September 15, 2010
Contact: Oliver Bernstein, Sierra Club, 512.289.8618
Sierra Club Condemns Pennsylvania Security Agency's Scare Tactics
Concerned Residents are Right to Call for Natural Gas Industry Reforms
Harrisburg, Penn. -- This week we learned that Pennsylvania's state agency overseeing homeland security has been gathering McCarthy-style "research" on state residents, including everyday Pennsylvanians concerned about the health and environmental damage caused by loosely regulated gas drilling. Governor Rendell has since terminated the contract with the company that was doing this surveillance for the agency – the logical first step – but this threat to the rights of concerned residents requires a comprehensive investigation.
Statement from Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director
"We condemn the reported abuses by the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security, whose McCarthy-style research sought only to intimidate Pennsylvanians concerned about their land and water. We are especially troubled by the cozy relationship between the gas industry and state regulators, who shared personal information about residents.
"Grassroots activism is the foundation of American history, and much of this activism began in Pennsylvania with patriots like Benjamin Franklin. No government entity should squelch the rights of concerned residents to voice their opinions or to assemble with their neighbors.
"We are glad to see Governor Rendell call for an end to this invasion of privacy, and we urge him to follow through on his pledge to investigate this matter fully and to make public the results of the investigation. The Governor should hold accountable anyone responsible for allowing this violation of privacy rights. Public dissent and grassroots activism without fear of government surveillance or collusion with industry are keys to a functioning democracy.
"To truly address homeland security we should investigate what chemicals natural gas companies are injecting into our water supply and adopt tough regulations to protect all Americans from gas industry abuses. Unless the state legislature takes action now, Pennsylvanians will suffer reckless environmental degradation, loss of drinking water, destruction of our precious state and national forests, increased air pollution, and increased exposure to toxic chemicals used in the drilling process and from the natural gas itself."
For more information visit http://www.sierraclub.org/naturalgas