Faith Communities Together (FACT) for Frack Awareness formed last June in response to the growing local concern over the extreme extraction industry, in particular to high-volume, high-pressure hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, best known as fracking.
FACT consists of 15 Ohio faith organizations coming from six different faith traditions— Unitarian Universalists, United Church of Christ, Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian and atheist—and spans eight Ohio counties, including Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, Mahoning, Trumbull, Portage, Belmont and Summit. FACT has 93 participating individuals who range from active members of religious congregations to individuals who are approaching environmental topics from a moral or spiritual perspective.
FACT draws upon the technical and scientific expertise of the Network for Oil and Gas Accountability and Protection (NEOGAP), an Ohio-based group that is organized to educate, empower and advocate for the citizens of Ohio who are facing threats to health, safety and property rights posed by oil and gas development. FACT draws upon the cultural and faith based expertise of several of its members who are part of various clergy. FACT recognizes the ethical and moral challenges that fracking creates for the land and for people.
As members of faith communities in Ohio, FACT works to protect God’s Creation from the harm caused by the extraction of resources such as oil, natural gas, coal and other non-renewable sources of energy. FACT will achieve its mission by:
• Educating the public about these issues, including harm to our clean water resources, especially those caused by high volume, high pressure hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.
FACT distributed to its member congregations and individual members a copy of the DVD Ohio, Get FrACTive! To help educate and communicate with congregations and communities. The video looks at the problems fracking brings to health, safety, economy, property rights and values, and discusses methods of educating neighbors and local government leaders about fracking and signing drilling leases.
• Supporting efforts to end the exploitation of workers and landowners involved in these activities, many of whom are impoverished and disadvantaged.
FACT is reaching out to poor, rural communities throughout the eastern areas of Ohio to help provide information about the potential hazards of signing leases, recognizing that income and job opportunities are desperately needed.
FACT welcomed a new member in January—the Ohio Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation. They will be known as FACT-OV and will serve the Ohio Valley, including Belmont, Guernsey, Harrison and Jefferson Counties in Ohio and Brooke, Marshall and Ohio Counties in West Virginia.
• Encouraging of faith communities not to lease parish land for fracking and to warn their members to not lease their personal land for fracking.
FACT has formed a letter writing committee made up of clergy and lay persons to develop letters to relay this warning.
• Convincing faith communities to help pass federal, state and local laws that protect our water and air, and human health and safety.
Eight FACT members attended the Stop the Madness No Frack Ohio Rally at the Ohio Statehouse on Jan.10. The purpose of this gathering was to urge Gov. John Kasich to protect the environment and public health by passing SB 213/HB 345, which would impose a moratorium on fracking permits and wastewater disposal injection wells. A FACT member congregation, Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown, Ohio served as headquarters for a bus transporting citizens from Youngstown to the rally in Columbus.
• Urging faith communities that we must conserve energy and protect our potable water, and develop, promote and incorporate truly clean, renewable sources of energy.
The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations' Green Sanctuary Program is a model for this practice.The voluntary program provides a framework for congregations and congregants to proclaim and live out their commitment to the Earth.
Would you like to learn more about the extreme extraction industry and fracking? Would you like to learn of ways your faith organization could become involved with the issue of extreme extraction and fracking? Would you like to find refreshment and rejuvenation as you seek to lead a green and faithful life ? If so, consider attending the next monthly FACT meeting.
Anyone is welcome to attend as a representative of a faith organization (church, temple, mosque and others) or simply as an individual participant. The next monthly FACT meeting is Saturday, Feb. 11 from 9:30 to 11 a.m. in Kent, Ohio. This meeting is to be followed by a “no fracking” rally and march. The rally and march is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. beginning on Main Street in Kent.
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Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.