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PRESS INFORMATION

For Immediate Release - November 15, 2022

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

 

The Climate Countdown Clock Stays

Advocates Celebrate, Implore Government to Heed Its Grim Message

 

Harrisburg - Members of the Better Path Coalition and organizers of the Pennsylvania Climate Convergence were joined by area faith leaders to celebrate that the Climate Countdown Clock will remain in the Capitol, serving as a constant reminder to all who see it that we are running out of time to address the climate crisis.  The clock, the second largest in the Americas, was installed at the Capitol on the last day of the Convergence in June.

 

“I can’t think of a more appropriate place in Pennsylvania for that clock to be on display than in the building where our governor and legislators continue to ignore the urgent calls to act for the sake of future generations ,” said Karen Feridun, Co-founder, Better Path Coalition. “The U.N. Secretary General says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report is a “code red for humanity” and, within months, Wolf and the legislature are brokering a deal to come up with more methane gas subsidies. It’s as if they exist in a methane bubble of climate denial. Our clock is there to burst it.”

 

“For me, climate is the bottom line.  If we don’t have a planet, what do we have?  The clock is a reminder that the answer requires us to work together NOW before it’s too late,” said  Karen Elias, Climate Reality Project.

 

Sandy Strauss, Pennsylvania Council of Churches, Katie Ruth, Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light, and Kevin Long, Intertwined: A Faith Community led the celebration that also featured speakers including Dawn Kane, Better Path Coalition, Ellen Gerhart, Camp White Pine, Tammy Murphy, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Chris DiGiulio, WaSEPA, and Feridun. Singer/songwriter Matt Miskie performed during the event. Miskie serves on the board of the PA Firefly Festival, an organization based in the Allegheny National Forest area dedicated to habitat preservation.

 

“We cannot continue to ignore the “inconvenient truth” that our refusal to acknowledge our complicity in the looming climate crisis is only hastening its arrival. As people of faith, we believe God calls everyone—believers and non-believers alike—to nurture and protect God’s fragile creation. The clock is necessary to provide a constant, silent reminder of our responsibility to this earth now and for future generations,” said Rev. Sandy Strauss, Pennsylvania Council of Churches.

“Thank you to the DGS decision makers who reversed course and allowed an extension of the Climate Clock’s stay in the Pennsylvania State Capitol. While this decision is a welcome one, it is not the end game. We still face the reality that the planet requires urgent action, and the time remaining for the development of green energy, such as solar and wind energy on a massive scale, is ticking away.  My wish is that all who pass the Clock will remember the importance of this effort,” said Dawn Kane, Better Path Coalition.

 

Other Better Path Coalition members commented on the climate crisis and the important role the clock plays in calling attention to the grim reality that time to avoid global warming’s worst impacts is running short.

 

“As one listens to international congresses (COP27 and others) talk about the climate crisis and global food scarcity, the underlying message is that the causes of global warming must be addressed. Greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced every year, by burning less fossil fuel every year. The future of humanity is at stake. It is time for us in Pennsylvania to take our responsibility to humanity seriously,” said B.W. Brandom, MD, Concerned Health Professionals of Pennsylvania.


“The climate clock serves as a critical reminder to legislators, lobbyists, and visitors that we cannot hide from the increasing alarm in the global scientific community, evidenced in the ever-worsening reports published by the IPCC - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.   These reports are accessible to all who have the honesty and bravery to face the truth and what it means.  The climate clock reminds us that the time to accept the truth and act on it is running out,” said Rachel Mark, UUJusticePA.

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November 11, 2022

For Planning Purposes

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

 

Tuesday: Climate Countdown Clock Exhibit at Capitol Ends. Will It Stay or Will It Go?

 

The Better Path Coalition and organizers of the Pennsylvania Climate Convergence will hold a ceremony and press event in the East Rotunda at noon to either celebrate that the Department of General Services (DGS) has reversed its decision or mourn that the clock is leaving the place it needs to be.

