Ashland County, Ohio, Anti-Fracking Activists Looking to Pa. for Playbook Advice
A recent meeting in Ashland County, Ohio, made it clear that anti-fracking activists there will be taking notes from their Pennsylvania counterparts in an effort to spread misinformation across state lines.
At the meeting, Elaine Tanner – a member of the fake Tri-County Landowners Coalition – read into the record a letter from fellow anti-fracking activist Vera Scroggins of Susquehanna County, Pa. Scroggins is someone EID has mentioned a time or two on the blog, usually in an effort to set the record straight regarding the misguided “tours” she gives around the county, misinformation she has spread in the news media, and for her often rude attitude toward anyone that disagrees with her — most notably actual Susquehanna County landowners.
For those in the Buckeye state not familiar with Scroggins, she has harassed residents of Susquehanna County for years in an unsuccessful effort to halt the oil and natural gas industry from operating in Pennsylvania.
Here are just a few examples of some of the behavior Ohio residents may soon see if Tanner takes a page out of Scroggins’ playbook:
Tactict #1: Make up news and then continue to repeat it even after you’ve been proven wrong.
The flawed details of Scroggins’ letter and her warped version of what has occurred in Dimock and Susquehanna County aside, this wasn’t Scroggins’ first time embellishing events.
In fact, back in 2013 she and another activists went so far as to make up a story that was picked up by local media claiming the natural gas industry was responsible for an algae bloom that was noticeable on the opening day of trout season. Spoiler: It had nothing to do with fracking. As EID reported when all of this occurred,
“Most avid fishermen and women in Susquehanna County had seen this discoloration in years’ past and thought little of it. … But, that didn’t stop Scroggins and [Craig] Stevens from calling up a local news station and claiming the natural gas industry’s operations caused the change in the stream. It even resulted in a report on WBRE, which provided a forum for the duo to make this claim to all of its viewers. Worse still, the television report included no response from a natural gas company mentioned specifically in the report, or even from anyone who actually lives in the township who might have provided more perspective.”
The report was later removed after actual Franklin Township residents wrote into WBRE to not only call out the station for giving these activists a platform, but also to provide photographic evidence that the algae bloom had been occurring for years prior to shale development in the area. The Pa. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) later confirmed that water testing showed the discoloration was indeed an algae bloom – completely unrelated to the nearby natural gas development.
The truth certainly didn’t stop Scroggins from perpetuating her storyline during a tour she gave to New York state senators later the same month. As EID reported,
“If Senator Perkins was naive regarding pipelines, he was astute in asking another question about the “funny kind of green” stuff he saw in one of the rivers (2:05), reacting to something apparently told to him earlier by Vera and Craig and trying to get the other side of it. Scott Miller informed him it was algae, but how would he even catch a glimpse of algae in a river without it being pointed out in a rehash of the quickly debunked claim these two advanced to WBRE recently?”
Or on the other end of the spectrum, how about the time Scroggins posted a 14-second clip of Dimock residents receiving water tests results from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that completely misrepresented the context of the actual 38-minute conversation that took place?
Tactic #2: Trespass and harass until you’re banned.
The thing that Scroggins is probably best known for is trespassing and harassing local property owners to the point that she has had injunctions filed against her and signs placed in yards telling her to stay away.
The following images are examples of signs that have been seen in yards across Susquehanna County over the years. While the first one plainly states whom the sign is directed at, the second, which was created by Franklin Citizens for Truth, was also a direct response to Scroggins.
In Franklin Township, Scroggins and a fellow activist harassed a local hoagie shop to the point that the business was nearly shut down. Upon Heavenly Angels receiving water tests from DEP that showed levels of arsenic in their water supply, Scroggins went on a smear campaign against the restaurant, which the owners felt was because they catered (literally) to oil and gas workers in the area. The harassment reached such a level that even national media outlet Bloomberg News mentioned the restaurant in a thoroughly inaccurate article.
Here is the article that the Susquehanna Independent published in response to the off the wall allegations made by Scroggins:
As Scroggins acknowledged in the following video, the restaurant eventually banned her from the premises – although that clearly did not stop her from taking her “tour” groups to see it.
And it is through those tours that Scroggins caused the most frustration for residents, as she would routinely trespass on property, block local traffic from accessing roads, and at times put the members of her tour and local workers in danger by entering well sites without proper safety gear and with complete disregard for the equipment on site.
This is an image from Natural Gas Now of her trespassing on a Cabot Oil & Gas well site.
And here is a video of Scroggins admitting she could care less about local residents who were unable to get to their homes because of the buses she had blocking roads.
Because of these antics – of which there are many examples over the years – Scroggins is currently subject to an injunction that prevents her from accessing Cabot’s well sites, the properties of the company’s leaseholders and from obstructing the roads near well sites. Although that has done little to stop Scroggins from continuing to do so, as is evident in two recent court incidents (Feb. 2015 and Dec. 2017) and video taken during a recent tour she gave a Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate where.
Tactic #3: Uphold the anti-fracking agenda above all else, including local residents you claim to be helping.
In another case, Scroggins led a protest at the residence of a family that had recently learned DEP’s long-term investigation of their water supply concluded that the shale industry had not caused methane to migrate into their water well, and thus, the company could halt water deliveries.
Following this decision a few things occurred:
- The family declined the company’s offer to reconnect their water well.
- The family purchased a new outside water tank that they planned to use in lieu of a water well.
- The family, their attorneys and the company reached an agreement that the company would remove the existing, company-owned water tank on a specified day.
- The company offered to leave the existing shelter for its water tank to protect the family’s new water tank and also to fill the new water tank before leaving the property on the specified day.
But the company was unable to follow through on its commitments because Scroggins and a crew of New York activists blocked company representatives from the property – even though the terms had been agreed upon by the residents and their attorneys.
In other words, the family was unable to get the promised water by the company because of activists that claimed to be there because they were concerned about the family having water.
These are only a few examples of what residents in Susquehanna County have experienced as a result of Scroggins’ antics over the years, and what Ashland County residents could soon be in for given Tanner and Scroggins’ relationship.
As guest columnist Chris Acker recently described in an EID guest post, contrary to the claims of these activists, the real impacts that Susquehanna County has experienced have been astoundingly positive, as shale development has:
- Created hundreds of new local jobs, lowering the unemployment rate to 4.7%
- Stimulated growth of new and existing manufacturing and service businesses
- Saved numerous family farms essential to our rural character
- Substantially increased local wages
- Paid millions of dollars in impact fees to local government leading to lower property taxes
- Rebuilt hundreds of miles of local roads to better-than-ever condition
- Helped build a brand new state-of-the-art hospital and library
- Endowed a new local technical college with graduates placed in good industry jobs
- Extended new natural gas service to local communities, schools, government buildings and businesses – largely displacing more expensive and dirtier fuel oil
- Spurred construction of new senior housing
- Supported emergency services, multiple charities and natural disaster relief