Criminalizing Activism: Vera Scroggins Fights Fracking in PennsylvaniaPosted: January 9, 2016
By: Joan McKiernon
Well known anti fracking activist, Vera Scroggins, has been punished by the judicial system for her fight for clean water and air. Her fight, just across the border in PA, has riled Cabot Gas and the other gas companies who are fracking in PA and leaving behind a swath of water and air pollution.
Six years after drilling began in Pennsylvania, the water is still toxic. I recently visited Bill Ealy and other families in the Dimock area. They have to collect water from nearby town hydrants, at their own expense, and buy drinking water separately. Bill has a “methane pipe,” to release excess methane from his well. Children play near these pipes and water treatment systems that are located in back yards. Nearby, farm animals are drinking contaminated water; no one is testing the milk from the dairy cows or the meat that is sold locally.
Vera Scroggins has been bringing bus and car tours through the area to publicize what is happening in her county. Because of her efforts well known people such as Yoko Ono and her son, Sean Lennon, visited the area and became firm opponents of fracking.
Vera has shown that the EPA is ignoring its own regulations. There is little action taken against gas companies and few regulations limiting their activity. They do get fines for damaging creeks, for example, but violations are largely ignored. Cabot Gas has had 600 violations issued against them; they pay fines and continue to operate.
However, the state has moved against Vera, rather than the gas companies. She is carrying out a one person fight against fracking. State officials and local company workers harass her as she takes visitors around her area to show the impact of fracking. She has been brought to the Montrose County courthouse many times. Finally, this year they convicted her for allegedly illegal videotaping Cabot officials two years ago. She received a sentence of one year probation and 75 hours of community service.
Vera explained to the People’s Press that she is still conducting Citizen Gas Tours for folks from all over the US and the world to show them the harmed citizens of her county. There are about 1,300 gas wells in her county of Susquehanna and she shows the ever-expanding infrastructure of 45 gas compressor stations, hundreds of miles of high-pressure gas pipelines in a web throughout the county, waste treatment plants, and a gas power plant. She said, “I will continue to expose this threat next to homes and schools. I want the world to know what the gas companies do not show on their industry tours.”