 

The groups have called on DGS to reconsider its decision to reject the request to make the clock’s installation in the East Wing permanent. They have cited the PA Pension Debt clock that has been on display since February 24, 2016, nearly seven years. The Climate Countdown Clock has been listed as an exhibit on the Capitol Events calendar every day since it was installed only five months ago. The PA Pension Debt Clock appeared on the calendar as an exhibit for the first time on November 3, the day after the letter rejecting the groups’ request was dated and the day before the letter was emailed to the Better Path Coalition. The groups contend that suddenly enforcing rules after seven years is just as unfair as treating the two clocks so differently in the first place.

 

The Celebration or Celebration of Life will include speakers, music, and pallbearers carrying the clock out of the capitol (if the clock must be removed).

 

Confirmed Speakers:

Sandy Strauss, PA Council of Churches

Katie Ruth, Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light

Kevin Long, Intertwined, A Faith Community

Ellen Gerhart, Camp White Pine

Dawn Kane, Better Path Coalition

Rachel Mark, Better Path Coalition

Tammy Murphy, Physicians for Social Responsibility PA

Karen Feridun, Better Path Coalition

 

What: Climate Countdown Clock Celebration or Celebration of Life

When: Tuesday, 11/15, noon

Where: East Wing Atrium

Visuals: Climate Countdown Clock, second biggest in the country

Depending on DGS’ decision, pallbearers carrying clock draped in black cloth out of the Capitol

 

 

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For Immediate Release - November 7, 2022

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

 

DGS Says the Climate Countdown Clock Must Go

Groups Press the Department to Reconsider Based on Pension Debt Clock on Display 6 Years and Counting

 

Harrisburg - The Better Path Coalition and organizers of the Pennsylvania Climate Convergence are challenging the response the groups received from the Department of General Services (DGS) on Friday afternoon concerning the Climate Countdown Clock on display in the East Wing of the Capitol that is ticking down the time left to limit global warming to 1.5℃.

 

The letter sent from Jason Snyder, Acting Deputy Secretary for Property and Asset Management, dated November 2, but not sent until 2 p.m. on November 4, declines the groups’ request to keep the clock on permanent display in the Capitol where it was installed on June 13, the final day of the Pennsylvania Climate Convergence. The installation is scheduled to end on November 16, the last day of the current legislative session.

 

The letter cites guidelines and criteria in the PA Code that the Department must follow. Title 4 PA Code, Chapter 86 addresses policies regarding temporary exhibits. According to 4 PA Code § 86.3(8)(v), “Exhibits may be scheduled for display for up to 14 calendar days, subject to availability of time and space.” However, a review of the Capitol Events calendar reveals several  instances when DGS appears to have had discretion to approve displays that lasted anywhere from three weeks to several months.

 

The Code says nothing about permanent exhibits like the one the groups are requesting, but another clock that has been installed at the Capitol since February 24, 2016 makes clear that years-long displays with indeterminate end dates are also permitted. Barry Shutt, an Agriculture Department retiree, installed a Pension Debt clock that, according to a Pennlive report from January 2022, “has been a fixture of the East Rotunda for years.” A tag on the clock reads, “Pennsylvania Pension Debt Clock Unveiled February 24, 2016.”

 

“We are not asking for special treatment. We’re simply asking for our clock to be given the same permanent status the Pension Debt clock has been given for nearly seven years. While we appreciate that Mr. Snyder indicated that DGS would welcome future requests to display the clock, we believe the power of a countdown clock is diminished if it is not a constant presence. We want our clock to be a fixture in the East Rotunda too,” said Karen Feridun, Co-founder of the Better Path Coalition and one of the organizers of the Pennsylvania Climate Convergence.

 

Unlike the Climate Countdown Clock that appears as an entry each day on the calendar from June 13 to November 16, the Pension Debt clock was never listed as an exhibit until November 3, the day between the date on the letter and the date it was emailed. The Pension Debt clock is listed as being on display in the Senate Fountain area from November 3 to December 2. 

