Saturday, January 17, 2015

Having our Cake and Eating it Too: Ex-PennFuture President, Jan Jarrett Throws a Tantrum

Jan Jarrett--thirteen-years-and-ousted president of the green-washing faux environmental group PennFuture-- got one thing right when she insisted that 

Pennsylvania’s mainstream environmental organizations are looking forward to working with the Wolf Administration to strengthen gas drilling oversight and improve regulations, work for cleaner air and water and begin to address Pennsylvania’s climate change challenges. (Jan Jarrett's Ad Hoc Blog: Fractivist foolishness)

If she's referring to her friends over at the Sierra Club, she couldn't be more on the dollar. As I have shown, the Sierra Club is so covetous of their image with the "have my frack cake and eat it too" governor that they not only refuse to raise a protest sign at Wolf's inauguration asking him nicely not to continue poisoning Pennsylvanians, they don't even want their members wearing Sierra Club hats and T-Shirts at the event--lest it offend the governor's delicate sensibilities and compromise their photo-ops with their new guy.

That "strengthening gas drilling oversight" and addressing climate change form a demonstrably contradictory set of claims is apparently lost on these Big Greenies; they just
don't seem to get it that the only effective way to address climate change is for the gas to stay in the ground. Everything else is a denial-soaked half measure that achieves nothing more than kicking the ticking climate bomb down the road where it will explode on our grandchildren.

It's fortuitous that keeping that same gas in the ground is also the best way to protect the health of Pennsylvania citizens, respect community' rights to self-determination, and act  like we care enough to behave responsibly toward the future.

But no matter.

For Big Greens like PennFuture and the Sierra Club Pennsylvanians clearly just don't rate as highly as do New Yorkers who can sleep at least a little bit better at night knowing that they won't wake up to frack pad flaring.

Jarrett of course, does get all this, and that's what likely fueled her nasty-gram to folks planning to protest the Gas Wolf Governor's inauguration:

Groups that cling to the futile hope that Pennsylvania will ban drilling for natural gas are planning to throw a tantrum during Governor-elect Wolf’s inauguration. According to an organizing website, these groups are urging people to disrupt the ceremonies to the point of being arrested.

 There are a couple of observations to make about this:

First, Jarrett obviously doesn't have a clue about the "groups" she's talking about. She doesn't identify the "organizing website" (any more than she identifies "mainstream environmental organizations"), and if--as is most likely--she means Pennsylvanians Against Fracking, or PA Food and Water Watch, or Clean Water Action, she's got nothing to worry about. These folks have no more stomach for the civil disobedience Jarrett refers to as "tantrum throwing" than do the Sierra Club members who stand foursquare behind a policy forbidding it--insuring a future of irrelevance for its mostly white, mostly affluent members. 

Indeed, for however much Jarrett's having some angst over whether the inauguration will be the suave affair she hopes, as many of the folks she accuses of "tantrum throwing" voted for Wolf as did PennFuture people, and their 'I "heart" Wolf" "photo-op action is a far cry from "the point of being arrested." 
Photo Michael Badges-Canning

Indeed, if holding up signs and smiling for a camera is enough to get arrested, all future hope for a democracy is dead dead dead.

But--second--this brings us to a crucial question:

What sort of wholesale abdication of respect for the first amendment does it take to label an exercise of the right to free expression--especially for the sake of calling attention to systemic injustice--"tantrum throwing"? 

Answer: When it threatens to upset the apparently fragile relationship between a governor already compromised by dirty campaign donations and frack-gas-extaction-friendly environmental transition team appointments, and Big Greenies worried they'll be identified as "radicals."

According to Jarrett's logic, it's not only futile to demand a ban on natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania, if you do you're just throwing a tantrum--and if you do that during the governor's inauguration... well, shame shame. 

That is precisely the safe and gutless reasoning that has gotten us:

Endless Pollution
Species Extinction
Climate Change.

Let's consider an analogy:

Schman Schmarrett: 
Groups that cling to the futile hope that Schmensylvania will ban the compulsory relocation of indigenous peoples on arid reservation sites are planning to throw a tantrum during Governor-elect Schmolf’s inauguration. According to an organizing website, these groups are urging people to disrupt the ceremonies to the point of being arrested.

