Monday, November 25, 2013

A wasteland is sustainable. But what dumb-monkey wants it?

If you've found your way to my blog, The Wrench, you've likely read my recent Facebook post just before I deactivated that account. That was very hard to do. But I have things to say, and this is a better, much less cluttered place to say them. I have also returned to Twitter:

So, thank you for visiting. I am currently under a bit of construction, but promise to return by the 10th of December--when the new issue of the excellent journal, The American Prospect, will issue its electronic copy of Barry Yeoman's The Shale Rebellion.

In the mean time, you might enjoy some of the other essays I have reposted here--many originally posted at Raging Chicken Press (

When I return, my aim will be to offer essays, photographs, youtubes--some mine, some provided by others--that reach beyond the shale fields--without ever quite leaving them.

Not that I wouldn't like to.

But I can no more completely expunge myself from the struggle to end industrialized fossil fuel extraction than, well, any of us can who inhabit the planet and give a damn.

My project will be to write through some of the endless ligature which connects energy production and consumption to other vital issues--people, animals, ecologies--and to the future.

A wasteland is sustainable.

But it's not remotely good enough.

In fact, what it deserves is to be subjected to satire, puppet-shows, lampoons, howling send-ups, and withering exposure.

So, this dumb-monkey has a new year's resolution: if words are the best of all weapons, then let's take the frackin' MoFo's down.

2014. It's nearly here.

Wendy Lynne Lee


Unknown said...

Aside from all of those glaring injustices you will have to overlook, there is the persistent and real problem that is: the corporate state drives itself, you are either a part of it or you are a part against it. there is no change from the "inside". Change is precipitated by "outside" forces.

Vera said...

thanks , for being still as the little girl, interested in what is on the ground, the environment before you and not interested in the "candy" offered that might distract you from the healthy beauty of nature to explore....

Brad Bechtel said...

Thanks for inviting me. Hope you don't mind a "lurker". You never know what you can do until you have done it.

Wendy Lynne Lee said...

Thanks Vera. My exit from Facebook is designed not to suggest I no longer take the anti-fracking movement seriously--but quite the opposite. As the industry gears up to connect to pipeline, I think we must gear up to unified, thoughtful serious non-violent resistance. I have no doubt I'll be stalked here. But, unlike on Facebook, I exercise a little more control with a LOT less clutter.

Wendy Lynne Lee said...

Here's the original letter I posted on Facebook:


First, thanks.

Thanks to the many and wonderful friends and allies I have come to know over the last several years in the course of our collective resistance to the development of shale gas. Your consistent support, inspiring ideas, and tremendous patience have meant a great deal to me. I have worked very hard to document the history of this resistance, and to be among the voices of reason in building a unified momentum towards demanding a ban on industrialized extraction.

Second, I have come to see that sometimes strategy does change—for better or worse.

Recent events have moved me to some probing self-reflection on my place in the movement to end fracking. I find it more and more difficult to breathe easy knowing that, whatever else might distinguish us from each other, what I believed we were—a unified force in the struggle to end fracking, mountain top removal, and tar sands extraction—is not what we are—a “spectrum” which includes positions contradictory to that momentum and corrosive to that cause. Demanding a ban is, admittedly, very hard work—one fraught with risk and deep-thinking about abstractions like “others” and “the future.” The compromise for “better regulations” advocated by self-styled “realists” is certainly less onerous, safer, and involves thinking not much beyond “my community,” “my health,” “my family.” Nonetheless, it is a curious “realism” at least whose “place” along the spectrum of a movement to end industrialized extraction is one that can only lead to more extraction.

Wendy Lynne Lee said...

“If you can’t beat them, join them!”—this seems the new mantra for many in our movement. And perhaps that’s how things should be. Perhaps these folks really believe they can be a subversive influence to moderate the industry’s seemingly insatiable thirst for more gas. Perhaps “compromise,” “middle ground,” and “working with” are more than concession and collaboration. Maybe it’s just true that the absolute best we’re going to achieve against this industrializing behemoth is temporary cosmetic mitigation—a little technology here, some “reclamation” there, some cover-up yonder. Perhaps what I’ve been calling a bit derisively “cadaver cosmetics”—“best practices” that slow ever so slightly the rate (though not the amount) of harm—is really an opportunity in disguise; maybe frack gas really is a chance to embrace a new American dream of energy independence, national security, and global authority—a bridge fuel to a sustainable future. We all know I’m a patriot.

And there’s certainly lots of money to be made.

Wendy Lynne Lee said...

I have sincerely believed we could achieve a ban—that that dream-for-us-all was neither na├»ve nor inconsistent with our other values—property and liberty, for example. For the “realists,” the price of that ban is too high—it means putting ourselves to the grindstone for perhaps years of protests, thousands of words exposing corruption, and piles of science, until the industry finally gives up its quest to suck every last drop of gas out of the ground. For the “realists” a fairer price is what’s contained in the exchange of industry compensation for the silence of a non-disclosure agreement—and exchange made compulsory for too many, but not all.

Still, if we are to embrace this new “middle ground,” mantra, if we’re going to sit down over a cup-o-Joe with the gas, then we should do it with all the verve and enthusiasm we’ve to this point reserved for a very different message: “The gas must stay in the ground!” Indeed, in a bizarre way, how fortunate are those original victims of the shale fields who can leverage their status as the harmed into candidate endorsements and settlements while the rest of us—the future harmed—have little with which to woo the industry to our kitchen tables. Who knows—perhaps the industry really does have a human face, nice caring people for whom profits take a back seat to human welfare. Maybe our new strategy of “sitting down with the gas” will encourage the gas to stalk us less, break into our houses less frequently, castigate the exercise of our right to protest as “eco-terrorism” with less vitriol. Hells’ bells, if I’m to be “chattin’ with the gas,” I won’t have time to take the pictures they don’t like, or write the scorched earth essays they detest. Maybe that’s all to the good.

It would be a lot easier.

In order, however, to pursue a course consistent with the “realism” of the new mantra, we must collectively decide to no longer speak of at least the following frackerific issues:

1. Water: including contamination (including radioactivity), withdrawal, permanent loss.
2. Air: pollution, including VOCs, ozone, particulates, and other lung-affective hazards.
3. Ecology: including forest fragmentation, endangered species extinctions, and irrecoverable habitat.
4. Community: including fellow feeling, children’s health, safety, and future habitability.
5. Laws and legislation: including Act 13, or any legislation relevant to “gas development.”
6. The future: including the potential effects of climate change.

That’s tough for me in this venue. Plus, if I’m to re-tool for my next incarnation as a gal who can chat it up with the gas, I’ll need to take some time to work up my social skills, maybe buy a dress. Thank the lord I grew out my hair.

So, having simply exhausted what I can accomplish here—especially in light of re-tooling my fossil-fuel strategy—I must leave Facebook (10PM, 11.25.13). I must turn my attention to more proactive thinking and writing—and picture taking. And in truth, every day as I open my Facebook page, my heart sinks at the litany of frack disasters, pipeline explosions, compressors gone south, protests crushed.

If I have learned anything here it’s that the sheer volume of disaster is insufficient by itself to motivate collective action. You’d think we be standing a gazillion deep in front of the offices of Anadarko to protect a national treasure called the Loyalsock. And then, we don’t.

Maybe it’s just smarter to find a way to cash in.

For folks who might like to take an occasional gander at my current and future work, you can find me at

There are the pictures:

For all other correspondence:

Peace and prosperity to us all.