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Tue Jan 29, 2013, 09:54 PM

Farm Supporters Block Fracking Site to Highlight Risk to Farms and Food


Bessemer, PA – Yesterday afternoon, residents of Western Pennsylvania and friends of Lawrence County farmer Maggie Henry blocked the entrance to a Shell natural gas well site to protest fracking’s threat to local agriculture and food safety. Around 1pm, four protesters wearing signs that read “Fracking Threatens Food” and “Protect Farms for Our Future”, locked themselves to the legs of a giant paper-mache pig, obstructing traffic to and from the site. Two dozen others, including Henry herself, joined in support. The newly-constructed gas well, located less than 4,000 feet from Henry’s organic pig farm, has been flaring for weeks, burning off toxic emissions of excess hydrocarbons.

The farm has been in the Henry family for generations and has been maintained as a small business despite pressure from industry consolidation. The Henrys made a switch from dairy to organic pork and poultry production several years ago as part of their commitment to keeping the operation safe and sustainable for generations to come. “People buy my food because they know that it is literally the purest that you can get. My animals run around out on ground, in pasture. They’re not cooped up in cages.” Henry said. “Agriculture, not fracking, is the number one industry in Pennsylvania. This threatens my air, my water, my farm, my livelihood.”

The action comes on the heels of escalating civil disobedience across the continent to stop extreme energy projects, like fracking, strip mining, and tar sands oil mining, which destroy communities and fuel the climate crisis. Last week a coalition of Appalachian and Navajo communities impacted by strip mining, blockaded Peabody Coal’s headquarters in St. Louis, MO. And earlier this month protestors in eastern Texas erected a tree sit blockade to halt construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, slated to transport crude oil from the devastating Tar Sands mining in Alberta, Canada to refineries in Texas.

The protest disrupted operations at the site for three hours and displayed a different vision for the future of the region than the one oil giant Shell represents: safe food, sustainable economy, and clean air and water. Around 4:30, state police issued a final order to disperse and the blockaders unlocked and joined with supporters gathered nearby. Henrietta the Pig, however, was taken into Shell’s custody. #Henrietta

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