PRESS INFORMATION

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – November 13, 2019

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

 

DePasquale’s Climate Report Promotes Wolf’s Climate-Killing Restore PA Plan

Statement by the Better Path Coalition

 

 

The Better Path Coalition is disappointed in the Auditor General’s climate report released today. Members of our coalition and concerned citizens directly impacted by shale gas development met with Auditor General Eugene DePasquale and his staff in April to discuss the connections between shale gas development and climate change. Although mention of some of the issues discussed was made in the report, the larger themes discussed were ignored.

 

DePasquale used the report to endorse Governor Tom Wolf’s Restore PA severance tax plan. The $4.5 billion, 4-year plan would lock in the state to 20 more years of drilling by establishing a severance tax on gas drilling and using the revenue to pay back the billions that would be used for, among other things, subsidies to the petrochemical industry.

 

In making his case, DePasquale’s statement and report cite dated information on the power of methane to warm the atmosphere, call methane a bridge fuel, and use the misleading and widely-debunked talking point that the increased reliance on natural gas has been responsible for a reduction in carbon emissions.

 

This report does a disservice to the public by suggesting that addressing emissions from consumption of natural gas is sufficient. Pennsylvania is the 2nd largest gas producing state in the nation and is responsible for 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Production of natural gas must be addressed and not simply by regulating methane emissions, but by eliminating them. The report fails to recognize that.

 

Unfortunately, DePasquale does little more than provide cover for the Wolf administration that has regarded reductions in methane emissions as a way of justifying its pro-natural gas and petrochemical agenda.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 17, 2019

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

 

More than 40 Organizations and 200 Concerned Citizens Call on Reps. O’Neal & Ortitay to Investigate Cancers, Halt Industry-Friendly Bills

Better Path Coalition Calls on All PA Legislators to Support Investigation, Halt Bills

 

Today, the Better Path Coalition delivered two letters calling on our legislators to take decisive action on the alarming number of rare cancers occurring in children in four counties in southwestern PA. Further, the coalition says that pro-industry bills moving through the legislature must be halted if there is even a chance fracking is causing the cancers.

The first letter, signed by 40 organizations and 200 concerned citizens, was delivered to Representatives Tim O’Neal and Jason Ortitay who attended a Department of Health public meeting at the Canon-McMillan High School in Washington County on October 7th. Both represent areas that have seen a spike in rare childhood cancers and have been involved in securing funds for a study that would look at genetic factors.

At the October 7th meeting, Representative O’Neal acknowledged that fracking could be causing the cancers and should be investigated along with other possible causes.

Both O’Neal and Ortitay are co-sponsors of some of the industry-friendly Energize PA bills; O’Neal is the prime sponsor of one of them. The bills provide subsidies and other incentives to the shale gas industry.

In its letter to O’Neal and Ortitay, the signers recommended next steps in the investigation of fracking’s role in the cancer crisis that include an investigation focused on environmental factors and opportunities for affected residents and concerned citizens to be heard.

The coalition sent a second letter to all legislators apprising them of O’Neal’s call for an investigation and recommending they support the next steps we outlined in the letter to O’Neal and Ortitay.

Both letters call for the halt on more pro-industry legislation.

“When Republican Representative Tim O’Neal, from frack country demands that fracking be investigated because it may be causing a cancer crisis, we have reached a watershed moment. Governor Wolf and our representatives in the Capitol need to put the health and welfare of Pennsylvania residents ahead of a murderous industry,” said Michael Bagdes-Canning, Marcellus Outreach Butler, one of the co-founders of the Better Path Coalition.

“The potential link between fracking and the rare cancers being diagnosed in children has been known since at least 2016, weeks after Luke Blanock’s death, when a groundbreaking Yale study identified 55 carcinogenic compounds linked to fracking. That was almost exactly 3 years ago, or 12431 Environmental Health and Safety violations ago. Imagine how many children might have been spared if our legislature had treated their health and safety with the same urgency they treated the industry’s every whim,” said Karen Feridun, Berks Gas Truth, another Better Path Coalition co-founder.

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For Immediate Release

October 7, 2019

 

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

 

Affected Parents, Concerned Groups Call on Governor Wolf, DOH to Investigate Cancers

Act now before others experience suffering and loss, says mother of Ewing Sarcoma victim

 

"Losing our son Luke was devastating to our family, but his death affected many people in our community that supported us as Luke battled Ewing's sarcoma," said Cecil resident Janice Blanock. "This community deserves an investigation into the supposedly rare cancers that have and continue to hit Washington, Westmoreland, Green, and Fayette counties with a vengeance. Even if there is the slightest possibility that something in our environment may be causing it, there should be no question whether an investigation is necessary. I appeal to Governor Wolf to act now before more families in Southwest PA experience the suffering and loss of a child to a horrific rare cancer."

 

Blanock’s sentiments echoed in the statements of public health and environmental advocates who spoke at a press conference immediately preceding a public meeting organized by the Pennsylvania Department of Health on the spike in cases of rare childhood cancers in four counties in southwestern PA. The groups have been calling for an investigation since the Post-Gazette reported on the cases in May.

 

“There is more than enough scientific medical information for Governor Wolf and Health Secretary Levine to take precautionary measures to protect public health by calling for a halt on shale gas extraction until a thorough, unbiased, and transparent investigation is completed on the high rates of rare childhood cancers, including Ewing sarcoma,” said Ned Ketyer, a pediatric physician and a board member for Physicians for Social Responsibility — Pennsylvania. “There is no need to wait for even more damning evidence to pile up in yet another edition of the fracking science Compendium to further confirm the inherent dangers to public health and safety posed by shale gas pollution in Pennsylvania.”

