Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

Court bars anti-fracking activist from more than 300 square miles of Pa.

Scroggins has to research where Cabot holds leases in Susquehanna County to figure out where she can and can't go.

Marie Cusick/ StateImpact Pennsylvania

Scroggins has to research where Cabot holds leases at the Susquehanna County courthouse, to figure out where she can and can't go.

A judge has signed off on an order which bars an anti-fracking activist from setting foot on more than 300 square miles–or nearly 40 percent–of Susquehanna county. It’s all the land owned or leased by the area’s biggest driller, Cabot Oil and Gas.

Although Cabot asked for the court order, a spokesman for the company says it didn’t mean for it to be so broad.

Vera Scroggins

If you Google the name Vera Scroggins, you’ll get a lot of results, especially a lot of videos. She’s a well-known anti-fracking activist who films many of her encounters.

She gives a lot of unofficial tours around Susquehanna County, showing visitors what gas drilling sites look like in one of the most productive parts of the Marcellus Shale.

“I bring buses, mini-buses, full buses, caravans of cars, single cars of individuals, and a lot of elected officials from New York,” she says.

Last year she hosted a celebrity tour, which included actress Susan Sarandon, Yoko Ono, and her son Sean Lennon—who has also been an outspoken critic of fracking.

Scroggins doesn’t fit the stereotype of a 63-year-old retired grandmother. Her activism against the gas industry has made her polarizing figure, even among some environmental advocates.

In another video posted by an oil and gas industry-funded blog, Scroggins berates Irish filmmaker, Phelim McAleer who made the pro-gas documentary FrackNation.

“Maybe I have to chase you,” she says to him. “I’m gonna chase you the f**k out of here. Out of my country.”

Scroggins admits she has overreacted on some occasions, including the encounter with McAleer.

Her high-profile has also made her a target for several conservative blogs, which have suggested she’s a pedophile.

“Twelve years ago on a Yahoo discussion group, we were discussing primitive societies–their sexual practices and how they teach their children and adolescents. We were talking about cultural differences,” says Scroggins. “Based on my interest in it, they conclude that I must be a pedophile.”

“The order is way too broad”

Scroggins knows she frequently irritates Susquehanna County’s biggest driller, Cabot Oil & Gas.

But she says she was still surprised last fall when Cabot took her to court and got a preliminary injunction, which prohibits her from being on any land the company owns or has leased.

The key word here is “leased.” The court order goes beyond simply banning Scroggins from active work sites. It bars her from more than 300 square miles of the county, including places the company hasn’t developed yet.

“It looks like maybe Cabot didn’t even realize how expansive it is,” she says. “But their attorneys put this together, and the judge signed it. What was he thinking?”

Scroggins says the leased land includes many businesses: everything from restaurants, to grocery stores, and the new Endless Mountain health campus.

“This whole thing,10.7 acres,” she says, pointing to the hospital. “I looked it up. It’s leased to Cabot.”

John Dernbach is the co-director of Widener University’s Environmental Law Center.

He says he’s never heard of a case like this and points out that much of what Scroggins does is free speech, protected under the First Amendment.

“If Cabot doesn’t have the legal right to exclude her from the surface, based on whatever lease arrangements they have, then the order is way too broad,” says Dernbach. “It’s one thing to keep her off work sites and places where drilling is actively going on, it’s quite another to keep her off everything else.”

Scroggins says Cabot has so far refused to give her a map or a list of places it owns or has leased, which means she has to search through property records at the county courthouse.

She “has repeatedly trespassed”

Company spokesman George Stark says Cabot didn’t intend for the court order to be so broad. He declined to comment and instead emailed a statement:

Cabot supports an individual’s right to express his or her opinion … Ms. Scroggins has repeatedly trespassed on company operational sites and access roads where she could potentially jeopardize the safety of herself and others. Public facilities such as schools, grocery stores, recycling centers or hospitals are obviously not operational areas.

In its complaint against her, Cabot alleges Scroggins has trespassed on its properties nearly a dozen times. The company says it has repeatedly called the state police.

However Scroggins has never been convicted of trespassing and she doesn’t feel she should be singled out.

“I feel like a prisoner. I feel like they might as well put some kind of a bracelet on my ankle to keep track of me.”

Scroggins says she was summoned to court so quickly last fall, she didn’t have time to find a lawyer. A local attorney, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and the Public Citizen Litigation Group in Washington, D.C have since stepped in to represent her.

“We do hope Cabot will come around and say [the injunction] should be narrower.” says attorney Scott Michelman of Public Citizen. “But it sounds disingenuous for them to say, ‘We didn’t mean it.’”