 

The Climate Countdown Clock will tick down to zero in less time than the Pension Debt clock has already been on display if the state government takes no action to address the crisis. If our governor and legislature continue on their course of enabling the fossil fuel industry, as they did last week when Governor Wolf signed HB1059 that authorizes $2 billion in taxpayer subsidies to fossil fuel corporations for methane and blue hydrogen (a.k.a. methane) projects, the true time left will be even less.

 

The DGS letter states, “When individuals or groups apply for the ability to put exhibits on display, there is a mutual understanding that exhibit agreements are for a specified time-period [sic] and are temporary in nature. We work with applicants to ensure their voices are heard and their causes receive the maximum public exposure. Such was the case with your exhibit, which was prominently displayed for viewing for an extended length of time.”

 

It is precisely because we respect the mutual understanding of what we understood to be a temporary exhibit that we submitted our letter and petition calling for the display to be made permanent at the end of the agreed upon period. We are curious about the terms of the relationship Mr. Shutt has with the Department and are asking the Department to explain how it differentiates our clock from his.

 

The actions of every elected and appointed official in Pennsylvania have the potential to directly impact and accelerate the climate crisis. The Climate Clock must stay where it is until fossil fuel extraction, compression, transmission, and all related methane gas infrastructure comes to a halt. On display or not - the climate clock will not stop ticking. The clock's presence in the Capitol is a necessary reminder of that indisputable fact. 

 

“In 2021 alone, the fossil gas industry reported spending more than $115 million on lobbying across the country.  Elected officials in this state are very familiar with these ever-present lobbying interests playing out in the halls of our Capitol. The climate clock serves as a reminder of what the future holds if Pennsylvania does not reverse course and swiftly move to a sustainable energy economy,” said Barbara Jarmoska, Responsible Decarbonization Alliance (www.rdaPA.org).


 

“Billions of dollars, jobs, and lives are at stake. The Climate Clock must remain to remind our legislators that the most important priority they have is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions required to get us on track to stay below a 1.5’C temperature increase,” said Tamela Trussell, Move Past Plastic (MPP) Founder.

 

“There are already very serious, easily observable consequences of the warming atmosphere. (such as thawing of arctic ice and worse flooding in many areas of the world) False solutions, such as manufacture of blue hydrogen, which results in more greenhouse gas pollution than burning gas to produce electricity, will accelerate global warming. We may all have the chance to experience more climate related disasters and ill health.” Barbara W. Brandom, MD, Concerned Health Professionals of Pennsylvania.

   

“Many health studies invariably show the ill effects of all manifestations of the oil and gas industry on the health of humans and wildlife/ecosystems-breathing disorders, cancers etc, all well documented.  That also included the effects of pipeline leakage/spills, and radiation coming up with the oil and gas.  And the CO2 pipelines (also part of the false solutions) are another hazard to the health of the citizens of Pennsylvania,” said Barbara Laxon OTR , LPTA   Save Our Streams PA.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – November 3, 2022

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

Governor Wolf Just Handed Billions in Public Money to the Industry that Set the Planet on Fire

Statement from the Better Path Coalition

Today, Governor Tom Wolf signed the bill that greenlights spending more than 2 billion taxpayer dollars on fossil fuel subsidies. His signature on HB1059 was anticipated, as he is one of the architects of the plan that provides more corporate welfare to the wealthiest industry in the history of industries. His action guarantees that he will leave office with an unbroken record of putting the interests of the shale gas industry above those of the public he was elected to serve.

In a letter to the General Assembly announcing his signature that had been removed from his site for a time, Wolf justifies his reckless act by citing the DOE’s Clean Hydrogen Production Standard that 1) is still in draft form and 2) will never be in a form that makes blue hydrogen production clean. DOE is basing its standard on the terms of the new 45v tax credit. The tax credit is based on the GREET, the Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Technologies, model tool developed by the DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory to do life-cycle analyses of transportation fuels and vehicles. However, GREET uses the 100-year time scale assessments from 2007 rather than the only relevant time scale now, the 20 year time scale that puts methane’s GWP at 86. Our calculation based on the relevant time scale puts blue hydrogen’s CO2e at 10.836kg, well above the limit of 4kg necessary to qualify for 45v and certainly more than should be considered “clean hydrogen” in any production standard.

