by Alexander Lotorto
Yesterday, Pennsylvania Senate Democrats and Republicans voted 47-2 for SB 367 that will allow state university campuses in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and prisons to be leased for fracking and Marcellus drilling infrastructure that includes waste pits and gas processing.
Affected schools within the Marcellus Shale include:
Bloomsburg University, CALU, Clarion University, Edinboro University, Indiana University, Lock Haven University, Mansfield University, Slippery Rock University
Affected prisons within the Marcellus Shale include:
SCI Albion, SCI Cambridge Springs, SCI Coal Township, SCI Cresson, SCI Dallas, SCI Fayette, SCI Forest, SCI Frackville, SCI Greene, SCI Greensburg, SCI Houtzdale, SCI Huntingdon, SCI Laurel Highlands, SCI Mahanoy, SCI Mercer, SCI Muncy, SCI Pine Grove, SCI Pittsburgh, Quehanna Boot Camp, SCI Retreat, SCI Rockview, SCI Smithfield, SCI Somerset, SCI Waymart
At universities, students, parents, faculty, staff and alumni can fight back. At prisons, prison staff, prisoners, and their families can fight back. We can all fight fracking together!
Here are some ideas:
Schedule a Gasland screening and action planning meeting. Contact for screenings: http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/about-the-film/contact
Confront your university administration or prison warden and demand that they do not lease campus land. Ultimately, they make the final decision. For university administration they can divest from Marcellus drillers like Chesapeake Energy, Range Resources, Shell Oil, Exxon Mobil, Hess Oil, Cabot Oil & Gas, and other members of the Marcellus Shale Coalition. See the Responsible Endowment Coalition's website for ideas and help. http://www.endowmentethics.org/
Ask your town council members and mayor if they will support a ban on Marcellus shale drilling in your university or prison's town. Check out the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund at www.celdf.org for example ordinances and contact information. You can show them this useful video for a virtual tour: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5QqidiEEHw
Schedule a nonviolent direct action training at your school or in your community and explain to decision makers that if they do not stop fracking from moving in, you will blockade the drilling operations. See http://occupywellstreet.blogspot.com/p/occupy-well-street-101.html and contact Alex Lotorto of the Energy Justice Network, 570-269-9589 to schedule a training.
Follow PA Department of Environmental Protection permits in your county and surrounding counties. Here: http://www.ahs2.dep.state.pa.us/enoticeweb/
Obtain the lease map for your county by visiting the county administration building in the county seat. Ask for the map office and request a map of Marcellus gas leases and a print out of what companies have leases in which townships. You may need cash to pay for the copies, but it shouldn't be more than $10. This will help you visualize where drillers are already seeking to drill, what companies are involved, and which companies you need to do corporate research on.
Once you know what companies are leasing near your campus, dig up some dirt to show your community! Here is a 2010 report on gas drilling violations from the PA Land Trust Association. Check the PA DEP violations for 2011 and years past here and also do a search on www.sec.gov for their stock (ticker) symbol, open up their most recent 10-K filing (a report filed publicly to disclose risks to their shareholders), press "Ctrl F", search for "Risks" or "Risk" and seek out the portion of their filing that reads something like this one from Chesapeake Energy:
Natural gas and oil drilling and producing operations can be hazardous and may expose us to liabilities, including environmental liabilities.
Natural gas and oil operations are subject to many risks, including well blowouts, cratering and explosions, pipe failures, fires, formations with abnormal pressures, uncontrollable flows of natural gas, oil, brine or well fluids and other environmental hazards and risks. Our drilling operations involve risks from high pressures and from mechanical difficulties such as stuck pipes, collapsed casings and separated cables. Some of these risks or hazards could materially and adversely affect our revenues and expenses by reducing or shutting in production from wells or otherwise negatively impacting the projected economic performance of our prospects. If any of these risks occurs, we could sustain substantial losses as a result of:
- injury or loss of life;
- severe damage to or destruction of property, natural resources or equipment;
- pollution or other environmental damage;
- clean-up responsibilities;
- regulatory investigations and administrative, civil and criminal penalties; and
- injunctions resulting in limitation or suspension of operations.
There is inherent risk of incurring significant environmental costs and liabilities in our operations due to our generation, handling and disposal of materials, including wastes and petroleum hydrocarbons.