FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 27, 2010
Alex Lotorto, 570.269.9589
Jaime Robertson, 412.425.0822
Liam Swanson, 412.398.0842
Frack U Counter Summit To Dig Into Marcellus Shale Drilling
“No fracking way,” say Pennsylvania residents to hydro-fracking and shale gas drilling
Pittsburgh, PA – On Saturday and Sunday, October 30 through October 31, residents from across the Marcellus region will participate in Frack University at the University of Pittsburgh’s David Lawrence Hall, a counter-summit to oppose shale gas drilling – with natural gas industry executives gathering for a summit on drilling at the David Lawrence Convention Center the following week.
The two day Frack U summit [ www.frackuniversity.blogspot.com
] was organized by members of the Pittsburgh Student Environmental Coalition, Free The Planet (University of Pittsburgh), Pitt Students for a Democratic Society, and members of the Marcellus Protest Coalition. The event is free to the public.
Frack U will feature a 10am Panel of Affected Community Members, a press conference on Saturday at 1:15pm on the steps of David Lawrence Hall, a 1:30pm Pittsburgh premiere screening of the documentary All Fracked Up with directors Jeff and Jodi Andrysick, a Halloween-themed anti-fracking variety show at 7pm Saturday night, and a caravaning Haunted Farm Frack or Treat Tour of Hickory, PA leaving on Sunday at noon from the Cathedral of Learning on Bigelow Blvd.
Community members, as well as students and youth, will also be meeting in workshops and discussion groups throughout the weekend to discuss social movement strategy for ending the use of dangerous hydraulic fracturing to procure natural gas from the Marcellus Shale by exposing its risks and driving down shareholder confidence.
Liam Swanson, a sophomore and member of Pitt Students for a Democratic Society, said, “Politicians, investors, and of course, the gas companies are lined up to get a piece of the Marcellus shale. That’s why we organized this free conference for working people and affected communities, to enjoy each other’s company and support coalition building. There are only two sides, ‘for’ or ‘against’ fracking here, and Frack U attendees are against, hence the name.”
Specific strategy discussions will include community monitoring and enforcement of environmental quality standards, trucking violations, and public health, passing local bans and tighter legislation to make the process more expensive for drillers, using the courts to file injunctions under the Endangered Species Act, multi-plaintiff lawsuits, and permit appeals, advocating for alternative, sustainable energy to displace the need for natural gas, focusing on shareholders and organizational financial divestment from drilling, and creative protest methods to win the hearts and minds of decision makers or even challenge them.
Alex Lotorto, a labor union delegate for the Industrial Workers of the World and Marcellus Protest member, said, “I’m here because the Delaware River watershed where I grew up is slated to be fracked. I’m here to protect myself, my family’s health, air, water, and the value of my home. I moved to Pittsburgh when I wanted to find a good job that didn’t require me to destroy the place in which I live and is going to stick around for a while. This ‘frack and leave’ gravy train isn’t right for Pennsylvania or working people. Soon it will be gone, like steel and coal.”
Marcellus Protest, [ www.marcellusprotest.org ], is an alliance of western PA residents, building a movement to stop the destruction of the environment and communities caused by Marcellus Shale gas drilling.
Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) [ www.iww.org ] is a labor union for workers in every industry formed in 1905. The Pittsburgh branch opposes the use of hydraulic fracturing as a method to procure natural gas from the Marcellus Shale and, instead, supports a move towards sustainable energy production.
The Pittsburgh Student Environmental Coalition (PSEC) [ www.pittsburghsec.wordpress.com ], started in November of 2009, is a collective of youth-run environmental organizations working to promote positive environmental change in Pittsburgh and beyond by empowering youth to take action in their own communities. PSEC helps to unify and strengthen the voices of Pittsburgh youth by providing a forum for communication, sharing resources, and fellowship. Green Horizons [Chatham University], Evergreen [Duquesne University], Free the Planet [University of Pittsburgh], Engineers For A Sustainable World [University of Pittsburgh], Sustainable Earth [Carnegie Mellon University], The School of Life [Community College of Allegheny College], The Blue Green Alliance, and Sierra Student Coalition / Sierra Club.
Free The Planet (FTP) [ www.pittenvironmental.org/groups/ftp ] is a student environmental organization at the University of Pittsburgh working on campus and in the community to foster awareness about important environmental issues while taking action to resolve them. FTP’s primary goal is to creatively instill a passion for sustainable, environmentally friendly, and healthy living in Pitt’s student body and beyond.
Pitt Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) [ www.newsds.org ] is a collection of individuals dedicated to offering sensible alternatives to mainstream political and social ideologies. SDS hopes to provide a bridge between students and the larger community in which they live, in a way that fosters activism and mutual aid across the traditional borders, such as gender, sexuality, color or class.
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