Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook 6 Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend (6 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Article Stats   7 comments

General News

An Injunction Against the Truth

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

News 2   Valuable 2   Must Read 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H2 10/26/13

Become a Fan
  (48 fans)


VERA SCROGGINS by Vera Scroggins
 

by Walter Brasch

Monday morning, Oct. 21, 2013. Vera Scroggins, a retired real estate agent and nurse's aide, was in Common Pleas Court for Susquehanna County, Pa., to explain why a temporary injunction should not be issued against her.

Before her were four lawyers and several employees of Cabot Gas and Oil, who accused her of trespassing and causing irreparable harm to the company that had almost $1 billion in revenue in 2012. They didn't want her on their property they owned or leased in the Marcellus Shale.

Scroggins is an anti-fracking activist, someone who not only knows what is happening in the gas fields of northeastern Pennsylvania, but willingly devotes much of her day to helping others to see and understand the damage fracking causes. Since 2010, she had led visitors, government officials, and journalists on tours of the gas fields, to rigs and well pads, pipelines, compressor stations, and roads damaged by the heavy volume of truck traffic necessary to build and support the wells. As part of her tours, she introduces the visitors to those affected by fracking, to the people of northeast Pennsylvania who have seen their air and water polluted, their health impacted. The visitors come from New York, which has a moratorium on fracking; from Pennsylvania, which doesn't; from surrounding states and from foreign countries, who want to see what fracking is, and what it does.

And now in a court room in Montrose, she was accused of trespassing and forced to defend herself.

She asked Judge Kenneth W. Seamans for a continuance. She explained she only received by mail the papers the previous Thursday and was told she had 20 days to respond. She explained on Friday a sheriff's deputy came to her house with copies of the same papers that ordered her to court three days later. She explained she had tried to secure an attorney, but was unable to do so over the weekend.

Judge Seamans told her he wouldn't grant a continuance because she didn't give the court 24 hours notice. "He said that to grant a continuance would inconvenience three of the lawyers who had come from Pittsburgh, and I might have to pay their fees if the hearing was delayed," says Scroggins.

In four hours, Cabot called several witnesses--employees, security personnel, and subcontractors--to testify they saw her trespassing. They claimed her presence presented safety risks. "What we've seen is an increase in frequency and also the number of visitors she is putting in harm's way," Cabot's George Stark had told Staci Wilson of the Susquehanna County Independent.

In her defense, Scroggins called three friends who had accompanied her to court. They testified she was always polite and never posed a safety risk. She says when she went onto a Cabot location, she always reported to the security or field office, and never received any written warnings or demands in the two years she was at the sites. "When I was asked to leave, I left," she says.

Cabot personnel replied she was never a visitor, even though she frequently had amicable chats with on-site managers since 2009. They claim she was on company-owned access roads; she replied she primarily used public roads and the times her car or a chartered bus might have been on access roads they never blocked them--unlike gas industry vehicles that often keep drivers bottled up in traffic jams or set times when residents can't use public roads, even leading to their own homes, because of heavy frack-truck traffic.

"I was blocked after going on sites and access roads several times since 2009, and kept up to an hour," says Sroggins, "but then allowed to leave." No police were called, she says. "If I'm trespassing, then charge me," she remembers saying. Cabot had never charged her, nor sent her any written demands to cease her visits.

For Cabot personnel, it had to be frustrating to have to deal with what they may have thought was a nosy pest who kept showing up at their work sites, possibly endangering herself, her own guests, and the workers. For Scroggins, she was there, explaining drilling to many who had never seen a rig or well pad, videotaping what was the truth about Cabot's operations and fracking in the Marcellus Shale.

In court, she tried several times to explain that she had documented health and safety violations at Cabot sites, many of which led to fines and citations. She tried to explain that she has put hundreds of videotapes online or at YouTube to show the damage the company, and other companies, are doing to the people. Every time she tried to present the evidence, a Cabot lawyer objected, and the judge struck the testimony from the record.

However, when Judge Seamans asked her if she wished to take the stand to testify, stated she could be charged under criminal law and advised her she had the right to not speak and possibly incriminate herself--"I stopped talking."

That afternoon, Judge Seamans granted Cabot its preliminary injunction.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

www.walterbrasch.com

Walter Brasch is an award-winning journalist and professor of journalism emeritus. His current books are Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution , America's Unpatriotic Acts: The Federal Government's Violation of Constitutional (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Twelve Angry White People: Jury Nullification in a Pennsylvania Coal Town

Baffled, Befuddled, and Bamboozled: Penn State Trustees and NCAA are Sinking

Truckin' to Treason: The Hot Air of Secession

Former OEN Managing Editor Files Lawsuit Against Philly Police, City. Charge: Constitutional Violations in Her Arrest

Keystone XL, Through Transcanada, Uses Eminent Domain to Seize Texan's Land

Rush to Judgment: Talk Radio's 'Truth Detector' Blows a Fuse--Again

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
5 people are discussing this page, with 7 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

Thanks for posting this, Walt!... by Meryl Ann Butler on Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 10:13:31 AM
Rob Kall, et al.:What's the deal with accompanying... by Peter Warner on Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 10:57:59 AM
See our FAQ on ads Www.opednews.com/faq... by Rob Kall on Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 12:37:18 PM
Great article, Walt. These are dangerous times whe... by Rob Kall on Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 12:38:18 PM
you're right rob, these are very dangerous times w... by laurie steele on Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 6:34:14 PM
Don't vote for candidates with money?  If you... by Samson on Sunday, Oct 27, 2013 at 11:24:34 PM
Does the company actually own the land?  Ofte... by Samson on Sunday, Oct 27, 2013 at 11:23:06 PM