“stories of the harmed” in williamsport

July 23, 2012


Jason Bell holds up tap water from Butler County that’s been deemed
safe to drink. //photo by Ruth Alice White

Here’s how testing companies determine if your water has been contaminated by fracking. First, they don’t step foot on the property.  The drilling company provides all the information, such as about the geology of the area, and then the testing company decides whether the  water was likely to have been contaminated by fracking. In the case of families from Connoquenessing Township in Butler County, north of Pittsburgh, the testing company determined that the drillers could not have contaminated the water because the drilling operation was downhill from the wells. Based on that report, the state determined the water safe to drink. And the driller stopped providing substitute water.

This is the procedure Jason Bell described when he visited Williamsport in western Maryland Sunday afternoon at a stop along Tour de FRACK’s 400-mile bike trek to Washington, DC, for the Stop the Frack Attack protest July 28. He carries with him 6 gallons of brown, murky, “safe-to-drink water” from tap water near a fracking site in Connoquenessing Township, PA.

Jason, Mike Badges-Canning, Tom Jefferson and Ping Pirrung rode into Williamsport after a miserable and sleepless night in Hedgesville (thanks to very noisy campers nearby). Their bikes are muddy but holding up well.

“It’s very moving for me. You think you are alone,” Mike said, until you realize that so many others share the understanding that fracking is a threat to water, land, air and communities.

The riders, along with family and friends who are accompanying them by car, appeared at the Desert Rose Cafe to tell stories about families harmed by fracking. Activist and folksinger Zach Freidhof also drove from Akron, Ohio, to join them and sang a powerful anthem for the anti-fracking movement.

In a skit at the Cafe, the Tour de FRACK riders and friends told stories from families affected by fracking. They spoke for a farmer who has dead cattle and has lost the use of a hayfield. They spoke for families who have spent hundreds, even  thousands of dollars for water testing, water filtration and medical bills.  One family has a hole in the ground with a foamy, smelly fluid oozing up. Another speaks of a silent woods once full of song birds, raccoons and deer. Some have rashes and peeling skin, stomach aches, seizures. Often, when they have been sick, a doctor has told them to drink lots of fluids. But the more water they drink, the sicker they feel.

“We started over a week ago in Butler County…to make the people who have been harmed by hydraulic fracking heard. What has happened on the trail has been truly inspirational, “ Jason said at the Cafe.

They have “traveled through some of the most spectacular scenery,” he said, and they have seen “the power of water and how clean water is essential to life.”

He and Mike poured some water from the Desert Rose Cafe into a jug of pure water they are collecting along the way. If any of the water along the route were to become contaminated from fracking, Jason said,  “all of these sources would become contaminated. We all live downstream.”

Here are the lyrics to Zach’s powerful song, “I want a future too.”  He said he’ll also be singing this at the Stop the Frack Attack protest Saturday. (If you want to carpool to the protest with CCIHC, email  hococlimatechange@gmail.com)

“I Want a Future Too”

Don’t tell me that it’s alright
I know the truth inside
Don’t tell me about oversight
I know the truth you hide

This here’s a beautiful place
This here’s my only home
No time to make mistakes
No time to get it wrong

I don’t want your poison
I don’t want your money and crew
I don’t want your future
I want a future too

Don’t tell me that the water’s safe
That the smell won’t sicken me
Don’t wanna explode my place
Trying to make some tea

Well this here’s a beautiful place
It’s home to more than just me
Once you break this place
No fix we’ll ever see


Ohh oh-oh oh oh ohh oh-oh oh

Don’t tell me about the jobs
That you’re gonna bring
This town needs sustainable work
Not raping and pillaging

This here’s a beautiful place
Our own little Shangri-la
You won’t move into this place
So take your trucks & get off our lawn


I want  a future too

Ohh oh-oh oh oh ohh oh-oh oh …

Thanks to CCAN videographer Leslie Morrison,  you can watch Zach singing this amazing song.  


Zach sings at Desert Rose Cafe in Williamsport. He’ll be biking the rest
of the trip.//photo by Ruth Alice White


Ping Pirrung (from left), Mike Badges-Canning, Jason Bell and Tom Jefferson
are ready to rest for the night.//photo by Ruth Alice White

–elisabeth hoffman



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