MDN Weekly Update – Jul 24, 2011: Civil Disobedience Kerfuffle

Poll resultsFirst, the results of last week’s poll, which asked:

If fueling stations were widely available, which type of vehicle would you PREFER to drive?

Natural Gas (72%, 131 Votes)
Stay w/Gasoline (12%, 22 Votes)
Electric (10%, 18 Votes)
Electric/Gasoline Hybrid (6%, 12 Votes)

Total Voters: 183

Current Poll – MDN Hits a Nerve

This past Wednesday, MDN published a copy of an email we received advertising an upcoming “organizer and action training” session on Keuka Lake, NY (see MDN article here). The stated purpose of the session is to teach participants to engage in non-violent civil disobedience in an attempt to “ban fracking and stand strong against all fossil fuel extraction.” That particular MDN article garnered the most views and the comments of any article this past week. My purpose in publishing the email was to point out the philosophy or ideology that is at the core of the anti-drilling movement: A philosophy that says a select minority of people claim to know better than the rest of us what kind of energy we should have in this country—“sustainable” energy (solar, wind) rather than nasty ol’ fossil fuels that will get used up in a couple of hundred of years.

And it hit a nerve. Out came the usual arguments: I’m not attending because of a philosophy, but because my property values will be destroyed! Drilling causes air pollution! Water will be poisoned! Huge corporations are raping the countryside! That is, all arguments that I maintain these people don’t REALLY believe in their heart of hearts, but use as a way to scare other people into the viewpoint that all drilling should be banned. Because I dare to say such things, I’ve been called a shill for the industry (which I am not), I’ve been called naïve (which I may be), I’ve been called lots of things. No matter. It is what I believe to be true. Yes, some people are concerned about those things, but I believe if we could have a calm and courteous discussion about their specific objections, and pull out some facts, those objections would ultimately not stand up to scrutiny. And so what’s left is the core ideology: sustainable energy vs. fossil fuels. That is what this debate is about.

Many commenters on the article focused on my headline about civil disobedience training camp, saying I’m trying to make out those who attend as dopers and malcontents and not the educated, erudite, smarter-than-the-rest of us crowd they really are. I made no such statements, nor did I even imply it. I know many people on the anti-drilling side that I like and respect. They are smart and savvy and good people. So chill out! I’m not saying you’re bad people—I’m saying your thinking on this topic is incorrect and inaccurate.

For me, the good news about the very existence of this civil disobedience training camp is this: The anti-drilling side has finally accepted that Marcellus Shale drilling is coming to New York, and sooner rather than later. If they didn’t believe that, why this camp? The bad news, for everyone, is that the fight is “going local.” You can expect contentious town board meetings and hard-fought local elections in the coming few years as the vocal minority attempts to persuade local officials to ban or greatly curtail drilling in their communities. It’s just a fact. It’s coming.

In thinking about all of this civil disobedience stuff, which is a proud American tradition (Boston Tea Party anyone?), I thought, let’s put the shoe on the other metaphorical foot with this week’s poll. What if landowners, who want to lease their land for Marcellus Shale drilling and cannot, having suffered economic harm for more than three years now, decided to engage in civil disobedience? And what if the many small businesses that would benefit from the drilling industry but can’t because of moratoriums, zoning ordinances and perhaps civil disobedience decided to engage in civil disobedience themselves? And what if the thousands who are unemployed and could have jobs in this industry (but don’t), decided to engage in civil disobedience? What if all of them joined together and said “enough is enough” and it’s time to retaliate against those who continue to promote the moratorium or who actively try to stop drilling by using civil disobedience to do it?

Seems to me one of the hotbeds of opposition to drilling is Ithaca, NY. Professors and even students from Cornell University are being paid large sums of money by anti-drilling organizations to produce so-called studies, and to go on the speaking lecture tour, predicting the environmental and economic disasters that await us when and if drilling should begin. So what if all of the landowners and others who support drilling were to descend on Cornell University—and shut the place down for a few hours? Non-violent of course. All very “civil.” Maybe even a sit-in at one of Prof. Ingrafea’s classes complete with chant: hey-hey-ho-ho-Ingrafea’s-got-to-go.

Or in Pennsylvania, which is not immune to civil disobedience and where drilling already happens but is now being threatened…should those who support drilling march to the offices of anti-drilling organizations and shut them down for an hour or two, the way anti-drillers have tried to do in Harrisburg with pro-drilling organizations? Carry a bullhorn along and demand to meet with those in charge? Stomp their feet and intimidate the way those who oppose drilling do when they engage in their protests?

But of course, it’s all just a muse—just a daydream. It won’t happen. But, what if it did?

So this week’s poll question asks:

If anti-drillers engage in civil disobedience to prevent drilling, should those who support drilling retaliate and engage in civil disobedience too?

Register your vote along the right side of any page on the site.

Below are the most recent “top 5” lists and the calendar of Marcellus related events for the next few weeks.

Thanks for reading MDN!
Jim Willis, Editor

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