Friday, March 21, 2014

Anadarko Liquidates Public Lands for Private Profits: Marcellus Shale Earth First Fights for All of Us at Tiadaghton

As reported by Marie Cusick, NPR-State Impact:

A group of environmental activists has chained themselves to concrete barrels in an effort to block access to an Anadarko Petroleum drilling site in Lycoming County, [Tiadaghton State Forest] according to a spokesman for the group.
 Marcellus Shale EarthFirst spokesman Mathew Louis-Rosenberg says between eight to ten activists were involved and two have been arrested so far.
“Folks blockading access to the wellpad were in place before people showed up for work,” he says. “Workers were unable to access the site" (Environmental activists block access to Lycoming County drilling site | StateImpact Pennsylvania).

Tiadaghton, Wendy Lynne Lee

A more complete picture, however is offered by Marcellus Shale Earth First:

"In the pre-dawn hours, activists with Marcellus Shale EarthFirst!, Pennsylvania residents and students took action to halt Anadarko’s hydraulic fracturing operation in the Tiadaghton State Forest. Protestors blocked the only access road to a wellpad by locking themselves to barrels of concrete, preventing workers from entering the site.  Dozens more activists are holding a rally at Anadarko’s corporate offices in Williamsport, Pa.  The activists are demanding an immediate halt to all plans for new drilling on Pennsyvlania’s public lands" (Marcellus Shale EF!ers Held at $57,000 Bail | Earth First! Newswire).

The EarthFirst! action is in response to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett's "executive order to open Pennsylvania’s remaining public lands for hydraulic fracturing," including Tiadaghton State Forest and Loyalsock State Forest's Clarence Moore Lands. While after stopping all operations at the Dam Run Road site for four hours the lock-down activists were finally removed by state police (who noted their politeness), clearing access to the site took at least two more hours (Marcellus Shale EF!ers Held at $57,000 Bail | Earth First! Newswire).

Here's the Youtube: ▶ Gas Well Protest on Dam Run Road - YouTube

While the direct action protest continued at Dam Run Road, the growing protest against extreme extraction in Tiadaghton made its public debut in front of the Anadarko Pennsylvania headquarters in Williamsport.

But that's just a cursory summary of the facts, and the facts can't contain the meaning, the courage, and the commitment of the Marcellus Shale EarthFirst! action. Though some--and far too many--would be willing to characterize as "terrorist" nonviolent civil disobedience--even first amendment protected freedom of expression--what we know inside this movement to resist extreme fossil fuel extraction is that meaningful change is not going to be accomplished through, say, sitting down with the gas industry and asking them not to destroy our water, our communities, and our public and private lands. 


In the tradition of every movement for civil liberty, the equal rights of minorities and women, the human rights of indigenous peoples--and now the most fundamental right of all, the right to drink clean water and breathe clean air, the members of this movement must engage every nonviolent constitutionally protected means of resistance at its disposal. And that was the principle which governed this cold, blustery day in rural Pennsylvania--folks fighting for their lives and all of our lives.

As I put it to the reporter from the Williamsport Sun Gazette: "We want to see it stopped everywhere because it is destroying our communities and because it's destroying our water...stopping companies like Anadarko, who have a history of environmental ethics violations, is crucial to protecting forested areas.." 
Photograph, Wendy Lynne Lee

I added that consistent with the position taken by the Shale Justice Coalition, of whom Marcellus Shale Earth First! is a proud member (Shale Justice), our resistance to extreme extraction was aimed not only at protecting forests, but "every special place" including our yards, our homes, and all of our public lands (Anti-fracking crowd uses logs, pipe to block Dam Run Road - | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Information - Williamsport-Sun Gazette).

It's really pretty simple:

  • Given an industry whose record of egregious ecological and resource liquidation is demonstrably un-regulable, and who effectively drafts its own laws through the collusion of elected state senators and representatives,
  • Given a government demonstrably beholden to that industry-- more interested in insuring the revolving door fortunes of its elected representatives as well as amassing largesse in the form of influence and off-shore bank deposits,
  • Given a state police appropriated as the private security force of that industry--an industry who can deploy its agents to the homes of private citizens without warrant and without cause (THE WRENCH: WHEN THE NATURAL GAS INDUSTRY USES THE STATE POLICE AND THE FBI JOINT TERRORISM TASK FORCE TO SILENCE A CITIZEN: OFFICER MIKE HUTSON AT MY DOOR, 2.14.14.),
  • Given a state history saturated in the coal dust, acid mine run-off, industry hegemony, and political corruption of its past,
  • Given a media--at virtually every level, local, state, national-- controlled by the industries that bank-roll its programming...

it's no wonder that folks are bamboozled by the flag-wavin', fear-mongerin', lie-a-minute bull shit from companies like Anadarko Petroleum. In fact, it's a wonder that more folks aren't acquiescent drones. 

