Kentuckian to Speak at Loretto’s Invitation on Anti-Fracking Movement at U.N.

Chris Schimmoeller

Kentuckian anti-fracking activist Chris Schimmoeller will speak before the United Nation’s 62nd Conference on the Status of Women and Girls as part of two panels on the anti-fracking movement. Schimmoeller was invited to speak by Beth Blissman, Loretto at the UN’s non-governmental representative. The conference will take place March 12-23 in New York City.

Schimmoeller will be among five panelists to talk about “Frontline Leadership: Rural Women in the Anti-Fracking Movement.” The event will run from 8:30 to 10 a.m. EDT Wednesday, March 14, downstairs at the Salvation Army, 221 E. 52nd St. Among the four other female panelists is the CEO of Good Energies Alliance Ireland and an elder from the Onondaga Nation.

Schimmoeller also will take part in a panel discussion on “Water, Wisdom, and Rural Women,” which will focus on the importance of Sustainable Development Goal #6 (Water & Sanitation) for rural women and girls. This panel will take place 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday, March 15, at the Salvation Army (downstairs).  Loretto worked in collaboration with Mercy Action International, the Salesians, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and the RSCJs (Society of the Sacred Heart) for this event, which will feature the public release of the Mining Working Group Water Justice Guide.

Both panels are part of hundreds of parallel events associated with the annual U.N. conference, an international gathering that shares ideas and seeks solutions to problems facing women around the world.  The focus of this year’s conference is rural women and girls.

Schimmoeller’s March 14 panel discussion is being hosted in collaboration with UNANIMA International, the Medical Mission Sisters, the Dominicans and the United Religions Initiative. The Loretto Community, which has been an NGO (non-governmental organization) accredited with consultative status at the United Nations since 2000, helped to plan the panel with Schimmoeller as the Kentucky representative.

Kentucky’s successful grassroots resistance to the Bluegrass Pipeline in 2014 helped spark pipeline battles across the country that resulted in a slew of pipeline cancellations and new energy for the anti-fracking movement.  The boom in the hydraulic fracking industry and its associated pipelines has put thousands of communities at risk and mobilized residents and landowners worldwide to fight against the hazards posed by the industry.

In Kentucky, the Loretto Community joined other instrumental leaders in the grassroots defeat of the Bluegrass Pipeline, which would have carried hazardous natural gas liquids (NGLs) across 13 Kentucky counties. The Sisters of Loretto grabbed headlines as “the singing nuns” who were protesting the pipeline.

Schimmoeller, of Frankfort, Ky., said, “I am honored to work with the amazing women of Loretto and to represent Kentucky at the United Nations.”  Other hazardous projects threaten Kentucky, Schimmoeller stated, including the Appalachian Storage Hub in West Virginia and the Tennessee Pipeline, a WWII era pipeline that Kinder Morgan wants to convert to carry NGLs through 18 Kentucky counties.

“Fracking is a toxic industry that puts people, land and water at risk,” Schimmoeller said.  “Kentuckians have stood up to this industry before, and we are ready to defend our land and communities again if need be.”

The Loretto Community was founded in 1812 as the Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross. Its members – Catholic Sisters, and co-members who are both women and men – share the Community’s values and its mission to “work for justice and act for peace because the Gospel urges us.” The Community’s central office is located in Denver; Loretto Motherhouse is in Nerinx, Ky. Traditionally a teaching order, the Loretto Community has expanded its work into many fields to promote justice, including education, healthcare, elder care, environmental stewardship and advocacy.

Loretto at the UN, through its representatives, is a member of the NGO Mining Working Group (MWG), a coalition of NGOs that advocate at and through the United Nations for human and environmental rights as related to extractive industries. The MWG works in partnership with our members and affected local communities to address unjust and unsustainable extractive practices and policies through the lens of the rights of local communities, indigenous peoples and Earth’s carrying capacity. Loretto has strong involvement in two particular areas of the MWG: stopping fracking for liquid fuels and access to water and sanitation.

The priority theme of this year’s Conference on the Status of Women and Girls is the challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls. The review theme is the participation in and access of women to the media.  Within the United Nations, there are negotiations and side events, which are open only to persons with pre-approved grounds passes.  The parallel events are free and open to the public. A list of all parallel events can be found at the website of the NGO Committee for the Status of Women / NY (https://www.ngocsw.org/) and/or via the Guidebook App (search for CSW62).

Bio for Chris Schimmoeller

Although she grew up in rural poverty, Chris Schimmoeller has always counted herself lucky. The tenant farmhouse in Kentucky where she was raised was full of love, and she got to grow up outdoors, free and happy. A 1991 graduate of Georgetown College and a 1991-1992 Fulbright Scholar to India, Chris has worked on issues including national forest protection, regional water supply, smart growth, walkable communities, land restoration, land protection, and comprehensive planning. She helped co-found and continues to help lead three non-profits whose mission is to protect natural lands and build intact communities: Kentucky Heartwood, Envision Franklin County, and Woods & Waters Land Trust. She played an instrumental role in organizing Kentuckians in a successful grassroots effort to prevent the construction of the Bluegrass Pipeline, which was intended to transport natural gas liquids from Pennsylvania and West Virginia to the Gulf Coast. Chris lives with her husband and daughters on a homestead in northern Franklin County in Kentucky.

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