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Earth Firsters Block Fracking Operations in Pensylvannia Forest

Slew of Anti-Conventional Energy Actions Planned Over the Summer

Yesterday, activists from Marcellus Earth First! shut down fracking operations in Moshannon State Forest in Pennsylvania where drilling is set to begin this week.

Earth First Action Photo courtesy Earth First!

The activists forced a 70-foot-tall drill rig to suspend operations for 12 hours by blocking all traffic in and out of the area. This is the first time protestors have managed to shut down a hydrofracking operation in the US. The direct action activists aim to halt further farther plunder of Pennsylvania’s state forests, over half of which have already been leased for drilling.

Some details about how they managed to stop work from EarthFirst! Newswire:

“A tree sitter hung above the access road, with their anchor ropes blocking it. A second person was also in a tree to support the sitter while dozens of supporters guarded ten large debris piles that were across the road. Another group of 50 activists blockaded the entrance to the access road. The State Police, with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, dispersed the blockade around nine p.m. And removed the tree sitters with a ladder truck. Three arrests were made for disorderly conduct, but protesters were cited and released on-site.”

Yesterday’s blockade was the latest in a series of escalating direct actions protesting the impacts of hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale. It was preceded by a 12-day blockade to stop the displacement of the Riverdale Mobile Home Park, in Lycoming County — the planned site for a water withdrawal pump station that would draw 3 million gallons per day for use in fracking, and the shutdown of a fracking wastewater injection well near Athens, Ohio.

Meanwhile, activists across the country are planning more anti-oil, -coal, and -gas drilling interventions. There’s Radical Action for Mountain People’s Survival, starting July 25, that plans to shut down an active strip mine in West Virginia; the July 28 “Stop the Frack Attack,” a massive gathering of anti-fracking activists in Washington DC; and an all summer-long Tar Sands Blockade in Texas, that aims to halt the Gulf Coast portion of the Keystone XL pipeline. In Montana in August, a 10-day civil disobedience campaign, “Coal Export Action,” will target coal shipments from strip mines in the Powder River Basin.

In fact, there’s some neat stuff happening across the pond too. On Saturday (July 7), over 100 members of the art collective, Liberate Tate, pushed their way in to Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in London and installed a giant 16.5 meter wind turbine there as a protest against British Petroleum’s ongoing sponsorship of the museum. The artists called the installation The Gift. Watch the video embedded below. It's neat.

Clearly, this is going to be quite an action-packed summer for environmentalists.

The Gift - Linkup Films from You and I Films on Vimeo.

Maureen Nandini Mitra, Managing Editor, Earth Island Journal.Maureen Nandini Mitra photo
In addition to her work at the Journal, Maureen writes for several other magazines and online publications in the US and India. A journalism graduate from Columbia University, her work has appeared in the San Francisco Public Press, The New Internationalist, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, The Caravan and Down to Earth.

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