Fact is, if we weren't making real headway getting out the facts about fracking, industry-promo-drones like James Asbury of the gas rag The Drillin' Man (Protest in Williamsport | The Drill'N Manwould have nothing to do. Although he's slim on facts and long on making claims for which he has zero independent support, the Drillin' Man does know his job description: manufacture anxiety in folks by encouraging them to see as an act of violence the exercise of Constitutionally protected non-violent freedom of expression. Then, gain access to gas industry representatives by making them think you've got insider knowledge about things like "movement plans" you manifestly do not have. Lastly, act as a pseudo-snitch to the state police about said "plans and strategies." In other words, Asbury fancies himself as a sort of self-selected special agent protecting the public from the dangerous activists.

To bad he can't get his facts straight--case in point: In his "intelligencer" about the Marcellus Shale Earth First action, he says that "gas protesters had set up shop in the Loyalsock national forest." 

He's got the forest wrong; it was Tiadaghton.

Then he "quotes" a gas station attendant as referring to the activists as "[e]co-activists or eco-terrorists depending on who you ask,"and then goes on allegedly to say that he "thought some of them were going to go at it here in the store” referring to an oil man who’d walked into the shop a few moments after some of the protestors came in" (Protest in Williamsport | The Drill'N Man). Asbury describes the protesters as "huddling" outside the federal building on 3rd street, Williamsport, and he claims to quote an Anadarko contractor who referred to the protesters as "unspooled."
Photo, Wendy Lynne Lee

But the Drillin' Man supplies no corroborating evidence that any of this was said, no location for the alleged gas station, no names, nothing. Moreover, "huddling" no more describes what we were doing that does "eco-terrorism." fact is, we have no reason to believe he's no just making this up out of whole cloth, and--keep reading--very good reason to think that he is.

In his excellent piece for American Prospect, The Shale Rebellion, Barry Yeoman writes of a meeting he had with Asbury in Williamsport:

Only one moment from our interview disquiets me. On the second night, as we sit down with our beers, Asbury says, “So I heard you spent some time with Wendy Lee.” I hadn’t mentioned the professor the previous night. I ask how he knows. “I have contacts with every waitress and every…”—here he pauses—“I’ve got everybody pegged. I know crap about people that they don’t know about themselves. Nothing gets done in this business without…”—another pause—“there are double spies and double agents." (The Shale Rebellion | The American Prospect)
Now it is just plain creepy that Asbury knew Yeoman had me on his interview list. And few with any sense doubt that there exist info-delivery moles within the anti-fracking movement. After all, just consider the largesse and power that's at stake. But if Asbury had "everybody pegged" he absolutely wouldn't be bragging about it to an investigative reporter. Double agents don't blow their cover. And he'd refrain from telling whoppers about which no other agency has reported like this one from the Anadarko protest: 

As DM [Drillin' Man] left the area- an odd thing stood out.An military looking vehicle was seen pulling away from the area-  the number of police and guards on hand clearly showed a  higher than normal level of defense. (Protest in Williamsport | The Drill'N Man).
This is just one more rather labored attempt to manufacture anxiety about ecoterrorism--where there is no such threat, and to legitimate  visits from officers like Mike Hutson--where there is no reason for the "visit."

So why does this little story about Asbury matter here? 

Because we in the movement need to comprehend as clearly as we can the strategies being deployed to discredit us, to arrest us on false/faulty grounds, to harass us, to intimidate us, and to ultimately silence us. 

While the Drillin Man is certainly small potatoes, he represents a kind of "career" for opportunists looking to cash in on whatever hysteria they can help to create over a controversial issue. I don't know that Asbury actually even cares all that much about natural gas extraction. Like, say Energy in Depth's Joe Massaro--also quoted by Yeoman in The Shale Rebellion--whose says he's "heard stories about pipe bombs" but doesn't think the industry needs to worry about Lee (connecting me to pipe bombs but seeming to deny it--nice), Asbury wants to make sure he stays on the industry radar as a source of information. 

Whether he's got any or not.

What Asbury does know is what the industry knows--and we all know:

More and more folks are beginning to see for themselves the cynical, mercenary, and breathlessly greedy character of companies like Anadarko, companies whose true colors aren't even the green of dollar bills, but shades of drilling mud, barren hillside, that nasty red rash you can't seem to get rid of, the headaches, the explosions, the leaks, the loss of public lands.

So, just in case you might still be thinking that the folks who protested are misdirected, or that the citizens who tethered themselves to cement for the sake of protecting your forests are somehow guilty of a crime, how about a few more facts about just how much Anadarko cares about folks like you and me:

3.21.14, Reported by Bloomburg, concerning the "worst off-shore oil spill in U.S. history--the Deep water Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, "Anadarko Emails Seen Showing Spill Role Ignored By Judge":

A BP executive and a geologist working on the Macondo well rejected Anadarko’s urging to deepen the well, according to e-mails sent the week before the April 2010 deep-sea blowout. BP officials said in the e-mails, unsealed earlier this month in lawsuits over the spill, that the well’s condition “provided for little to no margin to continue drilling” safely.
In other words, Anadarko knew that drilling deeper offered "little to no margin to continue drilling” safely," and insisted that BP drill anyways. Moreover, 

Anadarko, which owned a 25 percent stake in the Macondo well, off the Louisiana coast, contends it was a passive investor and can’t be held liable for pollution fines from the spill, which sent more than 4 million barrels of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, closing fisheries and tainting shorelines from Texas to Florida.
That is, the only thing Anadarko was interested in was avoiding liability--and the hefty fines that might go with that.