 

“How many children must die before Governor Wolf acts? How many must endure cancer treatments and face an uncertain future? How many sleepless nights must parents experience wondering how to protect their children from being the next to be diagnosed? And how can anybody having to go through any of that be expected to think that their best interests are being represented by their governor?” said Karen Feridun, Co-founder of the Better Path Coalition.

 

Said Sarah Rankin, Public Health Nurse for the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project: “Since learning from the Post-Gazette that there have been 27 cases of Ewing sarcoma in the rural four-county region of Southwest Pennsylvania over the past decade, a number three times higher than expected, we have heard loud and clear from residents that they want to know if something in their environment is contributing to these high rates of cancer. Currently, neither we nor the Department of Health can definitively answer that question. While a dedicated case-control study that examines environmental exposures is certainly a worthwhile venture and may give us some leads, it also may never definitively answer that question.”

 

“What we do know,” said Rankin, “is that southwest Pennsylvania has been inundated by shale gas development, an industry that emits not one but 55 compounds that are either known, probable, or possible carcinogens into our environment. So regardless of whether or not the Department of Health is satisfied with the methodology behind their statistical incidence report, which did not include three of the six Ewing sarcoma cases now known to have occurred within the Canon-McMillan school district over the past decade, they need to address why this is a risk the community should be willing to accept.”

 

“The lack of action by the Department of Health and Governor Tom Wolf is not only egregious, it is downright appalling,” said Megan McDonough of Food & Water Action.”We need the Wolf administration to launch a full investigation into these childhood cancers; anything short of that is unacceptable. The families that have lost loved ones deserve answers, and these communities deserve action.”

 

“We have a backwards regulatory environment where our communities must prove they’re being harmed by industry rather than demanding that industries prove their operations are safe,” said State Representative Sara Innamorato (HD-21) who serves on the House Health Committee. “If we don’t reverse this, we endanger the public and place the burden on state and local public budgets to clean up private industry’s mess.”

 

Governor Wolf never responded to a letter submitted by the Blanocks and other affected families, as well as more than 50 organizations and hundreds of Pennsylvanians calling on him to attend this evening’s meeting and hear directly from the families and concerned residents.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – August 14, 2019

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

 

UPDATE: Coalition Calls on Franklin & Marshall President and Trustees to Direct Pollsters to Remove Flawed Results on Wolf’s Restore Pennsylvania Plan

 

Better Path Coalition Says First Lady’s Role as Trustee Increases the Need to Correct the Record

 

 

Today, the Better Path Coalition submitted a letter to Franklin & Marshall President Barbara Altmann and the college’s Board of Trustees calling on them to direct the school’s Center for Opinion Research to pull flawed results from its August poll stemming from a question on Governor Wolf’s Restore Pennsylvania plan that omitted important details of what the plan entails and how it would be funded. The group noted that Frances Wolf serves on the Board of Trustees, making the need to correct the record all the more important.

The letter was sent after attempts to resolve the problem with the Center’s director, Berwood Yost, failed. In an email response, Mr. Yost said, “I'm sorry, but I will not be pulling the results of the survey. The survey was designed to test the broad themes of the Governor's proposal, which it does.  I don't doubt that follow ups that test additional components of the plan might change reactions to it, but I think a large amount of polling has made clear that citizens want more spending on infrastructure as well as a severance tax. The poll's results are in line with those findings.” 

“Mr. Yost’s personal opinions on where most Pennsylvanians come down on the severance tax issue are irrelevant. Preconceived notions of what results to expect only serve to contaminate the process of framing polling questions. He also responded that it is his belief that we are interested in public opinion on fracking. He seems unable or unwilling to understand that we are fighting to stop dangerous legislation that his Center’s poll described inaccurately,” said Karen Feridun, Co-founder of the Better Path Coalition. “The reputations of the Center for Opinion Research and Franklin and Marshall are on the line, especially since Governor Wolf’s wife serves on the Board of Trustees.”

 

August’s Franklin & Marshall poll contains the following question. “Restore Pennsylvania is a plan proposed by the governor to help local communities improve storm water [sic] management to reduce flooding, eliminate blight, expand broadband access, and address other local infrastructure needs. Restore Pennsylvania would invest $4.5 billion over the next four years and would be funded by a severance tax on natural gas drillers that [sic]. Do you favor or oppose this infrastructure plan?”

The question fails to point out that it would take 20 years’ worth of severance tax revenue to pay for Governor Wolf’s 4-year spending plan. That means 20 more years of drilling, fracking, and all related activities. In addition, in describing the plan, Franklin & Marshall pollsters fail to mention that the plan contains fossil fuel subsidies that would finance the construction of more natural gas pipelines and help expand the petrochemical business based on fracked ethane used to manufacture single use plastics.

Governor Wolf has regularly omitted the same details as he has criss-crossed the state promoting his plan in well over 60 locations.

 

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – August 9, 2019

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

 

Polling on Restore Pennsylvania Omits the Same Details Governor Wolf Does in Selling His Plan

Coalition Calls on Franklin & Marshall to Pull Its Results on Restore Pennsylvania and Publicly Admit Omission

 

 

The Better Path Coalition is calling on Franklin & Marshall to pull responses to a misleading question on Restore Pennsylvania included in its most recent poll.

 

August’s Franklin & Marshall poll contains the following question. “Restore Pennsylvania is a plan proposed by the governor to help local communities improve storm water management to reduce flooding, eliminate blight, expand broadband access, and address other local infrastructure needs. Restore Pennsylvania would invest $4.5 billion over the next four years and would be funded by a severance tax on natural gas drillers that. Do you favor or oppose this infrastructure plan?”

