Protestors Arrested Halting Fracking Operations in Pennsylvania State Forest

Photo credit: Marcellus Shale Earth First!

In the pre-dawn hours, activists with Marcellus Shale EarthFirst!, Pennsylvania residents and students took action to halt Anadarko’s fracking operation in the Tiadaghton State Forest. Protestors blocked the only access road to a wellpad by locking themselves to barrels of concrete, preventing workers from entering the site. At this time the police have placed at least two people in handcuffs and one person has been cut out of the blockade. The activists are demanding an immediate halt to all plans for new drilling on Pennsyvlania’s public lands.

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All the blockaders have been removed after blocking the wellpad for 4 hours. A solidarity rally was held at Anadarko’s corporate offices in Williamsport, PA. Photo credit: Tom Jefferson /Marcellus Shale Earth First!

“The public lands of Pennsylvania belong to all Pennsylvanians,” said Michael Badges-Canning, retired school teacher from Butler County who attended the protest. “It is my obligation as a resident of the Commonwealth and a grandparent to protect our wild heritage, our pristine waters and the natural beauty for my grandchildren, Dougie and Lochlin.”

Gov. Corbett (R-PA) has recently issued an executive order to open Pennsylvania’s remaining public lands for fracking. This includes state forests that have been off limits to gas companies since 2010, when then Gov. Rendell declared a moratorium on any new leases. The moratorium came in the wake of a Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) study that concluded no remaining state owned lands were suitable for oil and gas development without significant surface disruptions. Gov. Corbett’s current move to lift the multi-year ban ignores the negative effects that new leases will have on Pennsylvania’s most ecologically sensitive forests, including those where species are at risk.

Photo credit: Marcellus Shale Earth First!

Photo credit: Marcellus Shale Earth First!

Anadarko’s proposed development of the Clarence Moore tract, part of the Loyalsock Forest, has become the center of the grassroots campaign to defend Pennsylvania’s remaining wild places. Local residents packed DCNR hearings in protest of Anadarko’s plans, leading to the ousting of former DCNR secretary Richard Allan. According to PA Department of Environmental Protection’s Oil and Gas Compliance Report, Anadarko has been cited with nearly 250 violations over the last five years, ranking the company in the top three percent of violators statewide.

“As a lifelong resident of Pennsylvania, I feel a moral responsibility to protect my home from the malicious onslaught of an industry with a track record of environmental degradation and human rights violations,” said Danielle Dietterick with Marcellus Shale Earth First!. “Our Governor’s complicity has proven he is an industry pawn who can ignore the words of our state constitution and the desires of those who he is supposed to represent.” 

Photo credit: Marcellus Shale Earth First!

Photo credit: Marcellus Shale Earth First!

Residents of Pennsylvania have shown that they will not give up their wild places without a fight. In July 2012, nearly 100 activists with Marcellus Shale EarthFirst! Forced a 70-foot-tall EQT fracking drill rig to suspend operations for 12 hours in the Moshannon State Forest. Last fall, students from around the country rallied with Allegeny County residents in Pittsburgh to oppose County Executive Rich Fitzgerald’s plan to open up county parks to fracking. Marcellus Shale EarthFirst! has vowed to prevent any new shale gas development in the Loyalsock State Forest.

Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.

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D.C. Passes Resolution Prohibiting Fracking in George Washington National Forest

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The Washington, D.C. City Council yesterday passed a resolution opposing hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling for natural gas in the George Washington National Forest due to concerns that such development might contaminate drinking water supplies. The 1.1 million-acre forest—located in Virginia and West Virginia—contains headwaters of the Potomac River, which is the sole source of drinking water for the nation’s capital.

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The George Washington National Forest lies over part of the Marcellus shale basin. Photo credit: Chicago Man/Flickr

The city council joined several local water providers that have opposed fracking and horizontal drilling in the National Forest. D.C. Water, Fairfax Water and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Washington Aqueduct that provides water to D.C., Arlington, Falls Church and a portion of Fairfax County have sent letters opposing fracking and drilling in the National Forest until it is proven safe.

“The D.C. City Council is wise to oppose fracking in the Potomac River’s headwaters,” said Earthworks Senior Analyst, Dusty Horwitt. “The West Virginia chemical spill shows how risky it can be to use hazardous chemicals near drinking water. Fracking the George Washington National Forest would similarly threaten Washington D.C.’s drinking water because the process can use thousands of gallons of toxics per well and can generate at least hundreds of thousands of gallons of wastewater laced with radioactive pollutants.” 

Numerous local governments near the National Forest have supported a prohibition on fracking and drilling within it including the Virginia counties of Augusta, Bath, Botetourt, Rockingham, Shenandoah and the cities of Harrisonburg and Staunton.

Members of Congress from Virginia, Maryland and D.C., and Washington D.C.’s mayor, Vincent C. Gray have also opposed fracking and drilling in the Forest. The D.C. City Council resolution was introduced by Council member Mary M. Cheh, Council member Jack Evans and Council Chairman Phil Mendelson.

The D.C. City Council is one of at least three major city councils to recently support or pass regulations on drilling and fracking. Last week, the Los Angeles City Council voted to begin drafting regulations that would prohibit fracking and other techniques used to increase oil and gas well production until city elected officials are convinced that city residents and water supplies are safe. Late last year, the Dallas City Council passed a set of tough drilling regulations including a provision that bans drilling within 1,500 feet of a home, business or church. 

Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.

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