Over a dozen women from the Pittsburgh region and around the country joined local experts and impacted community members today on an intensive tour of communities threatened by the expansion and development of the natural gas industry. The tour centered on the threats from methane and other harmful air pollutants that are leaked at every stage of natural gas production, processing, and transportation.
Participants were shocked to learn that over 110,000 tons of methane are pumped into the air in Pennsylvania in a year. One study showed more than 30,000 Pennsylvania children annually will experience asthma attacks due to ozone smog resulting from the air pollution released at oil and gas sites.
The tour, named the Frackland Tour, included travel to the Shell Cracker Plant construction site, Fort Cherry Public School District, and homes and farms in Washington County. Each stop was curated by a local community member who described the threats and impacts to his/her quality of life and wellbeing. At the end of the tour, participants gathered to hear presentations from a panel of experts on topics ranging from air quality, effects on pediatric health, environmental justice, and the power of faith in protecting creation and life.
“I wanted to see the impacts of fracking and hear stories from actual people affected—not from industry representatives,” said Christina Krost, a member of United Methodist Women from Illinois. “For too long we have prioritized profits over people, and the results are impacting health and well-being. As a person of faith, I’m learning how to use my voice for justice.”
“As a resident of Northeastern PA, it has been overwhelming to view the negative effect of extractive industries on the health of the land, animals and people,” Said Phyllis Terwiliger, a local United Methodist Women participant. “I am grateful to the folks we’ve met who use their voices to tell the true reality of industry’s impact on their communities!”
“Today's tour of fracking wells in Southwestern Pennsylvania was an eye opening experience,” said Beth Bond, Women’s Ministry Director of the Evangelical Environmental Network, visiting from Atlanta. “To hear the stories of cancer clusters in the children and to see the destruction of God's creation is heartbreaking. We can not allow our most precious resource, our American children, be put at risk so China and India can have cheap disposable plastic.”
The tour was sponsored by Clean Air Council and Moms Clean Air Force in partnership with United Methodist Women, the largest denominational faith organization for women in the United States. Clean Air Council is a 501(c)3 public advocacy organization that works through a broad array of related sustainability and public health initiatives, using public education, community action, government oversight, and enforcement of environmental laws. Moms Clean Air Force is a 501(c)3 community of over 1,000,000 moms and dads united against air pollution – including the urgent crisis of our changing climate – to protect our children’s health.