Dear Listeners and Readers,
Next Wednesday, March 9th, I will be riding my bike to Harrisburg from my house in Pine Grove Mills to do my own small part to stand up to Corbett and the gas companies. It just seems like the right thing to do. As you know, we've had some strong voices on shale gas drilling on the show and they need to have some justice done for them.
I will be joining an existing event that PennEnvironment has organized (listen to today's cast and see attached image). It is a protest of Corbett's budget and its utter lack of accountability around natural gas in general and about the lack of a severance tax in particular. Several organizations active on the issue will be there. It is at 1:30 pm. I should note that what I am doing following the event (see below) is not intended to supercede that event in any way. Nor is what I plan to do after the event in any way sponsored by PennEnvironment or any organization. But it is a good place to meet other concerned citizens who might want to go with me one small step further.
The Corbett administration's actions for the gas industry are out of control. Two recent decisions pushed me to this point. The first was to yank DCNR's ability to assess potential impacts on state forest and park land and the second was gutting DEP's ability to monitor air quality from drilling sites. For me this is very personal because I love the forest. Every year I spend hundreds of hours in Rothrock, Bald Eagle, Moshannon, Tioga, Forbes, and Sproul on my mountain bike, on hikes, and camping. Many of you have your own stories with our state forests. Beautiful stories.
It is also about the quality of our water and air and my hopes and fears as a father. Who wants to wake up and have your child bleeding from their noses because of toxic chemicals in their water? Who wants their neighbors sick from gas in the water? Who wants to breathe evaporating benzene? Not me.
I am riding my bike there because because it is better for the forest, for the person, for water, for air, for noise, for the climate, and for all of us than gas trucks, well-pads, natural gas, and frack water are. I am riding my bike because it means something better and brings me in touch with life and living. As a citizen of this commonwealth, the commonwealth's government should help me and my fellow common people to reach the common good.
So I called the governor's office and asked to speak with Governor Corbett. The staffer with whom I spoke was polite and listened to my grievances about shale drilling. I told her about the perception (some might say...fact) that Governor Corbett is governing for gas industry profiteers instead of for Pennsylvanians, their communities, their water, and our commonwealth's forests. She told me that all requests to meet with the governor have to be submitted in writing. I could not talk to him on the phone or just arrange a meeting no matter my concerns. I understand. You can't let just any yahoo in.
Okay. It will be delivered in writing.
After the budget protest I plan to go to the governor's office and request a meeting with the governor. Because I seriously doubt that they will just let me in to see the him, even if 5, 20, or 200 people went in with me, I will bring a letter requesting a meeting and submit it to the office. I will do this in person, with some insistence, instead of through the faceless email system or fax system. It will also be something of a prepared statement though i don't know that I will be able to read it.
The point, I suppose, is to put another real face to this. I am tired of this. I am worried. I am afraid. I am seeing and hearing too many angry and unheard people. I am also very motivated and believe that we must demand a better way for us, for water, for the forests. Letters aren't working. Protests keep failing. I write to my representative, Scott Conklin, and I get very short replies back and no solid action. My state senator, Jake Corman, is doing the gas industry's bidding. As I told the staff worker today, "We don't have the hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy access to governors or future governors. He HAS to talk with us. He is OUR governor."
So, I have to do what I have to do. If you would like to join the rally and then join me afterward to deliver my request for a meeting (and perhaps your own as well?), as individuals, I would love you to do so. It would be an honor to be joined by good people who deserve better. I suggest you bring letters requesting meetings too. Even if we have to walk away at the end of the day in Limbo, waiting for replies to our requests, at least we will have tried and started something new. Perhaps it will become something more. Maybe I'll end up looking like a complete fool.
I don't know. I just know that something must be done differently.
It is a modest goal. Please join me if you can.
Please copy and forward this message to other concerned people. People can RSVP to me at:
With great hope,
p.s. I will ride in rain or snow also. The only way I won't is if it's icy. If you want to bike with me, that would be super awesome. I like company.