A group of 20 impassioned protesters from Marcellus Outreach Butler recently took matters into their own hands regarding potential damages of fracking.
On May 22, this group went right into the office of Pennsylvania State Representative Brian Ellis and demanded action for the 10 families whose water had been visibly contaminated by local fracking operations. The protesters wore haz-mat suits and only carried with them bottles of water that looked more like tea than potable water.
While Rep. Ellis was not actually in his office (he was in Harrisburg), the protesters refused to leave his office until Ellis’ staff arranged a phone call with him. As the staff tried to get Rep. Ellis on the phone, the protesters filled gallon bottles of tap water from the office bathroom to give to the affected families who were affected by Rex Energy’s fracking operations.
Throughout the conversation with Rep. Ellis, he claimed he had no idea the groundwater was contaminated despite previously acknowledging problems in the same exact area. He ended the call early claiming he had a meeting to get to. The protesters took about 20 gallons in all from the office bathroom and left a little gift for Rep Ellis: a gallon jug of that sickeningly brown contaminated water.
So far in response to the pollution, Ellis will give a one-time donation of bottled water from Wal-Mart to the affected families. The DEP has also stopped an investigation of the contamination and Rex Energy is still not being held accountable for the water they're fouling up.
In addition, a fish kill was reported a few days ago in the Connoquenessing Creek where Rex Energy had illegally dumped fracking wastewater in the past.
The reason this is able to go on is because of Act 13, which according to group member Lou Hancherick, “gives the industry a free pass to site drilling operations within 300 feet of schools, hospitals and dense residential areas, opening the door for more situations like the one in Connoquenessing to occur throughout the state.” The law even goes as far as to protect the industry as to restrict doctors from disclosing information about the chemicals their patients are exposed to from natural gas operations.