Energy. Environment. Economy.

8 fracking protesters arrested at Wolf inauguration

An anti-fracking protester was led away by police after he shouted at Governor Wolf during his inauguration speech.

Marie Cusick/ StateImpact Pennsylvania

An anti-fracking protester was led away by police after he shouted at Governor Wolf during his inauguration speech.

Anti-fracking protesters followed through on their promise to disrupt Governor Tom Wolf’s inauguration ceremony Tuesday. Eight people were arrested after they interrupted Wolf’s speech by shouting and whistling from the audience–  urging him to ban fracking.

Six of the people arrested were Pennsylvania citizens. One was from Ohio and another person was from New Jersey. All were charged with disorderly conduct by the Capitol Police. Several hundred more protesters were kept about 100 yards away from the ceremony and loudly chanted “Ban fracking now!” throughout the program.

Wolf addressed the activists directly in his speech, saying that Pennsylvania is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, including gas.

“To the protesters here today, I say: help me develop these opportunities in a way that is clean, safe and sustainable.”

Tom Wolf was sworn in as the 47th governor of Pennsylvania Tuesday.

Marie Cusick/ StateImpact Pennsylvania.

Tom Wolf was sworn in as the 47th governor of Pennsylvania Tuesday.

That was the only mention Wolf made of natural gas in his speech. The Democrat ran on a pledge to enact a five percent extraction tax on gas and recently said he wants his administration to be a partner with the drilling industry to help it succeed.

Despite Wolf’s positions, anti-fracking activists remain hopeful they can make their case to him. They recently formed a new coalition called Pennsylvanians Against Fracking in an effort to push for a statewide ban.

“We believe that we’re dealing with somebody who is open to reality and who wants to make the right decisions,” Delaware Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum says of Wolf.

Several of the group’s leaders were heavily involved in the push to prohibit fracking in New York, which proved successful late last year when Governor Andrew Cuomo announced he would ban it.

“Even though there’s not 1,000 people here, like the last time we were in Albany, you’re seeing the beginnings of that process,” says Wes Gillingham of Catskill Mountainkeeper. “We’re trying to start the dialogue so the movement grows.”

Filmmaker Josh Fox, who made the anti-fracking documentary Gasland, said that even though Pennsylvania’s political landscape differs from New York, he’s hopeful.

“Call me optimistic, but I’ve always believed the truth will prevail,” he said.


Note: this story has been updated to reflect the following clarification. Although the Pennsylvania State Police detained the protesters, they were formally arrested and charged by the Capitol Police.


  • wendylynnelee

    I’ll be adding more pics to this set from Governor Gas Wolf’s inauguration, but for now, here are a few pictures of some of the courageous folks from the shale fields. I feel quite certain that the governor will lend little more than a nod and a deaf ear to the health hazards, community division, and ecological damage caused by the gas companies–but he certainly heard us.

    And saw us.



    • Bob

      Fracking will poison you. The sooner the better

      • JASON

        The way you guys talk and act its already poisoned you..Get a life and the facts

  • Cody Bowman

    Thanks very much Wendy! We activists love you. Jason either you need some education, or a wake up call. Go ahead and send me your ip and I will assist. #EarthFirst #ELF #BanFrackingNow

  • ltsnyder

    Wolf, At what point do you say the process is broken and you can’t be
    a partner till the system is fixed?

    Here are the news headlines….

    “New Study finds high levels of Arsenic in ground water near fracking sites”
    “Pennsylvania’s Ag-Gag law could protect frackers”
    “Fracking waste water cited in Blackside Dace die-off”
    “Experts worried Fracking could harm D.C. area water supply”
    “Fracking fluid liked to fish die off”
    “Obama admin may have interfered with fracking study”
    “Methane leaks from fracking are much worse than we thought”
    “Elevated levels of heavy metals may be from fracking in Texas”
    “Lifelong ‘frack gag’: Two Pennsylvania children banned from discussing
    “Fracking can trigger earthquakes, scientists conclude ”
    “Massive Dumping of Fracking Wastewater into Aquifers Shows Big Oil’s Power
    in California”
    “Toxic Chemicals, Carcinogens Skyrocket Near Fracking Sites”

    At what point do you say, the people who actually own the land should
    have the right to say NO?!?!

    People in the area of Susquahanna and Bradford county describe O&G
    development as a “Military Operation”

    one minute here….

    In PA, if you do not sign, the company can take your gas anyway, as a
    result, people almost always (98%) sign, (there are a few Martyrs out
    there) . If you sign, you are a party to the industrial process.
    From what I have herd, people get paid for being quiet, you don’t get
    paid for damages. Ray is a good example of someone with a clear
    issues, was talking like crazy, and by all evidence, won’t get a

    • Cody Bowman

      ^^ Cheers, and agree with the obvious and scientific. Fracking has no positives, even if taxed 100%. Not worth.

