This past weekend, some CCJ staff, board members, and regular volunteers participated in the People Vs. Oil and Gas Summit as well as at an action in Southpointe. We want to take the time to share a little of what we learned and to explain our participation in the action.
The Summit itself was an inclusive space where people from various backgrounds from across the country - and even Canada and the United Kingdom - joined in on an educational and collaborative weekend discussing our experiences with the fossil fuel industry and planning next steps to better work together to combat threats to our communities. One way that CCJ hopes to become more involved in some of the bigger threats to our region is to begin working with groups in the area to stop the Royal Dutch Shell Ethane Cracker Plant in Beaver Co. While this may not directly affect us in Greene and Washington Counties, the increase in fracking in our communities will affect all of us. We also plan to share a wider variety of stories with you, our members and supporters, to help you be more aware of the scope of the environmental justice struggle in our country. We are working on building on the connections we’ve made to bring more solutions to the problems we face in Greene and Washington Counties.
The most newsworthy part of this past weekend was the action at Southpointe. The action, which was separate from the Summit, had two parts: a pre-approved march throughout Southpointe, which organizer Sarah participated in, and a blockade of a major road within Southpointe. In our communities fossil fuel extraction disrupts our lives every day. The noise produced from fracking can be stressful to the point of being unbearable, and no one likes being hounded by persistent and aggressive landmen to sign leases. When we’ve stood up for our rights in the past, we’ve done so where we live, and in many of those cases we were ignored because the people in the industry who make the calls that affect us so drastically do not live in our communities. The goal of this action was to show those in the fossil fuel industry what it’s like to spend your daily life in a place with constant disturbance. The march lasted for about two hours, and the road blockade was held for four hours before two activists were arrested - which was intended. On this one Monday morning the people working for these energy companies felt the same traffic impacts those of us on the frontlines of fracking and mining feel everyday.
The rhetoric from the industry, of our being radicals and not basing our claims on facts or science, surrounding the action at Southpointe is not unexpected. But clearly it is not a “radical” concept that property owners should be able to make choices about their own land. It is not “inflammatory” to point out that our water has been taken away and polluted because of fossil fuel extraction. There are no “facts” or “science” to support the need to further develop fossil fuels; in fact, facts, science, and math would indicate that a transition to a renewable energy economy would be the best possible option for our country. As for Pennsylvania values, we suggest that the industry take a look at Article 1, Section 27 of our PA constitution.
We thank you for the support you’ve all given us in the past which allowed us to take on such visible roles in the Summit and the action. We hope you know that CCJ will always take on the fights that matter so much to our communities.
-Veronica and Sarah
P.S. Support our two friends who got arrested defending our rights by donating to their legal fund.