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