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Protecting planet Earth is major moral challenge

As we celebrate Earth Day today and focus on environmental issues during this month, we need to attend to the health of the planet and our section of it. I believe that care for creation and protection of our environment is one of the major moral challenges of our time, perhaps the major moral challenge. We are called to reverence our place on Earth and live in harmony with the laws of Earth and its ecosystems. As a Catholic sister I try to live by the principles of Catholic social teaching, one of which is care for creation.

The development of renewable, sustainable energy, such as hydro, solar, wind and geothermal, cooperates with nature. The plants coming on the brownfields of Bethlehem Steel to support solar energy and the Steel Wind Farm on the shores of Lake Erie are good examples of this.

Recently, the Erie County Legislature passed a ban on fracking on county property, transportation and treatment of frack waste and fluid, and use of frack waste or liquid in brine for de-icing our snowy roads. This helps prevent frack waste from running off and contaminating our water supply, including the Great Lakes. Fracking uses and contaminates 2 million to 10 million gallons of water for each well fracked. This water cannot be reclaimed for drinking or agriculture.

I applaud Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. I urgently hope that he will ban fracking in New York State to help accomplish this goal. This is important for the health of the Earth, its people and future generations. At a recent gathering a little boy held a sign that said: “I can live without gas, but not without water.”

Sister Sheila Stone

Religious Coalition for the

Great Lakes, Buffalo