PRESS INFORMATION

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – November 12, 2020

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

 

As Peer-Reviewed Research Continues to Fill in the Missing Puzzle Pieces on Fracking, Coalition Aims to Start Long-Overdue Conversation on Government’s Responsibility to the Harmed

Better Path Coalition Announces Donations of Water and Water Buffaloes to Affected Regions, Communities, Families; Attempts to Deliver Invoice to DEP

 

On Tuesday, the Better Path Coalition called on the Pennsylvania legislature to create a Clean Drinking Water Fund to provide permanent replacement water to Pennsylvanians whose private water supplies have been fouled by shale gas activities. During a morning press conference, members of the coalition called it the first step to addressing the many impacts Pennsylvanians experience, not just to their water quality, but to their air quality, health, property, and more.

On Wednesday, author and biologist Dr. Sandra Steingraber previewed the upcoming 7th edition of The Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking in a pair of briefings for legislators, other public officials, the press, and the public.

The briefings opened with a statement by Janice Blanock, mother of Luke Blanock who died at the age of 19 after a three-year battle with Ewing Sarcoma. Blanock was one of the relatives of young people diagnosed with rare cancers in southwestern Pennsylvania to travel to Harrisburg a year ago who confronted Governor Tom Wolf with pleas to investigate the rare cancers. Four days later, Wolf announced two studies on fracking’s impacts on health and possible links to the cancers.

The following are key messages from the two days of events:

  • The hundreds of peer-reviewed studies published over the past year that bring the total summarized in the new edition of the Compendium to more than 2,000 fill in the missing background pieces of a puzzle whose picture has been easy to discern for years, said Steingraber.

  • As the evidence of shale gas development’s profound impacts mounts, the Wolf administration continues to drag its feet on beginning the studies promised a year ago. Blanock received a call from Department of Health Secretary Rachel Levine the day before Wolf announced the studies to give her the news first and tell her that it would take about a month to select a research institution to conduct the studies. After a year, including the five months before the pandemic, no selection has been made.

  • Steingraber said that while peer-reviewed research is necessary, it should not become an obstacle to taking action to protect children. Public officials should not wait for proof before taking action. She compares it to telling her children to stop swimming in the lake when she hears the first distant rumble of thunder. She doesn’t need to see someone electrocuted to determine that it’s unsafe to be in the water during a thunderstorm.

  • The Wolf administration, like its predecessors, is not just failing to prevent harm, it is failing to help Pennsylvanians after harm has occurred. The Better Path Coalition announced that it is donating water buffaloes to southwestern and northeastern  Pennsylvania and water to the Woodlands in Butler County, Dimock in Susquehanna County, and the Tarr family in Chester County whose water supply has been contaminated as a result of horizontal directional drilling during the construction of the Mariner East pipeline project. The help the Coalition can provide is limited and that’s the point. Pennsylvanians who have suffered impacts are often either left to their own devices to deal with the damage done or to receive assistance from organizations, churches, community groups, and friends.

  • Charitable acts are invaluable and appreciated, but they are not a reasonable alternative to the support that should be coming from the government and the industry responsible for the harms, said the Coalition. The group attempted to deliver an invoice to the DEP at an action that followed Tuesday morning’s press conference.

  • The Coalition believes it is past time for a conversation in this state about how these impacts and others should be addressed. The group cited a story reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last summer on the DEP’s plans to raise fees in drilling permits. The article explained that they agency used fines received from permit violations, including the $30.6 million collected from Energy Transfer after the Revolution pipeline explosion in 2018 to fund the oil and gas program. Not a dime of the money collected was used to help the family who lost their home rebuild or relocate. None of the money was used to provide counseling to the traumatized neighbors, replace vehicles destroyed, or repair damage to other properties.

  • Pennsylvanians are left to their own devices to deal with the harms they have endured. Some are still showering, laundering, and flushing toilets with contaminated water.  Others are spending their own money to install and fill water buffaloes for those uses and purchase jugs of drinking water. Some Pennsylvanians seek justice and restitution in protracted legal battles while others sign Non-Disclosure Agreements that silence them and deprive the public record of valuable information.