Last week, members of the Better Path Coalition, organizers of the Pennsylvania Climate Convergence, and their partners staged a die-in at the Capitol with the message on morgue cloths that read, “You never asked me if it was ok to use my tax dollars to kill me and my family,” and sang “Which Side Are You On?” outside of Wolf’s office.

Wolf negotiated this latest gift to the shale gas industry in private. The public stuck with footing the bill was never consulted and never asked for its consent. This is the same public that will be stuck with the industry’s clean up costs, including costs that they will have to bear in perpetuity. 

And it is the same public whose federal tax dollars are supporting an obscene amount of giveaways and tax credits to help the industry develop self-serving false solutions, like carbon capture and blue hydrogen, that amount to nothing more than the next generation of fossil fuel development on a burning planet.

“Good Riddance, Governor Wolf,” said Karen Feridun, Co-founder of the Better Path Coalition who was one of the organizers of a Pennsylvanians Against Fracking meeting with Wolf and members of his cabinet in 2015. “We brought frontline community members and experts to Harrisburg and provided him with copies of the Compendium that summarizes all the scientific research on fracking, the New York State health study that informed the decision to ban fracking, and other key reports. The facts never mattered to him. The climate crisis never mattered to him. Pennsylvanians harmed by fracking never mattered to him. Future generations that will suffer the impacts of his enabling treatment of the industry killing them never mattered to him. His indifference will be his shameful legacy.”

 

"The Pennsylvania Economic Development For A Growing Economy (PA Edge) Tax Credits (HB1059) dangles cyclical, repetitive, short-term labor promises while sacrificing the health and safety of residents, increasing methane emissions into the atmosphere, and forcing laborers to end up once again in a vulnerable, exploitative situation after construction. Without public comment, regulatory accountability, or long-term labor force development, the Pennsylvania House and Senate voted in favor of HB 1059. Governor Wolf and Pennsylvania legislators must use their position of power to lead in the imminently needed, just transition from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy rather than continue the practice of handing our land, air, water, and health over to toxic industries," said Tammy Murphy, M.A., LL.M., Advocacy Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility - Pennsylvania.

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For Immediate Release - October 28, 2022

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

 

Die-In at Capitol Calls Out Deadly Action Taken by Wolf, Lawmakers to Subsidize Methane

“You never asked me if it was ok to use my tax dollars to kill me and my family.”

 

Harrisburg - Members of the Better Path Coalition and their partners staged a die-in at the Capitol building today to call out Governor Tom Wolf and the state legislature for enacting billions in new methane subsidies. The legislation passed just hours after headlines like this one from Bloomberg warned, “Earth’s on Track to Warm Above 2C Despite Climate Action.” 

 

“Climate scientists are screaming at the top of their lungs that we are running out of time, and meanwhile the PA legislature just passed a bipartisan suicide pact. I am furious that my hard earned taxpayer money is being used to subsidize the fossil fuel industries destroying our planet.”  said Chie Togami, PhD candidate at the University of Pittsburgh.

 

The move is consistent with the actions of an administration and legislature that have existed in a bipartisan bubble of denial about climate change. 

 

“Robbing Pennsylvanians of their tax dollars without their consent or even their knowledge is a grievous injustice. Using their money to kill them is a crime,” said Karen Feridun, Co-founder of the Better Path Coalition. “Make no mistake. Subsidizing methane production directly and indirectly to fund blue hydrogen projects when the planet is already burning is a crime against humanity and should be treated as such.”

 

Some of the protesters covered themselves in “morgue cloths” that read “You never asked me if it was ok to use my tax dollars to kill me and my family.” 

