By: Diane Sipe
On July 24, in many cases in the very early hours of the morning, buses from all corners of Pennsylvania will begin to make their way to Philadelphia. They will deliver their passengers, many belonging to coalition partners of Pennsylvanians Against Fracking (PAF), to join the Clean Energy Revolution March. The CER March, already endorsed by over 400 organizations even at this early point in time, will be held the day before the opening of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia the next day. I am a member of Marcellus Outreach Butler, a PAF coalition member, and I most certainly will be among the marchers.
With the eyes of the world focused on the DNC, we will take the opportunity the Democratic Convention presents to demand that our political leaders lead the nation away from climate destroying fossil fuel energy towards the only future we can live with, a clean energy future. We will press upon political leaders and the public at large that the right solution of turning away from fossil fuels to renewable energy is a win-win proposition, not only for the climate, but also for reinvigorating the economic viability of our communities by creating millions of new jobs that are family-supporting and sustainable. A clean energy transition will preserve communities presently at risk from the environmental damage and injustices imposed by fossil fuel extraction. Pennsylvania is high on the list of areas so negatively impacted.
Pennsylvania has been the focal point of boom-busts of fossil fuel extraction before, and Pennsylvanians have accordingly paid the price both in terms of the environmental degradation of the booms and the economic turmoil of the busts. Today, Pennsylvania is the poster child of the fracking industry that marks the land with horizontal wells putting air and water quality at risk, networks of pipelines that are dangerous now and even more dangerous as they age forgotten under us, and industrial installations of compressor stations and processing plants in what were once peaceful, bucolic fields. Currently, our national as well as our state political leaders are coming to acknowledge the reality that renewable energy must be in our future, but they just cannot let go of the fossil fuel paradigm. They look for an intermediate era of ‘bridges’ to that future that enables the use of the fuels we know must not be permitted to leave the ground. In Pennsylvania, fracked gas from the Marcellus Shale formation that underlies a large swath of our state is being promoted as such a bridge fuel, not just for Pennsylvania energy consumption but also to export to other states and nations. They are trying to sell this climate destroying plan as ‘green’, to conflate the green of environmentalism with the green of money. This is wrong; fracked gas is not clean energy, and the ‘bridge’ will be yet another era of fossil fuel consumption. No one can seriously believe that drilling thousands of wells and building the necessary infrastructure of thousands of miles of new pipelines, compressor stations, gas processing plants, and export terminals will be done to accomplish a temporary bridge. The build out of the infrastructure will mean we will consume shale gas for decades to come—long after we know the window will close in order to avoid the direst consequences of continuing to fill our atmosphere with CO2 and methane.
But this time, Pennsylvanians, like others around the globe, are organizing. We are building a movement to push through the necessary changes that will enable us and generations to come to have a viable future in livable communities. Pennsylvanians Against Fracking, a coalition of statewide groups, along with similar coalitions and organization across the nation, are working to build this movement. We are organizing to push back the profit driven natural gas industry and their political enablers. We are fighting back.
And on July 24, we are joining the Clean Energy Revolution