 

The question fails to point out that it would take 20 years’ worth of severance tax revenue to pay for Governor Wolf’s 4-year spending plan. That means 20 more years of drilling, fracking, and all related activities. In addition, in describing the plan, Franklin & Marshall pollsters fail to mention that the plan contains fossil fuel subsidies that would finance the construction of more natural gas pipelines and help expand the petrochemical business based on fracked ethane used to manufacture single use plastics.

 

Governor Wolf has regularly omitted the same details as he has criss-crossed the state promoting his plan in well over 60 locations.

 

The Better Path Coalition has been campaigning against Restore Pennsylvania since it was first announced and is calling on legislators to remove their names as co-sponsors. Representatives Elizabeth Fiedler, Danielle Friel-Otten, Sara Innamorato, Summer Lee, and Chris Rabb refused to sign on to the bill. Senators Katie Muth and Daylin Leach removed their co-sponsorships.

 

“Restore Pennsylvania is a climate-killing plan and should be stopped on that basis alone, but the fact that a public health crisis is unfolding in the shale fields of southwestern Pennsylvania where at least 67 children have been diagnosed with rare cancers just makes the need to stop, not just the legislation, but fracking itself all the more urgent. Governor Wolf’s energy, political capital, and emissions would be better spent protecting our children and their future,” said Karen Feridun, co-founder of the Coalition

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – August 8, 2019

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

Coalition Renews Calls on Wolf to Act on Spike in Cancers after Report on Radioactive Leachate

Report IDs SWTPs Responsible, Several in Same Areas that Have Seen Rare Cancers Diagnosed in Children 

Fourteen sewage waste treatment plants (SWTPs) are discharging radioactive fracking waste as landfill leachate with the Department of Environmental Protection’s permission, according to new reporting by Public Herald. Several are in the same counties that have seen a spike in diagnoses of rare cancers affecting at least 67 children and young adults. Thirteen have died. The Better Path Coalition is renewing calls for an investigation and a halt to the issuing of new permits. The Coalition was one of more than 100 organizations and 800 individuals that signed the letter delivered to Governor Wolf on June 17th.

According to the Public Herald report, the SWTPs are releasing the fracking waste into 13 Pennsylvania waterways. The Canon-McMillan High School sits just downstream of the East Washington Joint Authority Sewage Treatment Plant, one of the plants identified by Public Herald. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in March that six students in the district had been diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a rare bone cancer, and that three had died. “In addition to the Ewing cases, a 14-year-old girl from Cecil Township died of astrocytoma, a brain and spinal cord cancer, in February, and as many as seven current students and two preschoolers in the Canon-McMillan School District have other types of cancer,” says the report.

In June, Governor Wolf said there would be no investigation, that a study conducted by the Departments of Health in Pennsylvania and Colorado found evidence of health impacts of fracking to be inconclusive, and that he and DOH Secretary Levine would continue to monitor the academic research on shale gas development. The Southwest Environmental Health Project submitted a highly critical letter to Secretary Levine on August 1st that identified many problems with the joint study. 

In short, the executive branch and the state’s top health officials refused to act to protect the public. Today’s report demonstrates yet again that Pennsylvanians cannot rely on the state’s top environmental regulators either.

“Parents who have lost children or have sick children want answers. Parents of healthy children want to do everything to make sure their kids aren’t cancer patients by the time they’re 20. Hiding behind bad science and regulatory loopholes is the coward’s response,” said Karen Feridun, Co-founder of the Coalition.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – July 25, 2019

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

New Reports on Health Impacts of Shale Gas Development Underscore Need to Stop Wolf’s Restore Pennsylvania Plan

Better Path Coalition Urges Legislators to Pull Co-Sponsorship

 

 

Two new reports out today linking shale gas development to adverse health impacts reinforce the need to stop Restore Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf’s $4.5 billion spending plan that includes fossil fuel subsidies and requires at least 20 more years of shale gas development to generate sufficient severance tax dollars to finance it.

 

The Human Toll Part 2” is the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s follow-up to its May 14 report that found a spike in the incidence of rare childhood cancers in four counties in southwestern PA. Today’s report discusses other health impacts linked to shale gas development. It cites the Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking, a joint project of Concerned Health Professionals of New York and Physicians for Social Responsibility, including its bold-faced conclusion, “Our examination of the peer-reviewed medical, public health, biological, earth sciences and engineering literature uncovered no evidence that fracking can be practiced in a manner that does not threaten human health.”

 

On June 19th, the Better Path Coalition hosted a brown bag briefing at the Capitol on New Research on Health and Climate Impacts of Shale Gas Development. Elected officials, regulators, and others in state government were invited to attend. The event marked the launch of the 6th edition of the Compendium. Although Governor Wolf did not attend nor send staff, the coalition and its partners, as well as the Compendium’s authors, delivered a copy of the report to his office at the same time that it delivered a hard copy of the letter submitted two days earlier calling on the Governor to investigate the cancers reported by the Post-Gazette. Within hours, the Governor replied that he would not be conducting an investigation.

 

The other report out today is a new study in Environmental Research from the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health entitled Unconventional natural gas development and adverse birth outcomes in Pennsylvania: The potential mediating role of antenatal anxiety and depression. One of the study’s co-authors, Dr. Brian Schwartz of the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, was among the speakers at the June briefing.

