Protest unbalanced fracking forum at WQED on Thursday, January 26 at 8:00 pm

(informational graphic from the Checks and Balances website page about fracking)

Polish Hill resident Mark Knobil is trying to organize a protest at WQED, which is airing a forum ‘this Thursday at 8:00 p.m. about Marcellus Shale production.  Mark says that the problem with this ‘forum’ is that there is no studio audience  — the only input is taken electronically.  Mark feels that this forum  is stacked on the side of the fracking (hydraulic fracturing) industry, and asks that anyone who cares about this issue come out to WQED, at 4802 5th Avenue, on Thursday evening at 8:00 p.m. with a flashlight, to symbolically shed light on the corruption caused by the fracking industry’s money in state government.  He also notes that this forum is paid for by a foundation that is totally funded by the far right-wing Scaife family.

Here is how WQED is describing the forum (see their website page on the program):

“As part of a special series of programs under the banner “Managing Marcellus” — WQED will be present a LIVE forum on Energy & Economic Impact on Thursday, January 26 at 8pm. Viewers will be invited to participate prior to and during the live broadcast via email, facebook and twitter. WQED hosts Michael Bartley and Tonia Caruso will convene a panel of economic and Marcellus Shale experts including:”

Dennis Yablonsky, CEO of the Allegheny Conference

Michael Krancer, PA Department of Environmental Protection Secretary

Jan Jarett, President & CEO of PennFuture

Tom Murphy, Co-Director of the Penn State Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research

Matt Pitzarella, Range Resources Director of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs

Some of the people on the forum are in fields relating to environmental concerns, but as the new governor has been quite forthright about his support for the industry, there’s reason to wonder how balanced this will be.  People who have been trying to spread the word about the protest report that WQED’s face book page is taking down postings about this gathering.  Hopefully, WQED will allow for the expression of dissent, which is natural in a situation such as this — and should be acknowledged, rather than suppressed.

Our organization has heard from many residents that this is an issue that they are are deeply concerned about.  We have all heard news reports of problems with fracking, the environmental damage this process causes, and the human cost that has already been seen in other areas – some very close to Pittsburgh.  We hope this debate will continue, and in a public forum, not behind closed doors.