Delivering more than pizza to Chevron and Harrisburg: your signatures
Here are two report backs from Environmental Action members who started their own local campaigns with us and our partner MoveOn.org. If you have an issue that concerns the planet, you can start your own petition right here and be the next member to make an impact for the planet locally, or globally!
More than 12,000 Environmental Action members and partners signed a petition to demand Chevron issue a real apology for offering pizza and soda to town residents where a fracking explosion killed one and injured another. The following is an account on the day from Kathryn Hilton, who delivered our signatures to Chevron's Western Pennsylvania office. Below is a report from Environmental Action members in Pennsylvania lead by Karen Feridun, founder of Berks Gas Truth, in her campaign to protect Pennsylvania's moratorium on fracking on lands. Click here to skip down the page to her account of the rally in Harrisburg.
“I’d like to order a large cheese pizza,” the caller said. “It’ll be there in about 20 minutes,” responded the delivery-person. It wouldn’t be a noteworthy exchange except that the person taking the order was speaking from her desk in the executive offices of Chevron in San Ramon, California.
On Monday, February 24th, hundreds of people outraged by Chevron’s response to a gas well explosion in Greene County, Pennsylvania that killed one man and injured another participated in an unusual call-in day where they called Chevron CEO James Watson’s office to order pizzas. It was more than snark: In the aftermath of a fracking well explosion and resulting fire that burned for days, Chevron issued coupons for a pizza and two-liter soda (no extras and no substitutions, please!) to area residents. The coupons were valued at $12 and came with an expiration date — unlike the loss of life, property and environmental health their well explosion caused.
Karen Feridun, founder of the PA-based grassroots organization Berks Gas Truth initiated the call-in day. Feridun was astonished to see how quickly people jumped at the chance to participate. Jesse Bacon, Environmental Action’s field organizer, suggested creating a petition calling for the company to apologize and change its policy on gas drilling. Over the course of a weekend, more than 12,000 people signed on from Environmental Action and Emily Wurth, Food & Water Watch’s Water Program Director, contributed signatures her organization gathered from its members. How better to deliver the petition than to put it in a pizza box and deliver it with a two-liter soda to Chevron’s Smithfield, PA office?
Kathryn Hilton, community organizer with the Mountain Watershed Association led the delivery event, accompanied by ten additional Southwestern Pennsylvania residents. After snapping a quick photo in Chevron’s front yard (see above right) the group walked to the door. As they made their way they could see Chevron employees peering through the windows. Our 10-member crew, ranging in age from 25-75, carrying a two-liter soda and a pizza box must have been incredibly intimidating because Chevron refused to meet with them. Instead of greeting us politely, two employees peeked through a barely-open door to gesture at a small folding table that had conveniently appeared by the front door and indicated no one would speak to our group and to leave our items on the table where someone would get them later. Not to be ignored, our group asked why no one would meet with us, only to be met again with the callous command, “Leave the items on the table, someone will get them later.”
By the way, we've heard that Chevron staffers hung up on most of us who called in too. To date, the company has not issued the apology.
— Kathryn Hilton
Pennsylvanians oppose drilling in our state forests. Poll after poll has shown it. The latest one, a Franklin & Marshall poll released at the end of January, found that 68% of Pennsylvanians are against opening more state forest land to drilling. The public has expressed its opposition to fracking the Loyalsock State Forest even more directly with rallies, marches, and even tree-sitting. When the state’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources was forced to hold a public hearing on fracking the Loyalsock, they scheduled it for a Monday in June at 4:00 p.m., but that didn’t stop over 500 people from across the state from turning out to say "No."
Just days after the Franklin & Marshall poll came out, Governor Tom Corbett gave his annual budget address, Pennsylvania’s version of the state of the state address. The governor announced that he would issue an executive order opening up more of our state forest land to fracking to address a one-time budget shortfall. Roughly half of our state forest land was leased in the early days of the fracking boom. Former Governor Ed Rendell imposed a moratorium on drilling the remaining lands, as they were deemed sensitive areas that needed special protection. Corbett’s plan includes the unprecedented step of also opening up state park land to fracking.
On February 25th, concerned citizens headed to Harrisburg to take the message straight to the governor’s office (that's me in the photo on the left). Protesters marched from the capitol rotunda to the governor’s office to deliver the 15,726 petition signatures collected by Berks Gas Truth, Environmental Action, Penn Environment, and the Sierra Club.
The governor has not backed down on his plans, so we are going to keep collecting petition signatures. If you’re a Pennsylvanian and haven’t signed, please do! And, wherever you live, please share this important petition with all your friends in Pennsylvania! For more information on rallies and protests to protect our public lands, please visit gastruth.org or follow Berks Gas Truth on Facebook or Twitter.
Here’s the link to the petition: http://petitions.moveon.org/environmental-action/sign/governor-corbett-is-nothing
— Karen Feridun