A Warm Line from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania

by Anne Goodwin, Mother Out Front

The passion of parents to protect our children and the power of personal stories resonated in our hearts when Mothers Out Front co-hosted four fracking activists from Pennsylvania this week. Lois Bjornson, Jane Worthington, and father and son Brian and Ryan Latkanich spent two days as our guests telling the stories of how their livelihoods, land, health, and children’s health have been destroyed by intensive fracking for methane gas fuel all across their rural area.

 

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Pictured - Back row: some of the Co-sponsors - Susan Lees, Anne Goodwin, Cindy Luppi;
Front row: our guests from PA - Brian Latkanich, Ryan Latkanich, Jane Worthington, Lois Bjornson.

 

They presented two powerful public programs, one at the Jamaica Plain forum and one at Lowell Telecommunications Corporation, attended the weekly vigil to protest the new Back Bay pipeline, and held a well-attended hearing for legislators at the statehouse. In addition, the Jamaica Plain team hosted a lovely informal dinner for the guests and some local pipeline leaders.

Their message was devastating and clear: the gas companies greedily extract their fossil fuel with no regard for health, property, or the environment.  Brian told of how he was tricked into leasing his farm for a fracking well with promises of big money and minimal impact on his land. Jane told of her daughter’s severe benzene poisoning from the many wells that surround her school. Lois detailed the compressor stations, wells, constant truck traffic, and pipelines that now surround her property.  

It was impossible to hear them without being deeply moved and understand directly how our use of fracked gas in Massachusetts impacts families at the other end of the pipelines. They expressed their appreciation for all that we are doing to stop the pipelines, change the narrative on gas, and increase renewables here, but we came away humbled by their heroism. We hope this will be the beginning of a long relationship with these courageous activists.   

These events were produced in collaboration with Clean Water Action, the Mass Power Forward Coalition, Resist the Pipeline, the Jamaica Plain Forum, and Lowell Pipeline Resistance. Video of the presentations will be available soon.

The two speakers who were able to stay throughout the legislative briefing, Lois and Jane, were very pleased. Some of the representatives and staff were there speaking with them right until the end, at 1:00 pm.

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    • Jeff Allen
      commented 2018-11-16 21:25:47 -0500
      Hello, I followed a link to your page and read about your interest in the natural gas fracking activity in Pennsylvania. I have been involved with two local groups trying to curb environmental problems that affect my home area. The first group is the Oakmont Protectors who are interacting with the Borough Council to strengthen a new gas and oil ordinance. As Food and Water Watch representatives have pointed out to us, the only way to head off the fracking problems are to act upon local zoning ordinances and make sure that there are adequate setback requirements. The statewide requirements are too lenient and allow the situations described by your guests from PA. There are new wells, waste injection sites, and the potential for pipelines and compressor stations all in our densely populated communities just north of the city of Pittsburgh. My second volunteer group is a special team of the Allegheny County Sierra Club, called the Cheswick Team. We have been monitoring and highlighting the pollution problems of a coal-fired power plant that is just upwind and upriver from several communities and their water plant intakes. This includes the City of Pittsburgh and
      my own community. I would like to keep in touch with your groups in Massachusetts, and share stories. We all have such a huge stake in a clean energy future, and making the case to those who have ignored the problems for way too long. To add to the irony of our situation, the Pittsburgh Region has been cleaning up from its, largely, industrial past, and when we get so close to a healthier environment, along comes this menace to our futures.
    • Jeff Allen
      followed this page 2018-11-16 20:56:53 -0500