[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.