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PRESS INFORMATION

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – November 15, 2023

Contact: Karen Feridun, Better Path Coalition, 610-678-7726, karen@betterpathcoalition.org

 

Ditch the Deal, Governor Shapiro

40 Organizations and more than 1150 Individuals Sign Letter Calling on Governor Shapiro to Rescind “Radically Transparent” CNX Deal

 

Pennsylvania: Today, 40 organizations and more than 1150 individuals submitted a letter to Governor Josh Shapiro calling on him to rescind a deal with gas driller CNX branded as “radically transparent” by the company’s CEO Nick DeIuliis. Under the terms of the voluntary agreement, CNX would measure emissions, disclose chemicals used in fracking, provide the Department of Environmental Protection with access to two future well sites, and “voluntarily enhance setbacks for new wells near sensitive sites during the data collection phase.”

 

The letter opens, “The statement of mutual interest with CNX you announced in Washington County on November 1 is viewed as anything but a victory to the countless people who have suffered at the hands of drillers, including CNX, for years or who are concerned about the state’s inaction on the climate crisis. Nick Deiuliis makes no secret of his extreme positions on climate change and shale gas development. His own website includes a disclaimer that the positions he states are his own and not those of his company, yet he is the person whose name is on the document establishing the voluntary agreement.”

 

Among the statements the signers refer to is this one on the state-funded studies recently conducted by the Department of Health and its research partners at the University of Pittsburgh, “A ground game is churning that fabricates a storyline of the natural gas industry hurting residents: causing asthma, causing childhood cancers, and adversely impacting newborns. Making and broadcasting disgusting and baseless accusations to vilify and take down a noble and societally crucial endeavor, and in the process hurting the very region and communities the opportunists claim to work in the interest of.” 

 

“It’s clear that Mr. DeIuliis does not think that fracking is harming communities. The Governor’s actions are a slap in the face to every person who has suffered at the hands of companies like CNX,” said Karen Feridun, Co-founder of the Better Path Coalition. “Elsewhere, he calls U.N. Secretary Guterres a ‘carnival barker’ for saying, ‘We are on a highway to climate hell.’ It is unacceptable that the Governor is giving a climate denier credibility by collaborating with him.”

 

“CNX and other companies are creating a legacy of contamination and degradation, proven by the human health and environmental harm fracking has brought. Now Governor Shapiro is not only aligning himself with a company with a history of environmental exploitation but he is enabling fracking damage to continue. Additionally, the climate crisis has already brought catastrophe that we can only address by dramatically ratcheting back greenhouse gas emissions, methane chief among them here. Continuing to support fracking and drilling is a recipe for disaster for the Commonwealth on all fronts. Pennsylvania needs to play its part in a truly clean and green energy future by abandoning fracking and instead developing greenhouse gas-free, renewable energy sources. By continuing fracking operations, Pennsylvania will continue to be part of the problem instead of the solution,” said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network. 

 

According to the fifth National Climate Assessment released by the White House on 11-14-23: Wind energy costs dropped 70%, solar energy costs dropped 90% and 80% of new energy generation capacity came from clean energy in 2020. Climate change and related extreme weather events are rapidly intensifying and will cost the U.S. at least $150 billion a year. The transition to a sustainable energy economy is burgeoning in spite of PA's continued love affair with fracked gas. The boom/bust cycle of fossil fuels will leave the citizens of PA with only a memory of the short term gains, as the long term losses and myriad of fracked fossil gas consequences are heaped on the backs of future generations for decades to come, said Barbara Jarmoska, Director, Responsible Drilling Alliance.

 

One month before the signing ceremony in Washington County, Governor Shapiro ignored multiple invitations to attend a People’s Hearing on Climate Change in the Capitol during the Pennsylvania Climate Convergence. He previously ignored several attempts by the Better Path Coalition and many other grassroots groups and frontline community members to meet with him. 

 

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Read the full letter here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – November 2, 2023

Contact: Karen Feridun, Better Path Coalition, 610-678-7726, betterpathpa@gmail.com

Shapiro Sides with “Radically Transparent” Company that Denies Fracking’s Impacts

Statement by The Better Path Coalition

Pennsylvania: In what has to be the most outrageous public display to date by the Governor of Pennsylvania, a recidivist methane gas driller was given the stage to tell the public that drilling can be made safe, a claim that is directly refuted by mountains of  evidence this governor chooses to ignore.

Governor Josh Shapiro is putting his faith and the fate of Pennsylvanians in the hands of a company that has been cited with 1555 violations since fracking came to the state, including 34 so far this year. One month ago, the Department of Environmental Protection issued a notice of violation to CNX Gas Company LLC, a subsidiary of Consol Energy, for making unauthorized water withdrawals to support shale gas fracking operations for 17 days between May 6, 2023 and July 6, 2023 totaling 389,518 gallons. 

According to the announcement, CNX has agreed to follow the recommendations proposed by the Grand Jury Shapiro convened during his stint as Attorney General. They’re calling it "radical transparency" which means essentially that the industry will be allowed to collect and distribute the data on air quality and methane emissions.  This is the "data" that will, they claim, prove that there are no negative health impacts from "responsible" gas drilling. The effort is being compared to the discredited Center for Sustainable Shale Development.