  • The Coalition also referenced a conversation with staff attorneys at the DEP. The attorneys told the group that they believed fines collected stemming from the Grand Jury investigation would go to the Clean Streams Fund. When asked if the money could go to a Clean Drinking Water fund to provide permanent replacement water to Pennsylvanians whose private water wells had been contaminated by shale gas activities, the attorneys said that no such fund currently exists and would need to be created via legislation.

Recordings of the briefings are available on the Better Path Coalition’s Vimeo page.

Legislative briefing -  https://vimeo.com/478189065

Evening briefing - https://vimeo.com/478305210

Tuesday’s press conference can be viewed on the Coalition’s Facebook page

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For Immediate Release - July 23, 2020

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

 

Wolf’s Signature on HB732 Says Everything You Need to Know about Him

Statement from the Better Path Coalition

 

 

With his signature on HB732, Governor Tom Wolf has made clear that his allegiance is with the shale gas industry, not the people he was elected to serve. He can no longer hide behind half-baked attempts to curb emissions now that he has used his veto of HB1100 as a bargaining chip to negotiate a version of a climate-killing bill he finds more palatable because it provides prevailing wage protection to temporary construction workers.

 

His refusal to stop handing loaded pistols in the form of permits to drilling companies found by the 43rd Statewide Grand Jury to be guilty of criminal activity showed that he was not taking the Attorney General’s investigation seriously. With his signature on HB732, he has proved that he is actually willing to subsidize projects that will make those same companies even more profitable.

 

He has turned a blind eye to the Grand Jury’s scathing critique of the Department of Environmental Protection and has elected, instead, to put the already-captured agency under even more political pressure to grant permits for projects that are so desirable to our ethically bankrupt administration and legislature that they were willing to legislate their endorsement.

 

With his signature, Governor Wolf has erased any thought that he is anything but a hypocrite on climate and a willing sycophant of the shale gas industry.

 

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For Immediate Release: July 14, 2020

Contact: 

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

Peter Hart, Food & Water Action,  phart@fwwatch.org 732-266-4932

 

Mark Ruffalo Joins 30 Organizations in Calling on Governor Wolf to Veto Sneaky Petrochemical Subsidy Bill Passed by the Legislature

 

Actor and activist Mark Ruffalo and climate activist Bill McKibben joined more than 30 organizations in calling for Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to veto legislation that would dedicate more than $667 million to subsidies for the petrochemical industry. 

 

Wolf negotiated a backroom deal with state legislators to address his concerns with a similar bill he vetoed in March. Wolf used his veto of HB1100 as a bargaining chip to make changes to a provision on prevailing wages. The new version of the bill was added as an amendment to an unrelated bill, HB732, effectively bypassing the legislative process.

 

Actor and activist Mark Ruffalo said, “As fracking companies are going bankrupt, it is unconscionable that Governor Wolf is using state subsidies to prop them up. Governor Wolf is acting like a member of the Trump Administration, not the Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania. He has been meeting in secret with the fracking and plastics companies to give them millions in taxpayer dollars. Giving limited resources to fracking companies is obscene when so many people are trying to keep their homes, small business, schools, and families afloat, especially in light of the criminal charges that the state attorney general just slapped this industry with. Spend that money on PPE, food programs and no-fault business loans for the good people of Pennsylvania instead of failing and amoral fossil fuel companies.”

 

Author and climate activist Bill McKibben said, "Fracking has been a disaster start to finish--for our communities and for our water, and for the planet's climate system on which all of us depend. The time is now to call a halt."

 

“It is amazing to see how quickly Governor Wolf can move when he is doing the bidding of the shale gas industry! Pennsylvanians profoundly impacted by fracking have been pleading with Wolf to help them since he was elected. When he hasn't ignored them completely, he has made half-hearted promises of years-long studies that don't address problems happening on the ground right now. It's not surprising that he's throwing massive sums of money at the industry by throwing Pennsylvanians suffering from the economic crisis under the natural gas-powered bus,” said Karen Feridun, Co-founder, Better Path Coalition.


