Anti-fracking movement brings its message to Northwest Philadelphia

This Saturday night, an event called “My Water’s on Fire Tonight,” will be held at Summit Presbyterian Church in Mt. Airy. The title is inspired by a song and video produced by anti-fracking activists (shown above).

The gathering is a part of a movement growing in the Northwest. On Monday Pennsylvania state Representative Rosita Youngblood spoke at Lovett Library about her concerns that a new natural gas impact fee isn’t tough enough on drillers.

This weekend’s event is being organized by Germantown husband-wife-duo, Charlie Cooper and Toniann Flanigan. Cooper and his wife said they have seen the negative impact that drilling has already had.

The couple owns a cabin in Susquehanna County that they use for vacations. In 2008, they learned that Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation wanted to mine gas in their area. Because surrounding land owners were signing leases to Cabot, the couple decided they needed to do the same.

“At that time, we saw what was becoming a toxic environment all around us,” said Cooper.

“With fracking, they level a two to five acre parcel of land, and then drill. Fluid leaks out – the process blasts a cocktail of toxic drugs into our ground water,” said Cooper, “and then people turn on their facet and can light it on fire.”

Now, Cooper said he is working towards “trying to stop this madness.”

Iris Bloom, director of Protecting Our Waters, will speak at the event. Bloom hopes to spark a statewide campaign for a moratorium.

“It’s hard for people in Philadelphia to imagine what’s it’s like to live without water to cook, drink, do dishes and laundry,” said Bloom.

Bloom believes this movement is gaining momentum now because it takes time for the public to become educated about fracking. “And really, now that these companies are hurting people so badly and repeatedly,” said Bloom, “the word is getting out.”

The event will take place from 7 to 10 p.m. at Summit Presbyterian Church on Saturday. For more information, call 215-768-2698 or email

To learn more about both sides of the debate read NewsWorks special coverage of natural gas drilling at our StateImpact website.

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