Shapiro claims that he has listened to the voices of Pennsylvanians who are concerned about their health and safety. It’s time for him to listen to the science. Thousands of studies, reports, and investigations, including his own DOH’s study released in August, more than validate the concerns of Pennsylvanians, many of whom are not worried about hypothetical risks, but are living with the grim realities of what the methane gas industry has done to them and to their loved ones.

Following the “Look, I fixed it” narrative used by past governors, Shapiro is claiming that the half-measures he is proposing will keep people safe while allowing the fossil fuel industry to continue to do business as usual. It was a foolish narrative when other governors used it. It is even more foolish now when it is imperative that we transition as rapidly as possible to renewable energy. He is wasting time we don’t have.

Shapiro thinks this collaboration, that includes labor and an “environmental” organization, wasn’t on anyone’s bingo card. Sadly, it absolutely was.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 19, 2023

Contact: Karen Feridun, Better Path Coalition, 610-678-7726, betterpathpa@gmail.com

We Don’t Need More Evidence. We Need a Ban on Fracking.

Statement by The Better Path Coalition

Pennsylvania: “The rapidly expanding body of evidence compiled here is massive, troubling, and cries out for decisive action,” say the authors of the 9th edition of the Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking and Associated Gas and Oil Infrastructure released today.  Their findings result from their review of nearly 2500 studies, reports, and investigations, more than six times the number that existed when New York banned fracking.  They add, “The only method of mitigating its grave threats to public health and the climate is a complete and comprehensive ban on fracking.” We agree.

How much more evidence do Governor Shapiro and our state legislators need to declare a ban? 5000 studies? 10,000? No, the answer is none. We can’t begin to count how many lives would have been spared, how much pain and suffering would have been avoided, and how much damage to our environment, economy, society, quality of life, and climate would have been prevented if Pennsylvania would have taken the same precautions New York took by looking before they leapt. 

What we do know is that continued drilling and fracking will only bring about more harms, damage, and destruction. Governor Shapiro and our legislators cannot make a case that justifies it. Their continued support of shale gas development amounts to willful disregard for the lives and wellbeing of people across Pennsylvania.

The release of the Compendium is timely, as it comes less than a week after Governor Shapiro and the vast majority of legislators cheered the announcement that Pennsylvania will be part of two hydrogen hubs based entirely or partially on methane as a feedstock. More drilling, more fracking, more harm, more damage, more destruction.

We demand better of Governor Shapiro and our legislature. The time to end fracking is now.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 18, 2023

Contact: Laurie Barr, Save Our Streams PA, 814-203-9772, saveourstreamspa@gmail.com

Karen Feridun, Better Path Coalition, 610-678-7726, karen@betterpathcoalition.org

 

Shapiro’s Celebration of Abandoned Well Plugging Program Is Unwarranted

Infusion of Federal Tax Dollars to Plug PA Wells Doesn’t Even Scratch Surface of Massive Legacy Issue

 

Pennsylvania: Governor Josh Shapiro’s appearance at an abandoned well plugging in Washington County today was billed as an opportunity to highlight the historic work his administration has done to cap orphaned and abandoned oil & gas wells. Estimates put the number of legacy wells in Pennsylvania somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000. The current tally of plugged wells stated in state records is as high as 102 for the year. 

 

According to the Department of Environmental Protection’s well plugging report, the number of plugging jobs completed in 2023 stands at 29. The state has received federal tax dollars made available in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to plug 227 wells. Of that total, 73 wells have been plugged,according to the DEP’s IIJA Project Tracker. It isn’t clear if the numbers overlap or if the Shapiro administration has plugged a total of 102 wells.

 

The hundreds of thousands of orphaned and abandoned wells that perforate the state are in varying states of disrepair, leaking methane into the atmosphere unchecked. Because the majority of them have not been located, the amount of methane leaking is unknown, but researchers who have tested wells they have visited call some “super-emitters.”

 

According to the IIJA Project Tracker, the worst wells are not the ones being plugged. Ninety six percent have no environmental impacts associated with them, though the tracker provides no information about how impacts are defined or assessed. 

 

Laurie Barr, Co-founder of Save Our Streams PA, who was in Washington County to protest Governor Shapiro’s appearance, notes, “Some of the wells the IIJA funds were used to plug are in industry executives’ backyards. Meanwhile, the DEP’s own priority omits wells known to be leaking methane. The list does not even mention a well the DEP has identified as the second worst of the ones they have located.”

 

Today’s event comes on the heels of the announcement that the U.S. Department of Energy has named Pennsylvania as the site of portions of two hydrogen hubs the agency is funding. The hubs will be based on a form of hydrogen production from methane that includes carbon capture and storage, presumably to capture CO2 emissions and move the compressed gas in pipelines to wells where the CO2 can be injected deep below the surface. The state’s own Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has advised against placing CO2 injection wells close to unplugged or poorly plugged wells. 

