Activists Disrupt Fracking Interests in Maryland and Chicago
July 11, amidst controversy concerning the Marcellus Shale “Safe Drilling Initiative” Advisory Commission’s handling of what is supposed tobe a public hearing, activists and citizens took a stand against so called “best management practices”, the blatant disregard that the commission has shown for the voices of the people, and the destruction of the places that we call home.
The initiative, commissioned by Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, states that it’s main purpose is to “assist state policymakers and regulators in determining whether and how gas production from the Marcellus shale in Maryland can be accomplished without unacceptable risks of adverse impacts to public health, safety, the environment and natural resources.” Since their very inception, however, the initiative has displayed a blatant disregard for those who would be most directly affected by natural gas extraction in the state of Maryland, offering only a token few spots at the table to citizen representatives and residents of Western Maryland (where a majority of the drilling in this state is proposed) who espouse some sort of opposition to fracking.
These public meetings have been routinely held in spaces too small to accommodate more than ten members of the public, anyone interested in listening in on the meetings via phone has been faced with terrible reception and sound quality, meetings have been moved at the last second without any notice to the public, and public comment has been relegated to the final thirty minutes, if the commission deems there to be sufficient time, of these six hour long meetings where commission members decide whether or not they “can live with” best management practices that have included shipping waste water to Ohio so we do not have to deal with it here, well pads and pipelines within eye and earshot (not to mention blast radius?) of homes and water, and an overall lack of understanding and acknowledgement of the true dangers and consequences that the practice of natural gas extraction has already wreaked upon untold numbers of humans, animals, plants, and ecosystems.
This morning, at the commission meeting held at Frostburg State University in Frostburg, MD, an activist and community member stood up at the outset, in defiance of the commission’s guidelines, demanding that his voice, and the voices of his friends, neighbors and family, be heard above the growing roar of profits, corporations and corruption.
Unfortunately, his “public comment” had to be cut short, as it was noticed that the police were being informed of the situation, but it is being reported that after said activist made his untimely exit, numerous
citizens and community members took heart and courage to stand and make their voices heard in whatever way they saw fit to do so, forcing the commission to allow a public comment period to commence at the verybeginning of the meeting. There will be footage of the entirety of proceedings available soon courtesy of ESND News, but for now we have a clip, taken by a resident of Frostburg, of what got people so fired up as to blatantly defy protocol and decorum in the first place.
In this ongoing battle against fracking, some communities in Pennsylvania are considering it a victory to be hooked up to a public water supply given that their spring and well water is now unfit for use. Communities in Ohio consider it a good day when there are no earthquakes as a result of the practice of waste water injection. Families in Texas are praying that they won’t be the next household with flammable tap water. West Virginians fight waste water impoundments on the hillsides above their children’s schools, and everywhere individuals and communities are taking action. Here in Maryland, groups such as Chesapeake Earth First!, Citizen Shale, Savage Mountain Earth First!, Food and Water Watch, and events such as the Energy Exports Action Camp that took place earlier this summer are working together to fight environmental degradation on any front that presents itself, and focusing collective energies on the fights against the proposed Cove Point liquified natural gas export facility, the proposed Meyersville compressor station, and natural gas extraction in general.
Throughout the towns, cities, forests, fields, mountains, hollers, rivers and watering holes of these places that we call home, there is a cry bellowing forth on the wind…
a call to action…
a wake up call…
a rallying song…
a fiery protest against that which proposes to destroy all that we call
say it with me now…
NO FRACKING, NO COMPROMISE!”
Citizens Interrupt Southwestern Energy Presentation over Fracking Projects on Elsipogtog First Nations Land
from Rising Tide Chicago
Chicago, IL–Two protesters interrupted a Southwest Energy (SWN) presentation Wednesday at the Global Hunter Securities 100 conference in Chicago by taking off their shirts and unfurling a banner to an audience of investors that read, “The people resist SWN, you lose your shirt!” The banner referred to how increasing public resistance SWN’s controversial hydraulic fracturing projects in Elsipogtog first nations land, the state forests of Pennsylvania and other locations is successful in slowing down and preventing projects and therefore makes them unwise investments.
Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” involves forcing large amounts of water or other substances deep underground to break shale rock to release trapped oil and gas. Fracking has raised the ire of people globally due to air and water pollution, earthquakes and large amounts of greenhouse gases that are tied to the process. Attempts to frack Elsipogtog first nations land have been met with fierce opposition from the Mi’kmaq people during the past year. Canada has given permits to SWN to frack, but Elsipogtog lands were never ceded. In October of 2013, SWN brought in police to uphold an injunction and arrested 40 people that were among many more resisting attempts to frack in their community. Less than a week ago, more road blockades to halt fracking activity resulted in 12 arrests. Community resistance has resulted in delaying SWN’s activity.
