Tree-Sitters Halt Hydrofracking Operations
Activists from Marcellus Earth First! have erected a slash pile blockade and two tree sits blocking an access road to an EQT hydro-fracking site in Moshannon State Forest in Clearfield County, PA., halting drilling operations set to begin this week. The blockaders were joined by 40 supporters and concerned citizens, who turned around a Halliburton truck. The blockade is trying to stop the further destruction of Pennsylvania’s state forests—more than half of which have already been leased for drilling—and call attention to the devastating effects of hydrofracking on the state’s communities. The sitters’ anchor lines are blocking the road by crossing each other and the road, and if an anchor line is cut a sitter will fall. This action has been coordinated as the post-Rendezvous action. Each Summer Earth First!ers and allies come together to skill share, take part in discussion workshops, and keep it wild in our last remaining wilderness places in the US. Following a week in the woods, we take part in an action in support of the local organizers hosting the camp out, also know as the Round River Rendezvous, or Rondy.
Today’s blockade is the latest in a series of escalating actions of resistance to the destructive impacts of hydrofracking in the Marcellus Shale. Last May, residents of Butler County occupied the office of State Representative Brian Ellis, demanding accountability for widespread contamination caused by horizontal drilling. In June, seven families, along with dozens of supporters, blocked the entrance to the Riverdale Mobile Home Community to prevent their imminent eviction at the hands of Aqua America PVR. Aqua sought to destroy their homes and construct a water withdrawal facility permitted to extract up to three million gallons of water from the Susquehanna River daily for use in fracking. Residents were able to maintain the blockade for 12 days. On June 17, 1,000 Ohioans stormed the statehouse in Columbus and passed a “people’s resolution” banning hydrofracking. Most recently, a 31-year-old landowner from Athens County, Ohio chained herself to concrete barrels and shut down operations at one of Ohio’s 170 injection wells, which contain about 95% of the toxic and radioactive fracking waste generated from Pennsylvania drilling.
Momentum in the anti-fracking battle will continue to build across the Marcellus and Utica shale regions throughout July. Next weekend, residents from Ohio and beyond will gather at an anti-fracking action camp in Youngstown and prepare to enforce the “people’s resolution” against fracking. The upcoming months show the beginnings of a national rebellion against extractive industry across the board. On July 28, anti-frackers from across the nation will gather in Washington D.C. for “Stop the Frack Attack,” the largest mobilization against fracking ever. In West Virginia, Appalachians and allies will stand together at the “Mountain Mobilization” and shut down an active strip mine the last week of July. In Montana,the “Coal Export Action”, a ten-day campaign of civil disobedience at the beginning of August will target coal shipments from strip mines in the Powder River Basin, overseas. And later in the month, Texas residents have called for the “Tar Sands Blockade” to block the recently approved southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Where the government has failed to act to protect communities and the earth from the ravages of an out-of-control energy industry, the people are rising up to resist. No matter where you live, you have the opportunity to join the fight for our future. Find your place, stand your ground, and in the words of Mother Jones, “Boogie Chilluns.”
UPDATE, 7/8/2012, 11:53 am:
Police making vague threats at blockade about assault rifles going off and wandering through blockade with assault rifles. However, at the rally they said there’s a sick bear up the road that needs to be put down, and not to freak out if a gun shot is heard.
Police initiated another round of negotiation with the rally insisting folks move the debris that’s in the road because it’s a safety risk, making veiled threats about things escalating if that doesn’t happen. Police have informed people it’s illegal to block the road, but have not given any order to disperse, they said “if it doesn’t happen [dispersal] they don’t want things to escalate.” Otherwise, situation unchanged.
UPDATE 7/8/2012, 10:14 am:
State police on scene at supporting rally.
UPDATE 7/8/2012, 10:10 am:
Two tree-sitters blocking the well pad access road–their anchor lines are crossing the road and each other, and if an anchor line is cutter a sitter will fall. There’s also a slash pile in the road. No police on seen and apparently no security either.
UPDATE 7/8/2012, 9:30 am:
Marcellus Earth First! and supporters have set up a blockade at an EQT well pad in the Moshannon Pennsylvania State Forest. An additional group of 40 supporters are holding a rally down the road, and have blocked a Halliburton truck. The activists plan to stay as long as they can. Stay tuned for more updates as information becomes available.