 

“Passage of Bill HB1059 means the Pennsylvania taxpayer is subsidizing harm to their health and lives for generations to come without consent,” Tamela Trussell, Move Past Plastic, Founder/Educator.

 

"If Wolf fails to veto this piece of greedy, climate-denying legislation, our children will pay a price far beyond $2.1 billion with unnecessary morbidity and mortality. It is reprehensible. There is no political-hands-tied excuse for these subsidies. If Wolf wants to protect our children's health, he will veto this legislation," Tammy Murphy, Advocacy Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania.

 

In May, Governor Wolf announced that the state government was actively pursuing the creation of a hydrogen hub, willfully perpetuating a lie the fossil fuel industry has been pushing that claims that producing hydrogen from methane is somehow clean. All producing hydrogen from methane does is keep the natural gas industry in business and, by extension, keep Wolf and his ilk in office.

 

“The passage of this bill means that Pennsylvania will be subsidizing the climate crisis, environmental destruction, and negative health outcomes for decades, if not generations,” said Karen Elias, a member of the Climate Reality Project.

 

“I am wondering what $2.1 billion could do to alleviate Gov. Wolf's complaint that (R) legislators did not provide funding for, "Urgently needed behavioral health services funding, $2,000 direct payments,Voting reform, Gun violence, or Anti-discrimination protections," said Chris DiGiulio, Co-founder of WaSEPA.

 

“The fossil fuel industry continues to deny the destruction they are causing. We must not accept expansion of natural gas production and blue hydrogen. This would cost us too much. We need to put more resources into development of truly green energy sources,” said Barbara Brandom, Steering Committee Member, Concerned Health Professionals of Pennsylvania.

 

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For Immediate Release - October 25, 2022

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

 

Wolf, State Legislature Plan More Natural Gas Subsidies as Planet Burns

Statement by grassroots advocates for climate action

Karen Feridun, Better Path Coalition 

Ellen Gerhart, Camp White Pine

Chris DiGiulio, WaSEPA

Diana Dakey, Glenburn Township, PA

Brian Dugas, Wyoming, PA

Karen Elias, Lock Haven, PA

Sandy Field, Lewisburg PA

Mike Sauers, Bloomsburg, PA


 

If the Wolf administration and state lawmakers are successful at enacting massive natural gas subsidies before the end of the session, they will leave behind a mess the rest of the world will have to clean up to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Pennsylvania’s role as a climate pariah will be cemented.

 

According to reporting from Spotlight PA on negotiations that have been occurring “quietly,” the subsidies would amount to $80 million per year for a combination of direct natural gas subsidies and an indirect greenwashed hydrogen subsidy, all of which would mean lots more drilling and fracking. 

 

The direct giveaway comes in the form of an expansion of another election-timed subsidy in 2020 that was a version of the session’s failed HB1100 that was jammed into an unrelated bill as an amendment and passed, once again, “quietly.” The subsidy was made for companies like Nacero whose plans for a natural gas to gasoline refinery were discussed “quietly” by the Wolf administration and lawmakers for two years before the taxpayers financing the deal were made aware of it.

 

The portion of the plan that is greenwashed corporate welfare takes the form of a subsidy to promote hydrogen production. The federal government is already investing an obscene amount of public money into false climate solutions like hydrogen with carbon capture and storage. If Wolf and his frenemies in the state legislature have their way, Pennsylvania taxpayers will be dealt a double whammy of subsidizing the natural gas industry twice. The hydrogen economy Pennsylvania wants to create is one that uses natural gas as the feedstock for hydrogen production. 

 

Disingenuous politicians insist that carbon capture and storage will be used to remove the CO2 emissions that occur along the way so that the process can be made “clean”. Unfortunately, there is no evidence to support their claims and plenty to demonstrate that carbon capture and storage is a fantasy. Those same politicians completely overlook the methane emissions that occur at every step of natural gas production as well as the beyond-the-grave emissions that come from the hundreds of thousands of abandoned wells the state has failed miserably to address.

