On October 1st and 2nd PSR PA participated in the Pennsylvania Climate Convergence in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania at the State Capitol Building. The Pennsylvania Climate Convergence consisted of many organizations across Pennsylvania that engaged in tabling, panel discussions and advocacy for climate justice.
Marie DeMarco was given the opportunity to represent PSR PA by tabling on October 1st on the State Capitol Building lawn along with other environmental justice organizations. While tabling, Marie was able to share PSR PA’s mission and the incredible work done by our organization. Marie was able to make new connections with multiple environmental justice organizations and advocates.
On October 1st, Tammy Murphy and Laura Dagley participated in a health panel at the Climate convergence. They discussed the results of the PA Health and Environment studies completed by the University of Pittsburgh. These studies linked significant health harms for people living near oil and gas activity, and in conjunction with many other studies showing similar results, they only further press the need for state action to protect communities from oil and gas buildout. Chris DiGiulio was on the Watchdog Panel who discussed how to engage your community in watchdogging activities, technologies that watchdogs use in the field, and there was a large focus on watchdogging activities for orphaned and abandoned wells across the state.
On October 2nd, Marie attended the Peoples Hearing on Climate Change inside the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. Out front of the Capitol building were ice sculptures of children that wrote “We can’t wait” demonstrating the need for action in hopes to protect current and future generations from being affected by the oil and gas industry. During the hearing Marie observed environmental health subject matter experts, concerned community members, parents and even children providing testimonies to our legislators to hold them accountable for the harms that are caused by fossil fuel industries.
Tammy stated the following at the People’s Hearing in the Capitol building:
“In October 2019, when I left a room full of families struggling with cancer who were disrespected by the DOH in southwestern Pennsylvania, I knew more than ever that what I was seeing was nothing less than state-sanctioned violence. As Ms. Zulene Mayfield and Ms. Melanie Meade, and Ms. Janice Blanock, and others have made clear today these toxic industries are literally killing people; they are killing children. To know that these industries cause morbidity and mortality and to permit them anyway is an act of state-sanctioned violence. Permitting morbidity and mortality deems certain communities, certain neighborhoods sacrifice zones. We cannot accept this designation. Everyday healthcare providers witness the morbidity and mortality that are results of the fossil fuel industry as the impacts of climate change are increasing. There is no safe or healthy way to track! There is no safe or healthy way to continue using fossil fuels. Governor Shapiro, state policy makers, and staff members of state agencies in this town must not be allowed to designate our lands as sacrifice zones! Thank you all for being here and continuing to tirelessly speak truth to power."
Overall, the Climate Convergence was an amazing opportunity to hear community voices and learn more about the harms of the fossil fuel industries.