Statement Opposing Fracked Gas Pipelines
As people of faith, we proclaim our belief that our world is God’s creation, that God… Continue Reading
SalonEvery week prayers and gospel songs infuse the air and participants offer blessings to the latest batch of 100 or so activists entering the Raleigh General Assembly building to commit civil disobedience. If you’re not from here, it may all seem a little counter-intuitive: A movement for inclusive and just secular governance that is deeply inflected with Christian ethics and arguments.
The General Assembly has adjourned its 2013 session after a final cascade of disappointing and disturbing bills that now await review by Gov. Pat McCrory. Among the bills approved are ones that will make it less convenient for many citizens to vote and that weaken regulatory oversight of the environment.
There was at least one bright spot, as the House rejected a last-minute push by the Senate to speed up the environmentally risky natural gas extraction process known as fracking. But on the whole, legislators succeeded in putting the crowning touches on a session devoted to a conservative agenda the likes of which modern North Carolina has never before seen.
I finally had the chance to go my first Moral Monday earlier this week. Walking around Halifax Mall with our Executive Director, George Reed, I was struck by how many people we both knew. I’m deeply proud of the involvement by clergy and faith communities in particular. So many of our members are represented not only in the crowd but also in the faces of those participating in civil disobedience and getting arrested. As we celebrate Independence Day this week, we give thanks not only for the many freedoms our country offers, but in particular for the countless faithful voices speaking up and speaking out for those who are being pushed to the margins by this General Assembly.
This workshop on agricultural policy, from our 2013 Legislative Seminar on April 11, covers a wide range of topics – from the US Farm Bill to fracking to the meaning of “local” and “sustainable” food. Scott Marlow led the workshop. Scott currently serves as Executive Director of the Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (RAFI). His specialty is financial infrastructure, including access to credit and risk management for value-added producers. He previously directed RAFI’s Farm Sustainability program, providing in-depth financial counseling to farmers in crisis, education on disaster assistance programs and access to credit, and addressing the needs of mid-scale farmers who are increasing the sustainability of their farms by transitioning to higher-value specialty markets.
The General Assembly on Monday overrode Governor Perdue’s vetoes of three bills. By doing so they gutted the Racial Justice Act, revised the budget for 2012-13, and moved ahead with fracking. The outcome was not in doubt in the Senate. In fact, several Senate Democrats had excused absences and didn’t even show up for the votes. The drama was in the House.
The Rural Life Committee of the North Carolina Council of Churches has issued a statement supporting the ban on hydraulic drilling in the state. Citing the lack of research on horizontal hydraulic fracturing, the experiences of rural landowners affected by gas drilling, and the potential impacts on rural communities, the committee warned that the risk posed by “fracking” is unacceptably high. The committee also warned about the dangers of exploitation.
The experiences of landowners in other states indicate that hydraulic fracturing can have profound negative impacts on rural communities. The Rural Life Committee of the North Carolina Council of Churches supports the current ban on hydraulic fracturing in North Carolina. The above concerns need to be addressed with careful attention to landowners’ property, landowners’ rights, and the care for creation’s gifts. Furthermore, we call on our member bodies and faith leaders to share reliable information about hydraulic fracturing with their communities. We believe that we are called by God to be good stewards of the good gifts of community, health, water and soil. Trusting in God, we refuse to trade this bountiful inheritance for the empty promises of energy that may be cheap in terms of dollars but which we know will be costly in terms of our livelihoods.
The General Assembly returned to Raleigh in July for what was, in reality, Round Two of its 2011 Long Session. The primary tasks were to take up overrides on bills Governor Perdue had vetoed and to adopt redistricting plans for U.S. Congressional districts and for the state House and Senate.
The 2011 session of the General Assembly adjourned around midday on Saturday, June 18. Legislative leaders and the media are trumpeting the efficiency of the session and the fact that this is the earliest adjournment since 1973. But that is misleading since they aren’t really finished with their work. The adjournment resolution calls them back into a special session on July 13. At that time, they will take up the thorny issue of redistricting as well as controversial bills from the just-ended session which remain in conference committees and any bills vetoed by the Governor.
We are disturbed by increasing reports of NC landowners who are signing over some of their property rights to energy companies looking for new sources of natural gas. In addition to the environmental damage caused by accessing this natural gas, we are concerned that in many cases landowners are not fully aware of their rights and how these contracts will impact the use of their land in the future.
The following information comes from our friends at Rural Advancement Foundation International. Visit this page for more complete information.
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