Is the Anti-Drilling Crowd Losing Steam? Low Numbers Turn Out for Josh Fox Rally in Harrisburg

Josh FoxPerhaps the real question should be: Did the anti-drilling crowd ever really have a head of steam to begin with? The mainstream media certainly wants you to think so. A relatively small group of people who oppose drilling in the Marcellus—indeed people who are demanding a total ban on gas drilling—seem to get a lot of press coverage, while a majority who support it get relatively little press coverage.

MDN’s observation and the reason for this post…

Yesterday, Josh Fox, writer and director of the anti-drilling documentary “Gasland” was the headline protestor who sat outside Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s office door “demanding” to meet with him. This particular anti-fracking protest rally in Harrisburg (PA’s Capitol), had been hyped for weeks in advance. Here is an article from the Harrisburg Patriot-News on Monday talking about the protest scheduled for Tuesday:

Organizers of the anti-drilling rally say they expect 400 to 600 people, based on the number of those who have made appointments to meet with their legislators and on the buses scheduled to bring protesters in from Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Williamsport.

“There are all sorts of other places where people have organized car pools and vans,” said Myron Arnowitt of Clean Water Action, one of the sponsoring groups

Practically all areas of the state will be represented, he said.

Celebrity is one of the attractions.

Documentary film maker Josh Fox, who was nominated for an Academy Award for “Gasland,” will be the keynote speaker.(1)

Here’s how the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported it yesterday afternoon:

Several hundred anti-drilling activists packed the state Capitol rotunda today with a message for the governor and lawmakers: halt gas drilling until a comprehensive study of its impacts is completed.(2)

Notice how we quickly moved from 400-600 to “several hundred”. And finally, here is how the AP reported it:

Accusing the government of being unable to protect the environment or public health, more than 200 people rallied on Tuesday in the Pennsylvania Capitol for tougher laws — if not an outright ban — on natural gas drilling as pressure builds on state lawmakers to approve a levy on the booming industry.(3)

So we went from 400-600, to several hundred, to more than 200, which means there was most likely 200 or less at the “big-time” protest with Josh Fox. Given the high profile of Fox and the promotion of this event, 200 people turning out does not seem like all that many.

(1) Harrisburg Patriot News (Jun 6, 2011) – Anti-drilling rally expected to draw 400 to 600 people

(2) Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Jun 7, 2011) – Hundreds protest Marcellus Shale drilling in Harrisburg

(3) Christian Science Monitor/AP (Jun 7, 2011) – Pennsylvania eyes natural gas tax on biggest US find