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Yesterday I wrote about my Goddaughter Elizabeth Arnold, who bravely interrupted the Pennsylvania Democratic Gubernatorial Primary Debate, and forced the candidates to focus on the issue of fracking as you can see in the video. Elizabeth has been leading a campaign to get them to commit to put a moratorium on fracking if elected.

Written by Elizabeth Arnold

I’m not particularly brave, I just feel that there is nothing anyone could do to me worse than what they are doing to our planet and to the families who can no longer live in their homes. When I rushed the stage I held up a list of 1700 families impacted by fracking. The List of the Harmed is compiled by Jenny Lysak and is now up to over 6,000 families. My printer stopped printing at 1700.

I actually hate the spotlight, but someone had to do it. I could not sit by and let this critical issue go unaddressed. About half way through the ‘debate’ I realized they were not even going to discuss fracking. I was sitting in the front row, very close to the stage steps. I had heard the candidates use the phrase “haven’t answered the tough questions” repeatedly and suddenly I just bolted on to stage without realizing the notes I had been scribbling were still in my left hand. I blanked on everything I was going to say and just winged it. Only later when watching the video did I hear what words actually came out of my mouth. There are many things I wish I had said, but hopefully my ‘inappropriate behavior’ creates some real discussion on a subject the candidates avoid like the plague, while we live the scourge.

The female moderator was beaming at me while the candidates just held fake smiles. But they are use to it. I’ve been bird-dogging them since November. They must have seen it coming. Security didn’t seem too threatened by me. One of the guards who hauled me out commended me saying “Great job.”

They weren’t sure what to do with me, but since I wouldn’t stop talking about children waking up with nose-bleeds, people passing out from the fumes while taking a shower, families being told not to light their stoves because their houses may explode, families living without water three years later — they just wanted me to leave before I depressed them further.

Then I walked out into the spring air and talked to supporters. I spoke with Craig Stevens, who also got thrown out for speaking up after they hauled me out.

Craig is a 6th generation landowner from Northeast PA. He is a lifelong conservative Tea Party Republican. He leased his land and has a pipeline running through his backyard. He now spends a lot of time visiting the offices of politicians all over the country to tell them how horrible fracking is and why we need to ban it.

He is considering voting Democrat for the first time in his life, because of our horrible Gov. Corbett. Unfortunately the Democrats are not much better on this issue (everyone is, of course, better than Corbett!)

I have seen the anti-fracking movement grow exponentially in Pennsylvania over the past four years. Public opinion has become more anti-fracking in PA as people learn about the practice, and as more people are directly impacted by the death-cycle of fracking. Yet there has been little discussion in the media or in political offices about whether this practice should be permitted and how we can ensure Pennsylvanians are safe and prosperous.

If fracking could be done safely (which has yet to be proven), then we would need to insure that the state benefits, which it has not. When they first started fracking PA heavily back in 2007/2008, many thought it could be done safely if tightly regulated. The NE PA group ‘Responsible Drilling Alliance’ is now just ‘RDA’ and has dropped the underlying meaning, because they have decided there is no such thing as responsible drilling. We haven’t seen it anywhere in the country.

Fracking is more than just the drill pad. It requires noxious loud compressor stations, pipelines, water withdraw facilities, endless 24/7 truck traffic on roads still often used by horse and buggy, fracking waste dumped in the middle of the night (or in plain sight on the roads as ‘de-icer,’ which eats away at the underside of cars), mining the bluffs of the Mississippi for sand, workers developing silicosis, chemical production for the toxic frack fluid cocktail, injection wells to get rid of the millions of gallons of contaminated radioactive water that flowbacks with the gas when a well is fracked. And now they are trying to permit Liquid Natural Gas export facilities, which is a dangerous, harmful process that would allow all our gas to be shipped overseas.

We are not asking for much, just a chance for PA to protect our long-term economic and environmental health. No one should live without clean drinking water and a safe environment. No part of PA should be a for-profit sacrifice zone. It’s about time the well-being of all Pennsylvanians is addressed in public forums where candidates give clear and precise answers on how they will advance the common good. Don’t be shy about demanding action.

