Jen and Jim Slotterback are a wife and husband team from Pennsylvania who have become newfound activists against fracking. One day while walking her dog, Jen noticed a well pad stake (for drilling) in her local Rider Park. She discovered that the park had been surveyed for its natural gas hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) potential and that in 11 days, the community foundation that controlled the park was going to make a decision on whether to allow fracking to begin. Although Jen had never campaigned before, she felt that her park’s health and beauty were deeply at risk- so, she joined with Jim to organize their community to try to influence the board’s vote.
Jen and Jim realized that opening up the park to fracking would mean a plethora of new, crisscrossing access roads and pipelines. Three acres of forest would be leveled for each well pad, and noise and dust would ensue. Furthermore, the millions of gallons of chemical wastewater produced in the process could potentially contaminate the local water systems. Jen and Jim decided to use a multi-tier approach to prevent these catastrophes. They wrote a letter to the editor of their newspaper, they created a website about the issue, they distributed a petition to influence the board, and they formed a facebook group to mobilize the public. They also allied with Responsible Drilling Alliance, a grassroots, all-volunteer organization that sponsored an ad in support of Rider Park in the local paper.
The victorious results of their 11-day efforts were 4,000 signatures and a unanimous vote by the board against drilling in the park. After saving their 850 acres of paradise, Jen and Jim felt moved to protect more endangered land in the state. Currently, all of Pennsylvania’s state parks are subject to being leased for natural gas drilling. The Governor, Tom Corbett, strongly supports fracking and took in $800,000 in election contributions from the oil and gas companies. He opposes the ability of communities to create ordinances prohibiting fracking and the issuance of taxes or fees on drilling companies.
Jen and Jim, with Responsible Drilling Alliance (RDA), desire stronger regulations in the natural gas industry, a moratorium on drilling in state forests and more help for citizens harmed by the fracking process. Drilling in Pennsylvania is continuing at a rapid rate and state enforcement capability is limited. Each fracking rig typically drills 8000 feet vertically and 4000 feet horizontally, so a great quantity of priceless state land is at stake. Jen, Jim and RDA have teamed up with the larger environmental organization, Earthjustice, which has featured their petition on its website and created a Citizen’s Tip Guide to fighting fracking. RDA also has posted an incredible stream of YouTube videos explaining the fracking process and its impacts.