Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike & Friends Blog

Dr Lisa Barr

Lisa Barr is a freelance journalist, media educator, and organic farmer in Upstate New York.

January 19th, 2012 2:13 PM

Fasting Against Fracking

It shouldn't be this hard.

Patrick McElligott phoned and wrote his Senator, Tom Libous, an ardent hydrofracking proponent. He wanted a meeting. He wasn’t going to try to get Libous to change his mind. He just wanted to sit down ‘like gentlemen’, and he was persistent. He was told ‘no meeting’ on the phone and in writing. And found this inappropriate.

So, McElligott decided to use the time-honored tradition associated chiefly with Indian and Irish activists (think Ghandi, think Bobby Sands) who wished to embarrass public officials into proper behavior. He would fast until a meeting was scheduled. He had the backing of about 30 friends who drove many miles to meet with him outside Libous’ office, in the cold, on Martin Luther King, Jr. day.

And yet, the local newspaper began its coverage of McElligott's start of the fast with the skeptical verb "Claiming"--here's the 'lede' used: "Claiming to be following in the footsteps of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, anti-fracking activist Patrick McElligott launched a hunger strike Monday in an effort to pressure a pro-drilling state lawmaker to speak to him about his concerns."

I left a comment on the Daily Star online 'peanut gallery section, defending McElligott's stalwart public service re:

*activism of years past when town officials allowed an ANCIENT Native People's burial mound to be reduced to gravel for 'capping' a local superfund site created by a polluting arms factory.

*activism defending Muslims from a threatened disinterment from a local cemetery;

*scholarship and advocacy as to proper practice for archaeological digs/reburials of antiquities including bodies;

*innovative social work getting troubled kids out on mountain tops and stream beds for archaeological digs--an environment McElligott said was a better place to get a troubled kid to open up.

You get the picture. Here's what I said (with links):

“Patrick McElligott has been quoted by the Daily Star many times over the years. I believe an examination of the Star’s morgue would show a lot of interesting articles. Maybe not. It’s clear to me that we are in the presence of greatness. And that greatness is being ignored--even trivialized. After his accident, his children wrote a book about his life. I recommend buying it and reading it. It’s clear to me that Mr. McElligott knows his stuff about archeological site preservation and surveying. And he knows how to peacefully stand up to an industry that engages in bullying, that gets public servants to ignore their obligation to the commons.

http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/can-animals-save-us/tolerance-in-a-small-town
http://www.truth-out.org/clearing-stands-boxer-one-mans-fight-against-fracking/1326401455 http://journals.democraticunderground.com/H2O%20Man/795
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQ4LGk5YXDE

I particularly liked William Pitt's Truthout piece. I also liked Patrick's own writing for Democratic Underground (much of which I read in a book by his children). ‘Mac’ as Pitt refers to him, is an unassuming, yet no doubt very talented and innovative social worker--on disability now due to job related injuries.

You can read the locals (are they locals? Are they gas company PR types writing that stuff?) disparaging him for being disabled and retired. McElligott says his role of ‘wallet’ and ‘chauffeur’ must not be harmed by this fast. He's the proud father of teenaged athletes. He coaches JV Girls Basketball. He is not about to jeopardize his health. 'Mac' consulted with a physician first. He's having a cup of juice each day. Along with his water.

But, it's day three. And still no word from Senator Libous' office.

It shouldn't be this hard.

Here's what it sounded like to those of us trying to reach Senator Libous on Patrick's behalf on January 18. I put this together with my MacBook Pro and my iPhone and Garage Band. Be the media. Michael Moore is right: Apple is, basically, “a force for good.”

I posted this audio criticism of my government on my Facebook page. A New York FB friend suggested I contact the NY State Senate Majority leader to complain about Libous' behavior. http://soundcloud.com/anirondaisycsa-aol-com/libousdodgesconstituentsrepatr

I'm glad we still have a relatively unfettered internet, despite the threat of SOPA.

