Earth First! Treesit On Proposed PA Fracking Site Continues Into Second Week

Protest aims to interfere with plans of controversial oil and gas company Andarko

The mysterious Hellbender

The mysterious Hellbender perched high in the Loyalsock forest, PA

from Earth First! Newswire

While fracking industry proponents meet amidst protests today in Philadelphia, Marcellus Shale Earth First! celebrates day 12 of their aerial anti-fracking blockade. As of September 13th, the Earth First! group has maintained a treesit in the Loyalsock State Forest to obstruct hydrofracking plans in an area that is home to threatened species such as the Timber Rattlesnake, Northern Water Shrew, Yellow Bellied Flycatcher, Pitcher Plant and Wild Sarsaparilla.

A long way up...

A long way up…

The corporation whose operations are being interfered with, Andarko, received national scrutiny when their manager of external affairs was recorded at a 2011 industry conference calling local communities opposed to fracking “an insurgency” with similarities to the military occupations which secure energy interests in the Middle East. 

CNBC published a report with audio files of Carmichael’s comments, which can be found here.

Inside the Loyalsock's "McIntyre Wild Area." Check out more beautiful images of the forest

Inside the Loyalsock’s “McIntyre Wild Area.” photo by Wendy Lee. Check out more beautiful images of the forest

Treesitting, like what is happening in the Loyalsock, is a protest tactic in which people live in the canopy of a threatened forest to prevent trees from being cut. This style of blockade has been used successfully to shut down logging for months, even years, at a time. Until recently, it has primarily been seen in western states. But the increase of fracking plans in the eastern US has sparked a wave of similar activity by Earth First! (EF!) and other groups in recent years.

image by Wendy Lee

image by Wendy Lee

The tree-sit in the Loyalsock is only one of a series of actions that represent escalating tensions surrounding the fracking industry. Over the past year, blockades and sabotage have occurred multiple times at industry-related sites across the US and Canada. See a previous EF! press release about some of these actions here.

The treesitter in Loyalsock, who is maintaining anonymity, calls themselves “Hellbender” (referencing the hellbender salamander, a species of giant salamander endemic to eastern North America). The following excerpts are from a series of Hellbender’s statements released to the public via the Marcellus Shale EF! website:

“The line in the sand has been drawn under this tree sit. I am not asking the DCNR [the state agency responsible for resource extraction permits] and Anadarko nicely any more. They are preoccupied in boardrooms and business meetings planning on the next place they will destroy for profit.”

“Do you really think petitioning alone will stop someone with millions of dollars on the line? …. These kind of pipe dreams will not stop pipelines.”

were back antifrack PAMeanwhile the industry continues to come under criticism nationwide, including frack spills amidst the floods in Colorado and a cancellation of planned research wells at UT Knoxville over the last two weeks alone.

Earth First! is an international radical environmental movement which began in 1979. The movement also publishes a quarterly magazine and daily online news wire as a mouthpiece for ecological resistance efforts worldwide.

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