 

“Plugging 100 wells in Pennsylvania is no cause for celebration,” said Karen Feridun, Co-founder of the Better Path Coalition.”It will take tens of thousands of years to plug each well one time at the current rate. If blue hydrogen projects are approved, it’s pretty much guaranteed that CO2 injection wells will end up near not just one, but possibly several unplugged wells. Even worse, blue hydrogen projects will necessarily require more wells that will become part of this out-of-control legacy issue.”

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 13, 2023

Contact: Karen Feridun, Better Path Coalition, 610-678-7726, betterpathpa@gmail.com

 

Hydrogen Hubs Approved for PA Lock in Fracking/Climate Impacts

Organizations Opposing Hydrogen Hubs Respond to Biden Administration Announcement

 

Statement by The Better Path Coalition, Berks Gas Truth, Between the Waters, Breathe Easy Susquehanna, The Climate Reality Project - Susquehanna Valley PA Chapter, Concerned Health Professionals of Pennsylvania, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Green Amendments for the Generations, Greenfire Coalition Writers' Forum, Move Past Plastic, NEPA Green Coalition, Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania, TIAA-Divest!, and Watchdogs of Southeastern PA

 

Pennsylvania: Environmental and public health advocacy groups oppose the U.S. Department of Energy’s plans to fund the development of hydrogen hubs that will include Pennsylvania. The Biden administration announced today that the Mid-Atlantic Clean Hydrogen (MACH2) hub in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware will receive $750 million to develop a green and pink hydrogen hub. The Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen (ARCH2) hub, a blue hydrogen hub in West Virginia, Ohio, and western Pennsylvania, will receive $925 million.

 

Currently, 95% of hydrogen produced is made from methane. It is referred to as gray hydrogen on a hydrogen rainbow that has been used to differentiate the many feedstocks and forms of production that can be used to produce hydrogen. The blue hydrogen hub the DOE will fund gets its color designation because carbon capture and storage is added to the process to capture CO2 emissions that result from it. Although MACH2’s applicants claim their operation will include green hydrogen, the color designating hydrogen made from renewable energy, they also admit that they will start by producing blue hydrogen. MACH2 will also produce pink hydrogen from nuclear.

 

Our organizations oppose the DOE’s decision for the following reasons:

  1. Methane is a dangerous greenhouse gas that should be kept in the ground, not used as a feedstock for what can only be considered to be the next generation of fossil fuel production in Pennsylvania.  

  2. The continued fracking of methane necessary for hydrogen production will further endanger the health of vulnerable populations, especially Pennsylvania’s children, who are already suffering from increases in lymphoma and leukemia directly attributable to living near fracking infrastructure. 

  3. Carbon capture and storage does not work. Carbon capture technology has been around for decades, used in a process called Enhanced Oil Recovery. Sequestering CO2 has never succeeded at an industrial scale and there is no evidence at all that any CO2 that is successfully captured will remain sequestered permanently.

  4. Carbon capture systems are prohibitively expensive. Large-scale blue hydrogen hubs are not likely to succeed without permanent life support from taxpayers’ dollars.   

  5. Carbon capture and storage’s role in blue hydrogen production distracts from the fact that it only pertains to CO2, not the more dangerous carbon, methane. Methane leaks at every step in its production, processing, transmission, and distribution. “Beyond the grave” emissions from hundreds of thousands of abandoned wells in the state continue to go unchecked. Every new well adds to a climate-killing legacy. Blue hydrogen means more wells, more methane leaks, more climate chaos.

  6. Blue hydrogen brings with it a new generation of dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure. A CO2 pipeline explosion in Satartia, MS showed what can happen when pressurized CO2 is released into the air. People were asphyxiated as they tried to escape in cars whose engines stopped operating for lack of oxygen. Fortunately, none of the people in Satartia died, but several now face lifelong physical struggles as a result of their exposure.

  7. The CO2 pipelines would deliver the gas to a new class of injection well called Class VI that would reside near unplugged or poorly plugged abandoned wells, increasing the risk of “communication” between the wells that could have catastrophic consequences.

  8. Hydrogen enthusiasts are promoting adding it to methane pipelines with a Madison Avenue-style name - HyBlend pipelines. Hydrogen molecules are tiny, increasing the risk of leaking pipelines and the disasters that result. The plan is to deliver hyblend gas to homes, very possibly your home if you are a natural gas customer.

  9. None of this is necessary and is, in fact, a roadblock to implementation of the proven, scalable renewable energy solutions that threaten oil and gas interests that dominate our political process in Pennsylvania.

 

Job creation is often used incorrectly as a justification for continued fossil fuel development and that is already some of the political rhetoric around blue hydrogen, but the fossil fuel jobs that would underpin its development have already passed their expiration date. If the current administration and state legislature want to move the state forward, they will focus on creating the renewable energy jobs of the future.