In January Cabot amended its complaint against Scroggins. The company is now seeking a permanent injunction which would prohibit her from active work sites and access roads, keep her at least 150 feet away from access roads, and bar her from bringing other people to those sites.

But Michelman says the much broader preliminary injunction–signed over four months ago– is still in effect. So far, the company has not sought to revise it.

“They haven’t moved to modify the injunction already in place,” he says. “They don’t seem to be in any hurry.”

Meanwhile some landowners, like Jerry Gere, who have leases with the company argue it shouldn’t dictate who is allowed to come and go from their property.

“Vera gets in their face. She’s aggressive. I can understand where she could definitely annoy people,” he says. “But on the other hand, it seems like we have this little old lady in tennis shoes, and the huge oil company is running scared. If they don’t have anything to hide, why are they putting up such a fight?”

Scroggins has asked the judge to vacate the preliminary injunction, and a hearing is scheduled for March 24th. The two sides are also trying to negotiate an agreement about where she can and can’t go.

 

Comments

  • Anne Ryan

    The gas industry is double dealing and an environmental nightmare. I think more Vera’s will emerge with the leaves.

    • Finkster

      Sounds to me , that you are into the LEFT WING CONSPIRACY crap.
      They been Fracking all over the world for years now and there still is no evidence of wide spread ecological damage.
      When are you people going to wake up. Being self sufficient in our energy production keeps the cost low for energy and keeps industry here instead of going else where, where it is cheaper. The Stupid Liberals are into Wealth Redistribution to who ever will support them in their mindless crusade for power and wealth. Wake up !!

      It’s the same with Global Warming, Propaganda by putting fear into your minds to accept and follow their Evil Worldly Governance crap. Why in the world would any one believe sexual predators like Al Gore and Bill Clinton?

      I live in and work in the mountains of Central Pennsylvania and have been aware of Gas drilling since the 1970′s. And have yet seen any major pollution claims by the Nitwits that have been true.

      It can become a very dangerous situation to just have Looney’s walking around these work sites. Especially nitwits that only care about their emotions and not the safety of others.

  • Finkster

    Just another Looney that needs to stay away from the Hard working men & women of the drilling industry. Fracking has enriched Pennsylvania families in a failing National Economy and needs to be supported by our State and Local Governments. Many of us citizens have benefited from this gold mine. And the So Called activist need to go find a real issue of danger to protest. Maybe the Danger of the Unions of State Government Employees would interest her..

    • Awesome_Mom

      The frackers are eco-terrorists and they are ruining our nation! They are nothing but GREEDY sociopaths.

      • Guest

        I know, they are just terrible, providing us with all of these kushy, modern conveniences that we all enjoy so much. If you hate oil and gas so much, stop using their products. I’ve got some nice sticks you could rub together to replace your gas furnace when it’s -30 degrees out!

      • Finkster

        Awe-Mom …Florida is a cess pool compaired to the pristine mountains of central Pennsylvania. Been there too many times and don’t care to go back. And the ecology here is beautiful. Gas drilling has done nothing to hurt our eco system. That’s all a left wing- keep making money from the Middle East, Crony Capitalist Propaganda ploy that the Liberal Progressive keep using so they can keep receiving contributions from Over Seas Oil companies. No truth to it at all. I live and work around this Fracking Industry and it’s nothing like the Liberal Democrats lies state.

        • Awesome_Mom

          It’s sunny, healthy, and beautiful where I live.

          • Voiceof Reason

            With millions of snakes killing pets!

          • Awesome_Mom

            There’s no snakes here….the alligators ate them! LOL

          • Voiceof Reason
          • KA

            Wow, what a comeback! I would rather snakes than underground aquifers full of polluted water laced with unknown chemicals that has been injected from fracking…..just wait. Try to drink that water….and cannot wait for the complaints from homeowners who have signed these leases on their contaminated drinking water.

        • Ralph Duquette

          Gas drilling has done nothing to hurt our ecosystem? Only the deliberately blind or serial liars would make such a statement.

          • Finkster

            You can’t show us where it has. And if you think you can ,you are a serial liar. And neither can this Dimwit that keeps interfering with the on site workers. She is a safety hazard to those workers. We have EPA professionals present, inspecting work sites and keeping an eye on the ecology.

        • KA

          You probably think your hundreds of puppy mills in PA are not a problem either. The abusive practices that go on there…no vet care, endless breeding, diseases, broken jaws, rotten teeth, horrible skin infections, broken legs, matted fur, mange….sad, sad, sad.

