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Lawmakers React to Anti-Marcellus Inauguration Protest

Anti-Marcellus protesters made a big splash at Governor Corbett’s Inauguration today (Click here to watch video).

Protesters were audible throughout the ceremony, sometimes even drowning out the official proceedings with chants of “Tom Corbett, no way! No fracking in PA!”

Those involved certainly generated a great deal of attention for the issue of Marcellus Shale drilling and the controversial fracking procedure used to extract natural gas from deep in the ground.

But it is not immediately clear how much the protest helped their cause, or whether it helped at all.

“Not sure what protesters are for. But they should respect the democratic process enough to let Corbett speak,” tweeted State Senator Daylin Leach, who who has been staunchly on the environmentalist side of this debate.

State Rep. Kate Harper (R-61) who’s amendment made it possible to pass the severance tax bill last session, said she was happy to see the protesters but was not moved by their demonstration.

“I don’t think the protesters moved me one iota. What moves me is intellectual arguments,” Harper said. “If they were trying to get media attention to their position, they succeeded. If they intended to change hearts and minds, not so much.”

Harper said that she was pleased with Gov. Corbett’s speech, which she called a “beautiful plan” for Pennsylvania, and that she didn’t think the protesters disrupted the ceremony.

“I thought it was a quintessentially American thing, to have a Governor being sworn in, and a protest right across the way. This is the way we do it in America,” she added.

Other legislators took a more favorable view.

“It’s important that the people who disagree with the Governor make their voices heard,” said State Rep. Eugene DePasquale (D-95) “He won, but so did many people who disagree with him on that issue. I don’t think what happened today will impact any votes. What it does it make sure that the governor and legislators know that there are a lot of people who feel very passionately about that issue.”

But how was the protest viewed by the freshmen in Harrisburg, who’s critical swing votes will be the difference in Marcellus legislation?

State Rep. Stephen Bloom (R-199) is exactly the kind of legislator that conservationists need to win over. Bloom is a freshman Republican who wasn’t around for last year’s battle over Marcellus shale. Today he was assigned to the committee that is likely to shape Marcellus legislation the most: Environmental Resources and Energy. Bloom did not think the protesters did much to help their cause.

“It’s a first amendment right, and though it’s sometimes annoying, we all have the right to protest,” Bloom said. “However, I question their timing and the effectiveness. I don’t think that disrupting a ceremony meant to recognize the democratic transition of power will win them much favor.”

4 Responses

  1. I’m surprised that Senator Leach said he’s not aware of what protesters want, the rally organizers had him on the Rally’s speaker list…

    This rally, with over 200 in attendance, was a remarkable, vibrant demonstration of the commitment of PA citizens to our nation’s belief in free speech. Too often, we who oppose PA’s Marcellus drilling free-for-all, are shut down at supposed “community” meetings, our letters & emails to state legislators are ignored. On Jan. 18 we created our own, statewide community meeting.

    I can assure Rep. Harper that we, the people, [aka protesters] are ready, willing & able to engage in intellectual arguments, based on scientific data. Give us that opportunity Rep. Harper. We won’t waste your time with feel-good, fairytale-like stories/ads like those being spun by the Marcellus Shale Coalition & its members.

  2. I would have joined the protest if I could, but I have to work and can’t afford to take off, but I am glad they disrupted the inauguration.
    A great GOP member, President Abraham Lincoln once said, “to sin by silence makes cowards of men” To say that protesting at inauguration didn’t aid the cause is similar to what we were told during the Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War Movements. We were repeatedly told it had no effect and that it wouldn’t change anything. We now know that is not true. It is our moral and our Constitutional right and duty. As long as money trumps reason, fact, and moral justice, politicians and inauguration events will have to be disrupted. So I am glad they were there and I hope more come at any public appearance of these Gas Driller Representatives until they get the message. Drill safety, clean it up or don’t drill at all.

  3. The role of the organizer is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. No question: the legislature and Corbett are very, very comfortable. I’m disappointed in Leach’s reaction, but it’s not unusual for people on the right side of the issue not to understand some tactics.

    If it’s getting a reaction from folks with clout, though, it is working. We aren’t trying to recruit people to play pinochle with us. We are working to move policy. Sounds like this was a decent action, despite our numbers dwindling due to really gross weather.

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