“A recent scientific study found that that public resistance to these oil and gas projects is successful because it delays them and costs the company money. Sometimes they end up canceling the project.” said J. one of the participants in today’s action referring to a study titled Cost of Company-Community Conflict in the Extractive Sector. In Pennsylvania, SWN is moving forward with unpopular plans to frack in Loyalsock State Forest. This mostly intact forest will become fragmented and further impacted by fracking well pads, pipeline and roads. Just this month, more than 200 people rallied at the Pennsylvania state house to call for an end to fracking in Pennsylvania state parks and forests.
When asked why she interrupted the SWN presentation Gloria Fallon of Rising Tide Chicago said, “We are here today to stand in solidarity with the Mi’kmaq people, residents in Pennsylvania and all other communities impacted by Southwestern Energy’s destructive projects. We are working to prevent hydraulic fracturing in Illinois as well. Nobody should have to live near dirty, dangerous fracking.”
Hudson Valley Earth First! Protest Gas Power Plant Project at the Northeast Power and Gas Markets Conference in Manhattan
VIDEO WILL BE UP SOON!
On Thursday, May 29th, Hudson Valley Earth First! (HVEF!) converged and disrupted the 9th annual Northeast Power and Gas Markets Conference New York Marriott Downtown in New York City. Hudson Valley Earth First activists were protesting the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) recent decision to grant Competitive Power Ventures LLC (CPV) a permit for the building of a fracked gas Power plant in Orange County NY. Audrey Zibelman, the chairman of the PSC gave keynote address this morning titled “Challenges Facing the Northeast Power and Gas Markets” where protesters interrupted her speech with chanting and dropping leaflets on the tables where corporate representatives were sitting that read, “markets peak, pipelines leak: stop fracking now”.
This protest will serve as a reminder to the PSC and the oil and gas industry at large that despite their permits, community resistance to fracking, its associated infrastructure and the industrialization of our region(s) will be met with unwavering opposition and direct action. This will be the REAL challenge facing northeast Power and gas markets.
Inside this Capitalist Conference on “Energy Investment” and Gas Markets, New York State’s sovereignty against fracked gas is again being violated. “Green” capitalists, with the approval of the Public Service Commission (PSC), are constructing yet another piece of infrastructure to use and/or transport fracked gas from Pennsylvania. The energy produced from this facility is completely UNNECESSARY and DESTRUCTIVE, as well as intimately tied to the Spectra, Rockaway, Millennium and other pipelines transporting dirty gas through our state and our city carrying with it a deadly cocktail of contaminants, including but not limited to: Benzene, xylene, methanol, radon and toluene, all known carcinogens. Aside from the integrity of our city’s water being destroyed, this powerplant is being built atop an indigenous burial ground, endangered species habitat, a sole source aquifer and inside of one of New York’s pristine agricultural districts. If projects like these continue throughout our state, and throughout the world, no source of human and nonhuman sustenance will go unscathed, and the ecocidal march of Capitalist expansion will consume us further
“This campaign has been going on for almost two years, but now it’s getting serious,” said April Rogers, another member of HVEF! “If trucks show up, we’ll be there to stop them!”
Hudson Valley Earth First! Is part of a regional network of Earth First!ers from across the Marcellus Shale, actively involved in direct action to stop shale gas development. Members of HVEF! have been working with community organizers and residents in Wawayanda and Minisink for more than 2 years to resist fracked gas infrastructure in Orange County.
Minisink, NY, Mar.15, 2014- The controversial Minisink case challenging both the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and Millennium Pipeline Co., LLC, has been rescheduled for a May 1st hearing at the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. Oral arguments will now be presented before Circuit Judges Kavanaugh, Millett, and Wilkins. Both Millett and Wilkins are recent Obama appointees, while Kavanaugh has served on the D.C. Appeals Court since 2006. Significantly, the case will set national legal precedent in regard to communities’ rights to defend themselves from unwanted and forcibly sited energy infrastructure by the oil and gas industry; if successful, Minisink, NY, will be the first community to have a brand-new gas compressor station shut down and removed from the location.
The ramifications of this case will be critical to the larger network of gas infrastructure battles in the Northeast. Developments are being closely monitored by both industry and frontline community advocacy groups; the conflict and ensuing case began in June of 2011. With two large gas-fired power plants and several new miles of lateral pipeline hinged on the viability of the Minisink compressor station, Minisink’s success in the upcoming proceedings would be a critical blow to the industry’s plans for the state of NY.