  • Perryjeff

    Too bad the protesters who disrupted Gov. wolf’s swearing-in ceremony failed to do their homework. They point to New York, where Gov. Cuomo says he plans to ban fracking, and say Gov. Wolf should do the same.
    But New York has a law that gives the Governor there the legal authority to impose a moratorium, and issue a formal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Pennsylvania has no such law. Our Governor has NO AUTHORITY to impose either an across-the-board moratorium or a ban.
    While they are sincere, the protesters calling to “BAN FRACKING NOW!” are asking Gov. Wolf to do something he cannot legally do here.
    When he was running foir election, Gov. Wolf pledged to re-establish the moratorium on new gas leasing in state parks and forests, reversing Gov. Corbett’s plans to open more of these public lands to the drilling industry. He HAS legal authority to do this. Wolf also pledged to push for disclosure of the fracking chemicals now treated as “trade secrets” in PA. He pledged to overturn the “doctor gag order” provision in Act 13, which prohibits doctors who treat patients exposed to fracking chemicals from access to the names of these chemicals, unless they sign a gag order that prevents them from disclosing the chemical names to the patient, or health professionals who are reseaching health effects of these chemicals.
    Let’s let Gov. Wolf take office and see if he follows through on these and other positions he took during the campaign. If he fails to follow through, THAT would be the time to protest!

    • paulroden

      Governor Wolf swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In Article I, Section 27 of that Constitution it says: “The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.” The members of the PA Legislature also took the same oath. If they are to live up to that oath, they should pass laws and/or change the Constitution to outlaw fracking once and for all. If not they should all be either voted out of office or impeached and removed from office with all deliberate speed. He also pledged to maintain the moratorium on fracking in the rest of the Marcellus Shale region in the Delaware Water Shed. I hope he or his representative to the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) does so, since the other half of the Delaware River Basin in New York State has banned fracking. The Governor of Delaware is also opposed to fracking. The Army Corps of Engineers vote, which is President Obama’s representative to the DRBC, is unknown. Governor Chris Christie is pro-fracking. Good luck with passing any percentage of an extraction tax with this Tea Party-Republican dominated anti-tax , anti-regulation and anti-government legislature.

      • PJD219

        Our President also swore to protect and defend our constitution…how has that worked out for you? The last thing on Obama’s mind is to defend and protect the USA! I guess it’s a Democrat trait!

  • KeepTapWaterSafe

    Wolf has said he wants to “have his cake and eat it too.” Everyone knows you can’t do that. Pennsylvania needs to a clean energy plan asap!

  • Jake Jackson

    Gov. Wolf’s statement to the protesters is a very hyprocritic one when in June of 2014 he circulated a petition asking then Gov. Corbett to put a moratorium on state parks and forest land because of “irreparably harm.” Here is his petition:
    “2010, a moratorium was placed on fracking in Pennsylvania public lands
    because an exhaustive scientific study concluded that further drilling
    would irreparably harm the state forests and parks.
    By lifting this moratorium, Governor Corbett has proven yet again
    that he’s willing to give away our state’s natural resources to big oil
    and gas companies at the expense of the environment, our state
    constitution, and the people of Pennsylvania.
    If you believe
    public lands should be protected from fracking, then you need to sign
    Tom Wolf’s petition to keep gas drilling out of Pennsylvania state parks
    and forests.”
    So in other words, Gov. Wolf is willing to sacrifice the people who live near drilling but not the parks or forest. I find that to be very hypocritical. There are hundreds of families living with contaminated water for more than 5 years due to the fracking industry, and many more the DEP hasn’t recorded yet. There isn’t much time left before our entire water supply is contaminated to the point of being unsafe for consumption. If it’s not stopped soon it will be too late for all of PA. While Gov. Wolf wants to tax the industry, I would like to ask him how much risking our drinking water and a safe environment for our children is worth?

    • Maggie Henry

      One should question the “irreparably harm” being done to parks and forests. Does not this same harm happen to farmland? What right do landowners have to poison the community to enrich themselves? What good will the parks and forests be when we cannot produce clean food to support the population? What sane civilization permits its water to be permanently polluted for the profit of a corporation?

    • PJD219

      Hundreds of families living with contaminated water for more than 5 years? Jake…you have been listening to the propaganda giant Josh Fox and his lies way too long….you post a link to the post Gazette who we all know is a liberal (so called news outlet) in the tank for the left wing loons! Funny…you drive around Susquehanna PA and you see signs in everyone’s yards saying “our drinking water is perfectly safe”. You environmental wackos really need to get a life and quit with the manufactured lies that you spew about fracking. There have been a lot more studies done proving that fracking does not harm the environment than have proven otherwise. The only thing is…you people just keep getting more and more studies done until you get the answers that fit your agenda!

  • Vera Scroggins

    More unrest and protest from citizens of Pa. and neighboring States and the Gov. needs to hear and see the spreading harm and damage from Gas Drilling/Fracking ; He needs to do a Citizen Gas Tour of the Shalefields .

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