Action increases awareness and creates a teachable moment
HICKORY, N.C. – Here, in the foothills of the southern Appalachians, the impact of fracking is not felt. Hence, awareness of it is frustratingly low. That all changed after Monday night’s professional football game about 60 miles southeast of here between the Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts. It was in the second half of that rain-soaked game when members of We Are Cove Point, a Maryland-based ecological preservation group, rappelled from the stadium’s upper deck and into the nation’s consciousness.
It was an inspiring moment of civil disobedience against the corporate interests that are presently in control of our nation’s political system. The group is protesting a planned liquefied natural gas export facility in Cove Point, Md. While suspended, they displayed a banner that said, “BoA: Dump Dominion.” It also displayed the group’s website. The statement was referring to Bank of America’s financial support of Dominion Resources, which is building the natural gas facility. The game was played at Bank of America Stadium in downtown Charlotte.
According to various news outlets, Kelly Canavan, speaking for the group, said, “I think it went really fantastically well, and there’s not something I can think of that I would do differently.”
On Tuesday, I was explaining to folks the significance of the sign. Not only has it provided a teachable moment about fracking, it has demonstrated, again, that the people are not going to just roll over for corporations that are abusing eminent domain, running roughshod over the people of Central Appalachia to maximize profits, contributing to climate change, and creating impoverished regions that have become dependent upon a fossil fuel mono-economy.
This is a dramatic change from the last several times I spoke to people outside of West Virginia about fracking. Most had not heard of it. Those who had were generally not aware of its human health risks and detrimental environmental effects.
Reportedly, the four protestors were from throughout the mid-Atlantic area – one from Pennsylvania, one from Washington D.C., and two from North Carolina. This underscores what I have discovered covering the issue – there is a commitment to solidarity among all of those being impacted or that may be impacted by fracking. From those nearest the wells in North Central West Virginia, southwestern Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and elsewhere, to those along the pipeline routes, to those near compressor stations, and to people committed to ecological preservation of the rugged and diverse Appalachian Mountains, people are finding and supporting one another.
In short, the people – again – are ahead of the politicians. They don’t want personal property rights trampled on by crony capitalism; they do not want corporations risking their lives and property for profit; they don’t want the environment destroyed for a notoriously unstable boom-and-bust fossil fuel mono economy.
When the politicians refuse to act, then the people will, even if it means going to jail. As Canavan explained, people are going to their website to learn more. That’s because the action was a gesture with gumption. That does not bode well for Bank of America, Dominion, other industry leaders and the various pipeline projects and related infrastructure planned.
These corporations have caused great harm to people and the environment in the shale fields, continue to do so, and have no intention of changing their behavior. They have stolen land, polluted streams, bought politicians, and lied repeatedly to the people harmed by their industry.
And yet, four protestors are the ones charged with crimes. It is no wonder the people are revolting. I believe we’ve only just begun.
© Michael M. Barrick, 2015
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