Holding a banner reading "We won't stop—There's too much at stake," demonstrators shut down morning traffic at an office park outside Pittsburgh on Monday, in protest of the harmful effects 15 energy companies in the complex have on the environment.
The protesters set up two tripod structures in the middle fn a main intersection leading to Southpointe, a 589-acre property in suburban Washington County, Pennsylvania—home to companies including Halliburton, Chesapeake Energy, and Range Resources, all of which participate in fracking and mining.
Two community members climbed onto the tripods while three others sat between them with their arms in lockboxes for about four hours before police broke up the demonstration, according to Rising Tide North America, a grassroots environmental group.
A woman who was seated between the structures said the companies that operate at Southpointe are "impacting our lives every day in our communities. I've been run off the road twice because of truck traffic. I have to wonder about the health of my daughter every day living within a half mile of gas wells."
She added that "the coal operator here is also destroying our only state park," referring to the efforts of Consol Energy, another company at Southpointe, to obtain a mining permit for Ryerson Station State Park.
A community member named Patrick Young said that the disruption of traffic into the office park can't be compared to the damage being done by the companies.
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Energy companies have flocked to Southpointe in recent years as the gas and oil industries have sought to capitalize on the Marcellus shale, the sprawling rock formation underneath western New York and Pennsylvania, over which thousands of wells have been set up for fracking and mining. Last year, Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection found more than 250 cases of contamination and other negative impacts of fracking in private water supplies in the state.
Environmental activist Ruth Breech described the scene as the protest successfully stopped traffic and police arrived to break up the protest.
The grassroots organization Rising Tide tweeted at about 10:00am that police had begun arresting the protesters, linking to a legal defense fund for the community members.
ACTIVISTS ARRESTED: After 4 hours blocking fossil fuel industrial park in Southpointe, PA, police arrested activists who were attached to tripods. Local residents said: we will stop at nothing to protect our families. Legal Defense Fund https://t.co/nEj4PU2bJF #WeWontStop pic.twitter.com/seIcggbCJa— Rising Tide NA (@RisingTideNA) November 20, 2017