Yesterday, about 1,000 people attended the Shale Gas Outrage demonstration in Philadelphia. The events was convened as counter-voice to the Marcellus Shale Coalition's Shale Gas Insight conference for industry.
Individuals, community groups, and established organizations joined organizers Protecting Our Waters, Food & Water Watch, Marcellus Protest, and others to call for changes to the way gas drilling is proceeding in Pennsylvania. People joined in chants of "Shut them down!" and "Ban fracking now!"
Meanwhile inside, Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon derided the demonstrators as "extremists" and former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, who also headed the Marcellus Shale Coalition, called environmental concerns "phony hysteria." But former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell shot back in his own speech to the Shale Gas Insight attendees, saying that they needed to step up and pay a severance tax and that people's concerns over clean air, clean water, and health were legitimate.
Outside, speakers shared a mixture of fear, hope, and calls to action. Pittsburgh Councilman Doug Shields riled up the crowd by highlighting Pittsburgh's unanimous vote to ban hydraulic fracturing within the city. Several speakers, including Delaware River Keeper Tracy Carluccio, Al Appleton, and Gasland director Josh Fox all called on the crowd to keep gas drilling out of the Delaware River Basin.
Fox, having just been arrested for civil disobedience in Washington, D.C. over tar sands oil and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline (see here and here) implored people to descend on the Delaware River Basin Commission on October 21st to demand that they ban fracking in the basin. He distributed the DRBC's phone number to the crowd, some of whom called DRBC on the spot. You can call them at (609) 883-9500. If push comes to shove, he believes people are going to have to be civilly disobedient and be arrested. Without civil disobedience, he and other said, blacks would still be riding in the back of the bus and women wouldn't be voting.
Whether this is hysteria or legitimate, people attending were very concerned. Here are four of them.
Tony Ruggiero is from Texas. His 10-acre $300,000 Texas property has almost completely lost its value because of gas operations.
Nathan Sooy of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is a member of Clean Water Action.
Eric Weldman works for Food & Water Watch. They are asking people to call President Obama on October 13th to change federal policy on hydraulic fracturing.
Gary Thornbloom is the head of the Sierra Club's Moshannon chapter in central Pennsylvania. They are calling for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing.
Where do you stand?