“In the midst of a deadly global pandemic, Governor Wolf and Pennsylvania lawmakers have been hatching a secret scheme to hand hundreds of millions of dollars to petrochemical corporations in order to rescue the ailing fracking industry and create more plastic junk,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “Instead of handing over public money to corporate polluters like Shell, lawmakers should put a halt to these absurd petrochemical giveaways, and build a clean, renewable energy industry that will create safe, stable jobs.”

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – July 13, 2020

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

Thousands Make Last Minute Appeal to Wolf, Legislators: Don’t Subsidize Polluters

Petition Challenges Attempt to Throw Billions at Petrochemical Industry while Constituents Struggle to Put Food on the Table

Today, the Better Path Coalition submitted more than 2,200 signatures on a petition started on Saturday when it received word that the state legislature was likely to move a bill that would be amended to contain the worst provisions of the controversial HB1100, the centerpiece of the GOP’s Energize PA package that would have given billions in subsidies to the petrochemical industry.  

The bill that will be amended to include the subsidies is HB732, introduced by Representative Chris Quinn (R-168) to exempt “volunteer service providers – EMS, fire, and rescue companies – from the Pennsylvania realty transfer tax,” according to the co-sponsorship memo.

Earlier in the week,  PLS Reporter revealed that lawmakers were negotiating with Governor Tom Wolf to resurrect the bill he vetoed but didn’t indicate how it might be done or how quickly it might happen. In the article, Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin is reported to have signaled in February that Wolf’s veto threat wasn’t an expression of opposition to the substance of the bill.

“When elected officials go to the lengths of attaching a measure to another bill and then moving it quickly, it means they know exactly how unpopular a measure it is. In this case, the public’s opposition to HB1100 was loud and clear and that was before the economic crisis brought on by COVID-19 made the thought of throwing billions at the shale gas industry unconscionable. Governor Wolf should not have used his veto as a bargaining chip. We demand better of our legislators and governor,” said Karen Feridun, Co-founder of the Better Path Coalition, who started the MoveOn petition.

Lawmakers in northeastern PA were among those eager to override Wolf’s veto of HB1100. In June, Cabot Oil and Gas’ External Affairs Director George Stark facilitated a meeting with Senators Gene Yaw (R-23) and John Yudichak (I-14) and Gene Barr of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry to discuss the bill and the campaign to save it. The shift from an override campaign to a negotiation with Wolf appears to have been concurrent with announcements from Attorney General Josh Shapiro regarding charges stemming from a Grand Jury investigation of fracking. The Grand Jury has charged Cabot Oil and Gas, a would-be beneficiary of HB1100, with nine felonies and six misdemeanors. Shapiro also announced charges against Range Resources, already a beneficiary of the petrochemical boom in southwestern PA,  and a scathing report on the failures of the state government to protect the public from fracking.  

"It is bad policy and bad economics to subsidize fracking development in PA,” said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.  “Fracking is a failing industry that has burdened the public and our environment with incalculable costs. Just read the PA Attorney General’s newly published Report of the Forty-Third Statewide Investigating Grand Jury. We need a green economic recovery as we try to emerge from the COVID 19 pandemic, not more pollution and suffering. This fracking tax credit bill must be stopped!"

"This proposed millions of dollars in tax breaks and subsidies should not go to the polluting, boom/bust fossil fuel industry. Legislators should seek to fund a forward-looking vision, one that creates safe, high-paying, long-term, green jobs with industries that can provide a stable economy and a healthy, sustainable future for present and future generations of Pennsylvania citizens," Barb Jarmoska, treasurer, RDA/Keep It Wild.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 26, 2020

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

 

Coalition Calls for Resignations, Fracking Ban, Transparency in Wake of Grand Jury Report

Pair of letters to Governor Wolf and Attorney General Shapiro Lay Out Coalition’s Concerns/Demands

 

Today, the Better Path Coalition delivered letters to Governor Tom Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro outlining concerns and demands stemming from the Grand Jury’s report on the state government’s failure to protect Pennsylvanians from shale gas development.

