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THE RIVERSIDE CHURCH 490 Riverside Drive (bet. 120th & 122nd Sts.) Contact: Rev. Stephen Mann – 212-870-6765; FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Historic Riverside Church Passes Resolution in Support of Statewide Fracking Ban
*** Church with Long History of Social Justice Involvement Cites Contamination of Drinking Water, Increased Air Pollution and Global Warming, and Release of Radioactivity In Opposition To Fracking The Riverside Church in the City of New York has called for a total ban on the practice of hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) in New York State. The resolution was passed overwhelmingly at the adjourned annual meeting of the congregation on November 24, 2013. Fracking is the process of injecting a combination of toxic chemicals, water and sand into shale rock formations to release natural gas. The resolution noted the “unacceptable environmental effects” of fracking, including contamination of drinking water, increased air pollution and global warming, and the release of radioactivity. In addition to its call for a total ban, the resolution urges the congregation’s members and ministers to “join in principled, nonviolent opposition to fracking” in the state and to “communicate [their] opposition to all key state officials.” The resolution also commits the church to “focus on the issues of global warming and environmental justice in sermons, educational series and activities for youth.” The Riverside Church in the City of New York is an historic Protestant congregation which opened its doors in 1929-30. It is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches, U.S.A. and the United Church of Christ. From the time of its first minister, the Rev. Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick, it has taken prophetic and progressive stands on both social justice and theological issues. In 1967 the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his historic “Beyond Vietnam” speech at the church. Riverside’s commitment to becoming a “Sustainable Earth Community Congregation” is manifested, in part, through the actions of its Mission and Social Justice Commission, which originally sponsored the resolution. The Interim Senior Minister, the Rev. Stephen Phelps, has often preached on environmental concerns, including fracking, and the Beloved Earth Community promotes environmental awareness and projects at the church. A copy of the resolution entitled “A Resolution Supporting a Total Ban on Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking) in New York State as a part of a Commitment to a Sustainable Earth” is attached. The Riverside Church ( is an interracial, interdenominational and international church built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1927. The 1,200-member Riverside Church in Morningside Heights has a rich tradition of providing a forum for important civic and spiritual leaders. Past speakers include: The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President William J. Clinton, the Dalai Lama, Fidel Castro, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. ###

A Resolution Supporting a Total Ban on Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking) in New York State as a part of a Commitment to a Sustainable Earth WHEREAS: Climate change is an environmental and humanitarian crisis. The earth’s oceans are on the brink of ecological collapse, wild lands are being destroyed with loss of biological diversity, dangerous chemicals are placed into products we buy, the food we eat, and the air we breathe. Increasing demand for water and changing climate patterns are depleting rivers and aquifers, and pollution is threatening what remains. National and global dependence on fossil fuels threatens our security and is a major factor in pollution of water, land, and air, and the major contributor to global warming. Stewardship of the earth, including its air, land, and water, is of great moral and spiritual importance. We must develop sustainable communities and lifestyles. We must conserve energy and other resources. We must spur the adoption of cleaner energy sources at home and abroad. We must guard our wild lands. And we must limit the use and release of dangerous chemicals, and the use of technologies that pollute our water, land, and air. Of particular importance at this moment in New York State is the issue of advanced hydraulic fracturing (also known as “fracking”). Fracking involves injecting water and chemicals deep into the earth at extremely high pressure to break up layers of rock that harbor deposits of natural gas and/or oil. Fracking has increased domestic fuel supplies and has made it easier for natural gas to displace coal in electricity generation. However, as practiced with current technologies, fracking creates unacceptable environmental effects including destruction of landscapes and wildlife habitat, impairment of rivers and streams, contamination of drinking water supplies, increased air pollution, increased global warming from release of methane gas, and contamination of land and water from toxic waste disposal, including release of large amounts of radioactivity. There is growing doubt that the fracking industry will ever be able to meet acceptable standards of safety for human health and the environment.

THEREFORE, Building upon “A Statement of Commitment to Become a Sustainable Earth Community Congregation,” adopted by The Riverside Church on June 5, 1994, and reaffirmed on April 25, 2004, BE IT RESOLVED: That The Riverside Church in the City of New York supports a total ban on the extraction of shale gas by means of high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in New York State. The Riverside Church encourages the New York State government to commit itself to supporting alternative clean energy solutions which will be of more permanent benefit to local economies. That The Riverside Church, including its members and ministers, will join in principled, nonviolent opposition to fracking in New York State and communicate its opposition to all key state officials. That The Riverside Church encourages and support efforts by its clergy and membership to focus on the issues of global warming and environmental justice in sermons, educational series and activities for youth. That The Riverside Church will develop and put into action clearly defined and specific actions geared to realizing its commitment to becoming a Sustainable Earth Community Congregation.

Passed in original form by the Mission & Social Justice Commission, March 11, 2013. Revised and passed by the Church Council, May 6, 2013 Introduced to the congregation at the Annual Meeting, May 19, 2013 (no action) Revised (at a Special Meeting of the Congregation), July 28, 2013 Revised and approved at the Adjourned Annual Meeting of the congregation, November 24, 2013