Religious Leaders Announce Principles for Ethical Marcellus Shale Drilling

Franklin Kury, Former State Legislator and Senator, Honored

STATE COLLEGE, Pa.--()--Religious leaders from Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light (PA-IPL) today released the organization’s position paper, “Principles for considering Marcellus Shale Drilling: An ethical analysis,” in which the organization detailed changes that must be made before drilling could be acceptable when viewed through a moral compass. A copy of the document, which was released at a press conference in State College, is available at

“Our aim at Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light is to help people see the moral and religious implications of our energy use,” said Sylvia Neely, president of the PA-IPL board of Directors. “Using resources responsibly is not just a matter of economics, but is a way to show love for our neighbors, to promote justice and peace, and to affirm our relationship with God by living simply and mindfully in order to preserve and sustain God’s creation.”

The position paper reiterates the organization’s opposition to the mining and burning of coal for electricity because such use causes global warming, which the paper says “is a corruption of the goodness of God’s creation.” The paper also condemns the deep drilling and use of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formation as currently done, laying out a number of significant changes that must be made so that the extraction and use is done ethically, saying “PA-IPL could only support use of Marcellus natural gas if:

  • Its use was part of an overall strategy to move as quickly as possible away from coal in particular and fossil fuels in general; and
  • The Commonwealth imposed a drilling tax or impact fee to provide substantial investment for the development of clean, sustainable energy sources to slow climate change, and
  • Overall environmental, social, community, and health impacts from drilling are sharply reduced.”

Rabbi Daniel Swartz, a member of the PA –IPL board of directors said, “For us to consider supporting drilling, it would have to be part of a comprehensive plan to address climate change, the drilling itself should be conducted with full public disclosures and a vigorous regulatory system in place and enforced, and there needs to be planning in place to reduce community conflicts and stop the boom-bust cycle that is too common in Pennsylvania's history. We must learn from our history, and not repeat it.”

The paper detailed ways that communities of faith must lead by example on energy, taking several actions, including buying clean electricity not generated from fossil fuels, conserving energy in congregation’s buildings to lessen the need to heat with fossil fuels, and speaking out about the moral implications of energy choices.

The religious leaders also called on elected officials throughout Pennsylvania at all levels of government to refuse contributions from companies involved in the exploration, drilling, production, transportation and sale of natural gas. They also urged faith-based institutions to refrain from entering into financial agreements with natural gas exploration or extraction companies until problems are addressed.

Rabbi Swartz addressed why the religious community must take a public stand on Marcellus Shale drilling, saying, “Because the choices we make when we extract and use energy affect people's lives and the planet's wellbeing, for generations to come, there is no bigger moral issue facing humanity today. And when it comes to moral issues, people do and should turn to the leadership of their faith communities.”

In the same press conference, Cricket Hunter, executive director of PA-IPL, presented the organization’s Environmental Visionary Award to former Pennsylvania State Representative and Senator Franklin Kury, Esq., for his significant actions "to tend and sustain" the earth and all its creatures. Kury was the author of the Environmental Rights Amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution, and led the successful enactment of the State Scenic Rivers Act, the Flood Plain and Storm Water Management Acts, the Gubernatorial Disability Act, and the PUC Code.

The press conference was followed by the organization’s annual meeting, “The Human Face of Climate Change: Food, Faith and other necessities of life.”

PA-IPL is a community of congregations, faith-based organizations, and individuals of faith responding to climate change as a moral issue, through advocacy, energy conservation, energy efficiency, and the use of clean, renewable energy. PA-IPL is the state affiliate of Interfaith Power and Light, a national religious response to the threat of climate change.


Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light
Rabbi Daniel Swartz, 570-877-3454 (cell)

Release Summary

Pennsylvania religious leaders say state must enact Marcellus Shale drilling tax, create policies to use gas as way to make the transition to non-fossil fuels, and drill without environmental damage.


Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light
Rabbi Daniel Swartz, 570-877-3454 (cell)