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UCC pastor part of a push and a prayer to end fracking in California

By Connie Larkman (Previously published in United Church of Christ News, November 13, 2015)

UCC Fracking1Oakland California’s Skyline United Church of Christ sits on the ridge in the Oakland hills, surrounded by a beautiful vista of God’s creation. One side is pristine parkland that helps people come away from the sanctuary renewed and restored—and the church pastor would like to keep it that way.

That’s one of the reasons why the Rev. Laurie Manning joined more than a hundred interfaith leaders and environmental activists at the state capitol in Sacramento Thursday, Nov. 12, to call for moratorium on fracking in California. As a representative of the United Church of Christ and the wider faith community, Manning offered a prayer on the statehouse steps.

“We pray together, that our governor and our state lawmakers enact a moratorium on all new unconventional shale gas well drilling until long term respect for earth, water and people, is achieved,” said Manning. “The moratorium is urged as a form of moral courage and a reaching for what is right at this juncture in the history of our human relationship with our land, air and water.”UCC Fracking2

The Thursday event, anticipating the United Nations climate summit in Paris later this month, brought Christian, Jewish and Buddhist leaders together for prayer and meditation. The group, calling attention to two letters delivered to state politicians, urged Gov. Jerry Brown to remember his own religious studies and need for climate justice around global discussions concerning fossil fuel extraction. The letters, one signed by more than 300 environmental and health groups in over 30 countries and the other by 100-faith based organizations, noted: “We are mindful that the climate crisis places unequal burdens on the world’s poor, who are already suffering increased rates of sickness, death, and displacement as a result of human-induced climate change.

UCC Fracking3The rally was endorsed by the Californians Against Fracking coalition of environmental justice, business, faith, health, labor, political and food safety organizations working to win a statewide ban on the practice, and along with other oil and gas extraction activities in the Golden State.

The coalition is calling on the Brown to implement three steps to aid the environment – ban fracking and other extreme extraction techniques; end all oil and gas extraction near homes, schools, hospitals, and other sensitive receptors to protect people from the pollution caused by all phases of oil and gas production; and phase-out all oil and gas extraction in our state on a rapid schedule sufficient to respond to the climate crisis.

“The scientific community is giving us a concise message to leave as much carbon and methane in the ground as possible, as we switch to different sources of energy,” said Manning. “We need real solutions to deal with the crisis and have little time to respond. We need to stand in solidarity with the poorest and most vulnerable people who are impacted now by climate change.”

The event dovetails with the United Church of Christ General Synod resolution, passed in June, initially focused as anti-fracking, but expanded into a broader call for a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
Manning said both her faith and her understanding of the issue from a science perspective compel her to get involved. “When our country is so disproportionally influenced by fossil fuel industries, the voices of the poor are silenced,” said Manning. “It’s a slow moving train wreck.”

 

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