 

“The Better Path Coalition has been campaigning to stop Restore Pennsylvania since it was first announced. The climate crisis provides reason enough to reject a plan that locks us into at least two decades of shale gas development, but we also oppose Wolf’s plan because Pennsylvanians are getting sick, some have already died. We’re not just saying that. We have brought the experts to the Capitol. We have delivered the Compendium and other reports right to the Governor’s office. His reckless greenhouse gas agenda is causing him to look the other way. We are calling on our legislators to protect the Pennsylvanians Governor Wolf won’t,” said Karen Feridun, Co-founder of the Coalition.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – July 7, 2019

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

 

Late Night Facebook Exchange Leads to Coalition Call for Bizzarro’s Ouster from PA Climate Caucus

Understanding of Shale Gas’ Role in Climate Change Should Be Prerequisite to Participation in Caucus

 

 

Today, the Better Path Coalition submitted a letter to Representative Steve McCarter, Chairman of the PA Climate Caucus calling for Representative Ryan Bizzarro’s removal from the legislature’s 60-member Caucus after a late-night exchange on Facebook.

 

Early this morning, former constituent Jenna Colby posted her wish that Bizzarro would reconsider his support for Restore Pennsylvania. Bizzarro responded that he wouldn’t, prompting a follow-up question from Ms. Colby asking if he is pro-fracking. He responded, “I’m “pro-have an actual idea of how our economy in Pennsylvania works.” I wish others had that sense too before they talked about bans, rainbows and ponies.”

 

“Representative Bizzarro has no business serving on the Climate Caucus if his statement that is still on his Facebook page is a reflection of his lack of understanding of the link between shale gas development and climate change. Frankly, with less than twelve years left to avert climate chaos, he has no business serving in the legislature if he is incapable of connecting the dots. Only true climate leaders need apply for elected office now.”

 

The Coalition noted in its letter that, in fact, 54 of the Caucus’ 60 members are Restore Pennsylvania co-sponsors in spite of the fact that it locks in the state to 20 more years of shale gas development and contains within its provisions a number of fossil fuel subsidies. The letter also notes that only two of the Caucus members who also co-sponsored Restore Pennsylvania had staffers attend the recent briefing on New Research on Health and Climate Impacts of Shale Gas Development. The Coalition is further calling for an opportunity to present some of the information to the caucus.

 

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For Release: June 18, 2019

CONTACT: Karen Feridun, Better Path Coalition, karen.feridun@gmail.com, 610-678-7726

 

 

MEDIA ADVISORY: HARRISBURG - WED, JUNE 19 - NOON

Experts to Release Major New Research on Fracking's Health and Climate Impacts

New reports examine cumulative evidence about drilling and fracking

 

Physicians for Social Responsibility and Concerned Health Professionals of New York are releasing the sixth edition of a compendium of scientific findings about drilling, fracking, and related infrastructure. The compendium provides a uniquely comprehensive picture of what over a decade of natural gas and fracking build-out has meant for public health, the environment, and the climate. It analyzes trends in the scientific evidence emerging from nearly 1,500 studies.

 

The compendium’s launch is part of a briefing for government officials and the press organized by the Better Path Coalition that will also include a researcher from Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health discussing his findings, a new review of health impacts in Pennsylvania by Fractracker Alliance, and a report on climate change implications of natural gas by Oil Change International.

 

The briefing comes on the heels of revelations of a shocking number of cases of childhood cancer in heavily-impacted Fayette, Greene, Washington, and Westmoreland counties. Dr. Ned Ketyer of the Southwestern PA Environmental Health Project will report on a public meeting held the previous evening in the Canon-McMillan School District in Washington County where several cases of Ewing Sarcoma have been diagnosed.

 

What: Brown bag briefing on new reports assessing and analyzing health and climate impacts of shale gas development. Includes discussion of research and findings by top experts. Following the briefing, a letter calling for a statewide investigation based on the spike in cancers in the four counties will be delivered to Governor Tom Wolf.

 

Representatives Christopher Rabb and Danielle Friel Otten will participate in the delivery.

 

When: Wednesday, June 19 at 12:00 - 1:30 pm.

 

Where: Capitol Building, room 39EW, Harrisburg

 

Who:

- Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D., biologist, author, Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Ithaca College, and co-founder of Concerned Health Professionals of NY

- Laura Dagley, R.N., Medical Advocacy Coordinator for Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania

- Brian Schwartz, M.D., M.S., Co-director, Program on Global Sustainability and Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins and Co-director, Joint Geisinger-JHSPH Environmental Health Institute.

- Ned Ketyer, M.D., F.A.A.P., Medical Advisor for Southwestern Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project

- Erica Jackson, Community Outreach and Communications Specialist, FracTracker Alliance

- Lorne Stockman, Senior Research Analyst, Oil Change International

- Karen Feridun, Co-Founder of the Better Path Coalition

 

There will also be a second public event at 6:30pm at the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg, Clover Lane Campus, 1280 Clover Lane, Harrisburg, PA 17113.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  –  June 6. 2019

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

 

Monopoly Men in Top Hats and Monocles: “Monopoly Is a Game. Corporate Influence Isn’t.”

Better Path Coalition Members Greet Attendees of Lobbyist Shindig

 

Members of the Better Path Coalition sporting top hats and monocles whose pockets were bulging with “$1000 bills” were on hand for Capitol Happy Hours, a lobbying event organized by the Pennsylvania Association for Government Relations. Although PAGR has many members representing a wide range of interests, the Coalition was particularly focused on those who work for the oil & gas industry.

 

Association members include lobbyists for Sunoco, UGI, Dominion, Philadelphia Gas Works, Columbia Gas of PA, FirstEnergy Corp. Marcellus Coalition Associate Members, including Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, K&L Gates, and Saul Ewing are also PAGR members.

 

“Corporate influence has infected our government. Events like tonight’s Capitol Happy Hours show how pernicious an infection it is. Although we sometimes approach events in Harrisburg with humor, there’s nothing funny about the epidemic of greed that has already turned deadly for some Pennsylvanians in the path of shale gas development and will take many more victims as our government obediently drags its feet on addressing the climate crisis,” said Karen Feridun, Co-Founder of the Better Path Coalition.