 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – August 16, 2023

Contact: Karen Feridun, Better Path Coalition, 610-678-7726, betterpathpa@gmail.com

 

Pennsylvania’s Children Are Not Expendable 

Statement by the Better Path Coalition

 

Pennsylvania: Results of taxpayer-funded studies released by the Department of Health and its research partners at the University of Pittsburgh have established a link between fracking and lymphoma, a cancer considered rare in children, asthma, and birth outcomes. Enough is enough. Pennsylvania’s children cannot be treated as sacrificial lambs to any industry, much less the one that is threatening the future of every child who manages to escape its grip today.

 

Thousands of peer-reviewed studies, media investigations, and government reports have pointed to profound health impacts of drilling and fracking occurring in Pennsylvania since Governor Rendell opened the state to fracking. At times, it seemed as if the only one not to study Pennsylvania was Pennsylvania. 

 

That changed last night.

 

Governor Shapiro, his cabinet, and our legislators can no longer pretend the science does not exist that makes the case for a ban on fracking. Their own science makes the case, and not just regarding lymphoma, but asthma exacerbations and detrimental birth outcomes as well.

 

We can no longer tolerate false assurances that somehow our children can be protected from this deadly industry. It is time to ban fracking and end the fossil fuel era in Pennsylvania.


 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – August 15, 2023

Contact: Karen Feridun, Better Path Coalition, 610-678-7726, karen@betterpathcoalition.org

 

Governor Shapiro’s Attempt to Post about Climate Is a Swing and a Miss (Earth)

 

Pennsylvania: For 292 days, Governor Josh Shapiro did not have much to say about climate change on social media. That changed today when he released a 5:19 minute video featuring Lindsey Coffey, a model originally from Washington County who won the title Miss Earth in 2020. In the video, he sits down with Coffey to talk climate.

 

The video comes on the heels of the launch of a campaign by the Better Path Coalition, a frontline- and grassroots-led statewide coalition that started when members of the coalition realized that the governor had not tweeted the word “climate” since before becoming governor. On July 22, Shapiro tweeted the phrase “climate change” two hours after the Better Path Coalition’s tweet noting that the absence of tweets is conspicuous for a governor who uses social media to talk about his priorities.

 

After that single reference to climate change, Governor Shapiro was called out once again by the coalition for the fact that he had tweeted more about the Barbie movie than he had about the greatest crisis facing humanity. 

 

On August 3, 11 Barbies visited Harrisburg to deliver a copy of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest report to the governor. The group was met by an officer guarding the closed door of the governor’s reception hall. Ms. Coffey received a much more cordial greeting.

 

In the new video, Shapiro cautions Coffey and others “not to underestimate the power that [they] have… to use their voices to move the process forward.” He continues, “I don’t believe that governments, nationally, internationally, will be able to make the kind of change necessary and, relatively speaking, in the short period of time we need to really address climate change, without folks on the outside influencing the process and pushing people along, making sure this is an issue we vote on, making sure this is an issue to rally behind.”

 

The Better Path Coalition has made numerous attempts to “push along” the governor and his staff, including a letter outlining priorities for his first term and a follow-up letter marking his 100th day in office, reiterating those priorities since he had not addressed any of them or acknowledged receipt of the letter. Recent reporting by Kiley Bense for Inside Climate News indicates that the second letter was circulated to members of the governor’s secret climate working group.
 

“With all due respect to Ms. Coffey, her advice to people is to take personal responsibility for the climate crisis by making small changes. We have learned a lot in the past couple of years about the role public relations firms played in shifting the blame and, thus, the responsibility to the public and away from the industry that caused the crisis. The fact is that the industry that caused the crisis is still doing harm with the support of Governor Shapiro,” said Karen Feridun, Co-founder of the Better Path Coalition. “We are reaching out to Ms.Coffey to see if she can get us a meeting with the governor and to invite her to testify at the People’s Hearing on Climate Change during the Pennsylvania Climate Convergence in October.”

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – August 4, 2023

Contact: Karen Feridun, Better Path Coalition, 610-678-7726, karen@betterpathcoalition.org

 

Governor Shapiro Hides from Coalition of Barbies Bearing Climate Message

 

Pennsylvania: Self-proclaimed “Barbie Guy” Governor Josh Shapiro hid from a coalition of Barbies who visited his office to deliver the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. Eleven Barbies arrived shortly after noon to find an officer guarding the closed door of the Governor’s reception hall.

 

The Better Path Coalition organized the action to tell Shapiro that Pennsylvania needs a climate guy, not a Barbie guy. The group used social media to let Shapiro know that the Barbies would be visiting to deliver the “super important IPCC report” via a series of posts and graphics.

 

Last month, the Better Path Coalition posted that the governor had not tweeted the word “climate” since October 26, 2022, weeks before the general election. A search of his tweets looking for the phrase “global warming” produced only one result that he posted in 2018.

 

Within hours of Better Path’s tweet, Shapiro tweeted about abandoned wells, using the phrase “climate change.” In the hours and days that followed, Shapiro tweeted two videos about the Barbie movie, identifying himself as a Barbie guy. An earlier Barbie tweet from April of Shapiro in a poster for the movie was posted on the state’s official account operated by the Department of Community and Economic Development. The DCED has been actively involved in bringing polluting projects like the Shell cracker plant and hydrogen hubs to Pennsylvania.

