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Take Action: Marcellus Shale Coalition Attacks Shale Gas Outrage Website

September 28, 2012

Fight Back Against Gas Industry Censorship

As you may have heard, the Marcellus Shale Coalition has attacked the Shale Gas Outrage website. Out of the blue on Wednesday we received notice that the Shale Gas Outrage website would be forced off the internet within 24 hours unless we remove our parody of the Shale Gas Insight logo. Their logo is a pretty, clean-looking “natural gas” type flame. It embodies the lie that shale gas is something other than an extremely dirty fossil fuel.

We received somewhat unsympathetic coverage in the Philadelphia Inquirer for what actually is a David vs. Goliath struggle. Think it was easy to cope with this attack when our volunteers have full-time jobs and we are swamped with work, busy winning the Philadelphia City Council victory yesterday and mobilizing for a Harrisburg rally on Tuesday? Right.

As Bill McKibben pointed out at the Shale Gas Outrage rally last week, according to the International Energy Agency, a future world which relies on shale gas would mean a global temperature increase of 6 degrees Farenheit. That’s what the “clean flame” logo stands for. Their “clean flame” logo also stands for turning U.S. shale plays into colonies for massive LNG exports overseas, belying the beneficial use claims.

The Shale Gas Outrage website features thoroughly documented impacts on workers, on air, on water, and on residents from the life-cycle impacts of heavy industrial high-volume slickwater hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling on multi-well pads, a technology new to Pennsylvania, begun in earnest only in 2008.

Our documentation of these impacts is why Marcellus Shale Coalition wants the Shale Gas Outrage website off the Internet. Censorship is cheap (for them), and the truth we’ve put out there is expensive (for them). The truth we put out there means they can’t get away with claims they haven’t polluted water, including drinking water: they have. The truth we put out there means they can’t get away with claims they are making air cleaner: they’re doing the opposite. The truth we put out there means they can’t claim they haven’t made people sick and turned people’s lives upside down: they have. And the pages of scientific references on the “2012 Press Releases” page of our website are, most likely, profoundly annoying to them. They can’t make the research go away. They can’t bring back lives lost. So they tried to make the website die instead.

Want to stick up for us and fight censorship? Here’s a new tactic (new today!) for you.

What you can do: fun social media strategy

A brilliant ally created a Facebook page that tells you how to make the Shale Gas Outrage logo into your Facebook profile image. Try it now! Join the Event page, and tell all your friends. The more the merrier. Make sure the Marcellus Shale Coalition understands that the general public knows their “clean flame” image hides the reality of their own toxic secrets.

Please also tweet, Facebook, post and otherwise share this post! Thanks!

Fair Use: A Note for Legal Mavens

Although we believe our Shale Gas Outrage logo to be fair use —  as parody, it’s free speech protected by the First Amendment — we’ve been bullied by the Marcellus Shale Coalition into censoring our own Shale Gas Outrage website, taking the flame logo down everywhere it used to appear, just in order to make sure our website stays alive.

That’s why we want y’all to put it up — make it go viral — on Facebook!

Alex Bomstein, a lawyer who is also a Protecting Our Waters activist, has this to say:

The claim by the Marcellus Shale Coalition’s Fox Rothschild lawyer, Jim Singer, that fair use doesn’t cover this because there is a solicitation of donations [on the Shale Gas Outrage website], is 100% legally incorrect.

Please see Lenz v. Universal Music Corp., 572 F. Supp. 2d 1150 (N.D. Cal. 2008) and Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, 510 U.S. 569 (1994).

This is a First Amendment issue where the Marcellus Shale Coalition is trying to silence us because they don’t like that we’re exposing their lies about the safety of the gas drilling industry in Pennsylvania.  Rather than opposing speech with more speech, they prefer censorship, and they’re abusing intellectual property law to reach those ends.  We have taken down the logo from our website that MSC claims is violating their rights, because we have no other way to keep the Shale Gas Outrage website up.  But this is simply bullying by a rich industry coalition that wants to squish under their thumb citizens who are trying to protect our neighbors, our land, and ourselves.

Let’s be clear. We don’t have a lawyer (even if our good friend Alex is one). We don’t have an office; we have a bunch of activists at kitchen tables. We don’t have funding that’s even covered the travel expenses, yet, for all our speakers at last week’s excellent Shale Gas Outrage rally, march, and press conference in Philadelphia. There’s a lot of things we don’t have. But there’s a lot we do have: spirited perseverance and sound science; strategic collaboration with allies far and wide; solidarity, and creativity.  And that’s where you come in.

Please share this post… if you want, check out Susan Phillips’ new post, “What’s in a flame? Industry Says it Burns Only for Them,” — but most importantly, go to the Facebook event page now, to Fight Back Against Gas Drilling Censorship. Thanks!

  1. Jim Cummings permalink
    September 28, 2012 4:30 pm


  2. KimmT permalink
    September 28, 2012 9:30 pm

    I really hope Protecting Our Waters will reach out to the ACLU or Public Citizen for legal help here, rather than caving to this threat. I think Public Citizen would be very interested.

  3. Dean H. Marshall permalink
    September 29, 2012 12:13 pm

    I wonder if they will sue the Campfire Girls next?


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