Anti’s Plan Another Attack on Natural Gas Industry and SRBC

Democracy depends, first of all, on respect for the law.  A few months ago we chronicled how a group of anti- natural gas fanatics led by Alex Lotorto and Bill Huston, among others, deliberately disrupted a meeting of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) and then used their self-created disruption as an excuse to demand another hearing because the people (by that they mean their little group) hadn’t been heard even though they had.  It was if someone had burned their paycheck and then sued for non-payment of wages.  Such is the nature of civil discourse among anti-natural gas ideologues – shutting down argument to get their way.  It’s fundamentally undemocratic and they’re planning to try it again.

We hear Lotorto is organizing a rally as early as 7:30 A.M. tomorrow morning in Harrisburg where he, and others, plan to try to again disrupt the SRBC meeting and stop action on several pending water withdrawal applications from the natural gas industry.

Conference calls appear to have taken place last Thursday evening and last night to coordinate activities and an Occupy Harrisburg training is taking place this evening for whatever disruptions are planned.  A memorandum reportedly went out last week inviting a wide range of folks to participate “in the planning to stop the Susquehanna River Basin Commission vote on natural gas related water withdrawals on March 15th.”  Among those invited were representatives and/or individuals connected or claiming to be connected with the following groups:

Organizations from which representatives were apparently invited to participate in SRBC meeting disruption planning via a conference call scheduled for March 8, 2012

Organizations from which representatives were apparently invited to participate in SRBC meeting disruption planning via a conference call scheduled for March 8, 2012

It is one thing to be invited to participate in something, and quite another to actually participate, so let’s be perfectly clear we do not know who did and who didn’t join the call, but the group is certainly a gallery of anti-natural gas rogues, if nothing else.  While rogues are often in style, we somehow suspect not all of these folks are that happy being on Alex’s mailing list, at least not publicly.  We now know who he counts among his friends and it’s quite revealing.  Here are some of the items from Alex’s agenda (emphasis added):

What are our goals for this week? What does success look like? (To stop the vote, to get Governor O’Malley, Governor Cuomo, and/or President Obama to vote NO on fracking water withdrawal, to marginalize the governors and/or President Obama for voting YES in the public/media, to declare “We’ll Be Back!”)

Our plan for the 15th before/during/after the SRBC meeting (press conference? rally? disruption?)

Recipe for Success – what needs to happen before next Thursday? (Legal observers, bail money, housing in Harrisburg, food, art/signs, call-in days, outreach, press/media, website/Facebook event, etc.)

Alex,  has told the world about his plans to go after the natural gas industry on his Facebook page and in community forums.  In these writings the intended actions, and intentions of this small group of activists is immediately clear:

Proposals for 3/15 SRBC Action

There are three scenarios that have been proposed for inside the SRBC hearing to me thus far. All of which are fine to make public.  None of them seem to conflict with one another and a mix of two or three of them would be possible. Another, separate scenario, would be doing something powerful in the Capitol building such as going to see Gov. Corbett with impacted residents.

As a facilitator and trainer for tomorrow’s direct action training (6pm @ the Quaker Meeting House *1100 N. 6th St. Harrisburg, 6pm-9pm, Harrisburg PA*), here’s how I’d like to handle it:

People who are interested in participating in an action will be asked to come to a consensus on what the action is. If there is a component of the action that would risk arrest, those people who are willing to risk arrest will determine that piece. As a trainer, my goal is to have enough levels of participation that everyone finds a piece that they are empowered by and that accommodates their level of risk of arrest/no risk.

Here are the three scenarios, others are welcome and everyone is encouraged to attend the training tomorrow:

1) A verbal disruption during the SRBC meeting would occur led by people who are willing to risk arrest.  Other roles may include applause, taking video, standing and turning one’s back, etc.

2) Standing and leaving before/immediately after the water withdrawal vote, either in silence or while chanting.

3) Standing and turning our backs/turning our chairs around in silence.

For the training tonight, only 21 people are signed up to attend, some of whom left comments to the effect they couldn’t make it. In the mean time, Bill Huston is attempting to have activists “flood” the Facebook pages and phone lines of Governors Cuomo, Corbett and O’Malley, as well as President Obama.

24 Hour Facebook BLITZ to STOP the SRBC! (URGENT!)

If you use Facebook, here is an Easy Action!

1: Like these pages:
https://www.facebook.com/WhiteHouse
https://www.facebook.com/andrewcuomo2010
https://www.facebook.com/MartinOMalley
https://www.facebook.com/corbettforgov

2: Post on their wall:

Save the Susquehanna! Dear (Governor or President), since there have been no cumulative impact studies done on the effects of these massive water withdrawals for hydrofracking from this Sacred River, and plenty of evidence to show that these withdrawals and Hydrofracking pose a great health risk, we expect your commissioner on the SRBC to VOTE NO on all new permits. We can live without money. We need these water FOR LIFE.

3: Share this note!

Thanks!

This endeavor began around noon yesterday and with the 24-hour mark having just passed there were no comments referencing the SRBC on any of these pages. That doesn’t mean there won’t be people eager to be arrested at tomorrow’s meeting, but it is telling.  This is a vocal minority operating to silence the majority of Marcellus Shale residents who stand behind the development of our natural resources and largely support the gas industry.

So what can we expect tomorrow? Well, we’ll probably see more of the referee shirts from February identifying the protesters. A select few will stand up to disrupt and proudly walk away in handcuffs courtesy of the Capitol Police, knowing the wealthier in the movement will fork over their bail money to let another take the fall for them. Will Lotorto be among the arrested as the “facilitator”? Perhaps, if he was successful in petitioning the Energy Action Coalition to fund his salary for the year out of their grant money back in December; a possibility he wasn’t supposed to discuss publicly, but couldn’t help putting on Facebook on December 12.

Hey everyone, thanks for your support. No decision yet. I’m hoping they’ll fully fund me for the year. I’m not supposed to disclose details for the sake of privacy of the board, but honestly, I hope they see every single name on this status. This should be enough, among many letters that were sent. More updates to come.

Will the SRBC and Capitol Police keep the order?  One hopes so.  We’d certainly like to avoid the fiasco that occurred when the vote last took place.

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