[Update below as of 5/30/18] If you go to the website for the Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy at https://www.rachelcarsontrails.org/ and look on the left section labeled “THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS” you will see that Range Resources is listed in the fourth tier. While we at NoPetroPA do not speak for Rachel Carson or her estate in any way, we believe that the themes present in Carson’s writing frequently warn of the consequences of poorly regulated industrial processes, and we feel that unconventional natural gas extraction, or “fracking,” fits squarely into that category. StateImpact reports here that “With more than a million acres leased in the Marcellus Shale region, Range [Resources] is one of the most active natural gas drilling companies in the state.” Fracking is proving to be devastating for the health of our air, land, water, and climate, and it is confounding to NoPetroPA that any organization could simultaneously uphold the values of both Rachel Carson and Range Resources. (For detailed information about the consequences of fracking, see March 2018 Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking).
NoPetroPA is deeply disappointed that any institute bearing the name of Rachel Carson has found it worth their while to accept sponsorship from Range Resources, and barring a sufficiently meaningful response from the Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy, the NoPetroPA team will be exploring options for coordinating a community response to articulate our shared concern for this troubling relationship. If you would like to play a role in such a response, please sign up for future NoPetroPA updates at http://eepurl.com/cW5NrL and we will let you know when we have next steps available. And if you have any suggestions for a response, please share the idea here: https://nopetropa.com/contact/ .
[Update as of 5/30/18] After some consultation with several community members who showed particular interest in this issue, I have shared the following statement with an individual connected to the Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy with the intention of opening a dialogue with the RCTC board to resolve this concerning sponsorship issue. I am waiting for the board’s response and will share the results as appropriate. Here is the statement that I shared with them:
NoPetroPA is concerned that the Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy (RCTC) has accepted sponsorship by Range Resources and other companies involved in the extraction and/or distribution of fossil fuels (per the listing of Range Resources as a sponsor on the RCTC website). While NoPetroPA does not speak for Rachel Carson or her estate in any way, we believe that the themes present in Carson’s writing frequently warn of the consequences of poorly regulated industrial processes, and we also believe that unconventional natural gas extraction using methods like hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” fits squarely into that category. (The problems associated with fracking are well documented here: http://concernedhealthny.org/compendium/ )
To remedy the conflict of values that we see evident in the aforementioned sponsorship relationship, NoPetroPA respectfully requests the following actions be taken by the Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy:
Terminate the sponsorship relationship between RCTC and Range Resources, and give back any money and any other items of value contributed to RCTC by Range Resources.
Refuse all future sponsorship from any company directly involved in the extraction and/or distribution of fossil fuels.
Refuse the requests of any fossil fuel company for drilling, extraction, and right-of-way rights to any property controlled by the RCTC to the fullest extent allowable by law.
Release a statement to the community that highlights the inconsistency of values between the themes in Rachel Carson’s work and RCTC’s acceptance of sponsorship from fossil fuel companies. The statement should also encourage all other regional organizations to similarly refuse such sponsorship relationships.
Issue a public health warning about the dangers of living, working, and playing near fracking wells, particularly as they relate to the fracking well near Emmerling Park. Considering the proximity of the Rachel Carson Trail to the well pad above Emmerling Park, this health warning should also be included as a flier delivered to all participants in the Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy Challenge event in 2018 and in all subsequent years until the well is properly shut down.
While NoPetroPA does not have control over the community response to these proposed actions, we do believe that the proposed actions will reasonably address the core concerns voiced by many in the community about the sponsorship choices of the RCTC.
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration.
I recognize that it is difficult for a single board of directors to have a meaningful conversation with an entire community on such a charged topic in a fair and organized fashion, and so I encourage the readers to post comments on my above statement on this blog page. Your comments will give the RCTC additional insight into the general sentiments of the community both about my statement and also about additional concerns that the statement may not have addressed. Through the formal statement AND the comments, we can create a body of work to which the RCTC board of directors can meaningfully respond.
14 thoughts on “Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy Accepts Range Resources Sponsorship”
When our environmental stewards of our natural resources cave in to industry then we end up with nothing. We end up with things like Pruitt. Nature loses. We lose.
Rachel Carson’s spirit is alive and well, and is having no truck with the joining of Range Resource’s name to hers.
As a community memberconcerned for our health and our environment I agree completely with NoPetroPA. It is now well known and officially recognized by several countries and other organizations that the Global Climate Change is caused by the burning of fossil fuels. In addition their extraction and distribution has been increasingly unsafe and polluting for us and our environment because of the more difficult accessibility of the remaining oil and gas. More over their use in the petro chemical industry produces dangerous waste. Fracking is a good example of all that with potent greenhouse methane gas being released in our atmosphere, ethane gas used for making more single use plastics and the array of chemicals injected underground and poisoning our waters. Rachel Carson’s whistle blowing about the dangers and damages of pesticides chemicals to our health and our eco system and the chemical industry intentional disinformation and greenwashing campaigns and officials accepting the industry claims uncritically or worse, being bought, amazingly parallels todays issues with the fossil fuel industry. Rachel Carson would no doubt side with scientists about the dangerous impact of fracking on the environment if she was still here. Having her name associated with the fracking industry is totally disrespectful to her memory. Your mission is to conserve and spread her legacy of protecting the natural world and as such you need to renounce any relationship with any petroleum and chemical industry.
