The “Keep it In the Ground” movement has been a reliable source of ridiculous antics over the years, and 2017 has been no exception. In fact, anti-fracking stunts have been so absurd this year it’s downright scary! So in celebration of Halloween, here’s our list of most ridiculous anti-fracking activist shenanigans so far in 2017.
#8. Activists travel thousands of miles from California and Colorado to rally anti-fracking support in Ohio — but barely any Ohioans show up.
There have been several anti-fracking protests in Ohio this year. But despite receiving some “big funding” from California billionaire activist Tom Steyer, they have all had one thing in common — each one has flopped on the attendance front.
For instance, June’s “digital disruption powerhour” in Cincinnati only attracted five people, while a Columbus anti-fracking march and rally touted that 70 percent more people attended than actually showed up.
But what is really scary is how far some of the organizers and speakers traveled for events that were clearly of no interest to the majority of Ohioans. In July, Earthworks campaigner Ethan Buckner flew to Ohio from Oakland, Calif. (more than 2,500 miles) to help organize “three massive rallies against fracking” in Cleveland, Columbus and Marietta. But when Buckner returned in September for the events, the statewide protests attracted a total of 47 people,
including just three people most of the day at the following Cleveland “rally.”
Similarly, Lafayette, Colo., City Council member Merrily Mazza skipped an October council meeting in favor of a 3,281-mile round trip for an Ohio “roadshow” speaking tour that touted her Colorado “success” getting Lafayette’s “Climate Bill of Rights” passed. Mazza probably didn’t mention that she previously called the measure “toothless,” not to mention the fact that the bill is unconstitutional and unenforceable.
These out-of-state activists’ continued Buckeye State futility could be explained by the fact that Ohioans are experiencing incredible increases in tax revenue, investments in new pipelines and natural gas-fired power plants, and even watching steel make a comeback thanks to shale development. And contrary to the messaging of this handful of activists, the state is doing it with one of the best regulatory programs in the country, according to Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Craig Butler, and without harming the health of Ohioans, as recent yet-to-be published studies from the University of Cincinnati have shown.
#7. Out-of-state activists align with most fringe anti-fracking group in Ohio.
Ohio was also the target of a #NoDAPL style protest camp led by Myron Dewey, an independent filmmaker and one of the more prominent online voices of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protests, along with Athens-based Appalachia Resist!, Ohio’s most fringe environmental activist group. The goal of the protest was to stop the mineral lease sales in the Wayne National Forest, which have thus far brought in nearly $7 million, much of which will stay local and help fund schools and municipalities. If that alone doesn’t show how out of touch Appalachia Resist! is with the rest of Ohio, the following video the group made to raise support for the protests does. Warning: once you’ve seen this video, it can’t be unseen.
#6. New Yorkers protest a pipeline on the grounds of “clean air” — even though stopping the pipeline would mean the power plant would run on fuel oil.
Despite banning fracking, New York has had a trend in recent years of upping its consumption of natural gas while simultaneously preventing new pipelines from being built to transport the needed supply into the state. It’s presenting a pretty scary and unsustainable scenario that some worry could lead to power shortages for the “City That Never Sleeps.”
In perhaps one of the most ridiculous stunts related to this situation, protesters pushed for the state to deny a permit for the Millennium Valley Lateral pipeline that would bring Marcellus gas to a new power plant in Orange County, N.Y., on the grounds of wanting cleaner air. The state actually blocked that pipeline in September and has since challenged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s decision to grant Millennium permission to build.
But here’s the thing: the power plant will be operational next year regardless of whether this pipeline is built or not, because it can also run on fuel oil. In other words, by stopping the pipeline, protesters are preventing the plant from reducing its greenhouse gas and criteria pollutant emissions significantly across the board by blocking the natural gas pipeline.
You can’t make this stuff up.
#5. ”Die-in” shows sensitivity training is obviously not part of activists’ agenda.
Less than two days after the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, Boulder, Colo., protesters staged what they called a “die-in” against fracking. Never heard of a “die-in”? It’s where protesters lay on the floor and pretend to be dead during a hearing.