Elizabeth Arnold is an electrician by day and activist by night. She lives in Philadelphia and has been organizing with amazing activists from across PA since the Bush-era. Together they are organizing for the long haul. They are starting a campaign house in NE PA where youth can spend their summers learning and working in communities directly impacted by fracking. She is a proud #FrackingFighter.

Photo source:

Originally posted to StewartAcuff on Wed May 14, 2014 at 05:06 AM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Don't Forget Folks, Oil & Gas Resources Belong (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      to EVERY American Citizen, held 'in trust' by the Federal Government, & oil & gas companies are ALLOWED to extract these resources. And corporations exist at the pleasure of the State, & WE are (supposedly) the State.

      If corporations are people now, can we frac on THEIR land?

    •  The Halliburton Loophole (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The fracking operators are currently overwhelming the internet with their claims of no appreciable damage but then there is the “Halliburton Loophole”.

      The Halliburton Loophole exempts companies from disclosing the chemicals used in the process and severely hampers EPA oversight.

      Cheney was chairman and CEO of Halliburton Company from 1995 to 2000 and it was a Bush/Cheney collaboration that produced this loophole. Halliburton Company being a major producer of gas retrieved using fracking.

      What alarms me, as it should all, is why are the gas producers afraid to tell us what chemicals they are using. And why did they feel the need to cut off EPA control?
      Evidently money is more important to them than American lives.

      No country can be both ignorant and free - Thomas Jefferson

      by fjb on Wed May 14, 2014 at 05:09:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Can the EPA collect a gallon jug of fracking fluid (0+ / 0-)

        and do a chemical analysis of it?

        •  Yes, they could ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... but they'd be prevented from taking any action based on what they might learn from the exercise - including going public with the results.

          The way the law is written, it doesn't merely exempt companies from revealing their "proprietary business processes", it equates any agency attempting to reveal said processes with espionage.

          OF COURSE the New Right is wrong - but that doesn't make WRONG the new RIGHT!

          by mstaggerlee on Thu May 15, 2014 at 11:01:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The Fascists at Halliburton... (0+ / 0-)

        ... believe that Government has no right to control ANY aspect of their operations.  Truth be known, they believe that they should control the Government - like all Fascist Corporations worth the paper their charters are printed on think.

        OF COURSE the New Right is wrong - but that doesn't make WRONG the new RIGHT!

        by mstaggerlee on Thu May 15, 2014 at 10:56:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The sheer power and arrogance of oil companies (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      amazes me.  It is in everyone's interest to take all reasonable precautions to avoid damage when extracting resources, and when damage is done, to quickly compensate fully and fairly.  Why do the oil companies flaunt their power to cause damage and avoid paying?  Hopefully more and more people will learn to hate them and vote against anyone supported by the oil companies + the Koch brothers of  course.  

      •  Why, because they have no choice. (0+ / 0-)

        It is apparent to me, knowing a bit about geology from courses in college, that fracking cannot be done safely.  The rock strata is intentionally damaged, will eventually cause ground movement and earthquakes above and around the fracked area, and will inevitably leak damaging substances into the water table above it. Given that what they are doing is indefensible in all circumstances, they would eventually have to pay damages for all of their fracking, no matter where they do it, which basically makes it impossible to make an ethical profit. So they have no choice but to continue to be unethical or totally quit.

        Starting back in the 1970's, I used to think that we would catastrophically run out of oil about now, and we have mostly run out of the easily accessible oil, but I didn't realize how desperation would endanger us all while trying to get at the oil and gas that is left.

  •  This takes tremendous courage, Elizabeth. (25+ / 0-)
    I actually hate the spotlight, but someone had to do it. I could not sit by and let this critical issue go unaddressed. [...] I just bolted on to stage without realizing the notes I had been scribbling were still in my left hand. I blanked on everything I was going to say and just winged it. Only later when watching the video did I hear what words actually came out of my mouth. There are many things I wish I had said, but hopefully my ‘inappropriate behavior’ creates some real discussion on a subject the candidates avoid like the plague, while we live the scourge.
    Like you, I hate the spotlight, and I am in awe of how you managed to push aside your fears and put those 6000 families front and center.  

