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Conflicting Presents and the Fight for the Future: Shale Gas Outrage Press Coverage

October 2, 2013

Loading the cars with water donated by wonderful supporters. Thanks again to everyone who donated water or funds! Photo by Rev. Jesse Brown.

Thank you again to everyone who donated to our Water Drive and came out to the Freedom From Fracking Conference!

We’re at a seminal time in the battle for the future of fracking and Pennsylvania’s environment. Companies like Chesapeake have been issuing increasingly small royalty checks to landowners, claiming decreased output and increased costs. Meanwhile, natural gas companies and our own Governor (or perhaps their own Governor) tout fracking’s economic benefits and stable future here. The latest golden promise is to create international export terminals for liquid natural gas in Philadelphia, which is being thinly disguised as a project to bring more natural gas to the city itself. At the same time, the industry claims it’s saved every American $1,200 this year through lowered natural gas bills–which are dependent on a steady, domestic-only supply.

This battle for the true story of what is really going on in the fracking world, as well as what should happen, was played out not only between our conference and Shale Insight, but in press coverage of the two events itself. We covered some of the earlier press coverage in a previous post, here.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer: Shale industry foresees benefits for region

The industry’s expansion faces political obstacles far larger than the score of protesters who rallied across Broad Street from the Convention Center, conducting a drum-and-horn “noise demonstration” that was inaudible behind the center’s thick glass facade.

The protesters were outnumbered by Philadelphia police and private security officers, who had erected steel barricades on the sidewalk. It was much smaller than demonstrations at two previous Shale Insight events.

Of course, protests generally require planning, and this year, our coalition of grassroots groups chose to plan the Water Drive and Freedom From Fracking conference instead of a large demonstration. Our hope is that the knowledge and stories we quietly spread indoors will have far greater reach than the glass doors of the convention center. But as the speakers quoted in the article simultaneously advocated a large, cheap domestic supply of natural gas and the speedy construction of export facilities, it looks like the industry has internal education to accomplish.

Getting educated at a FFF Conference breakout session with impacted people. Photo by Rev. Jesse Brown.

Pittsburgh Business Times: “Murphy: Natural gas needs to tell its story”

Of course, if you want to spin the industry’s declining support as embattled truth tellers overwhelmed by malevolent, concerted oppostion, the demonstration looked like this:

The controversial aspects of the industry were on display even during the conference. Security was tight at the convention center and attendees were told to remove their badges when leaving the building.

Outside the center there was a visible police presence and throughout the day protesters gathered.

The rest of the article summarizes the presentation of U.S. Representative Tim Murphy (R-Upper Saint Clair), who discussed the industry’s self-imagined underdog status in the face of public fracking opposition. Despite the industry’s massive, deep-pocketed web of front groups, PR reps, and lobbyists, apparently they’re really just a bunch of scientists up against groups that “are good at storytelling but may not have the facts.”

On a lighter note, Philebrity declared, “Protesting an active conference is so last year. Holding your own competing conference however, is totally in” and suggested that anyone who ran into Newt Gingrich, keynote speaker at Shale Insight, should “demand he answer your questions about the moon colony.”

StateImpact Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, The Grassroots Anti-Fracking Movement’s New Old Front

In its extensive coverage of both Shale Insight and the Freedom From Fracking conference, StateImpact was one of the only publications to mention that bringing natural gas to Philadelphia isn’t a totally uncontroversial idea. (Of course, that means that someone from Governor Corbett’s office has already left a comment on the article about how wonderful fracking is.)

Rather than discouraging environmentalists, Bloom says it has set grassroots groups like hers on new paths to take on the industry.

“We have a lot of fronts opening up here and it’s an exciting moment.”

Philadelphia, The Grassroots Anti-Fracking Movement’s New Old Front, StateImpact Pennsylvania

One Comment
  1. Ann Dixon permalink
    October 5, 2013 12:34 pm

    I’m so glad I was able to attend the Shale Gas Outrage Water Drive and the Freedom From Fracking Conference! We raised over $3,200 and received 165 gallons of water for Pennsylvanians!

    Keynote speaker John Fenton was one of 6 people to visit the EPA to get them to open an investigation about drilling in Pavillion, Wyoming. He brought moving power point photos of the landscape in his wide open home state ( Wyoming ) and spoke about how we all have a sense of place. His is threatened by fracking. Tracy Carluccio ( Delaware Riverkeeper Network ) spoke about how we will all be affected by the industry since, even if drilling doesn’t take place in Philly, many pipelines and other gas infrastructure are planned.

    The conference was a great opportunity for Philadelphians to mingle with people from shale country. There was a session about impacted people. It wasn’t possible to attend everything because there were so many wonderful concurrent sessions. I attended Matt Walker’s ( Clean Air Council ) about air and Faith Zerbe’s ( Delaware Riverkeeper Network ) about pipelines.

    Upcoming activist campaigns in the Philly area will include PGW privatization, Liquid Natural Gas ports and Balken Shale oil train deliveries.

    The conference ended with a rousing rendition of, “Save Our Water…” by Rhetta Morgan. Some of you may remember her incredible voice from past Shale Gas Outrage events.

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