Scott Cannon was pretty surprised last week when he got a letter inviting him to be part of Governor Tom Wolf’s new gas pipeline task force.
He was even more surprised a few days later when his appointment was rescinded.
“I think somebody got a look at the list and said, ‘You can’t have that guy.’” says the self-described anti-fracking activist. “I have no idea who it would be.”
Cannon, a filmmaker who recently produced a documentary called The Ethics of Fracking, applied to be on the task force as a representative of the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition–an advocacy group from northeastern Pennsylvania which seeks to expose the negative impacts of the industry. The group recently settled a lawsuit against the state after it was erroneously labeled a terrorist organization.
The Wolf administration is convening the task force to bring planning and best practices to a pipeline building boom that includes an estimated 4,600 new miles of interstate pipes over the next three years. In a letter dated June 30th, DEP Secretary John Quigley welcomed Cannon to be part of the task force’s Environmental Protection work group.
“I am very vocal and critical,” says Cannon. “I was surprised that I was chosen for the panel, but I was thinking they were taking a step in the right direction in hearing all sides.”
As a commenter on the StateImpact Pennsylvania website, Cannon has frequently made derogatory statements directed at the gas industry. He’s referred to fracking supporters as “gasholes” and once called a high-profile gas company spokesman, “the villain in Erin Brockovich and every Steven Segal movie ever made.”
“Sometimes my sense of humor gets the best of me,” Cannon admits. “But I would think when DEP is doing research for people on the taskforce, all you have to do is Google my name and ‘fracking.’”
Two days after getting his invitation, Cannon got another letter saying his appointment was rescinded. There was no explanation. A DEP spokesman tells StateImpact Pennsylvania Secretary Quigley, “felt others would better represent the wide-range of citizen perspectives on pipelines.”