    Reflecting on your so-called "inappropriate behavior" (which seemed pretty doggone appropriate to me) and discussing it with a mentor can also provide you with some valuable experiential lessons on how to manage your emotions the next time you have the opportunity.  Having it captured on video is very useful.

    Even the most effective leaders are rarely born: they are steadily forged with heat and pressure.  :-)

    Peace be with you.

  •  the elections (5+ / 0-)

    well Tom Wolf is currently ahead for democrats and though he talks to cute children about ensuring their future through "what's beneath the ground" its very clear that his massive ad buys have massive support from the gas industry. the same old same old I'm afraid- both candidates in the general may well be bought and paid for

    •  That is exactly why we cannot (7+ / 0-)

      just rely on electoral action. We must disrupt business as usual, change the calculus, demand action, take nonviolent direct action. We cannot shrug our shoulders. What do you think William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass thought of the inevitability of slavery in 1835 or A. Philip Randolph tough of the inevitability of segregation in 1941. Defeatism never won anything.


      by StewartAcuff on Wed May 14, 2014 at 08:44:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Resource extraction is a mainstay of our economy (4+ / 0-)

      There's a "bipartisan" consensus in support of that concept, which is one of countless reasons why I hate the very word "bipartisan."

      Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

      by RFK Lives on Wed May 14, 2014 at 09:03:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wind, sunshine, and hot rocks a few miles under (0+ / 0-)

        earth's surface are also resources to be extracted.  Our military leaders claim that renewable energy will do more for our national security than weapons can.  I believe with recent improvements in technology, for $100 billion/year, I hope diverted from military pork, it should be possible for military industrial complex firms, who now make weapons our military leaders no longer want, to make most of the parts for a national smart electric grid and enough of some mix of wind turbines and solar power systems to replace half of our present electric generation capacity plus most of above ground parts needed for enough enhanced geothermal systems to replace another fourth of our present electric generation capacity.  Another $20/billion a year (once a pilot project proves feasibility of enhanced geothermal systems) can be usefully spent on drilling and fracking underground hot rock reservoirs for those enhanced geothermal systems.  US Navy funds Algae Systems R&D on carbon-negative algal bio-fuels, which I hope will get close enough to cost-competitive with petroleum sometime between 2021 and 2026 for our government to subsidize getting our big oil and gas firms started on mass producing algal bio-fuels.  We will need first a carbon tax later joined by a tax on energy regardless of carbon footprint partly for prohibitive tariff effect, mostly to raise revenue to pay for whatever part of the above our military is NOT willing to pay for with funds diverted from military pork, and even more important to BUY at full ready to burn price the remaining fossil fuel reserves as mineral rights.  There is at least 200 years worth of coal left which will take at most of 200 years of carbon and energy tax revenue to buy as mineral rights and there will probably be between 20 and 30 years worth of oil and gas reserves left when we are able to get our oil and gas firms started on mass producing algal bio-fuels.  Nearly double energy prices plus the effect of higher energy prices on the price of everything else will be a high price for consumers to have to pay, but I hope it will be a lesser evil than taking a chance on losing civilization to global warming around 2050.

  •  The journalists (13+ / 0-)

    with smug, uncomfortable smiles on their faces should realizes actions like this are needed because they aren't doing their job. These are questions they should be asking.

  •  Thanks! (6+ / 0-)

    I shared this on fb with this comment:

    Essay from a brave young woman who spoke out during a Democratic primary debate about an issue people care about that they were ignoring.
    Keep up the good work!

    We have it within our power to make the world over again ~ Thomas Paine

    by occupystephanie on Wed May 14, 2014 at 09:27:53 AM PDT

  •  Sometimes the issue is more important than you (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ColoTim, Steven D, StewartAcuff, rkief

    and your fear.  Good on you Elizabeth.This is a life or death issue.  We all need to get out of our comfort zone and speak out.  Even just speaking out to our friends.

  •  Fracking, Water, Methane, ... ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ColoTim, highpckts

    The Obama administration is paying companies to drill fracking wells, so, no, in general Dems are not better on this than Repubs.  I had that in a post a while back.

