Living in the Shadow of Fracking

BY ON November 18, 2016

Oil gas fracking

This is an excerpt from a post by International League of Conservation Photographers. It originally posted on National Geographic:

McDonald, Pa. — Jane Worthington is an impassioned, articulate, and fiercely focused parent.  A nurse working two jobs, she’s also raising two children on her own. Alexis is 12 and her brother Damien is 10. Part time, she looks after dementia patients and during the day she runs what she calls the “oil and gas program” for a hotel in her small town, located southwest of Pittsburgh.  Her position requires her to promote the hotel and its hospitality services to oil and gas workers. Because she’s become a locally well-known anti-fracking activist, her boss has made clear that she cannot talk about her “outside work” while at the hotel…

Jane is part of a growing movement of parents, homeowners, and small business owners who are beginning to ask their local authorities, as the final gatekeepers of all oil and gas projects, to not simply rubber-stamp operators’ plans but instead take a more reasoned, more transparent, and more comprehensive consideration of the myriad health and quality of life impacts that heavily industrial activities such as fracking bring to rural, farming communities. In Mt. Pleasant, parents have been attending local public hearings and are advocating for greater transparency and more protection for children should the project go forward, including limiting how and when Range would be able to drill and frack the additional well near the Fort Cherry School. These local parents turned activists, including Jane, feel that drilling and fracking at Range’s proposed well pad should not occur during school hours. It is unclear what local government officials will decide, but Jane and her children are bracing themselves should approval be given. Damien and Lexi talk about what it might be like this time if Range fracks near their school again. “Children should never have to worry about whether they’ll be safe at school,” Jane sighs. Waiting to hear, particularly for this family, is difficult, but Jane knows that she and the other parents in this community have done what they can.

Not surprisingly, Lexi appears to be following in her mother’s activist footsteps. Together, she and Jane, along with members of another grassroots campaign known as Moms Clean Air Force, took  their message to Washington, D.C. in July. According to Jane, lots of kids, including Lexi, were front and center in meetings with US Senators and other decision makers. Legislative meetings were arranged and these warrior moms discussed, among other things, the importance of making EPA’s new rules to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas operations as strong – and tightly enforced – as possible. Next they’ll be taking their message to Harrisburg, as well. “Someone has to start listening to us,” Jane insists.

Read full article HERE.

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TOPICS: Activism, Children's Health, Fracking, Natural Gas, Pennsylvania