Judge approves narrower order, barring fracking activist from drilling sites

  • Marie Cusick

Anti-fracking activist Vera Scroggins, center, and her attorney Scott Michelman, left, speak to the media after a hearing in Montrose, Pa. Last fall, a judge signed off on an order barring Scroggins from more than 300 square miles of Susquehanna County or all the land owned or leased by Cabot Oil and Gas.

Katie Colaneri/StateImpact Pennsylvania

Anti-fracking activist Vera Scroggins, center, and her attorney Scott Michelman, left, spoke to the media after a hearing on Monday in Montrose, Pa.

A Susquehanna County judge issued a revised court order today, aimed at keeping 63-year-old anti-fracking activist Vera Scroggins away from active drilling sites operated by Cabot Oil and Gas.
Until today, Scroggins had been under a much broader preliminary injunction from the court. In October 2013, Judge Kenneth Seamans approved the order, which Cabot sought, barring her from all the land owned or leased by the company.
That area included public places like grocery stores and a hospital. It amounted to nearly 40 percent of the county.
The company says Scroggins has repeatedly trespassed on its properties, and her activities posed a significant safety risk.
Both parties in the case were pleased with the judge’s ruling, which bars her from active work sites, access roads, and Cabot-owned equipment.
Cabot spokesman George Stark says the company never intended for the initial preliminary injunction to be so viewed so broadly.
“Cabot is satisfied by the court’s decision to maintain an injunction against Ms. Scroggins. We’ve been clear, this is a matter of trespassing and we want to maintain safety,” he says. “It’s not about free speech or trying to limit somebody’s movements.”
Scroggins’ legal team was also pleased. They were in court on Monday asking the judge to vacate the order.
One of her attorneys, Scott Michelman, says they got 90 percent of what they wanted.
“Today’s revision of the proposed order is a big victory for Vera Scroggins,” he says. “She can now go to her friend’s homes, the grocery store, and hospital. It’s really a repudiation of Cabot’s attempt to bully an advocate who expressed views critical of their practices.”
Scroggins called it a “step in the right direction.”
“The restriction is less than Cabot wanted,” she says. “We still think it’s too restrictive, and we’re reviewing options.”
This court order replaces the injunction from October, but it’s only temporary. The two parties are scheduled to meet in court again on May 1 to determine whether Scroggins will face a permanent injunction.

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