Natural Gas Temper Tantrums – The Show Goes On

As many of you know, today was the quarterly business meeting of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC). If you have been following our blog or the tweets we sent from the meeting this morning, you are probably also aware Energy Action Network/Occupy Well Street organizer, Alex Lotorto, was hard at work the past couple of weeks attempting to organize a disruption to halt today’s vote on water withdrawal applications.  It was a bust, a total bust, but one that demonstrated the immature and desperate nature of the anti-natural gas movement.  There’s little moving at all from what we saw, except perhaps the mouths of the loudest protestors, who were very few in number.

A Quiet Beginning

This action was the second temper tantrum like uprising that occurred at the December quarterly meeting. Because of the disruption that ensued, SRBC Commissioners agreed to extend public comment on those withdrawal applications to be re-evaluated today. An explanation of this can be seen in the following clip.

Protesters sat quietly through the opening agenda items as commissioners voted on new proposals and partial fee waivers. They even quietly listened to the above explanation. Yet, when the commissioners began to vote on whether or not to re-evaluate December’s applications, the handful of protesters (and I mean handful) decided to take matters into their own hands.

Should We Call The Police or Their Parents?

Mike Knapp, President of Knapp Acquisitions and Productions very eloquently commented on yesterday’s post, “Disruption is a tool of a desperate person whose narrative has failed to gain traction, ‘disruption’ being what we call it when adults do it, ‘temper tantrum’ when it’s a child.” Well, Mike, there were eight people in Harrisburg today that left me wondering whether I was in a hearing room in our state capitol or in my grandmother’s daycare center.

There was Alex Lotorto, of course, who did stand up prepared to be arrested — a point we pondered yesterday.

Bill Huston was there with camera in hand, since Alex declared filming an important role for the participating activists. You have to wonder with Mr. Huston’s severe opposition to fossil fuels, how he made the trip from Binghamton to Harrisburg?

Bill Huston of "ShaleShock" Amongst Legitimate News Media

We noticed a few select individuals we’ve seen at each of the SRBC hearings and business meetings since December.

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Business As Usual

Throughout this childish behavior, the SRBC Commissioners continued their meeting and voted on the applications before them. From December’s meeting, they re-approved 24 applications, re-denied one and moved the table application to the March vote as had been previously decided. For the actual vote today, 24 applications were approved, two were denied, and two were tabled.  At the end of the vote, when the meeting was adjourned, the 8 standing protesters were joined by 6 or 7 individuals and they all marched out of the room together. You can see that below.

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Press Conference

Outside, the 15 or so protesters held a press conference. Here’s some photos of the “event” for posterity…and for rebuttal of those inflated numbers we know we’ll see. Read on afterward for some more insights.  But, look at this crowd, will you?  It appears tantrums don’t attract a lot of followers.

Occupy Well Street Protesters, SRBC March 2012

Occupy Well Street Protesters, SRBC March 2012

What’s Next

At today’s meeting, the behavior was in direct violation of the new SRBC meeting rules, which were extensively reviewed at the beginning of the meeting.  The rules clearly state:

Disruptive behavior that interferes with the orderly conduct of the public meeting will not be tolerated. Disruptive behavior intended to threaten or intimidate an SRBC official or other members of the attending public will not be tolerated. Persons engaging in such disruptive or threatening behavior will be removed from the meeting room.

Because Capitol Police were the security for this event; being removed also meant those persons would have been immediately placed under arrest.  The SRBC apparently didn’t want to create a scene with arrests and, therefore, ignored the 8 individuals and continued to conduct the meeting. One hopes this won’t be a pattern, as the SRBC should take into account and respect the reasons others attend the meetings (i.e. to hear the decisions).  Ignoring the mandated rules of the meeting only enables future violations. Why even have rules if they are not to be followed?

Further, this inaction invites continued immature behavior. These protesters did not accomplish their goals to halt the vote, nor did their shouting result in the media frenzy being arrested would have produced. As the opposition to natural gas development grows more desperate in their actions, we have to ask: What will they do next time to get the SRBC’s attention?

Is it time everyone just grew up?

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