 

It would be hard to imagine a worse energy plan for Pennsylvania. Our state government is an embarrassment, but that’s the least of our worries if the bad actors who populate it succeed in creating these subsidies.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 19, 2022

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

 

Thousands Call on PA Department of General Services to Keep Climate Countdown Clock in Capitol

Six-Foot Clock, Second Biggest in U.S., Is Necessary Reminder to Government Officials that Time to Act on Climate Is Fleeting

 

Harrisburg, PA – Today, the Better Path Coalition and organizers of the Pennsylvania Climate Convergence delivered a letter signed by 60 organizations and an accompanying petition with more than 3,000 signatures to Department of General Services Acting Secretary Joe Lee calling for the climate countdown clock’s installation in the East Wing of the Capitol to be made permanent.

The six-foot clock was installed in the Capitol in June on the last day of the Pennsylvania Climate Convergence. It is the second biggest clock of its kind in the country, surpassed only by the original clock in Union Square, NY. The Department of General Services agreed to keep the clock on display until the end of the session in November. Organizers were told at the time that items can be displayed for months, but not permanently.

“The thousands who signed our letter and petition are calling on the Capitol to make an exception to its policy and keep the clock on display in its current location permanently. Our government is failing us on climate, not by its inaction, but by the aggressive steps it continues to take to expand fossil fuel development in the state. Our clock serves as a constant reminder to our governor, legislators, regulators, and everyone who passes through the busy corridor that time is running out,” said Karen Feridun, Co-founder of the Better Path Coalition and one of the lead organizers of the Pennsylvania Climate Convergence.

Since its installation in June, the time displayed on the clock has ticked down from seven years to six.

“Droughts, hurricanes and floods are no longer ‘hundred year’ events. Communities that have the resources are still resilient enough to recover; those that lack the resources are not. Resilience, however, is not infinite. If we do nothing, it will become more and more difficult for any community to recover. If we do nothing, the Earth herself becomes a frontline community. The clock is ticking, and we are running out of time,” said Ellen Gerhart, a Better Path Coalition member whose property is directly impacted by Mariner East 2 and 2x and whose family home in Beaver County sits in the shadow of the Shell cracker plant.

Dawn Kane, a Better Path Coalition organizer spoke at the press conference as an educator who has worked with students worldwide. Kane said, “In my travels to places like India, East Africa, and Mexico as a teacher of English, I have been confronted with the profound vulnerability that exists in the least developed communities. I have seen barefoot, emaciated children herding cows down dusty tracks in a search for water over drought-stricken grasslands. I have watched children wading through filthy flooded camps in India trying to find a dry space to rest. In Northern Mexico the brown haze hovers over the landscape and, according to the World Bank, kills 33,000 Mexicans every, single, year. According to a report from last year’s UN Conference on Trade and Development, the level of CO2 emissions per capita by the average US citizen is more than five times that of the average person living in Mexico.”

“The climate clock needs to remain in the Capitol as a visible reminder that we do not have time for endless speculative and time-consuming distractions,” said Rachel Mark a founding member of the Better Path Coalition, referring to the state’s push to develop a hydrogen hub that would be based on hydrogen produced from fracked methane.

“Pennsylvania has been proudly and lucratively exporting energy since before the industrial revolution started. Pennsylvania is now rivaling Texas as the state with the most greenhouse gas emissions. When we realize the harm that this is causing around the world, we must recognize that change must come soon and rapidly. There is no time to lose,” said Barbara Brandom, Steering Committee Member, Concerned Health Professionals of Pennsylvania. 

The group delivered copies of the letter to Governor Wolf and legislative leaders. "We were pleased that just about everyone we talked to had seen the clock and were very familiar with it. Knowing that the clock is being noticed just strengthens our resolve to keep it in the Capitol permanently," said Feridun.