No one would deny that the forced relocation of any people is wrong. We'd all applaud the groups who worked to bring attention to this egregious injustice, and if that involved the nonviolent noisy disruption of a governor who claimed something completely idiotic like that we could have our cake--force people onto reservations--and eat it too--make life better for everyone, we'd all be on board.

So what makes fracking different?

Not much, I'd say.

Indeed, the absurd argument that we can have our cake--protect state forests and parks by reinstating a trampled moratorium, and eat it too--frack everything else-- is precisely what Governor Wolf's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) appointment--John Quigley--and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) appointment--PennFuture's Cindy Dunn are for. 

But this reasoning is just as idiotic as is the argument for forceably relocating indigenous peoples:

1. Many of the state parks, games lands, and forest are already fracked to smithereens. While "restoring" a trampled moratorium might staunch some tiny bit of that blood-letting, what it preserves amounts to nothing but fenced in dioramas unless we stop the destruction of the rest of the state.

2. The idea that we can frack to smitherines the rest of the state and preserve the state parks, etc. at the same time defies reason. It defies everything we have ever known about the myriad and complex interdependencies of ecologies, and it pretends in an almost psychotic fashion that what happens outside the forests does not happen inside the forests. That is nuts--and we will pay for this nonsense.

3. If you have any doubt whatever about how much of the state forests are already lost, please see:…/wendylynne…/sets/72157645174931918/

4. A compelling case can be made for the claim that the effort to preserve what amount to woodlots and picnic parks over the protections of the property rights of ordinary citizens, over the rights of communities to self-determination, and over the rights of the people of the Susquehanna River Basin, is racist and classist. The same people who stand to benefit--who have long had far more access and power than many of the rest of us--SC club members included--work with a corrupt state and a corrupt industry to "preserve" their hiking trails--but they are more than happy to trade your yard for the preservation of their "special places" because you may be poorer, darker skinned, less affluent. And that makes them as much your adversary as is the state and the industry--even more so. 

So, if what Jarrett's calling a "tantrum" is resistance to activities whose manifest illogic both cannot survive any rational or moral scrunity and clearly causes real and enduring harm to those most vulnerable, then for all practical purposes, Jarrett is Schmarrett, Wolf is Schmolf--Quigley is Schmigley, and Dunn is Schnunn.

I'd argue, in fact, that until we see the very real avenues of comparison between the harms caused by fracking--and it's corrupted political infrastructure--and other forms of gross injustice--racism, antisemitism, classism, and the exploitation of indigenous peoples, we are never going to become an effective force for bringing an end to these harms, not to mention reclaiming the environmental justice owed to them.

To the reader who rightly points out that we have an ugly history in the United States of forcing people onto abandoned land--and then using a lame euphemism to describe it--"reservation" (as if it were a "special place" reserved just for them)--I say, absolutely. Perhaps it seems inappropriate to draw such comparisons. 

I understand.

But the point is not necessarily to compare amounts of harm.

The point is to indict the system that produces it--over and over--and call out its self-appointed talking heads--Jarrett--who'd try to shame us into silence when we demand an end to the harm.

The irony is that Jarrett really just gives voice to what many already believe--that actually exercising your civil rights is somehow unseemly, impolite, inappropriate.

Of course it is.

That's why we drafted a Bill of Rights to protect it.


bill.everett said...

Write on, Wendy! Reading this provoked an image: a respected person (a defendant testifying) who made his life excrement because he walked with them (movie: Judgment at Nuremberg). Reading this provoked lines from a song: "You who sacrifice these children... You must not do it anymore" (l. Cohen, "Story of Isaac").

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Have you ever though of taking those photos and giving a presentation or slideshow to areas that do not have this going on? Say in the Philly area and its suburbs? I know the Gallows Run Watershed Association may be willing for such, as this area is fighting the PennEast Pipeline.

Wendy Lynne Lee said...

You bet--I have indeed done some of that, and am always open to that invite. I will come for gas money, dinner, and accommodation. Have them contact me at

I am also currently very much involved in the fight against the Atlantic Sunrise--connected to the PennEast.. I can certainly speak to these issues.

Thank you for thinking of me. :)