Protesters Welcome New Pennsylvania Governor to Office With Simple Message: Ban Fracking Now
The power of the people will win out over industry, organizer says.
Hundreds of protesters rallied outside Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf's inauguration on Tuesday in a grassroots show of force against fracking.
The action, organized by the newly formed Pennsylvanians Against Fracking coalition, kicked off at a Harrisburg church, followed by a march to and rally at the inauguration site, where they chanted, "Fracking PA? Our Answer is No!"
Eight people were arrested by Capitol Police for disrupting Wolf's speech, NPR reports.
The demonstrators' presence apparently came as no surprise to the Democrat; from his prepared remarks: "To the protesters here today, I say: help me develop these opportunities in a way that is clean, safe and sustainable."
But that proposition is "a non-starter," said Sam Bernhardt, senior Pennsylvania organizer of Food & Water Watch, one of co-founding members of Pennsylvanians Against Fracking.
"We know that there's no safe way to develop shale through high volume hydraulic fracturing," Bernhardt told Common Dreams. "There's no way to frack safely," he said.
That's why the coalition staged Tuesday's action, he continued, because their goal is to stop fracking in the state. "The governor is the one individual in Pennsylvania who can give us what we want," he said.
So far, Wolf has indicated which side he's chosen by saying he disagrees with New York's landmark fracking ban, has accepted money from the gas industry, and has appointed as members of his cabinet people who played a role in opening up the state to the industry, Bernhardt said.
But the coalition has no plans of losing steam, Bernhardt said. They intend to follow Wolf "wherever he goes" and show him that people in every corner of the state oppose fracking.
"We think if we can show the grassroots power, the people can win out over the gas industry."
Also present at the rally was Josh Fox, award-winning director of Gasland and Gasland Part II, who said in a media statement: "Governor Tom Wolf inherited insane policies on fracking but he does not have to continue these policies. The choice is Governor Wolf’s—listen to science and to the harmed citizens of Pennsylvania or be on the wrong side of history."
Twitter users captured parts of the demonstration:
— Food & Water Watch (@foodandwater) January 20, 2015
Protesters' chants of "ban fracking now" can be heard over ceremony but pause for national anthem. #WolfInauguration
— Liam Migdail-Smith (@ldmigsmith) January 20, 2015
— Deirdre Shelly (@DeirdreShelly) January 20, 2015
— Josh Fox (@gaslandmovie) January 20, 2015