A receptionist from the Governor’s office eventually came out of the office to accept the IPCC report from the group.

“This isn’t about tweets. Governor Shapiro uses social media to talk about his priorities and what he perceives to be his accomplishments. The absence of tweets from the governor of the second biggest methane gas producing state in the nation speaks volumes,” said Karen Feridun, Co-founder, Better Path Coalition.

Shapiro has tweeted about communities hit by extreme weather events, but they say little more than he will have their backs. He views having their backs as helping them recover from the disaster, not taking aggressive action to address the crisis that is bringing about the extreme weather events.

"In May of this year, PA IPL delivered a letter to the Governor's Office and Department of Environmental Protection along with 100 Prayers for the Earth collected from across the state of Pennsylvania. Taking strong and immediate action that aligns with climate science and values justice is crucial. We are looking for this Administration to show bold climate leadership," said Katie Ruth, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light.

“When your house is on fire, it’s disconcerting when, as your home is being consumed by the flames, the fire chief wants to talk about this great movie he saw and how good he is at repairing fire damage,” said Michael Bagdes-Canning, founding member, Pennsylvania Action on Climate. 

“Hello, Governor Shapiro, the planet is smoking, flooding, overheating, ocean currents are collapsing, we’re in the midst of a mass extinction event, and …, and telling us you are a Barbie Guy and how quickly you sprang into action AFTER the recent climate fueled floods isn’t good enough. We need real action,” continued Bagdes-Canning. “Ecological devastation is a policy choice.”

“Pennsylvania is part of the climate problem because fracking releases uncontrollable amounts of methane that powerfully heat up the atmosphere. The second highest producer of natural gas in the nation, the Commonwealth will continue to make the climate crisis worse until fracking is stopped and replaced by clean, renewable energy sources. Governor Shapiro must take seriously the urgent need to end its polluting greenhouse gas emissions rather than spend time courting popularity through Barbie tweets,” said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

“The climate clock we installed in the East Wing will tick down to zero in less than six years. Zero on the clock doesn’t mean it’s time to take action. It means it’s too late. The time for action is right now. What Shapiro does in this moment will follow him throughout his career and will be his legacy,” said Feridun. 

Additional photos of the action are available here.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – July 27, 2023

Contact: Karen Feridun, Better Path Coalition, 610-678-7726, karen@betterpathcoalition.org

 

Barbie sez, “Thanks, Governor Shapiro, but we need a climate guy.”

Coalition of Barbies heading to Capitol to deliver IPCC report to Governor

 

Pennsylvania: In two recent video posts on Twitter, Governor Josh Shapiro has proclaimed that he is a Barbie guy. On August 3 at noon, Barbies from across the state will converge at the Capitol to deliver a copy of the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change with the message, “Thanks, Governor Shapiro, but we need a climate guy.” The Barbies will go to the Governor’s office after a brief fashion photo shoot at the fountain.

 

The delivery is part of a campaign by the Better Path Coalition that started on Twitter when co-founder Karen Feridun discovered that the governor had not tweeted about climate change since before his election. Conversely, he tweets frequently about issues he prioritizes like broadband that he has now tweeted about 21 times this month alone.

 

Within hours of the coalition’s post noting the search results, Governor Shapiro used the phrase “combat climate change” in a tweet about plugging abandoned wells. When he posted his first Barbie movie video shortly thereafter, the coalition launched the hashtag #ClimateVBarbiemovie to track mentions of either topic. At present, the score stands, Barbie movie: 2, climate: 1.

 

“During a summer of deadly floods, nearly off the charts levels of particulate matter in the air from wildfires in Canada, and drought conditions across much of Pennsylvania, Governor Shapiro has had ample opportunities to link those events to climate in his many posts about having the backs of impacted communities. But if he really wants to have the backs of people in Pennsylvania, he needs to take aggressive action on climate. Unfortunately, his lack of social media posts is a reflection of his lack of action on the most important issue of our time,” said Feridun.

 

 

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August 2, 2023

For Planning Purposes

Karen Feridun, 610-678-7726, karen@betterpathcoalition.org

 

Thursday: Coalition of Barbies to Deliver Super Important IPCC Report to #1 “Barbie Guy” Governor Shapiro

 

A coalition of Barbies from across the state will gather in Harrisburg at noon on Thursday to deliver the IPCC report to Governor Josh Shapiro and tell him we need a Climate Guy, not a Barbie Guy.

 

Governor Shapiro has posted videos twice on Twitter/X that he is a Barbie Guy. Just prior to the first post, the Governor posted a reference to climate change for the first time since October 26, 2022, before the general election. The post came just hours after the Better Path Coalition noted that he uses Twitter/X to talk about his priorities and that climate change has been  conspicuously absent from that list since he took office.

 

Who: A coalition of Barbies

What: Delivery of super important IPCC report to Governor Shapiro

When: Thursday, August 3, at noon

Where: The Barbies will gather for a fashion photo shoot at the fountain on Commonwealth Ave. at noon before going to Governor Shapiro’s office. After the delivery, the Barbies will stop at the climate countdown clock in the East Wing for another photo shoot. 

