Protesters halted work at a new gas drilling rig in Clearfield on Sunday.
EQT suspended operations at the gas well when activists from Marcellus Shale Earth First! blocked access to the site. The group objects to using public land for private profit and wants hydraulic fracking to end in Pennsylvania and the country.
EQT—one of Pennsylvania’s largest drillers, with about 300 active wells in the western part of the state—shut down operations because of safety concerns for all involved.
The protesters brought down trees and piled up forest material blocking the access road. Also, two tree sitters strung anchor ropes across the road.
Earth First posted updates on the Earth First! Newswire as the day went by. According to Earth First, in the group’s first update at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, “Marcellus Earth First! and supporters have set up a blockade at an EQT well pad in the Moshannon Pennsylvania State Forest. An additional group of 40 supporters are holding a rally down the road, and have blocked a Halliburton truck. The activists plan to stay as long as they can. Stay tuned for more updates as information becomes available.”
A July 9 post on Earth First! Newswire stated, “The State Police, with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, dispersed the blockade around nine p.m. and removed the tree sitters with a ladder truck. Three arrests were made for disorderly conduct, but protesters were cited and released on-site.”
This is only one of the wells in Moshannon State Forest—one of the most heavily drilled state forests in Pennsylvania. More than half of the forest’s 190,000 acres have been leased for Marcellus drilling.
Drilling for natural gas in state forests is controversial. The Marcellus Shale boom has meant a rapid expansion of industrial activity on state land. More than 700,000 acres of forest land have already been leased, and The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources predicts more than 1,000 drilling rigs may dot the forests, once production is at full capacity.
Drinking water is also a topic of controversy. Many protesters are against the practice of fracking. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a drilling method that involves pumping chemical-laced water at a high pressure into the ground to release gas and oil. Protesters and environmental groups claim the process could poison water supplies. According to the industry, fracking is a safe practice.
The road—in Moshannon State Forest—is now clear.