    One thing that needs to happen is the LEASES for companies to frack need to be drafted by the landowners' lawyers, not the gas companies lawyers.  

  •  Fracking Promoted by DEMOCRAT Candidates (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raspberryberet, MikeHickerson

    Of all the issues confronting Pennsylvanians—health care, education, jobs, etc.—among the most important of these are the devastating ecological and human rights toll the fossil fuel extraction industry has taken on the Commonwealth, her neighboring states, and the planet as a whole in the form of its potentially devastating contribution to climate change.

    Fracking must be banned.

    There are many reasons why an articulate and uncompromising opposition to hydraulic fracturing, mountain top removal, tar sands extraction, other forms of unconventional gas drilling, the Keystone Pipeline, the construction of LNG export depots, is critical to the Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign.  

    Here are just four:

    1.The responsibility of the governor is to uphold the Pennsylvania Constitution, including Article 1, section 27: “The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.”

    2.The fossil fuel industry’s profit objectives are demonstrably inconsistent with the commitment to health care, education, and jobs.  

    A few examples:

    a. Health care: given the hazardous health effects that follow from exposure to the carcinogens, biocides, and other toxins associated with the fracking process; given that a similar account can be given for exposure to toxins resultant from compressor station emissions; given the potential for explosions at every juncture of this process—frack pad, pipeline, truck accident, compressor; and lastly, given that these hazards make particularly vulnerable populations already marginalized by the state’s inadequate health care access, no case can be made in defense of the industry’s conversion of Pennsylvania into what amounts to an extraction factory for wealthy multinationals.

    b. Education: in addition to the obvious hazards of locating extraction-associated facilities next to public schools, the effort of the Corbett administration to extort state universities into accepting extraction operations on their campuses is in obvious conflict with the missions of those public institutions, and inconsistent with the commitment to the health and welfare of their communities.  APSCUF—the Associated Pennsylvania State College and University Faculty union—opposes any such construction, and I had the privilege of drafting that resolution for all 14 campuses.

    c. Jobs: as is made clear on the numbers, the shale boom has not generated lasting employment for Pennsylvanians. Instead, it has diminished the potential for future employment in industries connected to our once spectacular forests, rivers, and high value streams, exposed mostly non-unionized workers to toxic health hazards, and exported profits from frack pad to off-shore bank accounts of already obscenely wealthy CEOs. That a very few may become very wealthy via royalties or other associated enterprise at the expense of the very many is intolerable to a democratic union and a prescription for future disaster.

    3. States are no more closed loop systems than are human bodies or frack pads. In a world increasingly confronted by the effects of global climate change, deforestation, desertification, and toxic pollution, governors and legislators must act responsibly not merely to their own constituents—much less to their campaign donors—but to the stability of the global ecology as a whole.  We can no longer afford to bury our heads in the sand about the impacts of an industry whose history so clearly shows that its mercenary drive to profit exceeds at every turn its commitment to human welfare or ecological stability.

    4. States do not have the right to deploy their police forces to quash dissent—yet, our current administration not only acts legislatively to insure the smooth path to profit, but deploys its police resources against the people in an effort to suppress, fear-monger, manipulate, and intimidate those who expose this path as littered with toxins, political corruptions, and egregious forms of harm.

    Extreme forms of fossil fuel extraction must be banned not only because the citizens of the Commonwealth cannot afford the consequences, but because no regulation can adequately prevent the harm. As we at Shale Justice (Shale Justice)  claim consistently: regulation is about nothing other than controlling temporarily the rate of harm—not the quantity, not the duration.  Moreover, no matter what some argue are “best practices,” none keep the gas in the ground—the only strategy that will prevent the contribution of fossil fuel extraction to climate change.

    Pennsylvania’s governor must act not only in the interest of all Pennsylvanians—but for the future of Pennsylvania. What this means is that she or he must take seriously the adage that the local is the global—for this is no mere hyperbole; it is fact.  And as such, it is moral duty.

