Cliff Stump, retired Paper Mill pipe fitter
Ridgeway Township, Elk County PA
Let Us make our Own Decisions.
In 2008, I saw an article in the paper that a man named Ben Price (works for Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund) was coming to town in DuBois as part of a plan to fight fracking here.
It made sense to me. Fracking was destroying us. There are wells everywhere. They drill a well and move on. There ain't no pipelines to take the gas away, so first we had the wave of drillers coming in and bullying leases off of folks. Now we'll have the pipelines taking over.
I went down to the meeting with Ben. I wanted to support our community going to home rule, so we could make our own decisions.
Our home rule campaign was hard. We got the government study commission passed and set up to recommend home rule. But home rule didn't pass.
The people in power lied. There were lies being spread about taxes going up. We didn't have enough time to teach our neighbors the truth about fracking, and how home rule would give them more power to protect themselves.
I ran for supervisor. You see, our township had to redo their industrial zoning in order to let fracking in. They hired a consultant, met every month in order to get this changed. The people- me and my neighbors, came to convince them against this. We were concerned about our water. We'd heard stories from other places. We all have well water. Supervisors said they have nothing to do about water, that it is a state issue to protect our water, not something that could be done a the township level. Well, it should be. If we can't protect our water, what good is the local government?
We asked about the air. Our supervisors said they have nothing to do about the air- that too is something the state regulates. The supervisors were taken by the industry. The supervisors gave the township away. They were all together in this shit- together with the industry. They said they couldn't do anything to stop it. And that may be true. Pre-emption keeps them from having certain powers. But they could have tried. They could have challenged the right of these outside companies from damaging and threatening our lives.
The people in the township disagreed with the supervisor. We wanted to protect our water and air. We wanted to find a way to NOT let the industry in.
The supervisors accepted the industry's terms. Accepted that fracking was coming. Believed the lies it would be good for our community.
I believe in the Community Rights Work. If we are going to stop the power of the industry, we have to be able to stop it in our own communities. I still work with PACRN because we need to make a change.
PACRN is a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to helping Pennsylvania communities establish local self-governance, social justice,