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Sustainable Monroeville agrees with No Petro PA. As a former board member of the Rachel Carson Homestead Association, former PA Director of Women for a Healthy Environment and founder of Sustainable Monroeville, and Ambassador in Pittsburgh of the Living Building Challenge, I agree with the eloquent essay of NoPetro PA.
We, though not in any official capacity regarding the estate of Rachel Carson, speak out on behalf of the legacy of Rachel Carson. We speak out on behalf of Panchamama, Mother Earth 🌏 for the urgent call for mindfulness and therefore removal of Range Resources as a sponsor of the Rachel Carson Trail!
I agree completely with the statement. These sponsorships of envrionmentally-focused organizations and events cannot undo the severe long-term and permanent damage done by Range Resources and other companies to not only our local environment but to our planet’s health. Allegheny County has some of the highest rates of asthma and lung disease in the nation due to pollution, while climate change threatens our entire planet. We can no longer compromise on fossil fuels and encourage their behavior in any way, shape, or form. RCTC and other organizations must firmly stand opposed to fossil fuel companies and their motivation of profits over people and planet, and reject any donations or sponsorship that have more in common with public relations or marketing than a serious commitment to protect our health and environment. I encourage RCTC to follow the recommendations suggested by NoPetroPA and look for ways to engage the community in further decisions and actions.
Concerned Health Professionals of New York, co-authors of “The Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking,” fully supports NoPetroPA’s statement to, and requests of, the Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy regarding its sponsorship by Range Resources and other companies involved in the extraction and/or distribution of fossil fuels.
No doubt that Rachel Carson would be rolling over in her grave. This is just too much. An insult to Rachel Carson and her work.
I support all of the statements and recommendations noted in this article.
I just really can’t believe that I have to expend any amount of energy trying to explain to the Rachel Carson Conservancy why accepting donations from Range Resources is absolutely ridiculous and completely inappropriate.
We are already tired of fighting the industry and our government that continues to put profit over people.
If the above recommendations are not followed through this organization really just needs to remove Rachel’s name.
Actions speak louder than words.
I stand with #NoPetroPa and on the right side of history on this issue: Oil money is dirty money, and shouldn’t tarnish nature conservancy or anyone’s legacy who was devoted to it.
Heartwood joins in support of this letter, and urges the Rachel Carson Conservancy to adhere to the highest ethical standard and shun such hypocrisy in every action.
On its website, Range trumpets, “#NaturalGas wells drilled by Range are funding millions of dollars worth of park improvement projects.” Not mentioned are the real impacts of those wells. Natural gas drilling has been linked to health issues, water contamination, habitat destruction, and has been implicated in climate change. Range and its ilk are also in the business of creating sacrifice zones throughout the Commonwealth; rather than enriching the communities it moves into, this industry does damage to people and planet, biotic and abiotic residents of a community. It extracts wealth and leaves behind degradation.
The Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy, by accepting this money, is allowing this corporate bad actor to “greenwash” its filthy hands.
Rachel Carson, in Silent Spring, mused, “By acquiescing in an act that causes such suffering to a living creature, who among us is not diminished?”
Indeed. For an organization named in her honor to accept money from a company whose very actions cause suffering and diminishment to untold numbers of living creatures and the very planet, is not that organization also diminished?
We at Marcellus Outreach Butler are distressed and disappointed and call on the Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy to return the money and to quit giving cover to a company that dirties the name of Rachel Carson.
This is the response I received in my email this morning:
Thank you for sharing your concern with us.The Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy, an all-volunteer non-profit, takes its name from one of the 3 trails that we steward, the Rachel Carson Trail (RCT). Around the midpoint of this almost 40 mile long trail, lies the Rachel Carson Homestead, the house where Rachel grew up. Our mission is to Preserve and Promote Community Trails in Western Pennsylvania, not just the RCT. A lot of people have volunteered their own time resulting in the success we have achieved. All told, we now steward around 170 miles of trail. Although we are acutely attuned to environmental issues, our primary concern is trail stewardship. Recently some organizations opposed to oil and gas development have taken issue with the Conservancy for accepting corporate donations. We rely on private land owners and utilities (e.g., power and pipe line easements) for access to the many parts of the trail that are not public access. It is beyond our control if a landowner wants to lease their mineral rights and allow drilling on their property. We met with Range Resources to discuss the proposed well pad adjacent to the trail near Emmerling Park. We accepted their donation with the understanding that they will respect the trail, which has been the case so far. The cost of the challenge and year-long trail maintenance is not always covered by the one-time registration fee. We have been fortunate to have corporate donors as the additional revenue has allowed us to expand and improve the trails. Although we recognize that our trail users and challenge participants may hold different opinions and concerns, we hope that they will understand that we believe our actions are in the best interest of our mission.
President, Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy
Seems like a rather short sighted and shallow understanding of your mission. Climate change, with its predicted increasingly severe storms, is liable to make quite a mess out of your trails. And then there is the habitat fragmentation caused by fracking and its deleterious effect on wildlife to take into consideration. I for one prefer taking a walk in a woods that is filled with birdsong and other signs of living creatures.
Thank you for bringing this total contradiction to light. Rachel Carson would have strongly objected to sponsorship of any initiative to with which she was associated by an organization such as Range Resources.
Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy needs to adopt clear regulations and guidelines regarding the types of organizations from which they will not accept financial contributions. These rules should reflect the highest ethical and environmental standards. Honor our region’s brave and brilliant environmental matriarch and stop accepting money from any corporation related to fossil fuels.