Hundreds of protestors are rallying in the street outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center today. Organizers of “Shale Gas Outrage” say gas drilling is polluting water wells, the air, and destroying the pristine landscape of rural Pennsylvania. The event began with a song by gospel singer Rhetta Morgan. Later Maya van Rossum, from the Delaware Riverkeeper Network took the stage, telling the crowd that environmentalists like her are keeping up the pressure to ban gas drilling.
“Now the gas drillers, they want us to believe that drilling and fracking is inevitable and we should just sit back and take it,” said van Rossum. “Well we’re here today to say ‘No Fracking Way!’ We are taking action every single day to protect our communities from drilling and fracking whether that means keeping the drillers out or kicking them out if they’ve already gotten a foothold.”
Van Rossum is a vocal critic of gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin, where a moratorium on gas development continues. Author and climate change activist Bill McKibben said the growing grassroots movement is up against a lot of money and will have to do more than rally to make an impact.
“This is the richest industry in the world,” said McKibben. “We’re not going to match them dollar for dollar. We’re going to have to find alternative currencies to work in. It’s spirit and creativity and passion and you can hear it behind me. Civil disobedience I think is going to be the final answer to the absolute arrogant power of the fossil fuel industry.”
McKibben says global warming is happening faster than expected, and fossil fuels need to be abandoned in favor of renewables like wind and solar.
Susquehanna County resident Tammy Manning travelled four hours from Franklin Forks to the rally. Manning says her well water began spewing like a geyser in December. She says the contaminated water made her granddaughter vomit, before the family realized it was unsafe to drink.
“We want the gas company to leave our area,” said Manning. “I just feel like in 20 years, instead of going to war over oil, we’ll go to war over water.”
Manning says she uses a water buffalo for washing and showering. Her family now buys bottled water to drink.
Shale Gas Outrage continues on Friday a workshop on the potential public health impacts of gas drilling, and organizers are also planning civil disobedience.