 

Protesters carried posters of a screen shot from Tom Wolf’s 2018 campaign ad, “Here They Come” and an excerpt from the script in which Wolf says of oil & gas industry lobbyists, “They roll into Harrisburg like they own the place and they do.” (According to Marcellus Money, Wolf took $140,500 in campaign contributions from the industry in 2018.) Some held a banner with the message “Monopoly Is a Game. Corporate Influence Isn’t.”

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  –  June 5, 2019

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

 

Restore Pennsylvania Would Fuel Climate Crisis with More Emissions, More Pipelines, and More Petrochemical Build-Out

Coalition Calls on Legislators to Reconsider Support

 

Statement from Karen Feridun on behalf of the Better Path Coalition:

 

Sponsors of the bill that, if passed, would codify the plan Governor Wolf calls Restore Pennsylvania would do well to explain to their constituents the exit strategy from taxing gas drilling when they can no longer ignore the climate crisis. A severance tax is of no value unless lots of gas is severed from the bedrock. The emissions of methane, ethane, and other greenhouse gases that occur at the well pad and at every phase of production, transmission, and distribution are exacerbating a problem climate scientists are telling us we have less than 12 years to address.

 

But Restore Pennsylvania’s climate impacts don’t stop there. The plan would return severance tax dollars to the industry in the form of grant money for the construction of more pipelines and incentives to grow the ethane-based petrochemical, or plastics, business.

 

Governor Wolf has called the petrochemical boom a “once-in-a-generation opportunity.” I’m not sure which generation he’s referring to because this generation’s opportunity, and obligation, is to preserve the planet for future generations. That won’t happen if Restore Pennsylvania is enacted. It’s that simple.

 

The Better Path Coalition calls on legislators to remove themselves as co-sponsors of a plan we can ill-afford.

 

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 15, 2019

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

 

Unexplained Childhood Cancers Make the Case to Dump Wolf’s Restore Pennsylvania Plan

Statement from the Better Path Coalition

 

A day after a bombshell report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on a disproportionately high number of cases of cancer in children that have occurred during the shale gas boom, Governor Tom Wolf is rallying to promote his Restore Pennsylvania plan to bring in $4.5 billion over the next four years by taxing drilling and use some of the money for more pipelines and petrochemical development.

 

“It’s time for Governor Wolf to give up on his dream of a severance tax. If there’s even a chance that these cancers have been caused by shale gas activities, then it’s time to halt development. The burden of proof should not be on the children, their families, and their physicians to show that their illnesses have been caused by shale gas development. The burden of proof lies with Governor Wolf, Secretary Rachel Levine, and the Department of Health to show that they have not,” says Karen Feridun, a co-founder of the Better Path Coalition.

 

Since 2008, roughly 1,750 peer-reviewed studies have been done on fracking’s impacts, many of them focused on health and many of those citing data from Pennsylvania. One of the studies cited in the Post-Gazette’s reporting was published by Yale researchers in 2016. It looked at the risk of childhood leukemia resulting from exposure to chemicals associated with unconventional oil & gas development. The authors identified 55 chemicals that required further study. “Because children are a vulnerable population, research efforts should first be directed toward investigating whether exposure to UO&G development is associated with an increased risk in childhood leukemia,” they concluded. It is one of the many studies Pennsylvania’s government has ignored.

 

The coalition has been critical of Restore Pennsylvania since it was first announced. Members of the coalition protested at the Budget Address to point to the recklessness of a plan that relies on expanded greenhouse gas production as the rest of the world scrambles to address the climate crisis.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – April 4, 2019

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

 

Coalition to DEP’s O&G Chief: Don’t Give Credibility to Event with Climate-Denying Keynote

Better Path Coalition Calls on Scott Perry to Cancel Speech at PIOGA Meeting Featuring Climate-Denier with Heartland Ties

 

 

Today, the Better Path Coalition submitted a letter to Scott Perry, Deputy Secretary of the Office of Oil and Gas Management at the Department of Environmental Protection, calling on him to rethink an upcoming speaking engagement at the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association’s spring meeting entitled “Paving the Way: Real Solutions for Continued Expansion”.

 

Exactly two weeks after a self-published climate denier spoke to the House Environmental Resources and Energy committee at the invitation of chair Daryl Metcalfe, Perry is slated to speak at the event headlined by Don Watkins, Director of Education for the Center for Industrial Progress. Watkins’ talk, “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels”, is taken from the book by the same name, authored by CIP’s founder, Alex Epstein.

 

Watkins and Epstein are both former fellows at the Ayn Rand Institute and Watkins shares a tie to the Heartland Institute with Metcalfe’s invited speaker, Gregory Wrightstone, who both serve the far-right group as advisors.

 

The Coalition’s letter states that Perry’s participation in his official capacity gives undeserved credibility to the event and is an inappropriate use of taxpayers’ dollars. It also notes that Governor Wolf criticized Metcalfe’s meeting, saying, “We've seen the impacts of climate change with our own eyes. Using a taxpayer-funded hearing to minimize this threat is a waste of time. We need action, not a debate over this fact.” Governor Wolf and DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell were copied on the letter submitted to Perry.

 

“Such a conspicuous display of regulatory capture should serve as a wake up call to the more than two-thirds of Pennsylvanians who want the state to take a more active role in addressing climate change. Their government will not move the state in the right direction on climate change as long as it puts the industry’s interests before those of the people,” said Karen Feridun, Berks Gas Truth, founding member of the Better Path Coalition.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 27, 2019

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

Mythical Characters to PA House Enviro Committee: We’re Myths. Climate Change Isn’t.

