by Anne Goodwin
The passion of parents to protect our children and the power of personal stories resonated in our hearts when Mothers Out Front co-hosted four fracking activists from Pennsylvania this week. Lois Bjornson, Jane Worthington, and father and son Brian and Ryan Latkanich spent two days as our guests telling the stories of how their livelihoods, land, health, and children’s health have been destroyed by intensive fracking for methane gas fuel all across their rural area.
They presented two powerful public programs, one at the Jamaica Plain forum and one at Lowell Telecommunications Corporation, attended the weekly vigil to protest the new Back Bay pipeline, and held a well-attended hearing for legislators at the statehouse. In addition, the Jamaica Plain team hosted a lovely informal dinner for the guests and some local pipeline leaders.
Their message was devastating and clear: the gas companies greedily extract their fossil fuel with no regard for health, property, or the environment. Brian told of how he was tricked into leasing his farm for a fracking well with promises of big money and minimal impact on his land. Jane told of her daughter’s severe benzene poisoning from the many wells that surround her school. Lois detailed the compressor stations, wells, constant truck traffic, and pipelines that now surround her property.
It was impossible to hear them without being deeply moved and understand directly how our use of fracked gas in Massachusetts impacts families at the other end of the pipelines. They expressed their appreciation for all that we are doing to stop the pipelines, change the narrative on gas, and increase renewables here, but we came away humbled by their heroism. We hope this will be the beginning of a long relationship with these courageous activists.
These events were produced in collaboration with Clean Water Action, the Mass Power Forward Coalition, Resist the Pipeline, the Jamaica Plain Forum, and Lowell Pipeline Resistance. Video of the presentations will be available soon.
The two speakers who were able to stay throughout the legislative briefing, Lois and Jane, were very pleased. Some of the representatives and staff were there speaking with them right until the end, at 1:00 pm.