The Pittsburgh Presbytery affirms that we live in an eco-justice crisis wherein its trust in God calls its members attention to their vocation to care for the earth and its vulnerable peoples.
From Hosea 4:1-3 we learn that nature suffers from human sin: “There is no faithfulness or kindness,” and instead “There is swearing, lying, killing…;” “Therefore the land mourns and all who dwell on it languish… the beasts…the birds…and even the fish of the sea.”
Similarly, nature participates in the anticipated redemption of the people and the renewal of the covenant in which God makes: “A covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the creeping things on the ground….” (Hosea 2:18).
According to Genesis 2 God put the humans in the Garden “to till it and to keep it. (Genesis: 2:15). WE humans are to till the land for our sustenance and to keep it. In our over tilling and our relative neglect of keeping it we have weakened the earth and distributed its benefits unjustly. Our church has recommended four norms for examining our common dependence upon nature: sustainability, sufficiency, participation, and community. Recent theological reflections have added the norms of human health and harmony.
Therefore in light of our theology, norms, and reading of the evidence:
- The Pittsburgh Presbytery co-sponsors the Overture of Hudson River Presbytery on divestment from fossil fuel. https://www.fossilfreepcusa.org/overture-2018/
- Encourages its churches and the presbytery to examine energy consumption, reduction of energy usage and implementation of carbon-free energy strategies for their facilities as matter of moral imperatives. The energy sub-committee of the Peacemaking Ministry Team is ready for consultations as it develops plans for church conversions.
- Urges its churches to oppose the construction of the Shell Petrochemical Ethane Cracker and any other highly polluting petrochemical industry expansion in the Western Pennsylvania region. We will write a letter from the Presbytery to be sent to all appropriate political entities as well as local newspapers. This particular facility will be the largest ethane cracker plant in North America and will increase health risks to a population that has too long suffered from polluted air. Foreign wealth seeking should consider the long suffering of Western Pennsylvania residents before accepting state subsidies and untaxed gas for such projects. The project would further concentrate wealth while providing polluting jobs of manufacturing plastics. Risks of the Shell plant include but are not limited to the following:
- The proposed Shell Ethane Cracker will produce 1.6 million metric tons of plastic from locally fracked natural gas each year.
- Creates a need for ethane pipelines throughout our region and through the Ohio River.
- Each Cracker Plant will emit as much CO2 at half a coal fired power plant. There are currently at least four ethane petrochemical plants planned for the Ohio Valley.
- The Shell Plant will emit 522 tons of VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) each year. 44% more than the Clairton Cokeworks, making it the worst polluter of VOC’s in our region and third worst in Pennsylvania.
- Currently we are in the top 2% for cancer risk from air pollution in the United States. More VOC pollution will make our air even worse.
- The Shell Cracker will emit 2.25 million tons of CO2 annually.