Gas industry conference attendees watched from the Convention Center windows while fractivists rallied on Arch Street below. They'd been warned to remove their badges when leaving the building. It was very Ayn Rand. The speakers, the testimonies, the songs, the chants and street theatre were nothing short of spectacular. I suspect like many I'm still processing it. And, yes, together we greeted them Philly-style...
For an amazing photo gallery of the event, visit the Shale Gas Outrage facebook page.
Outside the looming conventional hall facade, we heard the testimonies of people injured by fracking, and lives lost to the shoddy practices of shale gas extraction. Writer Bill McKibben spoke irreverently about the end of the world being 'the end of the world.' Meanwhile, inside the Shale Gas Insight industry conference, Governor Tom Corbett delivered an amped-up version of his usual anti-environment rhetoric.
Across Pennsylvania, people are being harmed by unconventional gas drilling, though Corbett and the gas industry would like us ignore this fact. They say all energy production comes with "some risks," but they need to say it the stricken farmer's face, and to the grieving mother.
They need to define "risks."
For Immediate Release, September 21st, 2012:
"Shale Gas Outrage speakers, marchers push to stop fracking, support renewable energy, efficience, conservation"
Protesters from shale gas “sacrifice zones” and downstream communities protest industry conference, press for fracking bans and moratoria
Iris Marie Bloom, Protecting Our Waters, 215-840-6489 firstname.lastname@example.org
Tracy Carluccio, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, 215-692-2329 email@example.com
Philadelphia, PA – "The nearest wellpad was 4000 feet from my house. After my family's water became saturated with methane, officials told us not to use the kitchen stove because it could cause a flash fire... My granddaughter began vomiting, and only got better after they brought us a water buffalo [tank for clean water]," Tammy Manning, one of many speakers whose lives have been turned upside down by gas drilling, told the crowd of about 1000 at Shale Gas Outrage yesterday in Philadelphia. Rally and march participants vowed to protect people in affected communities by demanding a moratorium on shale gas drilling.
A Health Impacts Symposium with researchers and health professionals treating and documenting impacts from shale gas drilling in its full life-cycle development was held at the Philadelphia College of Physicians in Philadelphia on September 21, 2012. The event was free and open to the press and public.
People from throughout Pennsylvania and the shale regions of neighboring New York, Ohio, West Virginia and beyond, along with downstreamers from Maryland and Delaware, joined together to protest the Marcellus Shale Coalition’s industry convention in downtown Philadelphia yesterday, making a unified statement to “Stop Fracking Now.”
The crowd of about 1,000 was at times jubilant, at times sober.
Three of the speakers verged on tears as they described the hardships and losses their families have suffered due to the rush to drill. Bradford County dairy farmer Carol French’s daughter experienced abdominal pain and an enlarged spleen and liver after their water was fouled by shale gas drilling; the water changed color and sometimes gels. Tammy Manning found it difficult to describe her granddaughter’s vomiting after their water became so saturated with methane that officials told them not to use their stove and not to shower without leaving windows open to reduce the explosion hazard from methane accumulating indoors. And the Bevins family from West Virginia bitterly grieved a family member who was crushed to death at a well site.
Shale Gas Outrage rallied from 12:00 to 2:00 pm outside the Convention Center on Arch Street, led by Protecting Our Waters and endorsed by over 45 organizations, all calling for a moratorium on shale gas development wherever it is occurring. Speakers included Josh Fox, Bill McKibben, Maya van Rossum, Sandra Steingraber, Stephen Cleghorn, Stewart Acuff, Wes Gillingham, John Scorsone, Wenonah Hauter, Doug Shields, and members of Pennsylvania communities impacted by gas extraction and development –Tammy Manning and her granddaughter Madison from Susquehanna County; farmers Carol French and Carolyn Knapp from Bradford County; Craig Stevens of Susquehanna County; Mary Rodriguez, a nurse from Luzerne County; and Kevin Heatley, an ecologist from Lycoming County. Musical talent also contributed to the day: Rhetta Morgan, singer from Philadelphia; Spiritchild from Brooklyn, singer song writer Zach Freidhof contributed..
A boisterous march through Philadelphia streets followed the high-energy rally. Marchers stopped at four locations to bring the message of Stop Fracking Now. At President Barack Obama’s election campaign headquarters, marchers demanded “Not One More Drop” be withdrawn from the Susquehanna or Delaware Rivers for fracking; President Obama votes, through the Army Corps of Engineers, on the Susquehanna and Delaware River Basin Commissions. Marchers also demanded sustainable, clean energy instead of shale gas and fossil fuels. Marchers also confronted PNC Bank (heavily invested in shale gas development and mountaintop removal), Governor Tom Corbett’s office (for a statewide moratorium and to stop polluting our communities and environment), and the PA Chamber of Commerce (which has opposed regulating greenhouse gas emissions and aggressively promotes shale gas exports overseas).
At 5:00 pm, a Blessing of the Waters, an interfaith event, took place at Arch Street Methodist Church, Broad and Arch Streets, Philadelphia. Two of the rabbis involved with yesterday's events, from the Shalom Center, are also involved with this morning's Sunrise Intervention: Mordechai Liebling and Arthur Waskow.
“As the impacted people with fouled water, polluted air and threatened livelihoods have shown today, shale gas drilling is inherently contaminating. Families should not be forced to live with such dangers and health impacts. The best way to stem the tide of displacement, degraded ecosystems and climate catastrophe is to stop fracking now and divest our support from extreme fossil fuel extraction. We are taking the morally responsible position, out of necessity, for our government has turned a deaf ear to these vital concerns," said Iris Marie Bloom, Executive Director, Protecting Our Waters and lead organizer, Shale Gas Outrage.
A broad spectrum of constituencies, including labor and faith-based speakers, biologists, climate and energy experts, and ordinary people -- came together to make a clear, unified statement to solve the horrific problems facing shale “sacrifice zone” communities – pollution and degradation from shale gas development, including drilling, fracking, infrastructure and all related gas operations. That statement from Shale Gas Outrage and those who took part today offers a positive and reachable solution and one that makes eminent sense when the facts are truly considered – Stop Fracking Now -- by calling a halt on shale gas drilling.
On Friday, Sept. 21, participants are also attending the Health Impacts Symposium at College of Physicians of Philadelphia, 19. S. 22nd St. Philadelphia, PA. Shale Gas Outrage is screening Kirsi Jansa’s Gas Rush Films from 1 – 2 at Friends Center, followed by strategy sessions.
For a complete list of endorsing organizations and steering committee members go to: http://shalegasoutrage.org/coalition/
For more photos and stories about the Rally and March and the events to come in the near future, go to: http://shalegasoutrage.org/
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For coverage of the Shale Gas Outrage press conference held on Thursday, September 20, 2012 visit Raging Chicken Press.