Other visitors to the mansion were Penni Lechner and her 9-year-old daughter Madison. They are surrounded in their home in Butler, PA, by 25 fracking wells and have suffered all sorts of nasty health problems like headaches and rashes. They can't drink the water and their air, based on the readings of an air monitor, is often in the hazardous range. Madison told Gov. Wolf some of their problems, and he promised to set up a meeting with them, which, more than a week later, hasn't happened yet. Click here for my segment on Between the Lines, featuring Penni and the Delaware Riverkeeper, who makes the links on the impacts of fracking on both local communities and climate change. Based on methane leakage from drill pads, pipelines and other infrastructure, some studies show gas drilling could produce more greenhouse gases than coal.
Pennsylvanians Against Fracking held a spirited march around the Capitol (see photo above) and then stood in the so-called "free speech zone" behind the bleachers where people were watching the inauguration and kept up a steady drumbeat of "Ban Fracking Now!" that reverberated during Wolf's inaugural address. Inside the venue, eight activists with Stop Poisoning Pennsylvania (allied with Pennsylvanians Against Fracking) blew whistles and shouted for an end to fracking and were arrested (and released after paying $35 fines). They later said they encountered some hostility from those seated around them -- some because they disagreed with their politics, some just because they thought it was rude to interrupt the governor. But one of the law enforcement personnel they ran into said he supported their position. Listen to my coverage for Free Speech Radio News.
Folks in Pennsylvania were heartened when, in December, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned fracking in that state. They know they have a long way to go, but they know they are part of a rapidly growing peaceful army that believes another world free of fossil fuels is possible.