The letter to Wolf calls for the resignations of Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell and Department of Health Secretary Rachel Levine. Additionally, the coalition expanded on its call for a halt to further permitting of shale gas activities first made in a  letter sent to Wolf on June 17 that received no response. Given the extent of the failures of the state government cited in the Grand Jury’s report, the Coalition is calling for a ban on fracking. The Governor’s office has also ignored several requests from the Coalition for a meeting with Wolf. The letter asks, once again, for a meeting.

The letter to Shapiro requests a meeting to discuss the Coalition’s prioritized concerns. Among them are concerns about the reporting hotline Shapiro announced today.  The Grand Jury recommended giving the AG’s office original jurisdiction over environmental crimes. The Coalition is concerned that Shapiro could be hindered in acting on complaints unless a change in reporting methodology aids him in gaining that authority. The group is also calling for the lifting of existing nondisclosure agreements and a prohibition of their use in the future.

 “We are grateful to Attorney General Shapiro and the Grand Jury for the work they have done to expose the failures of the state to protect Pennsylvanians. The contents come as no surprise to those who have been profoundly impacted for 16 years. The damage to our communities, to our families, and to our natural resources cannot be undone. The only thing the state can do now is stop the madness. The results of the Grand Jury investigation thus far make a clear case for a ban on fracking in Pennsylvania and more is coming,” said Karen Feridun, Better Path Coalition.

“Fossil fuel companies have consistently operated in the belief that they are above the law and that they can willfully ignore any laws, rules, regulations, standards or even easement agreements with impunity,” said Ellen Gerhart, Camp White Pine. “They have bullied, intimidated and targeted anyone who refused to kowtow to their demands. DEP has also been complacent and has often aided and abetted these companies by erroneously issuing permits without checking the veracity of the information on the applications. When DEP has been forced to act against these companies for a multitude of violations, the result has been little more than a slap on the wrist. The DEP, the Wolf administration, and the fossil fuel industry should all be held accountable for their failure to ensure the health and safety of the people of Pennsylvania and the environment.”

“I was allowed to have phone meetings with Dr. Levine and the PA DOH epidemiology team in 2015, 2016 and 2017 to discuss the unusually high rates of cancer in areas of fracking. The meetings lasted for one hour or more each but always ended by thanking me for my time but informing me that Governor Wolf has tied their hands and they can only work on the opioid crisis. My response was that as important of an issue that is we have been Fracking in Pa for 16 years now and have ignored the suffering of an unknown amount of children and adults. I lost my mother, father, 2 grandfathers, 3 uncles and many cousins to cancer in the past 50 years and will not stand by silently while the Governor, DEP, DOH and elected officials enable these Criminals,“ said Craig Stevens, Patriots From The Oil & Gas Shales 6th Generation Landowner. 

“The permitting of unconventional gas drilling in Pennsylvania and the proven environmental catastrophes that have followed are a direct affront to Article 1, Section 27 of Pennsylvania’s constitution.  It’s time for Attorney General Shapiro’s office to do everything in its power to protect our constitutional rights and stop the poisoning of our water, air and all that drink and breathe it,” said Tim Spiese, Lancaster Against Pipelines.

“When a group of 12 interfaith leaders in Pennsylvania met with Secretary Levine in 2016, we were told that the DOH's hands were filled with the opioid crisis. Concerns about the health effects of fracking were essentially dismissed. The opioid crisis then became the COVID crisis -- the health impacts of fracking are deemed insignificant,” said Rachel Mark, Better Path Coalition.

"The Grand Jury investigation has revealed a dangerous and deeply flawed state regulatory system. Community input is integral to understanding pathways of exposure and members of the community who have signed non-disclosure agreements must be released from any penalties for sharing relevant health information," said Tammy Murphy, Physicians for Social Responsibility PA

 

Facts revealed by the grand jury come as no surprise to anyone who has lived near or closely followed the ramifications of Marcellus Shale development in PA,” said Barbara Jarmoska, Project CoffeeHouse. “For the past decade, a trail of abuses, violations, deceptive practices and outright criminal acts has been blazed by the industry and its subcontractors. Government agencies charged with protecting the health and safety of Pennsylvania's citizens and the environment have failed to fulfill their mission. In reading the grand jury report, a sign of relief and one word comes to mind....’Finally.’” 