 

The Better Path Coalition and Pennsylvania Climate Convergence organizers are seeking a response from the Acting Secretary Lee by November 9.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – August 31, 2022

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

 

Conventional Drillers Spread Nearly 1,000,000 Gallons of Toxic Radioactive Waste on PA Roads in 2021

Better Path Coalition’s Updated Moratorium Morass Report Finds Continued Illegal Spreading of Waste Thanks to Regulatory Loophole

Conventional drillers reported spreading 23,277.89 barrels or 977,671.38 gallons of waste in 2021. The total was calculated by tallying amounts reported in 1,107 records from nine counties submitted by 21 conventional drillers, says the Better Path Coalition in an update of its 2021 Moratorium Morass brief  released today.

Eight companies were added to the list of waste owners spreading their toxic, radioactive waste on unpaved roads as a dust suppressant despite a moratorium on the practice established by the Department of Environmental Protection in 2018. Since that time, several conventional drillers have taken advantage of a Bureau of Waste Management loophole called Coproduct Determination.

“The continued abuse of the Coproduct Determination program signals the need to outlaw road spreading once and for all,” said Karen Feridun, Co-founder of the Better Path Coalition. “The DEP continues to make an artificial distinction between unconventional drillers who have been barred from spreading fracking waste for years and conventional drillers, when the conventional drilling industry openly admits that most operators today frack. There’s no difference. Fracking waste is fracking waste. Period.”

Under the Coproduct Determination program, owners of waste can determine whether or not their waste is equivalent to a commercial product. If they assess that it is, they can start using or selling their product without having to notify the Bureau of Waste Management. The assessment should be written in a report that can be turned over to the Bureau upon request.

In 2021, the Bureau began reaching out to drillers to request determinations. Some never responded and two requested more time. The determinations submitted by those who did respond did not conform to the program’s regulatory requirements.

In May, the Department of Environmental Protection sent letters to 18 municipalities informing them that 10 drilling companies had spread waste illegally. One of them, Energy Resources of America, Inc., had not responded to the agency’s outreach as of December of 2021. It was among the six companies identified in the letters that continued spreading waste on roads in 2021 and the only to report spreading more waste last year than it did in 2020. The six companies are responsible for roughly 43% of the waste spread in 2021.

The coalition is submitting the report to Governor Wolf who ordered DEP to review compliance records of conventional drillers and report the results by September 1 in hopes that our report will assist him in his own review of the data.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 30, 2022

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

 

Wolf Must Act Aggressively on Climate in Wake of SCOTUS Ruling

A  Statement from the Better Path Coalition

The Better Path Coalition calls on Governor Tom Wolf to take aggressive action on climate change in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling on West Virginia v EPA that puts federal climate policy in a regulatory and legislative gridlock.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Acting Secretary Ziadeh issued a reaction that opens, “Governor Tom Wolf and DEP have been at the forefront of protecting the air we breathe and ensuring that communities are not bearing unfair burdens from regulations protecting air quality. Cost-effective actions like reducing methane leaks from gas wells and participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative will continue to improve Pennsylvania’s air for years to come.”

We must correct the record. To date, the Wolf administration and our state legislators have moved the state in the wrong direction on climate with their efforts to enable expanded fossil fuel and petrochemical production, support false climate solutions conjured up by the greenhouse gas industry only interested in doing business as usual, and distract the public with histrionics over incremental climate measures like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

The actions of a Supreme Court gone rogue now make it imperative that the states step up. In the case of our state, that first step is a giant, but necessary one that reckons with the fact that the only way Pennsylvania can be part of the solution, not part of the problem, is to start phasing out fossil fuel production today.