Better Path Coalition Says It’s Time to Dispel the Real Myth about PA Government

 

 

A leprechaun, a unicorn, a vampire, and a dragon were among the mythical characters who appeared at the House Environmental Resources and Energy committee meeting Wednesday morning to deliver the message, “We are myths. Climate change isn’t.” The action was organized by the Better Path Coalition in response to the announcement that a paid climate-denier had been invited to discuss the claims in his self-published book.

 

“The science is clear. Climate change is not a myth. Not one taxpayer dollar should be wasted on engaging in a desperate attempt to perpetuate a manufactured debate. With 12 years left to address climate change, our government should be working overtime to ban greenhouse gas production and lead the state to a renewable energy future,” said Karen Feridun, Berks Gas Truth, founding member of the Better Path Coalition.

 

“It’s unconscionable that someone with apparently so little experience or expertise in the field of climate science would be invited to address this committee,” said Tim Spiese, Lancaster Against Pipelines, another founding member of the Coalition. “Even for our lawmakers to sit for an hour and listen to him spew his dangerous lies and industry propaganda is a waste of taxpayer resources. It would be laughable if so much were not at stake.  The science is clear. The task is daunting. Why is Gregory Wrightstone speaking to our legislators in our state’s capitol when there is so much work to be done?”

 

Gregory Wrightstone was invited by committee chair Daryl Metcalfe. Wrightstone’s biography refers to 35 years as a geologist, but provides no detail. A citation search of his writings produces an unpublished Master’s thesis from 1985 and then a gap until 2009 when his publications list his various affiliations as Range Resources, Texas Keystone, and Mountaineer Keystone. He is on the Advisory Board of the Heartland Institute and a contributing writer for the Cornwall Alliance, a project of the James Partnership. The Conservative Transparency database reports that more than half of its 2012 income came from the “dark money” Donors Trust whose sister organization, Donors Capital Fund, has donated and given grants to the Heartland Institute.

 

“Since 2007, the gas industry has invested $11.3 million dollars in our political process in Pennsylvania. Chairman Metcalfe alone has received more than $53,000. Perhaps the myth that needs to be dispelled is that we have a government here that works for the people. Who needs to bring a paid climate denier like Wrightstone to Harrisburg? Our government’s loaded with them,” said Feridun.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – January 31, 2019

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

 

Wolf’s Greenwashed “Restore Pennsylvania” Plan Is Just This Year’s Justification for a Severance Tax

Statement from the Better Path Coalition

 

 

You know it’s budget time in Pennsylvania when Governor Wolf trots out his latest plan to get a severance tax on fracking. This year’s plan is the most cynical yet. In past years, the tax that would institutionalize fracking was framed as a way to fund education and other programs that deserve better than to be tied to a boom-bust industry. This year, he’s telling the public that the funds will be used to invest in additional shale gas development (among other things), and that more fracked gas is a worthy goal.

 

Governor Wolf’s Restore Pennsylvania plan includes investments in plastics manufacturing. The part of the plan devoted to energy infrastructure/conservation has nothing to with energy. Rather, it is about the growing the petrochemical industry that threatens to usher in a new generation of fracking, one centered on ethane, not methane. Ethane is a greenhouse gas that also contributes to the formation of smog, a major player in global warming, and further exacerbates climate change by depriving the atmosphere of the hydroxides methane needs to convert to carbon dioxide. For 20 years following its release, methane is 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat  When we only have 12 years left to address climate change, doing anything to increase greenhouse gasses in their most potent form is beyond irresponsible.

 

The plan would also provide grants that sound very much like those issued under Wolf’s Pipeline Investment Program, the one that robbed an alternative energy fund of $24 million dollars so he could market natural gas to big institutional customers, further cementing shale gas’ future in the Commonwealth. Additional grants would fund more investments in natural gas power generation.

 

In December, Governor Wolf said this of climate change in an interview with Scott LaMar on WITF’s Smart Talk, “I’ve never seen this in my lifetime. We are having real problems. It’s not a good thing. We just had our first grandchild. He’s three months old now. It’s our responsibility to make sure that the world [he’s inheriting] is a good one, and we have a lot of work to do. Climate change is one of the big issues we have to deal with.”

 

Investing even one dime into further shale gas development will seal the fate of his grandchild and all the other Pennsylvania children he expressed far less concern for as he engaged in his reckless expansion of the shale gas business in his first term. In his second term, he will govern during what are arguably the four most critical years of the 12 we have left. If this is how he’s starting his second term, we’re screwed.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – January 28, 2019

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

 

The Spirit of the Lorax Floods Capitol Building as Children Tell Governor & Legislators to Uphold PA’s Green Amendment

Children Dressed as Lorax Deliver 9,000 Petitions after Rally Featuring Young Pennsylvanians

 

Children dressed as the Lorax stood up for their inalienable right to a healthy environment in Harrisburg today as they rallied and delivered more than 9,000 petitions to Governor Wolf and PA lawmakers calling on them to uphold Article I, Section 27, the environmental rights amendment in the state’s Constitution.

 

“We call on every newly-elected official and every elected official who returns to Harrisburg in 2019 to fulfill their Constitutional obligation to uphold Article 1, Section 27 by taking aggressive action to address the urgent environmental and climate challenges that confront us and by establishing policies that prevent new sources of pollution from entering the Commonwealth,” says the petition the Better Path Coalition, organizers of today’s action, has been circulating since Election Day when volunteers across the state gathered signature at their polling locations.

