My colleague Brian Frick with PC(USA) Camp and Conference Ministries wrote this blog post on hydraulic-fracturing, or fracking. Brian's post on the "Here I Am" blog looks at fracking from the point of view of a camp and conference center, but this way of looking at it can be translated to any setting, as we're all charged with caring for God's good creation.
Take a moment and listen to the "Here and Now" episode discussing the issue.
And here are articles of interest on the Fracking issue
And a documentary on the subject
Though the chemicals shoved into the ground with massive amounts of water to fracture (frack) the rock and extract the gas, have not been found in drinking water, towns near "fracked" gas wells have shown elevated levels of Methane in their drinking water. That's right, you can light the water on fire in some places and this is the water the people drink.
Questions to ponder and comment on:
Is this the water you want to have in your neighborhood? At your conference center/camp? Is the $ realized through sale of gas rights and the "fracking" of the gas that may be under your center, worth the environmental impact? Would you send your church group or kids to a place that has elevated levels of methane in the drinking water? How do you share this information with others who may want to capitalize on gas revenue?
It's like the logic of having Soda Machines in Public Schools: I have tried to explain the logic (or lack of in my opinion) behind selling gas rights at our conference centers to being like the logic behind having Soda Machines in public schools. Sure the school gets revenue, but studies show that the students get fatter and have higher risk for diabetes in such schools. Is the revenue worth the impact? Now replace soda machine with fracking for gas and schools with conference center and you get my point.
I know I come on strong on this subject, but I do not think that harvesting natural resources such as gas from our centers is in line with the missional ministries of our camps. The financial pressures are growing, but this is not a solution that should be on the table. If this is your only option, you have bigger issues than keeping the conference center open.
I would LOVE for you to call me and discuss this more. It is a topic that comes up more and more in conversations throughout our church.