Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

Hardcore Fractivists Prepare to Raise the Stakes

Susan Phillips / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Environmentalists protest the industry's Shale Gas Insight conference in downtown Philadelphia, September, 2012.

Last summer we reported on a group of anti-drilling environmentalists who climbed trees in the Moshannon State Forest to protest gas drilling operations by EQT energy. The activists built barricades, and shut down operations for several hours. The incident ended relatively peacefully. But it may have just been a practice run.

E&E News published a piece today about activists training in Ohio to do more direct action against gas drilling sites.

Leading the drive is Earth First, an environmental movement that specializes in sit-ins, blockades, trespassing and other civil disobedience they collectively refer to as “direct action.” But others call the approach “environmental extremism,” even “ecoterrorism” — strong charges that land the activists on watch lists throughout the country.

Indeed, the movement’s motto is “No compromise in defense of Mother Earth.” But Earth Firsters at a private climbing training camp outside Athens, Ohio, last month stressed that although their methods are dynamic and, yes, radical, they are not violent.

Earth First developed their tree-sitting direct action tactics while battling logging in California and the Pacific Northwest in the 1980′s. And drilling companies closely monitor activists. Last year, we wrote about executives from Anadarko Petroleum referring to anti-drilling activities as an “insurgency,” and Range Resources using psy-ops to monitor anti-drilling activity. 

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