| HARRISBURG, Pa., March 11
HARRISBURG, Pa., March 11 A court injunction
obtained by Texas-based Cabot Oil & Gas is preventing
Pennsylvania resident Vera Scroggins from going to her local
grocery store, her friends' homes, schools, or even the
That's because those properties sit atop the more than
200,000 acres in Susquehanna County that the energy producer
owns and leases for gas extraction - land on which Scroggins, a
determined anti-fracking activist, is not allowed to tread.
A judge in October granted Cabot's request to bar Scroggins
from the land - more than 40 percent of Susquehanna County,
where she lives - after her repeated trespassing, court
documents show. Her offending actions included giving a tour
last year to anti-drilling celebrities Susan Sarandon, Yoko Ono,
and Sean Lennon, the documents said.
Scroggins, 62, is a long-time opponent of energy drilling in
northeastern Pennsylvania, especially the method of hydraulic
fracturing, or fracking, the controversial process of injecting
water, chemicals and sand into underground shale formations to
extract oil and gas.
The use of fracking in the United States has increased
dramatically in recent years as drillers found ways to extract
more hydrocarbons from shale. The boom has transformed parts of
northern Pennsylvania and divided communities drawn by the
monetary rewards that energy production brings, but concerned by
its impact on the environment.
"I have to watch what I do," said Scroggins, whose
anti-fracking video footage made its way into "Gasland," an
Oscar-nominated documentary by Josh Fox.
"I have to stop and tell myself, you're not supposed to be
there. I've been going to these places for over 20 years. I
can't stop in at friends' when I'm driving around," she said in
a telephone interview on Tuesday.
Scroggins is headed back to court on March 24 - this time
with a lawyer - to argue for overturning the injunction. When
Judge Kenneth Seamans imposed the injunction in Susquehanna
County Court of Common Pleas in October, Scroggins acted as her
own lawyer against Cabot's lawyers.
Vic Walczak, legal director of the Pennsylvania ACLU and one
of her lawyers, said neither state law nor the gas leases
themselves give Cabot the right to tell private property owners
who may come on their land. It is also a freedom of speech and
freedom of travel issue, he said.
Cabot, according to court documents, cited Scroggins'
repeated trespassing - in asking the court to exclude her from
any property it owns, plus the 200,000 acres it leases.
Company spokesman George Stark said Cabot is open to a
modification of the injunction to limit it to actual gas
facilities and the roads leading to them.
"Cabot's primary concern is with operational sites where
safety issues are concerned," he said, adding that Cabot
supports freedom of expression.