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 17, 2020

Contact: Karen Feridun, Berks Gas Truth, 610-678-7726, betterpathpa@gmail.com

 

Coalition to Wolf: Stop Permitting Crimes

In Wake of AG Announcements, Coalition Calls for Halt on New Fracking Permits

Today, the Better Path Coalition submitted a letter to Governor Wolf calling on him to direct Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell to halt further permitting of shale gas activities. The move comes in response to recent announcements of criminal charges against Range Resources and Cabot Oil & Gas resulting from a Grand Jury investigation. Attorney General Josh Shapiro has indicated that many more companies will be charged in the coming weeks.

 

We’ve been watching the Attorney General’s investigation warily to see if justice for impacted communities will at last be done. However, justice cannot be served if wrongdoers are only given a slap on the wrist and allowed to continue as before. Corporations insist they are “persons” under the law; let them suffer sanctions as people do. Criminals who inflict serious harm on others are removed from society. These drillers have been shown to be criminals and should be ‘removed’ from us by denying them any new drilling permits,” said Diane Sipe of Marcellus Outreach Butler and Co-founder of the Better Path Coalition.

The Coalition points to permits given out as the AG’s office was putting the finishing touches on its announcements on Range and Cabot. During the first half of June, the DEP issued 28 permits. Only five of those permits were issued to companies other than the two companies that were charged with crimes during that same period. Range received 6 permits; Cabot received 17.

“On Monday, Shapiro said the companies act like they’re above the law. That is not news to impacted Pennsylvanians and advocates who have watched fracking companies rack up thousands and thousands of permit violations. The state cannot reward recidivists with permits to do more damage. It’s time for the permitting to stop,” said Karen Feridun, Berks Gas Truth and Co-founder of the Better Path Coalition.

The letter closes, “Nothing resembling justice can be served if the protracted process of investigating these companies results in no more than fines and compulsory charitable contributions leaving one hand as new permits are placed in the other.”

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 10, 2020

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

Coalition Renews Call for Metcalfe’s Removal in Wake of Turzai’s Resignation

Statement from the Better Path Coalition

 

 

The Better Path Coalition hopes that Speaker Mike Turzai’s resignation sparks other changes in PA House leadership. Specifically, we are renewing our call for the removal of Representative Daryl Metcalfe from his chairmanship of the Environmental Resources and Energy committee.

 

Since last November, the coalition has gathered more than 6,500 signatures on a petition calling on Turzai to remove Metcalfe who openly rejects climate change and has used taxpayer-funded committee hearings to amplify the voices of fellow climate deniers. The first of the hearings occurred in March 2019, just months after he was assigned to chair the committee after being removed from the State Government committee for other expressions of extremist views he holds.

 

Speaker Turzai has never responded to our demands. We hope that his departure is the first step in transforming the state legislature from one that consistently puts corporate interests over public interest to one that is responsive to the people.

 

The coalition will now submit the petition to House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler as he assumes the role of temporary speaker.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 11, 2020

Contact: Diane Sipe, Marcellus Outreach Butler, 724-272-4539

Karen Feridun, Better Path Coalition, 610-678-7726

Support for Metcalfe’s Removal as Enviro Chair Continues to Grow

Coalition Projects Message to Turzai on District Office in Advance of Petition Resubmission

 

Today, the Better Path Coalition resubmitted a letter from more than 40 organizations and businesses and a petition with nearly 6,500 signatures to Speaker Mike Turzai (R-28)  calling on him to remove Representative Daryl Metcalfe (R-12) as chairman of the Environmental Resources and Energy committee, citing his unabashed denial of climate change, obstructionism, and unprofessional behavior. The letter cited seven examples of Metcalfe’s unacceptable behavior and statements on climate change that span more than a decade.

The petition has received about 1,000 additional signatures in the month since it was first delivered on February 11. Turzai has never responded.

Last night, Better Path Coalition partners from Marcellus Outreach Butler projected a message on both Metcalfe’s district office calling for Turzai to act. The action is part of an escalating campaign to remove Metcalfe from his post as chair of the House committee that has more influence over how Pennsylvania addresses climate change than any other.

