Friends General Conference

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Minute Against Hydraulic Fracturing

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Gunpowder Friends Meeting Minute Against Hydraulic Fracturing, approved May 19, 2013

As Quakers, we are called to a right relationship with Nature. A right relationship requires that we learn and respect the ways in which Nature works. A right relationship requires that humans share the Earth’s productivity and resources with one another and with other species. A right relationship requires us to be good stewards of our planet.

The practice of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract natural gas from deep below the earth’s surface is inconsistent with our understanding of right relationship with Nature. Fracking disrupts the environment by using disproportionate amounts of our precious water resources, by contaminating that water with proprietary chemicals that are not subject to rigorous scientific safety studies, and by expanding our reliance on fossil fuels. Because fracking involves both vertical and extensive horizontal drilling, it stresses the environment far beyond the immediate drilling site. Because it extends our reliance on fossil fuels, it accelerates the release of hydrocarbons into the atmosphere, where the consequences of human activity contribute to imbalance, climate change, and possible squandering of Nature’s bounty.

Fracking in the Marcellus Shale fields of our neighboring states of Pennsylvania and West Virginia has led to reports of destruction of ecologically sensitive ecosystems and contamination of streams and drinking wells, reports we find too credible to dismiss in the name of expediency and short-term rewards. We have the opportunity to act now in the State of Maryland to prevent fracking rather than to clean up environmental damage later and deepen our dependence on fossil fuels. We encourage the further exploration and development of alternative and sustainable sources of energy. We ask that the government wait to approve any new fracking until a full Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study on the matter is concluded. We seek a pause and slow reversal of our patterns of unsustainable exploitation and reshaping of planet Earth. This will not be easy in state, national, or international terms, as it requires vision beyond ourselves and our generation. Yet, the choice is clear enough, and where data remain uncertain, we favor a prudent expectation that the resiliency of Nature as we know it is not limitless. We urge an assumption of individual, collective, and governmental responsibility to bring our energy consumption in better alignment with available resources. We seek a right relationship with Nature.