Represented by the D.C.-based attorney, Carolyn Elefant, ten community-appointed Minisink residents, collectively known as ‘Minisink Residents for Environmental Preservation and Safety’ (MREPS), are the Petitioners in the case. As Respondent and Intervenor in the case, respectively, FERC and Millennium Pipeline’s legal representation will be compelled to split the allotted time for corresponding argument.
In July of 2012, Minisink set rare legal precedent with a 3-2 split vote at FERC to approve the Minisink Compressor Station, with two commissioners dissenting- both the Chairman at the time, Jon Wellinghoff, as well as Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur. FERC has an overwhelming 99% approval rate of all projects that come before them. The findings of the U.S. Court of Appeals will have far-reaching implications for the industry, a host of communities across the country currently and soon to battle infrastructure expansion, and advocacy and alliance groups across the region.
For more information on the Minisink community and Minisink’s case, please visit http://www.minisinkmatters.org
Shalefield Justice Spring Break participants take part in a direct action training. (SJSB / Tom Jefferson
Traffic stood still for a half mile up the narrow, winding road. Fracking workers got out of their trucks and asked what was going on. They soon learned that several protesters had locked themselves in the middle of the road to a tube containing over 600 pounds of cement. The protesters’ large banner, tied to trees in front of them, declared “No Fracking, No Compromise!”
The blockade, which halted Anadarko Petroleum’s fracking operation in central Pennsylvania’s Tiadhagon State Forest for seven hours, occurred alongside the first-ever Shalefield Justice Spring Break. Held in Madisonburg, Pa., last month, the training camp brought together Marcellus Shale residents and over a hundred youth, such as myself, from surrounding states for a week of education and organizing against the extraction process known as fracking, which involves the injection of toxic chemicals underground to break up shale rock containing natural gas.
Throughout the week, organizers introduced many young people to community leaders living above the Marcellus Shale rock formation, which stretches from New York to Virginia. Living on the frontline of extraction, shalefield communities experience fracking’s most extreme impacts, including water contamination, air pollution, pipeline explosions and climate-changing methane leaks.
On the first night of camp, several Pennsylvanian shalefield residents spoke about how fracking has directly impacted them. Ruth Steck recounted her shock at seeing a helicopter fly over her house one day and drop seismic testing equipment next to her garden. Steck had grown accustomed to quietness, and the loud fracking felt like an invasion.
“There are mornings where I can hardly stand to go outside,” she explained. “I can’t hear the birds.”
Teacher and business owner Barbara Jarmoska told her story using photos of the stunningly beautiful Loyalsock Forest adjacent to her home and the land that her family has owned since the 1930s. It is where she and her siblings grew up, her son got married, and many young people, including her grandchildren, used to go to hike and ride horses. Today, 40 gas wells sit within five miles of Jarmoska’s home — a health risk that has forced her children and grandchildren to move away.
“The noise, the smell, the congestion, the fact that you can’t get in and out of the driveway, all year round — It’s really impossible to describe,” Jarmoska said.
Driving around the Tiadaghton State Forest — amidst acres of land that had been clearcut to make way for compressor stations, pipelines, containment ponds, and other fracking infrastructure — a clearer picture of life on the frontline of extraction begins to emerge. For one thing, land that was once public is seemingly no longer. With security guards driving around and police helicopters flying overhead, the fracking industry operates as if it owns the place.
In order to build the kind of power that might one day reclaim the land that people like Steck and Jarmoska call home, the organizers of Shalefield Justice Spring Break looked to the decade-long history of Mountain Justice Spring Breaks and Summer Breaks — annual events that have become a powerful recruitment tool for central Appalachia’s movement to end mountaintop removal coal mining. However, one could also trace the concept’s history back to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s 1964 Freedom Summer, which brought white college students on their summer break to participate in Mississippi’s civil rights organizing. While there are enormous differences between the campaigns, they share a basic strategy of increasing people’s engagement in an issue, in such a way that it spreads virally from participants to their friends and family back home. This is a large part of how, relationship by relationship, public opinion shifts.
Despite massive industry propaganda, the anti-fracking movement has been tremendously effective in shifting opinion — something even the industry itself has been forced to admit. According to a 2013 report by the industry consulting firm Control Risks, the movement “has mounted an effective campaign” that through the “sophistication, speed and influence of anti-fracking activists” has oftentimes caught companies off-guard with local bans and moratoriums. The report pays special attention, however, to nonviolent direct action tactics such as blockades, which “can be significant in terms of lost productivity and extra operating costs.”
