Niagara Falls, fracking and the power of water

I had the fun of being in Niagara Falls for a weekend at the end of May. I went there to sponsor an anti-fracking resolution for the state gathering of the 250 churches of the United Church of Christ in New York.

The resolution passed; it follows here. But what really happened is the falls -- falling, as they have done for a very long time. I was overwhelmed by Niagara’s beauty and rededicated myself to its preservation.

I couldn’t stop thinking about whether their falling was a terrible waste, like what would happen with the water used in fracking, or a beautiful waste, like what happens when energy spends and spills to sustain and save.

Why be so harsh on fracking? Because the time passed long ago for high reliance on non-renewables. Every nickel spent on the old way is a nickel not spent on the new way. And the old way is causing too much harm to the climate.

Our hardest debate in sponsoring the resolution had to do with “banning” versus “moratorium.” Those who are convinced that next year we have a catastrophic climate problem wanted a ban. Those who are trying to unmuddle the middle -- by which I mean people who aren’t sure yet -- begged for a moratorium.

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Whoever is right, I do not know. I do know that we have to bring much more attention to water and air and fuel. Fracking only delays that serious attention.

In our debates, we discovered at least two ways to work for environmental sustainability. One is to work “on” it. The other is to work with it. 

The first is the fix-it strategy, the second the sacramental. How could we not want to preserve the power of the Niagara Falls? How could we not attend to the preservation of rock, ravine, air and water? How could we not be politically active on behalf of the environment? 

Read those questions in that order and put your ear to the ground, wherever you are. You can probably hear the falls pounding the water below them. Fracking works on it and delays the time when we will have to go again to wind and water for power.

Before I introduced the resolution, I prayed this prayer to those of us gathered at Niagara Falls:

Spirit of the Living God
You of ancient rock and
ravine, of granite and
gorge, gauging open for
water to flow without fail;
You who are evolving
right now, creating a
butterfly of newly colored wings
translucent in nature, colors
no one alive now will ever see;
Draw near and put us
knee deep in evolution. Adapt
us to the new and the next
so that we travel the full
road from ashes to ashes
and stardust to stardust.

You can read the full resolution below. Additionally, other United Church of Christ conferences and faith-based organizations have issued their own statements or resolutions addressing fracking, including UCC-Southern Conference, Interfaith Power and Light, the Rabbinical Assembly and Pennsylvania-area Quakers


The resolution of the United Church of Christ of New York on fracking in the state: 

UCC-NY Fracking Resolution

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