Pennsylvania’s Pro-Life Evangelicals Call for Clean Air in the Commonwealth


Rev. Mitchell Hescox is the CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network.  He lives in New Freedom, Pennsylvania.  In his recent piece at The York Daily Record, Hescox argues that pro-life evangelicals should be concerned about the bad air emanating from fracking sites and natural gas facilities in Pennsylvania.  Here is a taste of his piece:

As pro-life evangelicals, we have a special concern for the unborn.  We want children to be born healthy and unhindered by the ravages of pollution.  The Bible calls us to “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.  Rescue the weak and the needy” (Psalm 82: 3-4 NIV).  Certainly, preborn and new-born children are the most vulnerable among us. They deserve a quality of life that can only be assured when we uphold both our Christian beliefs and our Commonwealth’s Constitution:

The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and aesthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.

We’re not alone.  This year over 15,000 pro-life Pennsylvania Christians wrote to Governor Wolf and asked him to create sensible fugitive methane standards. Another 5,000 Pennsylvania pro-life Christians added their comments against the EPA’s ill-fated attempt to cancel new source methane standards nationally.

Read the entire piece here.

14 thoughts on “Pennsylvania’s Pro-Life Evangelicals Call for Clean Air in the Commonwealth

  1. “The people have a right to…the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and aesthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.”

    I’m curious. How does littering the environment with wind turbines and solar panels preserve the “natural, scenic and aesthetic values of the environment”? How many acres of land need to be covered with wind turbines or covered in solar panels to produce the equivalent energy of a fracking well?

    How much food to feed the hungry will go ungrown because you can’t grow crops and solar panels in the same field? The west TN “solar farm” is just down the road from me on I-40 outside of Memphis. Corn, cotton and soybeans used to be grown there. Now they are not.


    • Ed,

      I actually just did that calculation last year. It’s 1 for 1. One wind turbine produces roughly the same power as an average oil well.

      Solar panels typically don’t compete with agriculture for land. It’s more economical for solar developers to lease land that cannot grow crops. Land that has been too polluted to safely grow crops (of which there’s plenty), is the best land local to cities. But geographically, land that does not get a lot of rain (clouds) is the most valuable for solar, and the least valuable for crops. That’s why the biggest solar power plants are all in deserts. And I power my house with 100% solar power and I didn’t use any arable land to do it!

      Fossil fuel mines/wells and power plants, however, DO compete with agriculture (ergo the abundance of arable land that can never again be farmed, because of fossil fuel pollution).

      Was this helpful?


      • Not particularly, because it didn’t answer the question I brought up in response to the author’s comment. How does littering the environment with wind turbines and solar panels preserve the “natural, scenic and aesthetic values of the environment”?

        You can pull up the solar farm I referenced off I-40 in west TN. It even has its own web site (West TN solar farm). It does cover land that was formerly farm land. I know this because the previous owners of the land were the children of a family friend. I used to deer hunt on some of the land now covered in solar panels. They previously grew corn and cotton on it, but that’s another discussion. There’s just no way around the that wind and solar are land intensive.

        I did calculations myself based on some figures provided by the West TN Solar Farm and ones regarding another solar panel collection at Shelby Farms in Memphis (also viewable on google maps). Based on those figures and those available on the local utility’s web site, it would take covering the ENTIRE state of TN with solar panels just to provide the energy that MLGW needs to provide power for their service area. Even if some “efficiencies” are taken into consideration and I’m 50% off, we still have addressed Nashville, Knoxville or Chattanooga power needs, not to mention the myriad of other towns.

        I suspect there’s a great many caveats for a wind turbine to equal the output of an oil or gas well, starting with the biggest of all – the wind doesn’t blow consistently at all times. That’s another discussion. I’m more interested in how a wind turbine is more aesthetically pleasing than a gas well and how that wind turbine or solar panel preserves the “natural, scenic and aesthetic values of the environment”.


        • Ed, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory calculated that supplying all of the United States’ electricity with photovoltaic solar energy would require roughly 0.6 percent of America’s total land area. Anecdotally, I power my whole house with solar and it doesn’t take more area than my roof.