“Metcalfe’s extreme views and erratic behavior have already disqualified him from chairing the State Government committee. Speaker Turzai removed him from that post. He can and must remove Metcalfe from the Environmental Resources and Energy committee post for exactly the same reasons,” said Karen Feridun, Co-founder of the Better Path Coalition.

In January, Metcalfe devoted a Metcalfe Minute video to the petition after he learned that it had gathered 4,100 signatures. Said Metcalfe, “This unwarranted, personal attack from the deep pocketed climate alarmist lobby reinforces the fact that no other Pennsylvania Legislator has ever been targeted more than me for removal or resignation without having been involved in any crime or scandal. . . Why? Because I make no apologies for advancing only winning Republican policies through my Republican Majority Committee and I refuse to back down or be intimidated by any of these socialist mobs or their reprehensible, fake, fear generating tactics.”

“We in the Better Path Coalition have a different rejoinder: Representative Metcalfe is targeted because he is unsuitable for the position he holds. He named it himself; he prioritizes advancing partisan bias over sound environmental policies. He has repeatedly proven true to his words, demonstrated by the hearings he has held on climate change that primarily featured climate deniers and skeptics,” said Diane Sipe of Marcellus Outreach Butler, Better Path Coalition partner.

During the only debate of Turzai’s 2018 re-election campaign, when asked about climate change, he responded, “I do think that there is climate change and we have to find a way to reduce our emissions.” He has never publicly squared that position with his choice of Metcalfe as chair of the committee responsible for moving bills to help the state achieve those reductions.

The Better Path Coalition maintains that Metcalfe is unfit to Chair the committee because he is not only out of step with the settled science, he is out of step with the majority of Pennsylvanians. Yale University’s Climate Change Communication Program, revealed that 65 percent of Pennsylvanians (67 percent of Americans) think climate change is happening and a majority believe it is mostly caused by human activity. According to the county-by-county breakdown, 57% of the residents of Butler County, in which Metcalfe’s district lies, think climate change is already happening, as do 71% of residents in Allegheny County where Turzai’s district is located.

Photos from last night’s action should be credited to Michael Bagdes-Canning.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 11, 2020

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

 

Thousands Say Metcalfe is the Wrong Person to Chair House Environmental Committee

More than 35 organizations and 5,500 citizens call on Speaker Turzai to Remove Metcalfe

 

A year after Representative Daryl Metcalfe (R-12) was named chair of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, thousands of Pennsylvanians are calling for his removal because of his unabashed climate denial, obstructionism, and unprofessional behavior.

Today, the Better Path Coalition submitted a petition with more than 5,500 signatures to Speaker Mike Turzai (R-28), along with a letter signed by 38 organizations. The letter cites seven examples of Metcalfe’s unacceptable behavior and statements on climate change that span more than a decade. 

The earliest example, from 2009, says, “As a veteran, I believe that any veteran lending their name, to promote the leftist propaganda of global warming and climate change, in an effort to control more of the wealth created in our economy, through cap and tax type policies, all in the name of national security, is a traitor to the oath he or she took to defend the Constitution of our great nation!" Mr. Metcalfe's email reads. "Remember Benedict Arnold before giving credibility to a veteran who uses their service as a means to promote a leftist agenda. Drill Baby Drill!!!" (Post-Gazette, October 20, 2009)

The most recent example occurred on January 29 when Metcalfe devoted a Metcalfe Minute YouTube video to the petition delivered today. Says Metcalfe, ““This unwarranted, personal attack from the deep pocketed climate alarmist lobby reinforces the fact that no other Pennsylvania Legislator has ever been targeted more than me for removal or resignation without having been involved in any crime or scandal. “Why? Because I make no apologies for advancing only winning Republican policies through my Republican Majority Committee and I refuse to back down or be intimidated by any of these socialist mobs or their reprehensible, fake, fear generating tactics.”

During the only debate of Turzai’s 2018 re-election campaign, when asked about climate change, he responded “I do think that there is climate change and we have to find a way to reduce our emissions.” He has never publicly squared that position with his choice of Metcalfe as chair of the committee responsible for moving bills to help the state achieve those reductions. 

