PITTSBURGH: Anti-Fracking Noise Demo at Rich Fitzgerald’s Home

Submission from Ohio Valley Environmental Resistance (OVER) received on 03.15.21

On Sunday March 14th in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, the Ohio Valley Environmental Resistance with the help of several affinity groups held a noise demo outside the home of Allegheny County Executive Richard “Fitz” Fitzgerald to protest his support of the petrochemical industry in Southwestern PA.  The activists chose March 14th to coincide with Pi day (3.14) which is celebrated by science enthusiasts around the world. In honor of Pi day, OVER created a paper mache Pi filled with plastic made to symbolize plastic in the world’s food supply.

Fitzgerald recently made national headlines by responding to Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s’ comments about Pittsburgh and the Paris Climate Agreement by stating “we believe in science around here” and “climate change is real.”  Mainstream news networks grabbed on to these comments and Fitzgerald’s similarity to the actor Jeff Daniels without delving any further into Fitzgerald’s actual record on environmental issues.

Fitzgerald was one of the largest recipients of fossil fuel interest money in the state of Pennsylvania in 2017-2018. In 2014 his administration pushed for fracking underneath a county owned park by Range Resources despite widespread community opposition and a campaign that lasted for eight months.  Fitzgerald also ignored environmental advocates by encouraging fracking near Pittsburgh International Airport and has been a strong supporter along with Donald Trump of the Shell Ethane Cracker Plant in Beaver County Pennsylvania.

The plant is currently under construction and will emit over 2 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents every year along with produce 1. 6 million tons of ethylene plastic “nurdles” that are used to make plastic products.  The plant also will receive 1.6 billion dollars in tax breaks from the state of Pennsylvania in exchange for reversing all of the progress the Southwestern Pa has made to combat climate change and for producing more plastic to poison the world’s water and food supply.

Protesters used pots, pans, drums, speeches, chants, and songs to create noise. They also placed door hangers on neighbors’ doors to explain why they were creating such a ruckus.  Neighbors were mostly supportive although one person did attempt to drive through the crowd  Fortunately the bikes blocking the permiter marshalled the driver through the crowd as people called the driver a “jagoff” (Pittsburghese) for not taking another residential side street.

Two members of OVER attempted to confront Fitz by knocking on his door and leading the crowd in a chant to “come out now!”  As expected the lights were on, but Fitz did not show.    

OVER has three demands they are making of Fitzgerald:

  1. Fitzgerald must publicly declare that he was wrong about the economic and environmental consequences of fracking.
  2. He must never again court fracking and petrochemical companies to come to Southwest PA.
  3. Ban fracking on county owned land. 

  To Contact Fitzgerald at his office, call 412-350-6500.

Ohio Valley Environmental Resistance (OVER) is a coalition of climate justice organizations and independent activists who are demanding the cessation of the petrochemical buildout in the Ohio Valley. OVER intends to engage in sustained resistance until its demand is met.

KDKA News Story –  https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2021/03/15/anti-fracking-allegheny-county-rich-fitzgerald-protest/

Campaign Donations – http://marcellusmoney.org/pac/FRIENDS-OF-RICH-FITZGERALD

Shale Cracker Plant – https://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/tag/ethane-cracker/

Deer Lakes Park – https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/proposal-to-drill-beneath-deer-lakes-park-raises-questions-of-safety-government-procedure/Content?oid=1708989

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