Older Generation Stands Up to Protect School Children
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Middlesex Township, Butler, PA – A group of grandparents and seniors shut down an unconventional natural gas drilling (fracking) site near the Mars Area School District with a “rock to block” rocking chair blockade on Monday, December 21. Rex Energy is currently drilling unconventional horizontal hydraulic fracturing gas wells (“fracking”) on the Geyer well pad. The well pad will contain a controversial cluster of wells located about a half mile away from 3,200 students at the Mars Area School District campus. Gas wells and related infrastructure such as processing plants, compressor stations and pipelines emit harmful air pollution, and have the potential to cause water pollution and safety risks. Children are especially vulnerable to environmental hazards. There is also a real safety risk due to accidental explosions and fires.
The group blocked the entrance to the Geyer well pad site because it is the only recourse left to protect the children of the Mars Area School District, as well as all children put at risk when gas wells and infrastructure are placed nearby schools. This blockade is a stand against the gas industry’s reckless rush to frack in pursuit of profits over the health and safety of the children nearby and against politicians who have persistently failed in their duty to act in the public interest over special interests.
Michael Bagdes-Canning, a Butler County grandparent of three, stated, “Since neither the government officials, Rex and others in the industry, or lease holders will act to defend the health and welfare of our communities, our grandchildren, and future generations, we decided to stand up for them by sitting down (in the rocking chairs).”
Laurel Colonello, a Middlesex Twp. grandparent, stated “It is not ok that this toxic industry has moved into our community. The gas industry and local officials have consistently chosen wealth over the health and safety of our community, especially our children.”
Rex Energy called the Adams and Middlesex township police demanding that the grandparents be arrested and removed. Police refused to arrest anyone because there was no no-trespassing sign at the gate. Rex energy shut down operations for the day, installed a brand new no trespassing sign (but on the side that we were looking at it didn’t say anything) and went home. The rocking chair blockade stayed up a few hours and when it was clear Rex wasn’t coming back the grandparents packed up.
The grannies see “rock to block” as a Holiday gift to all children who will be exposed to the health and safety risks inherent in fracking and who in turn will pass on a tainted land and degraded environment to their own children. The group of rockers believe we are all stewards of the environment; to quote an old Native American saying expresses, We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.
If Rex restarts operations at the Geyer well they can expect to hear from some angry grandparents who are hell-bent on protecting their grandchildren.