Visuals: 11 Barbies from across PA, a banner telling Shapiro we need a Climate Guy, not a Barbie Guy, a banner listing priorities sent to Shapiro in a letter from the Better Path Coalition during his transition that was shared with Shapiro’s secret climate working group, the IPCC report in a pink folder.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – April 25, 2023

Contact: Karen Feridun, Better Path Coalition, 610-678-7726, betterpathpa@gmail.com

 

Better Path Coalition Calls on Shapiro to Connect Climate Dots in Review of First 100 Days 

Frontline- and Grassroots-led Coalition Still Awaiting Response to Pre-Inauguration Recommendations Prepares to Submit Right-to-Know Request on Private Climate Meeting

 

Pennsylvania: The Better Path Coalition has not seen significant action on the recommendations the group submitted to Governor Shapiro days before he took office. The group’s review comes as the Shapiro administration marks its first 100 days in office. In a new letter submitted today, the Coalition notes that it will submit a Right-to-Know request regarding a recent meeting of a climate working group held behind closed doors.

 

The letter quotes passages from Shapiro’s budget address, including a statement wherein the governor says we have to connect the dots between methane leakage and climate change, referring to the specific issue of abandoned wells. The Coalition urges Shapiro to lead by example. “You are not being honest and connecting the dots with your ongoing support of fossil fuel extraction and the development of blue hydrogen and carbon capture and storage projects that represent nothing more than the next generation of drilling and fracking. Pennsylvania will not be part of the solution to climate change without leaders courageous enough to draw to a close the era of fossil fuel and petrochemical production.”

 

The letter acknowledges that Department of Environmental Protection Acting Secretary Rick Negrin has hired Fernando Treviño to serve as Special Deputy Secretary for Environmental Justice, but followed up the appointment with a series of poorly advertised town halls held during daytime working hours. 

 

The Coalition also points out that one of the few details released about Shapiro’s climate working group is that the environmental advocacy giant, NRDC, is co-leading the group. The group juxtaposes NRDC’s $150 million operating budget and Manhattan headquarters with the Coalition’s largely unfunded frontline and grassroots member organizations made up of volunteers who pay out of their own pockets to do their work and says the administration’s statements on environmental justice ring hollow when its member groups are ignored by the administration.

 

“Our recommendations were detailed and thoughtfully drafted. Many of them provide a perspective that can only come from people living and working on the frontlines of methane and ethane extraction. We expect better of our governor. We want him to walk the talk on environmental justice,” said Karen Feridun, Co-founder of the Coalition.

 

Tamela Trussell, Founder of Move Past Plastic (MPP), contributed the recommendations on plastics and reiterated the dangers they pose, "Microplastics, PFAS, and numerous other toxic chemicals have profound deleterious health impacts on the frontline communities near fracking wells, cracker plants, pipelines, incineration plants, landfills, and transportation routes like Palestine, PA.  Our most vulnerable population: fetuses, babies, pregnant mothers, children, and wildlife, are also negatively impacted by these hazards. These impacts could last a lifetime. A newborn's lungs, heart, liver, kidneys, and brain contain microplastics and PFAS. Their growth, brain development and immune systems are impaired from birth. We must establish comprehensive research, regulations, and enforcement on the petrochemical industry and hold them accountable for the billions of dollars of health harm from them." 

 

The letter states, “Climate change is unquestionably the greatest crisis we have faced in the course of human history, one that could bring that history to an end. It is also a crisis with a known, available solution. The only thing stopping us from availing ourselves of the solution is lack of political courage.” In closing, the Coalition says that Pennsylvania will not be part of the solution to the climate crisis without leaders courageous enough to draw the era of fossil fuel production to a close.

 

The full letter is available here.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 7, 2023

Contact: Karen Feridun, Better Path Coalition, 610-678-7726, betterpathpa@gmail.com

 

Shapiro’s Budget Address Misses the Mark on Climate Change 

Statement by the Better Path Coalition

 

Pennsylvania: Governor Shapiro said he “wants the future of hydrogen to come through our Commonwealth” and added that Pennsylvania must “[secure] at least one regional hydrogen hub.” In a budget address that was absent of any strong initiatives to address the accelerating climate crisis, his statements supporting hydrogen were the most revealing of his lack of seriousness on the matter.

 

In referring to the hydrogen hubs he wants the state to secure, Shapiro neglected to explain that Pennsylvania is involved in proposals for at least three hydrogen hubs, all of them based on blue hydrogen. Blue hydrogen is nothing more than the next generation of fossil fuel production in a state that is already playing an outsized role in exacerbating the climate crisis.

 

Hydrogen can be produced from multiple sources, so it is color-coded to differentiate among the feedstocks and processes used to produce it. Gray hydrogen is made from methane using a process called steam methane reforming and accounts for 95% of the hydrogen produced today. 

 

Blue hydrogen is gray hydrogen with carbon capture and storage added, a process powered by methane. It all adds up to more drilling and fracking and more climate-killing methane leaks. 

