PRESS INFORMATION

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