“If Speaker Turzai is sincere in acknowledging the need to address climate change, then he has to see that Representative Metcalfe is not the right person to  control what climate bills move through the legislature,” said Karen Feridun,  Co-founder, Better Path Coalition. “As recently as January 29th, in Metcalfe’s video, he boasted that he makes ‘no apologies for advancing only winning Republican policies through my Republican Majority Committee.’ That’s not a serious approach to lawmaking, much less addressing the most important issue of our time. Metcalfe can’t remain in that important seat.”

“We must take immediate, bold action on climate change. Corporations responsible for rampant pollution and greenhouse gas emissions must be held accountable. Laws and regulations combating climate change must be linked with those that promote the transition to a sustainable economy that works for everyone. No workers, families or communities can be left behind. Rep. Metcalfe refuses to walk the path to a safe and healthy future; he must be removed from his chairmanship."  Barbara Jarmoska, Responsible Drilling Alliance

“We in the environmental activist community are tired of being told to adhere to a higher standard of discourse and never engage in attacks when we are almost constantly under such attack ourselves. We are called every name in the book, accused of taking money for our actions and positions, personally and broadly maligned and our integrity, minds and even our patriotism are questioned. This man is a perfect example of a legislator who wishes to demean and divide. Can anyone afford to have him continue in his significant role in Harrisburg? We in Pennsylvania certainly cannot.” Sharon Furlong, Bucks Environmental Action

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – January 30, 2020

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

 

Coalition Applauds Congressional Climate Champions'

Bill to Ban Fracking Nationwide

Statement from the Better Path Coalition

 

The Better Path Coalition applauds Senators Bernie Sanders and Jeff Merkley and Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Darren Soto for introducing legislation to establish a federal ban on fracking. The legislation will be welcome news for the 48% of Pennsylvanians who support a ban according to a just-released Franklin & Marshall poll, especially since the news comes on the heels of Governor Tom Wolf's re-unveiling of his Restore Pennsylvania plan. All but three of the state’s 21 Democratic senators have co-sponsored the plan that would condemn the state to 20 more years of drilling and fracking and incentivize the oil & gas industry.

 

It is increasingly clear that any divide within the Democratic Party in Pennsylvania over fracking exists solely between the people and those who are presumably in office to represent them. The legislation announced today is a much-needed intervention by Congressional climate leaders. Perhaps it will have the added benefit of providing the state’s Democratic leaders with some insight into what being a champion of the people looks like.

 

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – January 29, 2020

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

Seriously? Restore PA again?

Statement from the Better Path Coalition

 

 

Few people rival Governor Tom Wolf in his ability to ignore reality and keep on pressing for something that would be devastating to his state, its citizens, and future generations. On the anniversary of the unveiling of his outlandish Restore Pennsylvania plan, he trotted out agency chiefs to help him re-unveil it. DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell, DCNR Secretary Cindy Dunn, and PEMA Director Randy Padfield should be concerned that Restore Pennsylvania would condemn the state to 20 more years of fracking, incentivize the petrochemical industry, and exacerbate climate change. Why they are not is a question only they can, and should be required to, answer.

 

The Better Path Coalition pressured legislators to remove their names as co-sponsors. We will continue to press legislators to join their colleagues who pulled their support. The stakes are much higher this year.

 

In the past year, we have witnessed climate impacts that are coming faster and more furiously than the scientific community predicted. We’ve learned that at least 67 young people in four counties in southwestern Pennsylvania have been diagnosed with rare cancers that may be linked to shale gas activities. We have 10 years left to address the climate. Some of the young cancer victims didn’t get 10 years. Every day that Governor Wolf crisscrosses the state to drum up support for Restore Pennsylvania is precious time lost.

 

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - January 16, 2020

 

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

 Tammy Murphy, PSR Pennsylvania, 215.749.0960, tammy@psrphila.org

Advocates Call for Transparency and Public Engagement as DOH Explores Fracking’s Health Impacts

Groups Call for Town Hall and Meeting with Public Health Organizations

 

Today, a group of public health and environmental advocates submitted a letter to Secretary Rachel Levine, calling on her to participate in a town hall on the studies on the health impacts of fracking Governor Tom Wolf announced in November. Additionally, Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania and the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project have requested a meeting with Secretary Levine.

