Anti-Drilling Protestors Get Nasty at Shale Coalition Building in Harrisburg, PA

bullhornThose in Pennsylvania who oppose drilling in the Marcellus Shale have gotten a bit desperate. They’re unhappy with new Gov. Tom Corbett, especially since the budget he introduced earlier this week contains budget cuts to education and calls for a layoff of state workers in order to plug a massive multi-billion dollar shortfall, without also including a severance tax on Marcellus Shale drilling in the state. Pennsylvania, like New York, California, Wisconsin, Ohio and a number of other states is essentially bankrupt from years of overspending and one-time gimmicks and budget patches. The chickens have finally come home to roost and now state governments have to make some hard decisions. It is in that context that anti-drilling protestors got nasty and thug-like yesterday:

Environmentalists and laborers joined forces Wednesday to bring the fight over state funding to a three-story brownstone that is home base for lobbyists representing the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

About 250 of them marched eight blocks then streamed into former Gov. Tom Ridge’s lobbying firm to deliver this message: It’s unconscionable for current Gov. Tom Corbett to slash education funding and lay off state workers when energy companies aren’t paying taxes on the natural gas they extract.

Clutching protest signs and chanting slogans, the activists marched into the Ridge Policy Group offices, a block from the Capitol. Pouring through the door, they began taking over rooms and stairwells, demanding that someone from the lobbying firm speak to them.

Upstairs floorboards creaked and groaned under feet that stomped in rhythm to a cacophony of chants, some emitted over bullhorns.*

A representative from the Marcellus Shale Coalition spoke with the protestors and told them that the Coalition is on record supporting a reasonable severance tax. The angry mob’s response? “We’ll be back” they chanted/threatened.

MDN has no problem with public protests, a constitutionally guaranteed right in this country. But when the protestors enter private property and make menacing and threatening gestures to the citizens in that private property, that steps over the line.

MDN wonders how the story might have been written if a group of pro-drilling protestors had flooded into the headquarters of PennFuture with bullhorns, stomping their feet and “taking over” the place?

Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment.

*Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Mar 10) – Lack of tax on gas decried

  • Taxpayer

    The MSC and MDN should be ashamed of themselves! I suppose you feel it’s o.k. for gas companies to use our roads and infrastructure to gather the natural gas wealth from beneath our feet, paying only comparatively “small” lease and royalty payments to a chosen few property owners lucky enough to own the land where drilling is taking place. But what about the rest of the states citizenry, I don’t know say 90% of the states’ population, that must repair those roads, staff the regulatory authorities, add additional police to supervise speeding stone/water haulers, breakup bar fights, add additional teachers, repair degraded streams, repair the damage to our forests, and cleanup after the operator’s environmental messes? Where do you think all of that funding will come from — all the other taxpayers of Pennsylvania that’s who. All the while the CEO’s of the gas companies are taking their profits from gas drilling in our fair state to the bank in wheel barrows! And they’ve only just begun?

    PA is the only state without a severance tax and those $ are needed to distribute at the state and local levels to fund the activities I mentioned above. Other states use severance tax monies to fund higher education, gowing greener environmental grant programs, etc. Pennsylvania will be left with only another blighted landscape like the state government and lumber/coal barons gave us 100 years ago and a state with empty pockets.

    If we don’t soon enact a severance tax on the oil and gas industries, local municipalities will begin requiring $ to be put in escrow accounts and held as bond against these liabilities til such time as the work is completed. Then, only if it can be shown to the satisfaction of the local governments that no damage has occurred, will the $ be returned to the operator. If Corbett was smart, he would do this too (you see he’s an anti-tax politician, and in this form it’s not a severance tax). Of course Corbett, Ridge, and the rest of the legislators in Harrisburg somehow missed the budget axe and are profiting just like all the gas companies. Funny how they are all aboard the gravy train while the rest of the state and taxpayers have been sold out to big gas! Got your wheelbarrow ready for another million $ each Corbett and Ridge?

  • Dan

    MDN has done an outstanding job of getting the facts out to help dispel the ignorance regarding nat gas exploration fed by the NYT and HBOs “Gasland”. Obviously, these people have an agenda and facts do not play an important part in their reasoning. Keep up the good work!

  • Missie

    wow, you are profiling those working in the gas industry by indicating the bar fighting and extra needed officials for “speeding”. If people like you would take more time to find out about the men doing this terribly hard work, in all types of weather, to support and provide for their families you would not be so quick to judge or be ignorant (ie definition being stupid!). With the unemployment rates being through the roof in PA why is it people are turning opportunities for job creation away, mind you these jobs will long live after the drilling is finished via pipe lining, well tending, meter maintenance etc. We as a population need to stop saying “what about me, I want a piece of the pie”, as you indicated and I quote ” paying only comparatively “small” lease and royalty payments to a chosen few property owners lucky enough to own the land where drilling is taking place. But what about the rest of the states citizenry”. I take from this that simply owning the property isn’t enough for you, instead you want a piece of the pie without paying for it. For those of us that have had this be a source of income for our families we know what it’s all about and how hard these men work and are completly behind them. it’s those behind a desk pushing a pen that have no clue. how unfortunate

  • Music

    It’s simple, the gas companies pay good salaries to workers who pay taxes on goods, income, real estate and so forth. Out of my salary from a gas company I paid over $37,000 in taxes.