By joining Marcellus Shale Earth First’s blockade and a simultaneous rally outside Anardarko Petroleum’s corporate offices on March 20, attendees of Shalefield Justice Spring Break put into practice the costly direct action skills they had learned all week. Many stepped into unfamiliar action roles, acting as medics, police liaisons, sign painters, media outreach and more.
Anti-fracking activists who participated in the Shalefield Justice Spring Break blocked a fracking operation in central Pennsylvania last month. (SJSP / Tom Jefferson)
The protesters targeted Anadarko, because the company’s proposed fracking operations in the Loyalsock State Forest have been the focal point of the campaign against fracking in Pennsylvania’s remaining wild places. Groups have held rallies, packed public hearings, and even conducted a 30-day tree-sit to protect the Loyalsock. The most recent blockade and rally sent a strong message to Anadarko and the rest of the gas industry: pull out of Pennsylvania’s state forests or face more resistance than ever before.
Considering that this was the first Shalefield Justice Spring Break, organizers succeeded remarkably in plugging nearly a hundred new people into active roles in the anti-fracking movement. According to Ray Leone, one of the organizers, the camp succeeded in “engaging new people, creating wider networks and building a stronger movement. We challenged each other to divest from all systems of oppression, to listen to and learn from others with a variety of experiences, and to leave camp with a plan to take action back at home.”
Between the tree climbing, capture-the-flag, talent shows and bonfires, people somehow found time to discuss organizing plans for the future. Maryland residents discussed how to advance the campaign against Cove Point, a liquified gas export terminal proposed just south of Baltimore. Several sit-ins and a rally of over 700 people have recently turned the terminal into a flashpoint for the nation’s climate justice struggle.
Meanwhile, Northeasterners planned to join together against the proposed Algonquin pipeline expansion. Pennsylvania residents talked about building permanent spaces for activists to live collectively and organize in defense of the Loyalsock. In other words, people from Baltimore to Boston and beyond coordinated to challenge the fracking lifecycle on many fronts.
“Too often we hear from the media that young people aren’t engaged,” said Michael Badges-Canning, a retired school teacher from Pennsylvania’s Butler County. “But at Shalefield Justice Spring Break I got to hang around with young people totally committed to protecting my home and getting the job done right.”
If you do not know my name is Hellbender (Hellbender also known as the hellbender salamander, is a species of giant salamander endemic to eastern North America ) and I am only going to take a moment of your time.
I’m sure by now someone has denounced the use of a tree-sit to defend the Loyalsock. They may say they can’t support such brazen forms of tree-hugging. To that I ask, WHY NOT? Has asking nicely of those who look at high elevation wetlands, rare pitcher plants, vast dense and (mostly un-fragmented forest eco-system, and the watershed for rock run as another fracked gas goldmine worked? Do you really think petitioning alone will stop someone with millions of dollars on the line? I am sotty to be the bearer of bad news, these kind of pipe dreams will not stop pipelines. The realization that the Board of the DCNR (PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources) aren’t your friends is a hard one indeed. Let me stress one thing, while the current secretary of the DCNR may be in the back pocket of Anadarko and the gas company, Let us not assume that the rest of the DCNR are so easily corrupted. Many, if not most, of them are ecologists, biologists, environmental and forestry majors. I believe that they care deeply about this forest and our Mother Earth. Now is not the time to damn DCNR as a whole, let us direct our anger at Anadarko and anyone else who puts a price tag on nature. For any allies who want to plug in, share resources , donate, or just stay updated, visit www.MarcellusEarthFirst.org I am sure I am not the only one who know this but folks, right now, we are winning. For now I leave with this and will check back when I can.
Keep it wild forever
Love and rage,
Originally posted on Marcellus Shale Earth First!:
FACEBOOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/237674113046997/
Where: (33 W. Third Street in Williamsport) to protest drilling in Loyalsock.
On Friday September 13th, Endless Mountains Earth First! cordially invites you to come to Williamport, PA to visit Anadarko Petroleum Corporation offices to protest drilling in the Loyalsock.
Anadarko Petroleum Corporation (APC) has plans to invade the revered Loyalsock State Forest in northeast Pennsylvania with over two dozen hydro-fracking well-pads, multiple pipelines, access roads, and other associated infrastructure. Thousands of acres are at risk; including mature forest ecosystems, unique habitats such as high elevation wetlands and exceptional value streams teeming with trout. This area is home to several rare and threatened species including the Timber Rattlesnake, Northern Water Shrew, Yellow Bellied Flycatcher, as well as several carnivorous plants such as the Pitcher Plant. The Loyalsock is the line in the sand for many locals who frequent the forest to hike, swim, camp, hunt, fish…
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