 

Shapiro is not oblivious to the problem of methane leaks, he noted later in his address when he talked about using a lighter to ignite the methane leaking from an abandoned well he visited. To address the problem, he called on DEP Acting Secretary Negrin to “draw down as much federal funding as possible to cap and plug orphaned and abandoned wells that dot rural Pennsylvania.”

 

The federal funds would plug 50 wells in the Commonwealth. The estimated number of abandoned wells is as high as 700,000. Lack of oversight over the use of the federal funds has raised concerns about how even the tiny fraction of wells being plugged with them are being selected. 

 

The Better Path Coalition sent a letter to then-Governor-elect Shapiro outlining priorities we had identified for his administration. The letter urged Shapiro to take immediate steps toward a ban on fracking by reinstating the ban on drilling and fracking in Dimock that was quietly lifted by the DEP the same day he announced Coterra’s no contest plea in the grand jury case. Other recommendations included addressing well abandonment, banning all road spreading of drilling waste, protecting Pennsylvanians from toxic, radioactive oil & gas waste, addressing potentially catastrophic methane leaks from underground storage facilities, and reforming state agencies.

 

We never received a response from Shapiro and certainly could not glean one from his address today unless we were to infer that recommendations emanating from frontline and grassroot organizations are officially being ignored.

 

If that is the case, Pennsylvania will not be part of a climate solution. We will see more and more climate change-fueled disasters. We can only hope Shapiro’s leaden response to the derailment in East Palestine that continues to profoundly impact his constituents in Beaver County is no indication of how he will handle those disasters.
 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 28, 2023

Contact: Karen Feridun, Better Path Coalition, 610-678-7726, betterpathpa@gmail.com

 

“Pennsylvania Is Worth Protecting” Is Message of Book by Coalition & Partners

Groups Deliver Books to Governor Shapiro and Legislators, Calling for Action on Climate Change

 

Pennsylvania: More than 60 photographs fill the pages of a book delivered to Governor Shapiro and state legislators today by members of the Better Path Coalition and the Pennsylvania Climate Convergence Network. The photographs in Worth Protecting were submitted by people from across the state depicting things that they hold dear and that must be protected from climate change and environmental devastation.


Karen Elias, Better Path and Climate Reality member and the book’s editor, said, “Putting this book of photos together -- of all those things that we consider most worth protecting across the commonwealth -- has been a great joy.  The photos offer glimpses, open and heartfelt, of our various lives as we live them, day to day, with our pets, our kids and grandkids, and our gardens -- as well as of those moments of unexpected pleasure that we've captured by surprise.  A toad that appears in the fire-pit, a sunset, a double rainbow, a stunning vista, a monarch chrysalis fastened to the edge of a canoe.  Taken together,they comprise a tribute to the lives we're creating across the Pennsylvania landscape, lives made more precious and precarious by the looming presence of climate change.  Our hope, in offering this book to our governor and legislators, is that they will sit up and take notice: We are your constituents.  These are our lives made visible.  This is the Pennsylvania we would like to pass on to our kids and grandkids. You have the power to make that happen.  All this is worth protecting -- and we are running out of time.”

 

The groups also announced the release of an online version of the book in the form of a story map created by Elias and Erica Jackson of the FracTracker Alliance. The online edition includes photos that did not appear in the book due to space limitations.

 

"The Worth Protecting project reminds us of our innate desire to protect what we depend on: community and natural resources. We're sharing these photos with the new administration in Harrisburg, as well as the public, to encourage all Pennsylvanians to find their personal connection to the impacts of the climate crisis and join the movement to take action on it." - Erica Jackson, Manager of Community Outreach and Support, FracTracker Alliance.

 

During the delivery, members of the delivery team participated in the first People’s Filibuster. Throughout the afternoon, they read statements from some of the people who submitted photos, testimonials by people harmed by shale gas development, essays, and poetry. The idea of the filibuster is to read those things aloud that our elected officials should be reading themselves. Future filibusters will include readings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment, studies, and reports.

 

“We hope that our governor and legislators will reflect on the message of the book, hear the statements and testimonies of their constituents, and recognize that they have the power and the responsibility to protect Pennsylvania. And we hope they heed our Climate Countdown Clock’s urgent warning that the time to act is now,” said Karen Feridun, Co-founder of the Better Path Coalition.

 

Funding for the publication of the book was provided in part by a grant from the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – January 10, 2023

Contact: Karen Feridun, Better Path Coalition, 610-678-7726, betterpathpa@gmail.com

 

Better Path Coalition Outlines Environmental/Climate Priorities for Shapiro Administration 

Frontline- and Grassroots-led Coalition’s Focus on Methane and Ethane Production Is Reflected in 38 Topline and Targeted Priorities

 

Pennsylvania: The Better Path Coalition submitted a list of environmental and climate priorities to Governor-Elect Shapiro and members of his environmental transition team. The letter, submitted today, includes 30 targeted priorities organized under eight8 topline priorities.

 

Although the climate crisis and increasing concerns over the environmental and health impacts of drilling and fracking prompted the group to develop athe list of priorities, Shapiro’s public statements in support of the industry and the false climate solutions it is promoting gave urgency to the task.

