"Disregard" or "Accountability" from the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission

As we reported yesterday, a host of activists descended upon Governor Tom Corbett's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission's second meeting yesterday in the Rachel Carson Building in Harrisburg, PA.

Activist Gene Stilp's antics have garnered a fair amount of attention. According to Philly.com, he wore a "carefully pressed blue suit [and] blended in well at Wednesday morning's meeting of the all-white, mostly over-45, and mostly male Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission." He proceeded to call the Commission " the biggest prostitution ring outside of the legislature," and then looked Lt. Governor Jim Cawley in the face and said "You are the biggest prostitute in the ring." He was escorted out of the room.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports Conrad Volz, a professor from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Public Health said of produced water, "It's not water -- it's toxic fluid that flows back!" Jerry Mead of The Academy of Natural Sciences told the commission "his graduate student had documented instances of leaking fracking fluid."
DEP Secretary Krancer"quickly responded that the agency will not be shy with enforcement."

"If you give me those pictures, we will go after those operators and we will fine them," he said.

Lt. Governor Cawley has stated that he believes in transparency and accountability. He is reported to have said that he thinks that what the Commission finds is more important than its make-up. Activists dispute that claim saying that the Commission is tipped heavily in favor of the industry. Conrad Volz called the panel "'fatally flawed for not including any public health officials. Others used stronger language, referring to the commission as 'a sham.'"

But The Gazette also reports that not all of those present oppose drilling.

Jackie Root, a Tioga County resident representing a new landowners group, said the commission also needs to hear from those who have benefited from leasing. Development should be managed, not banned, she said, adding that a moratorium on drilling would "impinge on our rights to develop our assets."

But activists outnumbered those in favor. Jessica Buckland*, "a mother from Centre County, choked up as she talked about her 3-year-old son and her passion for mountain biking. "You buy politicians and favors -- I don't have that kind of clout."

Her complete comments are included here:
"I might cry while I read this statement. Lest you think these tears are those of a hysterical woman, know that they are sadness, fear, and anger. They are tears of anger.

I am here before I am directly affected. I am here for me and all Pennsylvanians. I am a mother, a mountain biker, a Pennsylvanian, and constituent. I live in Centre County, Pine Grove Mills, about 90 miles away. You in the industry have no right to invade and pollute our state and our land. Your blatant disregard for our rights is unAmerican. You lie, manipulate, destroy in the name of progress. You buy politicians and favors. I do not have that kind of clout or money. But I DO have something that you do not: fierce love for my state and land.

This means that I actually have more invested in this land than you. This means I am actually more powerful than you...and there are many others like me.

I will not be ignored. WE WILL NOT BE IGNORED. We will not let you destroy our land. We do not believe your lies.

I demand accountability, transparency. And I demand that my representatives, my government and my commission represent my views--our views--, my tax dollars, and my love for our land. And I demand that you start with a moratorium on drilling."
We will be following up with more as the news comes in from other activists across the state and we hope to speak with some members of the commission as well.
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*Jessica Buckland is married to Sustainability Now co-host Peter Buckland.

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