Riverdale Press Conference: Faith Leaders Support Families Facing Fracking Evictions by Aqua America
Interfaith Group to Hold Press Conference in Riverdale, PA: Residents Face Eviction by Aqua America Subsidiary Aqua America PVR
32 Low-income families face eviction after Aqua received permit to build water withdrawal facility, to sell water to fracking corporations, where families now live
What: Press conference, public statement, after clergy and laity meet privately with affected families
When: Saturday, April 14th 1:30 pm
Where: Riverdale Mobile Home Community, Piatt Township, Lycoming County, 25 Hannah Lane, Jersey Shore, PA 17740
Who: Interfaith Sacred Earth Coalition (over eight different faith traditions) and Riverdale residents
What else: Protecting Our Waters, Riverdale residents, and allies will hold a second press conference at Aqua America’s Byrn Mawr headquarters on Wednesday, April 18th, 12 noon.
People of faith will visit residents and hold a press conference at the Riverdale Mobile Home Community in Piatt Township, Lycoming County, on Saturday, April 14th. A press conference will be held at 1:30 to express public support for the residents in their fight to save their homes and community. Visitors will arrive by 1 pm. The 32 low-income families received a certified letter from the former property owner terminating their leases after Aqua America PVR bought the property where the families now live, to make room for a water withdrawal plant for natural gas drilling. Representatives from the Interfaith Sacred Earth Coalition along with other clergy and laity from area houses of worship will visit residents to hear their stories, have prayer, and offer spiritual support.
“We’re standing up; our voices will be heard,” said Kevin June, Riverdale resident and organizer. “You can’t just destroy people’s lives like this.”
The proposed facility would withdraw over 4 billion gallons of water from the Susquehanna River over the next four years to be sold for profit for horizontal hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. The residents, many of them elderly, disabled, and living on fixed and severely limited incomes, are distressed at the company’s imposed deadline of June 1 and the offer of only $2500 to relocate. Estimates to move mobile homes range from $6000 – $10,000. The cost of rent in Lycoming County has skyrocketed due to the influx of workers for the gas industry. Most of the residents have no place to go and no money to afford to live elsewhere. They have expressed great distress at losing their close-knit community which has lived in this location for over 30 years.
Kevin June, Riverdale resident and organizer for the neighborhood, has asked for people of faith to help him in the spiritual care of the community. “When a person is trying to absorb all the pain of everyone, it’s very hard,” he said. “It’s been very traumatic for us. We would really welcome people of any religion to just be with us, hear about our situation, pray with us, and give us support.”
The Interfaith Sacred Earth Coalition, co-founded by The Rev. Leah Schade and The Rev. Ricky Phillips, is an organization of over 70 individuals representing 8 different faith traditions. ”We see this as a ‘green’ civil rights issue,” says Rev. Schade. “Not only are the human rights of these families being violated for the sake of corporate greed, the waters of God’s creation are being violated as well. We are standing in solidarity with the families of Riverdale as they fight for their homes. We will continue to demand justice for them and for creation. Like the persistent widow in Jesus’ parable, like David fighting Goliath, like Moses and Aaron confronting Pharoah, like Ghandi, like Martin Luther King, Jr., we know that justice and righteousness will prevail.”
Riverdale is located off of Old US Highway 220 in Jersey Shore, PA. For GPS and online directions: 25 Hannah Lane, Jersey Shore, PA 17740. For more information, click on the links below to read the original news story, see videos about the community, and hear a radio interview with Kevin June and community organizer Alex Lotorto. The Rev. Leah Schade can be reached at 610-420-6861, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rev. Leah D. Schade
Pastor, United in Christ Lutheran Church, West Milton, PA
PhD Candidate, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia
Co-founder, Interfaith Sacred Earth Coalition
On Wednesday, April 18th at 12 noon at Aqua HQ in Bryn Mawr, Protecting Our Waters and allies will hold a press conference calling for justice for the impacted families, no evictions for fracking, and an end to SRBC permits for water withdrawals for fracking in the Susquehanna River Basin. Address: 726 W Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010.
Kevin June will speak for Riverdale residents at the press conference, followed by a 6 pm vigil also at Aqua headquarters. The press conference and vigil is initiated by Protecting Our Waters and co-sponsored by Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Clean Water Action, Interfaith Sacred Earth Coalition, Food and Water Watch, Gas Truth of Central PA, Lehigh Valley Gas Truth, New York Residents Against Drilling, and other groups. Participants will also ask Aqua America how they can guarantee that not a drop of the water they sell to frackers will ever harm surface water, groundwater and drinking water downstream. “Susquehanna River Basin fracking corporations are allowed to store toxic waste in open, plastic-lined impoundments, among other dangerous, blatantly unsafe practices which guarantee the poisoning of surface water and groundwater, air and soil, with acute impacts and long-term, cumulative impacts threatening future generations,” commented Iris Marie Bloom, executive director of Protecting Our Waters. “We stand for a statewide moratorium on fracking and oppose these inhumane evictions for fracking profits.”
“Fracking” used in this sense refers to impacts from all phases of high-volume slickwater hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling on multi-well pads, a controversial technology new to Pennsylvania, from well pad construction to vertical drilling, fracking, waste handling, chemical handling, road and pipeline construction, gas processing, storage, and distribution. Shale gas well failures are currently confirmed at 6.2% per year for 2010 and 2011 in PA; fluid escapes into groundwater and soil with each failure. In addition, there are 12 environmental violations each day currently at Marcellus gas drilling sites which PA DEP catches, and that’s a small proportion of the violations occurring.
Background: Protecting Our Waters’ various posts including http://protectingourwaters.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/32-families-evicted-from-homes-due-to-srbc-approval-of-water-use-for-drilling/