 

The letter urges Shapiro to take immediate steps toward a ban on fracking by reinstating the ban on drilling and fracking in Dimock that was quietly lifted by the DEP the same day he announced Coterra’s no-contestno contest plea in the grand jury case. Other recommendations include addressing well abandonment, banning all road spreading of drilling waste, protecting Pennsylvanians from toxic, radioactive oil & gas waste, addressing potentially catastrophic methane leaks from underground storage facilities, and reforming state agencies.

 

The Coalition also urges Shapiro to reject hydrogen hubs and carbon capture schemes being proposed in Pennsylvania. The unproven, often cost-prohibitive solutions are nothing more than attempts by the fossil fuel industry to continue doing business as usual behind a thin, greenwashed veil. Taken together, the solutions represent the next generation of fossil fuel development in Pennsylvania and guarantee continued drilling and fracking.

 

The letter closes by calling on Shapiro to lead where his predecessors have failed. They hitched Pennsylvania’s wagon to two dying stars - plastics and fossil fuels. If history is a guide, Shapiro will likely win a second term if he seeks one. If Pennsylvania remains on its current course, he will be the governor when the climate clock ticks down to zero in about six and a half years.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 23, 2023

Contact: Karen Feridun, Better Path Coalition, 610-678-7726, betterpathpa@gmail.com

 

Shapiro’s Team PA-Funded Super Bowl Trip Should Raise Concerns about Hydrogen Hubs

Statement by the Better Path Coalition

 

Pennsylvania: The “nonprofit” that submitted the application for the blue hydrogen hub proposed for western Pennsylvania paid for Governor Shapiro’s trip to the Super Bowl, according to Spotlight PA


Team Pennsylvania President and CEO, Abby Smith, says that paying for the trip doesn’t violate Shapiro’s own interpretation of a gift ban because her organization doesn’t recommend policy. We beg to differ.

 

The organization has been a constant supporter of methane gas and petrochemical development. Perhaps most notably, it partnered with IHS Markit on the 2017 report, Prospects to Enhance Pennsylvania’s Opportunities in Petrochemical Manufacturing. It was the report that claimed that Pennsylvania could support five ethane cracker plants.

 

Just last year, then-Governor Tom Wolf announced that he and 24 partners, including Team Pennsylvania, signed a declaration committing to deploy hydrogen and carbon capture and storage technologies in Pennsylvania. Shortly thereafter, Team Pennsylvania convened the Pennsylvania Energy Horizons Cross-Sector Collaborative to promote blue hydrogen. The organization’s website describes the Collaborative’s roles, including this one. “A Catalyst & Enabler: The Collaborative drives action around decarbonization, creating the conditions for infrastructure investments to be made in Pennsylvania through compelling messaging as well as policy and regulatory frameworks.” (emphasis added)

 

Team Pennsylvania figured prominently in the brief we published last fall, The Dirty Truth Behind the Global Clean Energy Action Forum, on what was more a false climate solutions trade show than anything resembling a clean energy action forum. The report provides a timeline that connects the natural gas boom and the key players behind it to the current drive to develop blue hydrogen hubs in Pennsylvania.

The Global Clean Energy Action Forum was hosted by the Department of Energy. The agency considered Carnegie Mellon University to be its main co-host. CMU President Farnam Jahanian serves on Team Pennsylvania’s board of directors. His chief of staff was recently named by Shapiro to head the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). “Team PA works very closely with DCED on a regular basis,” says its website. In fact, when Team Pennsylvania submitted the application for the western Pennsylvania hydrogen hub, the Department of Community and Economic Development provided the press release.

 

Abby Smith’s hair-splitting defense is disingenuous. One of the reasons people have lost faith in their government is because of responses like hers or that of Manuel Bonder, Shapiro’s spokesperson, who told Spotlight PA that “the tickets did not violate the gift ban because the organization has a ‘decades-long history of collaborating with the state,’ and is ‘completely incomparable to a private actor,’” all the while avoiding the financial relationship between the organization and the state.

 

Optics aren’t the issue for the majority of Pennsylvanians who have been polling that they are concerned about climate change and want action from their government. And optics are certainly not the concern for people living near fracking operations and infrastructure, the Shell cracker plant, or the Pennsylvania/Ohio border a few miles away.

 

The news broke as Dr. Robert Howarth was briefing legislators and their staff on the problems with blue hydrogen in a session our coalition organized. We invited Governor Shapiro many times. We wrote to Sam Robinson, his Deputy Chief of Staff. Our coalition of groups on the frontlines of environmental injustice and of grassroots organizations working on the ground can’t get a response from our governor and have too much integrity to buy his support. 

 

Shapiro needs to get serious about Pennsylvania’s energy future. His support of outmoded ideas like the all-of-the-above energy strategy he ran on and of bad new ideas like methane hubs masquerading as hydrogen hubs is not what we need when we have less than six and a half years to avoid the worst impacts of global warming and when countless families are suffering right now. He might have to miss a game or two.


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