    So why--when we have a CLEAR ALTERNATIVE in the Green Party's Paul Glover--would we spend time trying to get candidates who can't even be moved to sign onto the Democrat's moratorium--let alone the only position that really matters--a BAN. Can Wolf be shamed into doing the right thing? Were that likely, it would have happened far before the primary. Same with all the others. Or is this really just an opportunity for some Democrats to say "we tried," and then move on to the next issue--hands washed? DO SOMETHING BRAVE. JUMP SHIP. VOTE GREEN PARTY.

    Now--will this get me banned from DAILY KOS? Yes--but that's because DAILY KOS is no more interested in democracy than are the multinational-beholden Democrats it supports. For some insight into this hypocrisy, see:

    Wendy Lynne Lee
    The Shale Justice Coalition
    The Green Party, PA

  •  Where candidates (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    give clear and precise answers? Like justice Roberts did at his nomination hearing? Hope for the truth. But don't hold your breath.

  •  I'm sure I will get a million negative votes... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...for my comment. So be it. Somebody's got to be Cassandra, & tell the truth.

    I'm a liberal on virtually every issue, but my knee does not jerk on the subject of fracking. I do not consider it to be a conservative/liberal choice, or if you insist into one, it will not end well for liberalism.

    Listen, I am 100% for intense regulation of fracking & making the oil companies pay for the FULL COSTS of any damage that fracking does (& I admit that it does damage).

    But here's the one fact I want you all to be aware of: if we ban fracking, the most direct effect will be to reduce America's natural gas production back down to where it was pre-fracking. And that means that the 100+ power-generating plants across this country that converted from burning coal to burning natural gas will all be forced to switch back to burning coal.

    And that means that America's CO2 emissions will shoot up.

    There is an inherent conflict between your liberal desire to cut CO2 emissions so as to protect the global environment, versus your desire to view fracking as a simplistic evil thing that we should cease doing.

    It is NOT that simple. It is NOT black-&-white. Fracking is NOT de facto pure evil. It CAN be done in a way that better protects the environment, beter protects people, and makes full financial restitution to anyone who still suffers any damages. And that's what we should be pressing for.

    Because there is no way that we can protect the environment when we increase our CO2 emissions, no way that we can make restitution for the damage done to future generations when global climate change accelerates.

    •  vebiltdervan (0+ / 0-)

      When fracking began I was Chief of Staff of the Utility Workers Union of America. We met with consultants and experts who said that fracking could be safe if tightly regulated with a government inspector at every site. I don't believe that. It is inherently destructive especially to ground water. But if you do believe that enough government inspectors will make it safe, tell me when we've properly regulated any industry. We need to invest in sustainable and renewable energy, not continue to invest in new carbon based energy.  We just wrote about an MIT article about the current technology that allows us to use wind as a source of base power. That is what we should invest in. Investing in new carbon based fuel is simply greed gone mad.  


      by StewartAcuff on Thu May 15, 2014 at 05:36:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Folks, I think you're both right. (0+ / 0-)

        We need cleaner energy. We need to tightly regulate fracking, but I don't think our country or our world can afford to completely stop it in the short term. We need to transition to renewable energy, in the long run maybe 100%. That means investing in it heavily, starting with the government.

  •  More than one type (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    smileycreek, JerryNA

    Disclosure: I own a few natural gas wells in Kentucky, but I hope I am being unbiased.

    For clarification, there are many forms of fracking. The one people are most concerned about is hydrofracking. In fact there are even many types of hydrofracking.

    Some wells (mine for example) were created using explosive fracking. A series of small charges are set off in the well to facture the surrounding rock. The charges can have about the same explosive force as a shotgun shell. As far as I know there is no environmental impact related to this type of fracking.

  •  The hits just keep on coming.... (0+ / 0-)

    Now batting fourth in the lineup on team oil&gas a real home run hitter for the team Keystone XL pipeline.

  •  And the hits to environment just keep on coming. (0+ / 0-)

    Now batting in the clean up spot for team oil&gas Keystone XL pipeline.

  •  Thanks for these great comments!! (0+ / 0-)

    Of course fracking is deadly to all of us.


    by StewartAcuff on Fri May 16, 2014 at 07:30:24 AM PDT

  •  Fracking (0+ / 0-)

    Fracking, another example of private profits at public expense.

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