The protest was organized by union and environmental organizations. 300-400 people rallied against Governor Corbett’s deep budget cuts and his refusal to put a severance tax on natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale. Speeches ran the gamut from union organizers who are tired of working with people who are told to take less while the corporate fatcats get to take more profit home and share in none of the pollution. Their were public health workers whose patience had diminished after all of the talk of shared sacrifice while we give away the gas in the Marcellus Shale instead of taxing it. There was a teacher there who once again was being told he had to sacrifice more of his benefits than the CEOs at the gas companies or the staffers in the governor’s office. And there was a young man there who has home help because he almost drowned at the age of five. His care worker, probably already paid little, will probably take another cut.
The gas companies? Not enough.
A representative from Clean Water Action said something to the effect that the Corbett administration said it wants a “frictionless relationship” with the gas industry. “Well we’re going to bring them some friction.”
We spontaneously started chanting, “Friction! Friction!” And friction we brought.
We marched to the Marcellus Shale Coalition offices chanting away. “Hey hey! Ho ho! Gas drillers’ pockets are lined with gold!” Repeat. Into the offices we went, chanting and stomping and demanding justice. Inside, some of our compatriots found a bunch of wine, a pool table, some Knob Creek (at least they have good taste) and other vittles. What are they doing? Boozing it up with legislators? Don’t get me wrong. I am far from a teetotaler, but this is a bad sign. I’d love to see what legislators are going in and out of that place and see their conditions before and after. Let’s look at that “frictionless” relationship.
In an aside, I hope you have done is gone and looked at the two websites linked above. Clean Water Action. Marcellus Shale Coalition. Go back up. Look at their logos and artwork on their websites and compare them. That, my friends, is Big Brother at work. The blues and the greens. The comfort in that graphic design to lull the viewer into a sense of watery verdant bliss. Marketing is amazing isn't it?
The organizers delivered a bill of $117 million in back severance taxes that we the common people are owed by these gas monsters. Sadly, Tom Ridge and Katherine Klaber, the head honchos working to lubricate the halls of Harrisburg into frictionless caves for gas trucks to drive, were unavailable to take receive the bill. So we handed it off to someone who promised to meet with us again.
I think that sounds great. Actually, what I think should probably happen is that people like you, me, your neighbors, and everyone we know, should just start visiting the corporate headquarters in Pennsylvania of places like Range Resources, Anadarko, Chief, Chesapeake, Rex, and more. This is our commonwealth right? Not theirs. We should start doing tours of these facilities and documenting it all and taking it back to them for accountability. We should take it to our representatives and our senators and DEP and DCNR if it’s in the forest. If we want the bureaucracy to work for us, then We have to make it work.
Margaret Mead wrote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Well, never doubt that an organized group of committed rich people who have profited from polluting industries will change the world. They are thoughtful too. Very. They just seem to think that the invasion and rape of land and water is good. Negligence is a sign of progress.
And if you flip that Mead quotation over so that it says, “Never doubt that a large group of inattentive, non-committal consumers will let a group greedy gas drillers change the world. Indeed, it already has.” It has.
But I suspect that now that isn’t so true. People are coming alive to this and they have had it. And some of us were even more prepared to share it. We were going to the Capitol Building to demand our right to meet with Governor Corbett. And if not Governor Corbett, then someone in the executive branch. It was time to demand accountability.
To be continued…