On Wednesday, September 7th, opponents of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and unconventional gas exploitation are invited to come to Philadelphia for the Shale Gas Outrage rally. The next day, all are welcome at the Freedom From Fracking: Building Strategies Together conference.
Protecting Our Waters is spearheading the events, and is partnering with another 43 groups from inside and outside of Pennsylvania. Like the Day of FRACtion in New Brusnwick, the Pennsylvania protest intends to send a direct message to industry and government that many citizens are worried and do not want more drilling.
Appearing at the event will be:
Josh Fox, Director of the Oscar-nominated “Gasland;” Al Appleton, internationally respected water systems expert; impacted families from “shale country”;organizers fighting for the life of the Delaware River watershed, the commonwealth, the Marcellus Shale region, and the nation; and elected officials who have championed the cause of clean water, clean air, and human health.
On the Thursday, the conference brings together interested parties to discuss how to pool their expertise and resources in a broad-based popular movement in order to develop common strategies for electoral and legislative campaigns, direct action, local organizing, media advocacy, legal action and watershed specific action.
Industry And Government
The mid-week opposition events take place as drillers and other fossil fuel industry leaders gather for the Marcellus Shale Coalition’s Shale Gas Insight™ 2011 in Philadelphia, a conference celebrating the “national shale revolution” and the supremacy of carbon. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley and former Governor Tom Ridge will be speaking at that event and on behalf of the drilling industry. Numerous dirty energy Chairmen, CEO’s and Presidents for companies like Chesapeake, Consol Energy and Range Resources will also speak and (have a chance to) influence policy.
Industry And Locals
While Shale Gas Insight™ 2011 will be driller’s opportunity to promote themselves to the Pennsylvania political class and to each other; the fossil industry is diversifying its outreach efforts. One highly effective way is to take over sponsorship duties at county fairs. Just last week at the Greene County Fair, Consol representatives were buying up locally raised animals and mixing with Pennsylvanians.
Eric Cowden, community outreach manager for the Marcellus Shale Coalition speaks of the energy companies evolving strategy to gain local support:
“As traditional [as] summer fairs are for Pennsylvania, it has become that kind of tradition for these energy companies.”
“It’s part of their makeup now.”
EQT Corporation, for its part, is sponsoring 24 county fairs this year in places like Kentucky and West Virginia.
When Range, based out of Texas, takes time away from pitting residents against one another in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania [NPR podcast], it sponsors fairs and donates to children showing their animals.
Not only are these fairs excellent ways to win over worried residents, but they are also a way to build future workforces. Range spokesman Matt Pitzarella writes:
“Those are the family farms where we work and more likely than not those are the young people who will one day lead our industry.”
Industry As One
Deep pockets allow these fossil interests to win over locals – but energy giants like Chesapeake, Consol, EQT Corp. and Range are not limiting themselves to shaking hands with governors or attending county fairs. Just like Shale Gas Outrage and Freedom From Fracking are bringing together many opposition groups so as to form a united front and common voice against fracking, industry is joining together as well.
At the end of October, the communications and marketing heads for the oil and gas industry are meeting in Houston to build a common fracking media relations strategy.
At the event, Media & Stakeholder Relations: Hydraulic Fracturing Initiative 2011, the industry outreach experts will think through how to use social media to convince the public that fracking is not a threat.
The two day meeting describes itself in two ways:
Giving Communications Professionals At Unconventional Oil & Gas Companies The Tools To Design A Comprehensive Media & Stakeholder Relations Strategy For Engaging The Public On A Positive Image For The Industry
Working Together As An Inudstry To Leverage Mass Media, Social Media & Community Support To Overcome Public Concern Over Hydraulic Fracturing
If only Shale Gas Outrage and local concerns over fracking and unconventional gas were just about a positive image…Yes, if only.
Shale Gas Outrage rally and demonstration
When: Wednesday, September 7, Noon – 2 PM (March follows until 3 PM)
Where: Center City Philadelphia, Arch St., between Broad and 13th Streets; In front of the Pennsylvania Convention Center
Freedom From Fracking: Building Strategies Together conference
When: Thursday, September 8, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM
Where: Congregation Rodeph Shalom, 615 N Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19123
For a list of even more upcoming events, visit GasMain.