An estimated 54 protesters expressed their concerns about the environmental impact of Marcellus Shale gas drilling during the recent "Picnic on the Wellpad" event, held inside the S.B. Elliott State Park in Clearfield County.
The event was held as part of a business-to-business networking event by the DuBois Chamber Energy Committee and the Clearfield County Economic Development Corporation's Energy Team.
The park is part of the Moshannon State Forest and drilling company EOG Resources, Inc., has established several drilling sites on the property.
"It is our belief that PA's citizens need to 'wake up' to the very serious potential environmental hazards posed by the Marcellus Shale drilling activities," said Elk County C.A.R.E.S. (Citizens Advocating Responsible Environmental Stewardship) President Mike Kamandulis. According to statements from the group, C.A.R.E.S. is comprised of area citizens who "advocate for a healthy, sustainable environment by informing and raising awareness about the hazards of gas well drilling in our communities, including the impacts to water quality, air quality and human health."
As part of the rally, participants waved a variety of signs with slogans such as "Fracking in the Forest is No Picnic," "Fawns Not Fumes" and "Keep PA's Water Pure."
The protesters did so peacefully, remaining at the entrance of the state park along the intersection of SR 152 and Four Mile Road; however, a small group trudged several miles through the woods to get a closer view of the luncheon event while shouting several pro-environment phrases and waving signs.
Among the groups represented at the protest were the Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Water and Air (PACWA), the Allegheny Defense Project, Stop Fracking on Pennsylvania's Public Land, Clarion P.E.A.C.E., Protect Our Water, Damascus Citizens, The Marcellus Shale Protest, PA Gas Watch, the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition and The Responsible Drilling Alliance.
Also invited to attend were Rep. Camille "Bud" George (74th district) and Josh Fox, director of the Oscar- and Emmy-nominated film "Gasland."
According to Kamandulis, Elk County C.A.R.E.S. had planned on hosting the rally, but after visiting the Bureau of Forestry's district office, he said there was a tremendous amount of detailed paperwork required in order to obtain permission to demonstrate on State Game Land.
Word spread on the internet about the event, which led to more people becoming interested in the rally.