  • James Asbury

    Bar fights? Oh yes this was Mayberrie RFD before was it not? meth labs and no jobs. I love the one sided stories about Towanda as if it were not full of bad ass folks before. and owe…poor you, and the traffic. SOOOOO soorry that 30 men drive’n trucks for a live’n keeps you from getting to your big important job. These are big boy troubles. I guess we should all go back to poverty, meth labs and no traffic so you can get down the wellfair office or your polo club faster.

  • Jim Willis

    Thanks Dan. All at-a-boys and general encouragement gratefully accepted. 🙂

  • Pingback: MDN Weekly Update – Mar 13, 2011 | Marcellus Drilling News()

  • Appalachia

    “But when the protestors enter private property and make menacing and threatening gestures to the citizens in that private property, that steps over the line.”

    Though I won’t defend trespass, perhaps some of those protestors have had their own private property and property values (as well as legal protections to public health, safe drinking water, and public safety) “menaced” or “threatened” by industrial drilling in their communities? Your rights end where my property line starts. Seems the gas industry was the first to step over the line in fracked communities, and they continue to do so when their activities impact private homes, private property and private lives of those who do not consent to the intrusion.

  • Pingback: Anti-Drilling Protestors in PA Break the Law (Again), This Time Disrupting a Meeting | Marcellus Drilling News()

  • MelissaSue

    Seriously, I want to know how you can sleep at night? I was at that protest, were you? Yes, we did march into the coalitions office. At no point was a bullhorn used inside of the office. No one made any threatening or menacing gestures to anyone. We were there for about 5 minutes and one of our representatives spoke to yours, asking about the severance tax. I can’t believe you would call peaceful protesters “nasty” and “thug-like”. The only time the bullhorn was used was for our representative to speak to the people outside that didn’t come inside about what your rep said. Not that I trusted anything that your website said before, I definitely do not believe a word that comes out of your mouths now. You have seriously discredited yourselves. By the way, we have video of the protest, proving everything that I said. Maybe I should go to the local news outlets and see if anyone wants to pick up the story. I already told everyone in my family, even ones that are pro-fracking, they know you lie now too. Good job. It’s so weird. You could’ve just been unbiased and reported the facts. There was a protest at the coalitions office. You didn’t have to resort to name-calling. Kind of childish. By the way, I do apologize if you were simply presenting the information that was given to you. I can understand if maybe someone had lied to you about what happened. You should probably try to do some fact-checking before just reporting this stuff. No offense.

  • Jim Willis

    Thanks for commenting Melissa. I was not at the protest as you claim you were. I am relying on news accounts of it. Are you saying the news accounts from the very anti-drilling Post-Gazette are inaccurate? If a group of people were to enter my office building stomping their feet and “taking over rooms and hallways” and demanding an audience, that to me is thug-like and menacing and nasty. Unless of course none of that really happened? I realize passions run high on this topic and that is has become political in nature. I encourage those who oppose drilling to keep your cool and be respectful. You can oppose drilling without resorting to angry mob tactics like what (allegedly) happened in Harrisburg.

  • Anonymous

    Surely you realize that some people are at wits end. Since most who are pro gas drilling see only the $ that this industry provides, those that are in opposition and ignored are totally frustrated. They see industry practices adversely affecting them and their lives. If they do manage to get heard in their opposition, they’re made out to be mouthy protesters and lunatics. We certainly don’t have government for and by the people anymore. We have government for businesses and the almighty dollar. Doesn’t our state constitution guarantee all citizens clean air and water? It’s being ignored. By you printing your opinion and those who don’t bother to research but simply read and accept it, you do all a misjustice.

  • Jim Willis

    I’m not quite sure where to begin. Are people frustrated? Sure are! On both sides, not just the anti-drilling side. Landowners are plenty frustrated too–at least in NY–that their constitutionally protected land rights are being withheld. You say that the gas drilling industry is adversely affecting people and their lives. Who exactly are you talking about? Its such a broad and sweeping statement, how can one respond? Has it affected some people in some areas negatively? Yes. Has it affected everyone adversely? No. Has it benefited some in some areas? Yes. Has it benefited everyone? No. But it’s certainly helped many more than it’s harmed.

    I don’t take a dim view of people who voice their opposition and use their constitutional right of free speech to make their opinions known. I listen carefully to their arguments to test them and see if there’s truth in it, and if there is, I applaud it. But I will also call them out if they cross the line, as these people did.

    But it seems my right to voice an opinion in this debate is not given the same equal and respectful treatment by you and those who oppose drilling. When I voice my opinion on these matters–when I point out problems and issues that I see in the debate, things I think are important, I am somehow doing an “injustice.” How, exactly, does that work, can you tell me? You get to voice your opinion and it’s OK, but when I do, I’m causing a public harm? Methinks you can’t have it both ways.

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