          • Finkster

            Puppy Mills? You do mean Dog Farms don’t you? Where these Middle Easterners and South East Asians raise their doggies for the retail market for consumption at their places of business. Like Chinese Restaurants that have special Doggie Chow Mein. They normally use the Doggie Breed called Chow Chow.

          • KA

            Reading and replying to your post was and is a waste of two minutes of my time I will never get back.

    • lulzwat

      Keep telling yourself that when your children and their children start getting sick…and maybe even die.

      • Guest

        How many people are killed in car accidents every year? Yet we put our kids on the bus every morning, no seatbelts… sitting right over top of enough diesel fuel to make a bomb with!
        Anything can be scary if you want to be scared of it!!!

        • Awesome_Mom

          Rationalization. So typical!

          • Guest

            Gleeful ignorance and unapologetic hypocrisy. So typical!

          • FrackDaddy

            Agreed, Who would want to be rational?

      • FrackDaddy

        Any proof of that? Beside what Josh Faux tells you?

    • Sherri

      Tell that to the thousands of people in TX and in other places that cannot sell their property because the mortgage companies will not grant mortgages and the insurance companies will not insure homes with wells or even homes whose neighbors have wells. The City of Dallas will even not allow fracking in their city.

      • Finkster

        Who in their right mind would not sell a mortgage to someone that would have a gas well on their property. That’s money in the bank. That’s a guarantee that the Banks would make money on mortgages. The same with home owners Insurance. Gas wells are not next to homes and buildings . The income from the well would pay the policy plus the mortgage and more.

  • pvwizard

    It appears that in Pennsylvania, even a judge has erred on infringing Ms. Scroggins’ first amendment right. Can oil lease trump land owner’s, including government or public property’s right?

    • Guest

      There is a lot more to the creepy “pedophile” postings than this article mentions and then casually dismisses… Ms. Scroggins did more than “take an interest” if you read her actual postings. She actively, vocally, advocated for parent/child incestuous sexual relationships as the best way to teach kids about the birds and the bees.

      Here’s Vera, in her own words:

      “Are there cultures that mothers or fathers pleasure their children
      and teenagers sexually or genitally and also possibly initiate them into
      sexual expression at some point?”

      “I have had intuitive thoughts that such would be a healthy way for
      parents to interact with their children and introduce their children to
      sensual/sexual pleasure and bonding and loving practices.”

      “Who better to do it, than the parents first?”

      Has nothing to do with gas drilling one way or the other, but its seriously creepy.

      • Awesome_Mom

        Gov Toxic Tom and his pal Sandusky are very close friends of the drilling industry. Stop projecting.

        • Guest

          You hatred has blinded you so much you’re defending someone that advocates parent’s molesting their own children.
          Just pointing that out. Kind of makes you wonder what other nuances you are willing to overlook.

          • Awesome_Mom

            First, learn how to spell.

  • Ralph Duquette

    There’s a judge who needs to be separated from the position of authority he fails to understand.

    • dixhandley

      What exactly is your job? Is it tweeting or flooding discussion boards with your inane comments? I’ve always wondered. Nice having a wife who does all the work. Libs are moonbats!

      • Ralph Duquette

        Love the ad hominems from the anonymous. Are you that unhappy and insecure that you find it necessary to behave in such fashion?

        • dixhandley

          How does one go through life without contributing? That’s all I was wondering about. It’s not personal since I don’t know you personally. Libs are moonbats though!

          • Ralph Duquette

            Of course it’s not personal. How else do you justify to yourself the low-brow activity of slandering someone you do not know? I contribute every day. But you’d know that if you knew me. Only a moonbat would slander someone he does not know.

          • dixhandley

            Other than coaching, have you ever had a real job? Just curious!

  • franco

    Please keep bringing the NY state folks here…they can keep their moratorium while PA harvests natural resources

    • Awesome_Mom

      The only thing that is being “harvested” is permanent contamination to PA’s water supplies.

      • George Wythe

        Maybe from coal, but not gas.

        • Awesome_Mom

          Billions of gallons of water are wasted on fracking activities throughout our entire country. Read much?

      • Guest

        hundreds of thousands of wells drilled in PA over the last 150 years. Most of them before there even was any regulation. Where is all this permanent contamination? Doesn’t exist. Don’t let that stop you from making things up on the internet. If gas was so bad, folks wouldn’t have to make things up to trash on it.

      • Cranky57

        Mom is probably to young to remember all the waterway pollution of the 50′s and 60′s. Regualtion has cleaned it all up and oversight will keep it that way. Yep there will be accidents and they will be dealt with but we are not returning to the 50′s.

        • Awesome_Mom

          GREED knows no concept of time. You still haven’t learned, have you?

