro-Life Christians Support Pennsylvania’s New Methane Reduction Standard

A Statement by The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox, President/C.E.O

Today Governor Tom Wolf announced a new standard to reduce methane from Pennsylvania’s existing and new natural gas infrastructure.  We applaud the Governor’s actions and are thankful that Pennsylvania is leading the nation by defending our children from the threats that fugitive methane releases have on our unborn and born children.

As pro-life evangelicals, we have a special concern for the unborn.  We want children to be born healthy and unhindered by the ravages of pollution, pollution that impacts them even before they take their first breath.  The medical community has long known of the environmental impacts on our unborn children. The once thought chemical protection a mother gives her developing child is untrue. Studies have shown that smog, VOCs, and air toxics have a disproportionate impact upon life in the womb. A recent study by Shaina L. Stacy and others at the University of Pittsburgh found evidence of low birthweight babies associated with proximity to unconventional natural gas wells in Butler County, PA,[1] and Lisa M. McKenzie, Colorado School of Public Health, published peer reviewed research linking birth defects to methane production.[2]  The authors admit more research is needed, but the initial conclusions in of themselves demand action to reduce natural gas releases.

These leaks in our natural gas infrastructure spew out smog precursors as well and, as such, add to our failing air quality.  Pennsylvania already has over 277,000 children with asthma according to the American Lung Association and much of Pennsylvania’s air exceeds limits for both ozone (smog) and particulates (soot) emissions, making the need to stop natural gas leaks urgent.  There is simply no way for Pennsylvania’s air quality to improve with the vast amounts of methane spewed by thousands of natural gas installations across the commonwealth, both old and new.

These leaks threaten our most vulnerable, as shared earlier, and also add to climate disruption. We want our loved ones, the unborn, and those yet to be born to inherit a world free of climate change.  Yet, today from our natural gas infrastructure large amounts of methane are being released, a climate pollutant 86 times stronger than carbon dioxide, trapping heat over a 20 year timeframe. These next 20 years that will determine whether our struggle to overcome climate change will be won or lost.  That is why reducing methane is morally strategic.

For these reasons, almost 37,000 pro-life Christians from PA have called for strong action to reduce methane emissions.  Their request states:

As pro-life Christians, we want the air that we breathe to be safe for our children. Leaks in our natural gas infrastructure spew out toxic pollutants, cancer-causing agents and climate pollution that place God’s creation and our families – especially children, pregnant mothers, and the unborn – in harm’s way. That’s why we call on our elected officials to support strong regulations to cut this pollution from both new and existing leaks from our natural gas infrastructure. Our children deserve nothing less.

There will be industry groups yelling foul at another regulation. They say voluntary guidelines are enough.  For the responsible firms that is probably true.  However, standards are not enacted for the good players, but the poor reformers.

Research states that approximately 80% of the natural gas leaks result from 30% of the facilities.[3] That suggests that many producers already see the value in minimizing leaks and the accompanying production losses.  Escaping natural gas can’t make a profit, but it can be extremely toxic and of immeasurable harm to our children’s health.

Many lower cost operators do not exercise the proper care in running their operations, as they survive on the margins.  While being sympathetic to the small business person, the current threats to children’s health demand proper accountability.  Supporting this new standard creates, in effect, a police force to ensure our kids’ health.

If we care for our children, now and in the future, let’s work together to reduce methane and other pollutants that foul our air, our water and most importantly our children’s lives. It’s the right thing to do.

One thing we promise: we will not stop until pollution from the natural gas infrastructure is no longer a threat.  Join us in making our world a safer and healthier place.  Let’s fix these natural gas leaks.

 

 

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[1] Stacy SL, Brink LL, Larkin JC, Sadovsky Y, Goldstein BD, Pitt BR, et al. (2015) Perinatal Outcomes and Unconventional Natural Gas Operations in Southwest Pennsylvania. PLoS ONE 10(6): e0126425. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0126425, downloaded September 28, 2015, http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0126425

 

[2] Lisa M. McKenzie, Ruixin Guo, Roxana Z. Witter, David A. Savitz, Lee S. Newman, and John

  1. Adgate, Birth Outcomes and Maternal Residential Proximity to Natural Gas

Development in Rural Colorado, Environmental Health Perspectives doi:10.1289/ehp.1306722. downloaded September 28, 2015, http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1306722/#tab3

[3] Austin L. Mitchel, et.al, Measurements of Methane Emissions from Natural Gas Gathering Facilities and Processing Plants: Measurement Results, Environ. Sci. Technol. 2015, 49, 3219−3227. Downloaded on September 28, 2015, http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/es5052809