          Liked by 1 person

          • But that information doesn’t doesn’t answer my objection to the statement the author made regarding preserving nature. The author implies that a fracking well (such as is shown in the picture) is an affront to the right to the people to the “preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and aesthetic values of the environment”. What makes wind turbine or solar panel more desirable?

            Like a lot of political rhetoric, it’s either the bogus underlying premise or what is implied in “green” rhetoric that is irritating, not the advocating of those energy sources.


          • That 0.6 percent of land area doesn’t sound like much, but like most things, there are lab results and then there’s the real world. So while 0.6 doesn’t sound like a lot, it’s going to be far more than that in the real world.

            For your house I can’t help but suspect either your electricity needs are rather low or you have supplemental systems to power your cooling and/or heating. Maybe you’ve got the perfect setup of ideal hours of full sun with the roof facing the optimal direction, but most solar setups I’ve read about power light bulbs, a water heater and maybe a few appliances. There’s just so many variables that it usually makes little sense to go solar because the ROI is usually decades.


            • Ed, my house is not optimal, but it’s not bad either. I live in the same small town in PA as John, where we get moderate solar resources. I exclusively use electricity to heat and cool my 2 story 4 bedroom home. Also, all my lawn equipment is electric, including my lawn mower. And I’m about to build a solar pergola that will power my two electric cars as well. And I’m not unique. Another member of my church just installed their own roof mount system this week that will provide almost 2,000 kwh a month, which is enough to meet 100% of their families electricity.
              And don’t you agree, solar on the roof is better for the “preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and aesthetic values of the environment” than fracking wells across the landscape?


              • Yeah, solar on the roof would be, but when it’s a choice between a solar farm on the side of the road or a fracking well or a wind farm, then I don’t see any difference in the aesthetics. At least you can hide a fracking well among a stand of trees. The bird fryers and bird choppers, not so much. 🙂


      • Alex: you are not suggesting that wind (or solar, for that matter) has the same power density as oil or gas?

        Because it’s not remotely close.


        • Tony: Correct me if I’m wrong, but my quick replication of my calculation last year shows the average American oil well produced 6 barrels of oil a day in 2015 (1.7 million wells, 9.7 million barrels of oil) which is 10,000 kWh a day. For the first half of 2018 the average American wind turbine produced 15,000 kWh a day (57,636 windmills, 152 Terawatt hours in H1 2018). Also, the average American wind turbine installed in 2018 is 25,000 kwh per day (2.4 MW, 43% capacity factor). Did I get something crossed?


        • As for solar, an average solar panel weights 40 lbs and will produce ~10,000 kwh (in PA). It takes ~10,000 lbs of coal to make that much electricity.


  2. When I was in PA a couple years ago (2015?), I remember billboards on the Turnpike (between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, I think around Somerset) urging to “BRING BACK COAL” (presumably for PA’s economy).
    Coal… which has been on a decline for the past century since oil and natural gas got going.
    Coal… whose high carbon-to-hydrogen ratio makes it the dirtiest-burning of the Big Three fossil fuels.

    I wonder if (like the makeshift “Sacramento Caused Dust Bowl!” and “Growing your food is NOT Wasting Water!” billboards along I-5 in California’s Central Valley) these Bring Back Coal billboards got updated in early 2017 with “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” and “THANK YOU DONALD TRUMP!” overlays.


    • I have no doubt my generation will end the burning of fossil fuels. What religious leaders, like Rev. Mitchell Hescox, need to help their flocks through is determining if we should switch from fossil fuels because we love our Lord and we love our neighbors (and fossil fuels are causing harm to our Lord’s creation, and our neighbor), or do we switch because we love money, and we love ourselves (and solar can save us money, give us financial security, and make us look like we care)? Both lead to solar, but how they lead their congregations to solar will speak volumes about what they love. And their congregation is going to reflect that, and the world and the youth will notice it.
      When my religious leaders lead us to solar I’m going to use a stopwatch to see how much time they talk about money and benefits to us, and how much time they talk about benefits to our neighbors and God’s creation.


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