  • Fracked

    my husband grew up in coal country and has told me stories of company owned towns…if the coal miners protested..their water and electricity was shut off since the coal company owned the town…..

    • Awesome_Mom

      The gas drillers are even worse!

      • Guest

        Why? Because “Awesome Mom” says so!!!

        • Awesome_Mom

          T R U T H matters.

  • George Wythe

    Vera is a total ass. She has lied and misinformed the public over and over. She is completely worthless to this state and even NY. I would be happy to see her barred from the whole country!

    • Awesome_Mom

      You must be one of Hitler’s biggest fans. IDIOT.

      • George Wythe

        You sound just as miserable & ugly as Vera!

        • Awesome_Mom

          Your ignorance is only surpassed by your willingness to prove it. Bully.

      • dixhandley

        Why are you so judgmental? Why can’t you engage in debate without resorting to insults?

        • Ralph Duquette

          … says the moonbat who hurls ad hominems at plenty of people he does not know.

          • dixhandley

            Don’t be like that Ralphie. It’s just pocket change!

  • Bill Adams

    What a perfect example of an environmentalist! One post quotes her promoting incest. If that is true, it is what many suspected all along–the false religion of environmentalism not only attracts those who love lies and exaggerations, but also those who hate all that is good and decent. None should be taken seriously. Others are actually promoting evil.

    • Awesome_Mom

      No one promotes more evil and greed than you do.

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/veraduerga Vera Scroggins

      I do not promote or practice incest. Do not judge nor condemn me lest you be judged and condemned. Others will twist words and intents to demonize me and others because we show the damages and harm of gas drilling/ fracking. Prove us wrong with facts and let me show you the harmed and the problems as I’ve shown many. Come and see in person what the gas companies will not show you and meet the suffering folks, families, children, neighbors in our communities. Come and see what this Industry has built near homes, on school property, on farms and see if you truly want this in your neighborhoods. Let us be independent with energy that is truly clean and safe.

      • Guest

        Now you’re preaching to not condemn or judge? We all saw the video of your disgusting, prejudiced, potty-mouthed harassment of Phelim McAleer. Why don’t you practice what you preach Vera? Except for the molesting your own kids part. Feel free to NOT practice that.

        • Awesome_Mom

          FLAGGED

        • Ralph Duquette

          It takes a true coward to anonymously accuse someone of molesting her own children.

      • Awesome_Mom

        They’re really getting desperate now, Vera! More personal attacks!

  • Awesome_Mom

    That judge made a BIG mistake! HUGE! Lawsuits all around! Violation of civil rights have all been VERA-fied.

  • Julieann Wozniak

    So we live in a police state now? Democracy has been superseded by plutocracy? This ruling is clearly unconstitutional. It is also quite off-putting to us land owners who want no part of the Texas gas invasion.

    • Julieann Wozniak

      I’m an environmentalist, I should mention, and insufferably proud of it. And I do not live in New York. I live in Bobtown, home of Chevron’s exploding, carcinogen belching well. PADEP’s lax regulations and nonexistent enforcement literally allowed our corporate overlords get away with murder in this case. There will be the usual whitewash and slap on the wrist, and nothing will change until we turf the Rs out of office.

      • Awesome_Mom

        Most people agree with you!

  • FrackDaddy

    A few things that were left out here. Vera is a serial trespasser, Her own You Tube account was used as evidence against her. You all seemed to miss the word “temporary”, But the enviro crowd seem to always only hear what they want to. Vera is a safety issue, If some worker makes a mistake because he is distracted by vera, and is injured or causes an industrial accident. What good is she doing? Lets be real here Ken has been a judge in this county for a long time, Vera will be allowed to go to the market, schools, restaurants. But she should be barred from sites where she can be a distraction and a safety concern. I have included an example for you. Please take a moment to watch.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnPfc67946I&list=UUfbfGPFJn5t3HvJcRNTvJxQ

    1) Note Vera walking on to an active work site with out permission.
    2) telling the man to call the cops after being asked to leave 3 times
    3) As she walks down the road notice the truck having to cross the double yellow to avoid her.
    4) Why is she zooming in on and publicly displaying private citizens license plates?
    I am sorry but if you find acceptable behavior from a human being, You need to take a long look at your self.

  • drgonzotexas
  • DJ

    So please publish the name of the judge as to allow people to vote he/she out the next time for usurping constitutional right and showing a prejudice in favor of Corbett’s selling of the state to big business…

    • FrackDaddy

      Judge Kenneth Seamans. He has been a Judge in Susquehanna County long before NG. I don’t think trespass is a constitutional right

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