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Protesters Occupy Tom Ridge’s Offices in Harrisburg Pennsylvania

March 14, 2011

Late last week “about 250 advocates from organized labor, environmental groups, and social services carried out a surprise ambush on Ridge’s firm, which represents companies drilling for gas in the Marcellus Shale. They delivered this message: If the proposed budget will slice education funding, then it should also make big drilling companies pay taxes on the natural gas they extract.”

“The scene epitomized the polarizing effect of the $27.3 billion spending plan that Mr. Corbett unveiled Tuesday to the outrage of environmentalists, state workers, educators and college students.”

To read more about this story check out the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s ‘Lack of tax on gas decried; protesters storm Marcellus Shale lobbying firm‘ article as well.

Peter Buckand, the cyclist and concerned parent and citizen from Central PA, sent out this release from the day’s events;

“Wednesday marked a real change in citizen action on natural gas activity in Pennsylvania.”

The protest was organized by union and environmental organizations. 300-400 people rallied against Governor Corbett’s deep budget cuts and his refusal to put a severance tax on natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale. Following speeches, the attendees marched to the Marcellus Coalition offices where they delivered a bill of $117 million in back severance taxes. Tom Ridge and Katherine Klaber were unavailable to take receive the bill.

Afterward, Buckland and eleven other concerned citizens went to Governor Corbett’s office. They requested a meeting with the governor but were told he was not in. They submitted their requests in writing and asked to meet with another administration official. They met with Andrew Ritter, a deputy secretary who works with DEP, for just over an hour.

They discussed natural gas drilling’s effects on water, air, and the forests, community health, and corporate influence in state government. “We had to go into the office and demand accountability for citizens. We don’t have corporations’ deep pockets to buy influence. We have to use our faces and our stories,” says Buckland. The group urged Ritter for a moratorium, for state forests and parks to be free of drilling, and an immediate severance tax.

The group plans to follow through with their requests to meet with the governor. “Wednesday marked a real change in citizen action on natural gas activity in Pennsylvania,” says Buckland. “There are a lot more motivated and concerned people out there than people understand. Things are going to change.”

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