And as The Daily Caller reported, one of the group’s responsible for this tone-deaf fiasco, East Boulder County United (EBCU), was proud of this event and even attempted to use it as a fundraising opportunity,
“EBCU used an image of the protesters lying on the ground at the Boulder County Commissioners (BCC) meeting, while holding grave markers, to promote and solicit donations to their efforts with the caption: ‘If you like what you’ve seen recently, please consider donating to our general fund.’”
#4. Activists continue using children to further their anti-fracking agendas.
This tactic isn’t new, but the fact that it continues with new examples every year is scary in its own right. However, it’s not surprising, considering it was part of a planned media strategy laid out in a memo for anti-fracking activists back in 2012.
Most recently, researchers with direct affiliations with no fewer than four anti-fracking groups tried to use a flawed scientific “study” to say that fracking threatens the neurodevelopment of babies and children. In reality the “study” was simply a literature review, which presented no new evidence and used studies that did not actually find causation from fracking.
And earlier this year, a study went so far as to claim fracking kills babies. That study, which was published in a questionable “predatory” open-access journal, received no mainstream media attention, yet is still brought up by activists looking to scare the public with its alarmist topline finding.
But perhaps the worst instance this year occurred not in the realm of adult discussion, but instead at a preschool in Ohio. Little Dreamers, Big Believers daycare actually forced preschool children to submit public comment to protest fracking around the Wayne National forest. As the Columbus Dispatch reported,
“As part of “Operation Dawn Chorus” — a mission named after the din of chirping birds at sunrise — the pre-kindergarten students at Little Dreamers, Big Believers day-care center in the Short North made dozens of drawings that show why they love the forest and sent them to the Bureau of Land Management, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and forestry officials.”
#3. Activists protest at the wrong house in Colorado.
Back in September, the same group that staged that insensitive “die-in” got all dressed up in hazmat suits and rolled prop oil barrels down a neighborhood street in the hopes of influencing Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones by protesting at her house. There was one serious flaw in the strategy: Jones doesn’t live at the house the activists protested at.
But it gets even better, because they didn’t even realize they had the wrong house until after the protest had ended. The Denver Post reported on the leaders’ reactions to learning about their mistake,
“Cliff Willmeng, of East Boulder County United, one of the groups with members at the Sunday demonstration, acknowledged on Monday afternoon that they’d thought Jones lived at the address in the 700 block of Marine Street but discovered after gathering there that she does not. That wasn’t mentioned in East Boulder County United’s Facebook posts about the demonstration. But he countered on Monday that even if Jones no longer lives at the Marine Street house, ‘She owns it.’”
Now, that’s scary.
#2. A university professor creates – and defends – a game in which players get to blow up pipelines.
Now this one is legitimately scary, because it actually encourages eco-terrorism and violence against oilfield workers. A Michigan State University professor created a game that she says isn’t meant to incite violence, but according to the Associated Press,
“Players can earn points by firing lightning at snakelike pipelines, trucks and other oil industry structures.”
The scariest part? The game’s creator, Elizabeth LaPensee, who happens to also be a university professor that teaches people – let that sink in – defends the work because players also have the option to bring people and animals back to life. Also from the AP article,
“’It certainly is not encouraging anyone to commit eco-terrorism,’ she said, adding that people should play it before passing judgment.’
“’It’s optional whether or not you attack oil structures or you focus on activating animals and people,’ she said. ‘The game never tells you what your choice should be.’”
#1. Illinois activists create “anti-fracking monster movie.”
A Halloween list wouldn’t be complete without a monster movie, and this one just so happens to be about fracking.
Platypossum is described by its Illinois creators — one of which has been one of the more prominent voices in the state’s anti-fracking movement — as an “anti-fracking monster movie” that is a “throwback to the science fiction films of yesteryear where the creature was created by mankind’s ignorance.” Apparently in this case, that’s fracking – the technology that has unlocked an abundance of shale and is helping to improve American lives.
The platypossum is created when a platypus rolls in fracking fluid in a national forest while mating with a possum. No one has ever disputed anti-fracking activists have vivid imaginations, right? As for their grasp on science, well here’s the trailer to form your own conclusions on that.
From everyone at Energy In Depth, have a safe and Happy Halloween!