In The Post-Facebook Era, There’s No Excuse for Bad Corporate Behavior
[UPDATE: ay 4, 2012] This report from Protecting Our Waters:
[UPDATED, April 20, 2012]
The “No Evictions for Fracking!” Press Conference on April 18, 2012, organized by Protecting Our Waters, and co-sponsered by a broad coalition of environmental activists, was a success. Groups represented included: Berks Gas Truth, Clean Water Action, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Elk CARES, Food & Water Watch, Fracking Truth Alliance of Lawrence and Mercer Counties, Gas Truth of Central PA, Groundswell PA, Interfaith Sacred Earth Coalition, KeepTapWaterSafe, Lehigh Valley Gas Truth, Marcellus Outreach Butler, Marcellus Protest, New York Residents Against Drilling, Pennsylvanians for Clean Land, Air and Water (PA CLAW), and StopFrackingPA! With about two dozen water activists on hand representing them, there was also handful of press covering it.
Carolyn Beeler of WHYY Newsworks reports in Groups protest at Aqua America Over Fracking Involvement on April 18, 2012: “Aqua is offering relocation money until June 1, but said it does not plan to start evicting residents if they do not leave by that date. Kyriss said he expects to have the water pumping station operational by the second half of this year.”
Richard Ilgenfritz of MainLineMediaNews posted excellent video of the conference, along with written coverage. “This is about their children’s children.”
Local CBS affiliate, Mark Abrams, was there. He demanded to know who was the one spokesperson, and he got Iris Marie Bloom, but then left out half of her soundbites. Abrams did get Karl Kyriss, Aqua America’s Executive Vice President, on record saying: “There are no plans to evict anyone.” This comes as a great relief to residents in Riverdale, Jersey Shore, PA. It’s a temporary reprieve, yielding much-needed time for them to sort this out.
BrynMawr.Patch.com has reported on our hometown water giant at length. Editor Danielle Vickery covered the press conference in her post, Clean Water Activists Protest Fracking By Aqua on April 18, 2012.
Hands down the most interesting exchange occurred during the Q & A, between Andrew Maykuth of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Iris Marie Bloom of Protecting Our Waters. You can read Maykuth’s April 19, 2012 article, Trailer Park Becomes Aqua America’s PR Problem on Philly.com.
Maykuth questioned Bloom in detail, and his reporting is solid, as always, but I feared he was obscuring the point. Or maybe it wasn’t clear? Maykuth is a pro-business writer, and while I wish he were more pro-Earth, too, he’s stuck with Marcellus water issues from the beginning. And I admire anyone who’s inclined to engage all sides. So I sent him an email, of course:
What amounts to a ‘PR problem’ for Aqua is actually an all-encompassing, life-altering trauma for this neighborhood. Stephen Cleghorn makes the point most succinctly in a comment on ProtectingOurWaters.com: “A whole community is being sacrificed to the gas rush.”
It’s sad. It’s also progress, I know. The fact Aqua is helping these people is great, but they aren’t really showing good corporate citizenship, are they? Considering how much they stand to earn off this new facility, they offered Riverdale Residents chump change.
The way I see it, water is life, and right now Aqua owns the water. Not every public utility ought to be so thoroughly privatized. Regardless of who resident point person, Richard Leonard, blames or sues, these massive, SRBC-approved fracking water withdrawals are draining the life out of PA’s communities. Corporations may be viewed as people according to the law, but it’s not the law of the jungle! Aqua is a successful, bottom-line oriented company, and it doesn’t have morality, even if all their leaders and employees do. It’s like a brilliant android with no emotions.
I also mentioned that any Aqua rep was free to come down and speak to the activists yesterday: We were on their front door step, and we arrived pre-announced.
I did receive a courteous and thoughtful reply. I’m glad my point wasn’t lost. I don’t think Maykuth, or Aqua, or anyone else for that matter, thinks they’ve had the last word on Water or Gas Drilling.
Check out a short video clip video of the Maykuth-Bloom Q&A exchange here.
Sign the Citizenspeak.org Campaign letter, “Aqua America, No Evictions For Fracking” here.
UPDATE, April 22, 2012: From DemocratciUnderground.com Shocking Conflict of Interest: Private Water Companies Partner With Fracking Lobby