 

“We Pennsylvanians cannot allow the inaction of our government or the suffocating, isolating feeling of the massive problems of climate change and environmental degradation to deter us,” said Serena Hertzog, an 18 year old life-long resident of Chester County and active member of the Sunrise Movement. “We are here to fight for climate justice because we share a deep love for the places that we call home and for one another. Our elected officials have failed us too many times for us to continue to stand idly by. We demand that they join us in this fight for our future.”

 

“I am excited to take action against pollution in our air, water, land and environment and help protect our health, the health of the people who will live here after me, and the health of the animals we share this land with,” said Nora Schindler, a 9-year-old and one of the youngest to be present at a Lancaster Against Pipelines direct action event.

 

“I’m here today to tell our legislators that no one has the right to take our environment away.  They are the ones with the power to stop pollution, fracking, the destruction of forests, the extinction of species, and to stop passing laws and making decisions that damage our environment.  They also have the power to ignore us, but if they ignore us, I and the other kids and adults here today, as well as future generations, will hold them accountable. We will vote them out of office and expose them for all of the awful things they have done”, said Wim van Rossum, a 12-year old student attending Radnor Middle School.  “We, all of the kids and parents here today, want to send a strong message to our elected leaders,  we will not let you destroy our right to a clean and healthy environment.”

 

"My friends who I played in the local streams with are now becoming my colleagues and fellow advocates in protecting our planet. We expect these politicians we voted into office to uphold our right to clean air, safe drinking water, and a healthy environment. My generation is now one of voting adults, and we will exercise that power to protect our planet for my and future generations,” said Anneke Walsh, a 22-year old Delaware County native studying at Ithaca College.

 

Ashton Clatterbuck, a high school senior who became a core member of Lancaster Against Pipelines in 2014 said, “The fossil fuel industry has robbed the people of representation. Those that we elected to be our voice in Harrisburg have forgotten their obligation to us. We are forced to show up on their doorstep to demand that they simply do their job. This is not acceptable!”

 

“Article 1 Section 27 is vital to the state of Pennsylvania, not just because it is where I call home, but because half of the state is home to the Marcellus Shale which is the second largest natural gas field in the United States and one of the largest in the world,” said Melanie Attieh, a student at Northampton Community College where she is an officer of the NCC Climate Action Network, NCC’s Sustainability Committee’s student representative, and a member of the Climate Reality Project Lehigh Valley chapter.

The children also delivered copies of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax and The Green Amendment, by Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper.

 

Today’s event culminated two days of action that began on Sunday with a panel discussion on the amendment, followed by a walk to the Capitol Steps where a candlelight vigil was held.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – January 27, 2019

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

 

Pennsylvania’s Green Amendment Has Never Been More Important; Elected Officials Must Uphold It

Panel Discusses Inalienable Right to a Healthy Environment as Coalition Kicks Off Days of Action in Harrisburg

 

“A primary reason for seeking a state constitutional amendment on the environment was

that everyone taking public office must swear an oath to uphold it. It is a solemn obligation,” said Franklin Kury, who was representing the 108th district in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives when he authored and championed ratification of what is now known as Article I, Section 27 of the state’s constitution.

 

Earlier this month, Pennsylvania’s governor and legislators swore that oath, but it’s not apparent in their actions, claim members of the Better Path Coalition whose Article I, Section 27 campaign came to Harrisburg today for the first of two days of action calling on them to do more to uphold Pennsylvanians’ inalienable right to a healthy environment. “The members of our coalition represent communities across the state that are profoundly impacted by shale gas development. We have found no champions in Harrisburg willing to stand up for our environmental rights that are included in Article 1, the Declaration of Rights. Our coalition is committed to forging a path to a clean, renewable energy future and a government that is responsive to its people,” said Karen Feridun, one of the co-founders of the Better Path Coalition.

 

A panel discussion titled Opportunity and Obligation: Article I, Section 27, Pennsylvania’s Green Amendment hosted by the Coalition at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral in Harrisburg featured Kury,

Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and author of the book, The Green Amendment,  Jordan Yeager, Curtin & Heefner attorney whose legal arguments concerning Art. I, Sec. 27 resulted in the landmark Act 13 ruling that breathed life into the amendment, Anthony Ingraffea, Dwight C. Baum Professor Emeritus, Cornell University, Pouné Saberi, President of the Board of Directors of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Philadelphia, Ashton Clatterbuck, Sunrise Movement organizer and member of Lancaster Against Pipelines, and Karen Feridun, one of the co-founders of the Better Path Coalition.

 

“Across the nation communities are being harmed by environmental degradation and are looking for solutions.  The passage of Green Amendments that recognize and protect environmental rights as inalienable human rights in our state constitutions is a big part of the solution.  Pennsylvania is only 1 of 2 states with this kind of Green Amendment. Given that PA’s Green Amendment was only legally revived in recent years, we are still securing the needed benefits of its protection.  It is essential that the people of Pennsylvania ensure our elected officials and regulators are fulfilling their constitutional obligations to protect our environmental rights.  The Nation is watching, and so too are the people of Pennsylvania, that is our message of the day,” stated Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, head of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and author of The Green Amendment, a new book that is sparking a national movement.

“Particularly at this moment in history, it is critically important that all public officials recognize that in everything they do, they must respect our constitutional right to a healthy environment.  This set of rights – enshrined in Pennsylvania’s Constitution -- is just as essential to our existence and freedom as the rest of our constitutional protections, and must be respected and honored at the same level,” said Jordan Yeager, Curtin & Heefner attorney whose legal arguments concerning Art. I, Sec. 27 resulted in the landmark Act 13 ruling that breathed life into the amendment.