Earlier this month, the Coalition partnered with groups across the state to organize the Pennsylvania Climate Convergence, the first in a series of actions demanding that our state government act on climate. In the wake of today’s ruling, it’s clear we, the people, must lead and must be relentless.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 16, 2022

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

PA Hydrogen Hub Is a False Climate Solution

A  Statement from the Better Path Coalition

The fossil fuel industry has been promoting a combination of false solutions to the climate crisis that sound promising, but amount to nothing more than a means to continuing to do business as usual. In Pennsylvania, the industry’s effort is coming in the form of the hydrogen hub proposed in February by EQT Corporation, Equinor, GE Gas Power, Marathon Petroleum (including its affiliate MPLX), Mitsubishi Power, Shell Polymers and U. S. Steel, in addition to other proposals like the Nacero gas-to-gasoline refinery proposed for Luzerne County.

 

Today’s announcement by Governor Wolf of an aggressive push to see the hydrogen hub come to fruition is disappointing, but not surprising. Throughout his administration, Wolf has consistently put the industry’s interests over those of the public he was elected to serve.

 

Cornell’s Robert Howarth and Stanford’s Mark Jacobson concluded that “there is no role for blue hydrogen in a carbon free future” in their analysis that found that “blue hydrogen has emissions as large as or larger than those of natural gas used for heat.”

Blue Hydrogen and Gray Hydrogen both produced by natural gas are different from each other in an important way. What makes Blue Hydrogen blue is the use of carbon capture and storage (CCS). CCS, a failed and costly experiment in its own right, would bring to the state a new series of CO2 pipelines that would be much more hazardous than the natural gas and hazardous natural gas liquids pipelines that already crisscross the state.

 

We are absolutely out of time for the magical thinking of weak elected officials who lack the courage to stand up to the industry and the creativity to come up with real climate solutions.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – April 21, 2022

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

 

Conventional Drillers Soft Pedal Status of Road Spreading of Toxic Drilling Waste

A  Statement from the Better Path Coalition

Today, the PA Grade Crude Development Advisory Council (CDAC), a council made up largely of industry representatives that meets regularly with regulators in the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Oil & Gas Division, soft pedaled the industry’s response to the agency’s Bureau of Waste Management’s inquiry into how drillers determined that their drilling waste could be used as a dust suppressant on roads. Although the Council makes no attempt to make its public meeting audible, industry representatives could be heard trying to make a case that much-maligned conventional drillers have done their best to cooperate with the conditions for making controversial Coproduct Determinations and expressing their dissatisfaction that a Special Investigator for the Attorney General’s office is also looking into their use of the program.

Contrary to CDAC members’ claims, the Oil & Gas Waste report shows that road spreading continues and has increased since 2020.  Among the operators are those who failed to respond to the Bureau of Waste Management’s requests for documentation that a determination had been made or submitted in adequate reports. The report also includes entries from seven companies that did not report road spreading since the moratorium took effect in 2018.

According to the Oil & Gas Waste reporting system, 13437.88 barrels, or 564390.96 gallons, of toxic, radioactive conventional drilling waste were spread on unpaved roads in Pennsylvania 2021. The total represents a 5.05% increase over the 12,792 barrels or 537264 gallons spread in 2020. This comes despite efforts by the agency’s Bureau of Waste Management to clamp down on the use by drillers of a beneficial use program called Coproduct Determination that allowed road spreading to continue after the Oil and Gas Division put a moratorium on the practice in 2018.

The program allows the owner of a waste product to determine if their waste can perform the same function as a commercial product and then start using it without having to notify the DEP. However, if the DEP requests a copy of the Coproduct Determination report, the waste owner must provide it. Section 287.8 of the Pennsylvania Code lays out the rules for making Coproduct Determinations. Not a single driller asked to submit a copy of its determination by the Bureau last year came close to meeting the requirements. Eleven of those drillers continued to road spread in 2021.

The Better Path Coalition has updated the chart it published in last year’s report, Moratorium Morass, that looked at the issues with the Coproduct Determination loophole as well as numerous problems with the DEP’s reporting system. Our chart shows the names of the companies that reported road spreading in 2021, the amount they spread, the status of their response to the BWM as of December 2021, and notes that point to some questions about the numbers reported.  You can review our chart here.

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