I am well aware that the NDAA and a new proposed bill could mean trouble for me in the future for doing exactly what I am doing here--holding my government officials accountable. Here's what I said in an email entitled: “Libous Office: Voice Mail Abuse/Failure to Respond to Constituents” that I sent to Dean Skelos:

"Please listen to this. I think it is a huge embarrassment to any public servant that there is no one to answer the phone, and that his office voice mail refers us to a fundraising office. http://soundcloud.com/anirondaisycsa-aol-com/libousdodgesconstituentsrepatr Thank you.

Dr. Lisa J. Barr"

Most of my sources (artists, farmers, lawyers, union reps, truckers, business owners, students) for my documentary, "MUTUAL AID: A Fracked Society" are angry that so much of their time is being consumed fighting what should be a no-brainer: Hydrofracking must be stopped. Sometimes we get on one another's nerves. It's nothing personal. We're a bunch of Davids fighting a well-funded Goliath.

The other day a fellow videographer said to me, in front of sources, "Your energy is heavy. You should watch that." I called him a "whacko." I joked later that I regretted that because I felt I should have called him a chauvanist pig.

After 2 and a half years of videotaping abuse in Bradford County and up and down the Susquehanna River with an eye toward the fractured social fabric, I am angry, too. I have other things I'd rather research and write about. But, none of our representatives and senators seem able to fight this. Even if they are willing to do so.

It shouldn't be this hard.

And so the anti-frack movement looks at one another with suspicion--which is entirely what the dirty energy corporations want. Remember the admission that those criticizing frack operations in Bradford County had been treated as insurgents by an industry employing ‘military psyops’ domestically. Propaganda, torture, war is all on the same coercion spectrum, right? Of course it would come home. (https://coloradoindependent.com/105456/oil-and-gas-industry-using-military-psyops-tactics-to-break-insurgency-against-fracking) .

And so, facing criticisms for being too ‘radical’ myself because of who I interview and the force of my arguments against fracking at public hearings, I signed “Occupy Well Street’s pledge (http://www.owsstopfracking.org/2011/12/priority-anti-fracking-pledge-of.html) today. It includes this key paragraph--something which would make the deeply green resistant Derrick Jensen smile, I believe:

“IV...I will refrain from public condemnations of others' employment of effective tactics and strategies. Any effective movement must include a broad spectrum of activities, and the movement against fracking should include all who wish to resist this destructive industrial process....”

I signed this just as other sources are organizing training in civil disobedience (CD) for the weekend in Binghamton. I don’t think it’s coincidental that the city council just banned overnight tents in public parks, thus making it more difficult to recreate OCCUPY Binghamton--one of the longer-running OCCUPY encampments. OCCUPY Binghamton was never OCCUPY Wall Street, but it did have anti-fracking signs posted. It did, like the other OCCUPY sites I visited this Fall, have drums from time to time that evoked the First Peoples--the people who had a much better relationship to the land.

Patrick McElligott is trying to save that land from fracking.

It shouldn’t be this hard.

It would be a lot easier if New York City anti-frackers would come visit us Southern Tier anti-frackers. (The place isn’t as backward as it was when Pete Seeger was nearly killed by an angry mob. C’mon down!) If Gotham has been hypnotized by Governor Cuomo’s SGEIS sleight of hand--then Gotham needs to wake up. Over a ridge from Patrick McElligott’s hometown of Sidney lies Delaware County and the NYC reservoirs. And, contrary to what the SGEIS implies--these are NOT safe due to the partial ban on fracking in Delaware County.

This fall, at the Tribeca Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) hearings, people testified about evidence available online concerning many thousands of old abandoned ‘ghost’ wells the DEC knows are out there. Approximately 70,000, by some estimates. DEC caps the ones they learn about from telltale leakage. Fifty percent of these caps need repair in five years. All these wells--ghost or discovered--go down vertically to the same level as the new ones proposed. Once the horizontal ‘frack’ is chemically induced--they will likely ‘speak’ to one another. Gasses, the secret-metal-dissolving-frack-sauce (courtesy of Dick Cheney’s 2001 energy meeting), and radioactivity could spew all over.