John Christiansen, an Anadarko spokesman, declined to comment on the e-mails other than to refer to the company’s annual report filed Feb. 28. Given its “lack of direct operational involvement” and Barbier’s ruling that it wasn’t negligent during the drilling operation, the company said it believed its exposure to penalties under the Clean Water Act wouldn’t materially affect it. (Anadarko E-Mails Seen Showing Spill Role Ignored by Judge - Bloomberg).

Colorado, 9.18.13: 

 A damaged storage tank owned by energy company Anadarko Petroleum Corp. has spilled an estimated 125 barrels of oil into the flood-swollen South Platte River in north-central Colorado, the state oil and gas commission said on Wednesday. The statement provided few details of the spill beyond saying that the mishap occurred near the town of Milliken north of the confluence of the St. Vrain and South Platte rivers, and that Anadarko was responding by deploying absorbent booms on the river. (Colorado Oil Spill: Anadarko Petroleum Corp. Storage Tank Spills Into South Platte River).

And, of course, let's not forget that Anadarko is Kerr-McGee. As I described in an earlier excoriation, quoting from Bloomberg (Anadarko Fights Ailing Preacher in $25 Billion EPA Toxic Lawsuit - Bloomberg)

The U.S. Department of Justice, in a lawsuit on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency and other environmental and state agencies, says Kerr-McGee fouled 2,772 sites, including Columbus, during seven decades of producing chemicals, fertilizer and plutonium pellets. The lawsuit, scheduled for trial beginning May 15, seeks $25 billion to clean up the toxins and compensate tort claimants — or the people who say they’ve been personally harmed. “That is by far the biggest polluter on record,” says David Guest, an attorney with nonprofit law firm Earthjustice. “This is an almost unprecedented case in terms of how much money is in play.” Trouble is, Kerr-McGee no longer exists. It disappeared in a spinoff, a merger — into Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (APC) — and a bankruptcy, corporate maneuvers that have frustrated small-town residents across the country who say the pollution has ruined their health. (Anadarko Fights Ailing Preacher in $25 Billion EPA Toxic Lawsuit – Bloomberg) (Of Aristotle and Anadarko: Why “Better Laws” Will Never be Enough | Raging Chicken Press)

But if all that's too far from home to get you really worked up, consider just a few Pennsylvania counties. From the highly respected Environmental Integrity Project:

According to the Oil and Gas Compliance Report, PA DEP conducted 2,928 inspections of 488 wells operated by Anadarko E&P Onshore, LLC (Anadarko E&P) between 2009 and 2013.30 In that same five-year span, PA DEP conducted 72 inspections of facilities operated by Anadarko Marcellus Midstream, LLC (Anadarko Midstream).31 From these inspections, PA DEP identified 246 violations: 207 at Anadarko E&P sites and 39 at Anadarko Midstream sites.32

By county, the highest number of violations occurred in Lycoming County, with 112 violations, followed by Clinton County with 70 violations, Centre County with 16 violations, and 48 violations with the county not indicated.33

Table 3: Anadarko Citations by Violation Category (2009-2013)

Violation Type Citations

Discharge of pollutants to waters of Commonwealth & discharge-related violations: 87

Failure to properly store or manage wastes or pollutants: 77

Failure to minimize erosion or stabilize/restore site: 21

Failure to post permit/authorization: 27

Well casing violations: 17

Miscellaneous noncompliance: 9

Failure to submit or maintain records on site: 5

Failure to notify DEP of pollution incident: 3

Total 246

Photograph, Wendy Lynne Lee

Upshot: Anadarko is among the top three environmental violators in Pennsylvania.

Do you really think that that nasty record is going to get any better if export facilities--like that planned for Cove Point, Maryland--become operational? 

Not if you're sane.

Danielle Dietterick, spokeswoman for Marcellus Shale Earth First! at the Anadarko headquarters in Williamsport put the crucial point beautifully when she characterized the actions as an "escalation of tactics" "intended to raise awareness of Anadarko's drilling activities."

Photo, Wendy Lynne Lee
"We're here to say that we have not forgotten the things they have done, we're not afraid, we're going to keep coming back until we get our message across" (Anti-fracking crowd uses logs, pipe to block Dam Run Road - | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Information - Williamsport-Sun Gazette).

I'd add only this: "until Anadarko, and every other gas company leave Pennsylvania, or for that matter, leave everywhere."

Count me in with the resistance.

Wendy Lynne Lee

Full Flickr set: The Courage the Movement to End Extreme Extraction Cannot Be Without: Demonstration Against Anadarko, Williamsport,3.20.14 - a set on Flickr

For pieces on Anadarko in the Loyalsock, see:

Of Aristotle and Anadarko: Why “Better Laws” Will Never be Enough | Raging Chicken Press


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