January 9, 2015
The Honorable Tom Wolf Governor
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 225 Main Capitol Building Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120
Dear Governor Wolf,
We, the concerned farmers of Pennsylvania, begin this letter with both hope and fear. Our hopes are that you will read the following with careful consideration and that our heartfelt sentiments will reach you. Our fears are for our way of life, which many of us find to be balancing precariously in the face of destructive activities like hydraulic fracturing and the looming threat of climate change. It is hard not to feel like the odds are stacked against us – with the scale of gas development and its swiftness in encompassing our communities. Faced with big industries with deep pockets as unwelcome neighbors, moving in whether you have leased your land or not there seems to be little we can do. With that in mind we are turning to our government, again with the hope that our voices do matter, that our concerns will be taken seriously and our Governor will prove himself to be for the people.
As you well know, Pennsylvania has a long history of agriculture, one in which all Pennsylvanians take much pride. Many farms in our beautiful state have been in families for generations and there is a strong movement today among young adults to turn back to the land. Young or old, all farmers are facing new challenges in an era where climate change is not right around the corner – indeed it has arrived and is already making itself known! Many of us have taken on the challenge of organic agriculture not only to provide healthy food to our neighbors but also to help restore the soil and reduce climate-changing practices like the use of fossil fuel fertilizers, monoculture crops and barren fields.
One of the major industries contributing to climate change is also booming in our state – hydraulic fracturing. To some those two words might sound like profit, but to many farmers those same words are tantamount to a death sentence.
When you think of a Pennsylvania farm, what comes to mind? Is it rolling fields, dotted with cows contentedly grazing, rows of corn shooting towards a clear blue sky? An old house with ducks in the nearby pond and a happy farm dog sprawled in the yard? Or is it a loud, busy, filthy, explosive industrial site, a looming oil derrick, a night sky lit up with malodorous, toxic gas flaring, all stars obliterated by light pollution? The latter is a fear for many farmers, and an unfortunate reality for many others.
It’s not just a disruption of the picturesque dream that’s the problem. There is no question that people living near gas operations are being exposed to dangerous pollutants. Fracking activities have been proven to have very real and dangerous consequences for those living or working nearby.