And who would know?

But already the industry’s representatives or sycophants are prowling around New York state’s small town board meetings disputing this point. At my own town board meeting last week, a landowner said “Lisa Barr’s wrong--its (just) hundreds” of abandoned wells not yet discovered. The local paper covered the meeting as a ‘he said/she said’ debate without going into details.

Then there is the problem with anti-frack attorneys and witnesses being threatened at town board meetings here in the hinterland. It’s sometimes hard to take this seriously, or maybe we’re just punch drunk. Josh Fox jokes that when he visits near his hometown in PA, it’s not uncommon for him to be addresed thusly: “(Are you) Josh Fox? (Well, then) FUCK YOU!” And still he laughs.

But, back to solutions. If New York City residents could hold their own Occupy Well Street style civil disobedience (or CD) training and plan on joining those doing these actions--even if nothing is ever really done--it could be persuasive. (I don’t say ‘non-violent’ civil disobedience training because it’s redundant, okay?). It wouldn’t hurt if all those retirement funds like T. Rowe Price, Vanguard, etc.. would stop investing in the shell-game that funds the frackers, as documented in “Drilling for Money: A look at the investors behind the Marcellus Shale gas boom” available at this link: (http://shadbushcollective.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Drilling-for-Money-1.pdf).

Imagine hordes of people huddling in OCCUPY like meetings. Even a potluck can be an OCCUPY, folks--tents are optional. People possibly ready to do CD beneath the presently clean air on behalf of the presently (relatively) clean water would send a message. It could tell Governor “Exxon Frack” Cuomo that Gotham will not let him become President “Exxon Frack” Cuomo in 2016.

Lots of Gotham residents trained in OCCUPY Well Street-style CD would also feed those of us trying to battle the PR disinformation and distrust the frackers are spewing daily here in the Southern Tier.

They might also persuade Senator Libous to meet with Patrick McElligott. They might persuade Governor Cuomo to return those dirty Exxon campaign dollars.

It could happen. A gal’s gotta dream--and apologize for calling someone a ‘whacko’--and a man needs to eat.

Say a prayer for Patrick McElligott.

Say a prayer for us all.

It shouldn’t be this hard.

You must log in to comment.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register

If you have a moment today, I hope you can read the obituary for my father Francis (Frank) Moore, who died this past Saturday at the age of 92: Francis...

Apr 22nd
6:33 PM
Read More

My father, Francis (Frank) Moore, passed away this morning a few months shy if his 93rd birthday. He was a great dad I am blessed to have had him in my life. I...

Apr 20th
2:58 AM
Read More

Time to put the cuffs on Chris Christie -- not for the bridge scandal, but for this: Chris Christie's $300m pension proposal broke state anti-corruption...

Apr 18th
7:31 PM
Read More

George W. Bush Debuts New Paintings Of Dogs, Friends, Ghost Of Iraqi Child That Follows Him... www.theonion.com President Bush has a new hobby -- painting! --...

Apr 17th
7:28 PM
Read More

Big new story from David Sirota and Pando on top Christie adviser and appearance of corruption at New Jersey's pension fund: REVEALED: Gov....

Apr 17th
12:41 PM
Read More

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States www.theonion.com WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract pando.com As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
Read More

I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors pando.com If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
Read More

Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
Read More

ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
Read More

I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
Read More

I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
Read More

How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
Read More

Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
Read More

Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
Read More

When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
Read More

Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
Read More

This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
Read More

The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
Read More

Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa ...by Nick Turse www.michaelmoore.com Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
Read More

"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
Read More

RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 www.theguardian.com Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
Read More

Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? www.huffingtonpost.com I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
Read More

Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
Read More

Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
Read More

Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
Read More

Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
Read More

Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | RootsAction.org act.rootsaction.org The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
Read More

Subscribe to Mike's Blog RSS

Click here to suggest an article

Mike's Blog

See More Blogs

Vew the archives

View older articles