Thursday, December 12, 2013

Barry Yeoman's "The Shale Rebellion": Giving Voice to the Grassroots (

Like all good writing, Barry Yeoman's "The Shale Rebellion" raises at least as many questions as it answers with respect to the emergence of a grassroots movement in the heart of rural Pennsylvania to ban fracking.

At the heart of this movement for Northeast Central Pennsylvania stands Shale Justice--a growing coalition composed of other grassroots anti-fracking groups, large and small, whose mission it is to create the conditions for better organizing, better communication--conditions that ultimately contribute to the one thing capable of monkey wrenching the monied machinery of the natural gas industry: critical mass.

Our aims, in other words, are to arm the people with the single most effective tool for combatting dispersed industrialized extraction: education.

Our even larger aims are to expand that mission to national and global scale. After all, wherever there exists shale--and that's nearly everywhere on the globe--there exists the possibility that an industry whose track record of pollution, criminal dumping, deceit, green-washing, and the evasion of responsibility will be soon to follow.

The "storyscape" of Yeoman's piece certainly contributes to that mission, and it offers much food for thought:

Why is it that many of the the primary organizers at the grassroots level are working women--while the "Big Greens" (what I now refer to as the Big Fake Greens) remain affluent white men?

Why, if 58% of Pennsylvanians support a moratorium on fracking, do our elected representatives remain deaf to their constituents?

What counts as a "special place," as the excellent activist and writer John Trallo puts it, if it's not the earth under our feet?

Why, when the overwhelming evidence points to a future neither desirable nor even sustainable in the face of climate change, aren't more Pennsylvanians demanding to be heard?

Yeoman's right when he writes that "the Shale Rebellion remains—for now—a decentralized movement." As it should.

But as we are witness to the prospect of 100,000 wells just in Pennsylvania--imagine the global implications-- I have to hope that Yeoman turns out to be wrong when he goes on to suggest that this movement has "no uniform goal."

And, of course, there's so much more to be said. As key organizer and activist from the invited occupation of Riverdale points out, the tree sits undertaken by "forest defenders" in, for example, Loyalsock State Forest--planned site of 26 well pads for the notorious Anadarko (Kerr McGee)--are vital to the beating heart of this movement.

Just as the eminent Nelson Mandela saw that there could be no "regulated" apartheid, no compromise on injustice, no "middle ground" on institutionalized bigotry, so too there can be no "regulated" destruction of the necessary conditions of life--water and air.

There can be no compromise on the injustice suffered by folks like Deb Eck.

There is no middle ground when the stakes are a habitable planet and a future for our children.

"What do I tell my kids?" asks Bob Deering.

Tell them what Mandela taught us all:

We can either stand up against injustice, or we can lay down and hope our children never ask us why.

What could be clearer?

Wendy Lynne Lee
Shale Justice

For a set of photographs specifically selected for Yeoman's storyscape, please see:

For photographs of the invited occupation of Riverdale, please see:

For photographs of the CYNOG Compressor at Janet Hock Road, Davidson Township, Sullivan County, PA, please see:

For Photographs of the EXCO pad at Lairdsville, Rt. 118, Pennsylvania, please see:

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