"Pennsylvania cannot have it both ways: you can't become one of the greenest states in the union and the producer and emitter of more methane than any state in the union. A true leader state will find and promote the ways and means to follow its constitution and manage the coordinated decline in fossil fuel demand and production and increase in renewable energy demand and production," said Anthony Ingraffea, Ph.D., P.E., the Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering Emeritus and Weiss Presidential Teaching Fellow at Cornell University.

“The Pennsylvania environmental rights amendment and preamble to Paris climate agreement have a common core philosophy. Both acknowledge the responsibility of the state in relation to the humans who rely on them to consider their rights to a healthy environment and climate. These two historical documents shine the light for our healthy communities, safe jobs and the better future that was envisioned at their conception. It is our responsibility to uphold them,” said Pouné Saberi, President of the Board of Directors of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

“I think the law is very clear. The Commonwealth has a responsibility to ‘conserve and maintain’ natural resources. This is a promise they made to us, the people. Fracking, mining, deforestation, these things are undeniably violations of our rights. It is time we remind our elected officials of their responsibilities and hold them to account for their infractions,” said Ashton Clatterbuck, a high school senior who became a core member of Lancaster Against Pipelines in 2014 and more recently assumed a leadership role in the Sunrise Movement.

 

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Media Advisory: For Planning Purposes

Event Dates: Sunday, January 27 and Monday, January 28

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

                      

Next Week: Better Path Coalition Calls on Governor, Legislators to Uphold PA’s Green Amendment with Two Days of Actions and Events in Harrisburg

 

 

Harrisburg, PA – The Better Path Coalition is taking its Article 1, Section 27 campaign to Harrisburg. The campaign began on Election Day when volunteers gathered petition signatures at polling locations across the state. The petition calls on our elected officials to uphold Pennsylvania’s Green Amendment by taking strong action on climate change and to prevent pollution and environmental devastation occurring in the state.

 

The campaign continues on Sunday, January 27, or 1/27, with Opportunity and Obligation: Article 1, Section 27, Pennsylvania’s Green Amendment, a panel discussion on the amendment and its importance.

 

Children dressed as the Lorax will deliver the petition and copies of the Seuss classic to Governor Wolf and legislators on Monday, January 28th.  Freshman legislators will also receive a copy of the award-winning book, The  Green Amendment, so they can fully understand their obligation to protect our environmental rights.

 

 

WHAT:         Opportunity and Obligation: Article 1, Section 27, Pennsylvania’s Green Amendment

 

WHEN:         Sunday, January 27, 2019, 2:30 p.m. (doors open at 2:15)

 

WHERE:       St. Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral, 221 N. Front Street, Harrisburg

 

WHO:  (in speaking order)

Franklin Kury, former PA State Representative and author of Article 1, Section 27

Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and author of the book, The Green Amendment

Jordan Yeager, partner at Curtin & Heefner whose legal arguments concerning Article I, Section 27 resulted in the landmark Act 13 (Robinson Township, Delaware Riverkeeper Network et. al v Commonwealth) ruling that breathed life into the amendment

Anthony Ingraffea, Dwight C. Baum Professor Emeritus, Cornell University who will discuss shale gas development’s role in climate change and environmental devastation in Pennsylvania

Pouné Saberi, President of the Board of Directors of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Philadelphia

Ashton Clatterbuck, Sunrise Movement organizer and member of Lancaster Against Pipelines

Karen Feridun, Better Path Coalition

 

VISUALS:    At 4:30, attendees will be invited to walk from St. Stephen’s to the Capitol steps for a candlelight vigil.

 

 

WHAT:         Team Lorax Rally and Petition Delivery

WHEN:         Monday, January 28, 2019, 11:30 a.m.

 

WHERE:       Main Rotunda, Capitol Building

 

WHO:           

Tim Spiese, Better Path Coalition, will emcee a rally featuring youth speakers from across the state.

 

VISUALS:    All children dressed as the Lorax will participate in rally and delivery to Governor Wolf’s office, then will divide into teams for deliveries to legislators’ offices.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  –  January 8. 2019

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

 

Coalition to Wolf: Addressing Climate Change in PA Requires Reducing Production of Greenhouse Gases, Not Just Consumption

Wolf’s Weak-Kneed Plan Overlooks Shale Gas Development

 

Statement from Karen Feridun on behalf of the Better Path Coalition:

 

Today, Governor Tom Wolf announced his plan to reduce carbon pollution in Pennsylvania by reducing consumption. The announcement came at the same event in Pittsburgh where People’s Gas announced its plans to reduce methane leaks in its distribution lines.

 

Wolf doesn’t address methane emissions from shale gas production, however, something he can’t calculate because there is no way to assess how much methane has leaked unchecked from the hundreds of thousands of orphaned and abandoned wells that dot the state. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, more than 86 times better at trapping heat than carbon dioxide is.

 

He also overlooks ethane emissions. Ethane, the gas at the heart of the petrochemical boom Wolf views as a once in a generation opportunity for the Commonwealth, is a greenhouse gas that affects climate change in three ways. In addition to being a greenhouse gas, it contributes to the formation of smog, a major player in global warming. It also extends methane’s life in it its most potent form by gobbling up the hydroxides methane needs to convert to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

 

The way to reduce greenhouse emissions is to stop producing them. For instance, methane leaks at every step of its production, processing, and transmission. Since Governor Wolf was sworn in, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has issued 8,266 drilling permits, 7220 of which were for unconventional drilling. In the first week of 2019, the DEP has issued 35 permits, all of them unconventional. The DEP also continues to issue water quality permits for every pipeline proposed, air quality permits for every power plant and other shale gas infrastructure.

 

We are out of time for weak-kneed policies intended to give the false impression that the administration has a handle on climate change. It doesn’t.

 

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Questions? Contact us at betterpathpa@gmail.com    

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