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.”