The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave

February 3rd, 2014
in Op Ed, syndication

Written by

Note added as update, 03 May 2014:  Throughout the article we have referred to the spillage as "fracking fluids".  In fact nothing we found indicated whether the fluids, which appeared to be drilling mud (used for lubrication and cooling the drill heads, as well as for flushing drilled material from the well back to the surface), contained fracking materials or not.

Vera Scroggins is a grandmother and anti-fracking activist in Pennsylvania. She is a videographer, has taken visitors on tours of her vicinity to observe how and where fracking operations are being conducted. She has even had Yoko Ono as a visitor and "touree", also Susan Sarandon, as well as visiting elected officials from Canada. Vera Scroggins has broken no laws, according to The Guardian, yet she has been essentially restricted to her own home, a trailer in Susquehanna County by court order.


Follow up:

The court order, which is temporary (from 21 October until 14 March) until the next hearing is scheduled, does not say Scroggins is restricted to her home. The injunction reads (from The Guardian):

"It is hereby ordered that Ms Scroggins is restrained, enjoined and prohibited from entering upon property owned and/or leased by Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation including but not limited to well sites, well pads and access roads."

According to Cabot's court filings they own or hold leases on 312.5 square miles (about 40% of the county). The parcels are not further identified so Scroggins has no way of knowing where she might step in the county and be in violation of the court order. According to The Guardian:

[She] is legally barred from the new county hospital. Also off-limits, unless Scroggins wants to risk fines and arrest, are the Chinese restaurant where she takes her grandchildren, the supermarkets and drug stores where she shops, the animal shelter where she adopted her Yorkshire terrier, bowling alley, recycling centre, golf club, and lake shore.

The Guardian indicates that there has been no evidence that Scroggins has trespassed or created any public disturbance. From The Guardian:

Cabot in court filings does not accuse Scroggins of violence or of causing harm to property, and she has never been arrested or charged with trespass. She has not chained herself to machinery, or staged sit-ins.

What do the authorities in Susquehanna County have to say about Scroggins? From The Guardian:

None of that activity by Scroggins or other activists was illegal, or presented a public danger, according to Jason Legg, the district attorney for Susquehana County.

Legg is quoted:

"I don't recall any major protests or people trespassing on any property."

However, a consultant for Cabot told The Guardian:

"I believe she is a public menace because what she does is she essentially trespasses not so much on property – though she does do that – but she trespasses on the soul of the community. She does not allow the people of this community any peace."

In other words, she is offensive because she exists?

Scroggins has posted hundreds of videos on YouTube.

Here is one which puts a lie to the myth that fracking drilling doesn't contaminate surface areas (or water sources above the drilling path).

Ms. Scroggins appears to be confused by what she is observing. Statements by the gas drilling representative indicate that it is leaching of fracking drilling fluids from a well (or pipe) drilling channel. The lady worker indicates that this situation is "typical" and it is also not the worst that happens.

If you watch the entire video and continue to the one that follows you will see that the leaking fracking drilling fluid worsened over the days following the first filming.

This stream is supposed to be the highest quality water ("Exceptional Value") according to Ms. Scroggins. 

Obviously, Ms. Scroggins is now prohibited from driving on the roads of Susquehanna County and filming events that are occurring along the public thoroughfares. And, of course, since she hasn't been charged with trespass, apparently any pollution problems that are occurring out of sight of the public right-of-ways were never documented anyway. The eyes and ears of public interest have been removed.

As things stand now Vera Scroggins lives in the land of the free and the home of the brave. The ground (land) where her trailer stands is her land of the free. The trailer is the home of the brave.

And the truth will set you free? It has made Vera Scroggins a prisoner.

Hat tip to Roger Erickson.

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