 

The organizations that submitted the letter are the same groups that coordinated the letter to Governor Wolf last June that called for an investigation into the spike in rare cancers diagnosed in young people in four counties in southwestern Pennsylvania. 

 

“Parents and families, and their doctors, are anxiously waiting for answers about whether something in the environment is associated with an alarming number of rare childhood cancers, including Ewing sarcoma, in heavily fracked counties of southwestern Pennsylvania,” said Dr. Ned Ketyer, pediatrician with Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania and Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project. “We wish to work with PA-DOH Secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, and her staff to ensure their planned investigation is thorough and transparent, and completed in a timely manner.”

 

“The forum at Canon-McMillan last October left the public with more questions than answers. They are questions that can’t wait and, in some cases, may never be answered by studies. Concerned community members and advocates deserve a chance to have their questions addressed by Secretary Levine directly. We urge her to agree to participate in a forum we will organize and facilitate,” said Karen Feridun, Co-founder of the Better Path Coalition.

 

“We appreciate that the administration is taking this first, vital step toward protecting public health by committing to conduct two investigations into the relationship between shale gas development and the health effects residents are experiencing,” said Sarah Rankin, public health nurse for the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project. “As a public health organization with a long history of community engagement in the region, we invite Dr. Levine to meet with us and Physicians for Social Responsibility - Pennsylvania to discuss her plan for keeping local communities informed and protected from exposure while the investigations are ongoing. Our communities, our families, and our children deserve no less.”

 

“There is no question that fracking is a threat to our drinking water, our air, and to the health and safety of people whose communities have been turned into sacrifice zones,” said Megan McDonough, Pennsylvania Organizing Manager for Food & Water Action. “In November, the governor told suffering families that his administration wanted to do more research on the rising number of cancers in heavily fracked communities—but he has taken no action since then. Two months later, parents, families, and their doctors, are still waiting to hear details of the planned studies. With the health and safety of our children on the line, we cannot wait another 3 years for answers.”

 

Walter Tsou, MD, MPH, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania explains,"There should be an independent study process overview to ensure independent, objective advice throughout the entire process from selection of researchers to response to peer reviewed publication. The study should welcome healthcare providers and public health experts, whose input should complement the concerns of the community most directly impacted. Community input is integral to understanding pathways to exposure and members of the community who have signed non-disclosure agreements must be released from any penalties for sharing relevant health information with the independent academic researchers.  All aspects of the UGD industry that may be part of the possible pathway to exposure must be included in the study. We acknowledge that a large body of literature that already exists on the health harms of shale gas development. The “Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking (Unconventional Gas and Oil Extraction)” is a compilation of investigative reports, government assessments, and roughly 1,500 peer-reviewed research articles, which concluded fracking cannot be done without risking harm to human health. There should be a moratorium to ensure that no further harm is done.  We urge the governor to hold the shale gas industry accountable for health impacts, and to have all state and local municipalities abide by the precautionary principle as a measure of protection to Pennsylvania residents until the results of the studies are revealed." 

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – January 3, 2020

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

 

DEP Fine on ETC Is Cold Comfort

Statement from the Better Path Coalition

 

 

Pennsylvanians jaded by the Department of Environmental Protection’s poor track record for holding polluters to account will be unmoved by the agency’s historic fine on ETC, the company that has laid waste to communities across the Commonwealth. Instead, they will shudder at the thought that the company will be able once again to get permits for its projects. Secretary Patrick McDonnell stated that the company has demonstrated its intention to correct its unlawful conduct to DEP’s satisfaction. Unfortunately, that is not a high bar in a state where families whose wells have been contaminated as a result of drilling activities are left to their own devices to find replacement water, where a previously ‘historic’ fine against Range Resources was reversed by the agency without explanation, and where the unfolding climate crisis, the ultimate crime against nature, has not dampened our regulators’ zeal to enable continued greenhouse gas development. DEP’s action is an inauspicious start to the last decade we have left to avoid climate disaster.

 

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Questions? Contact us at betterpathpa@gmail.com