The Evangelical Environmental Network and our over 150,000 pro-life supporters applaud Governor Josh Shapiro in his budget address for holding up our Commonwealth’s Constitution and its amendment to defend our children’s health:
The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania's public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustees of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.
Clean air and pure water are, without a doubt, keys to defending our children’s health and lives from the multiple threats imposed upon them by the fossil fuel industry’s decades of refusal to clean-up their own messes.
As pro-life evangelicals, we have a special concern for our children, both born and unborn. We want children to be born healthy and unhindered by the ravages of pollution even before they take their first breath. The medical community has long known that unborn and newly born children are especially vulnerable to environmental impacts. Of these impacts, fossil fuels are the most serious threat to children’s health worldwide.[i]
While we applaud Governor Shapiro for stating that methane leaks from the oil/gas industry have serious implications on our health, our air, and our water, we urge him to take the same stance with Pennsylvania’s oil/gas industry pollution and our own Legislature as he did with the Norfolk Southern and the East Palestine train derailment.
Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry has been a major source of pollution. We know that the industry releases five times more fugitive methane and nine times more volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than they report to our Commonwealth.[ii] In effect, The Pennsylvania Legislature has provided a blank check to pollute. This gives the oil/gas industry the right to throw their waste into our air, our yards, and our playgrounds, threatening our kids’ lives and health. Adding insult to injury, Pennsylvania has 200,000 to 600,000 abandoned wells, many of which leak methane or other toxins into both the air and water. Aided by our Legislature’s 2022 decision to cap the surety bond for plugging discontinued wells and reclaiming the land at a meager $2500 per conventional well while it costs an average $68,000, PA’s oil and gas industry has abandoned 354[iii] wells in the first 9 months of 2022 alone.
We also wish to remind Governor Shapiro that well plugging, while a major source of dangerous pollution and its corresponding life threats, is not the only source of dangerous toxins. Carbon and other pollutants from our electric power section, soot and NOx from transportation, and water runoff from many industries and farming must be addressed.
We at EEN and our folks across Pennsylvania will stand with Governor Shapiro and offer our support for fining solutions for all threats to all of God’s children. Together, let’s work to enforce our Commonwealth Constitution for all Pennsylvanians. Not only is it the law of our land, but a biblical command shared by our common sacred texts.
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15)
[i] Perera F. Pollution from Fossil-Fuel Combustion is the Leading Environmental Threat to Global Pediatric Health and Equity: Solutions Exist. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017;15(1):16. Published 2017 Dec 23. doi:10.3390/ijerph15010016
[ii]Mark Omara, Melissa R. Sullivan, Xiang Li, R. Subramanian, Allen L. Robinson, and Albert A. Presto, Methane Emissions from Conventional and Unconventional Natural Gas Production Sites in the Marcellus Shale Basin, Environ. Sci. Technol. 2016, 50, 4, 2099–2107, Publication Date: January 29, 2016 https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.5b05503