The story to save the Riverdale Mobile Park, located in Jersey Shore Pennsylvania, began last February when the residents found out the land they rent from was to be sold to Aqua America for a Marcellus Shale water withdraw station.
This is a call to action for those in the cyber community to help get our message out. I write for the Raging Chicken Press, a small activist / progressive media outlet in Pennsylvania, and we have one of our contributors on the ground a trailer park in Jersey Shore PA.
On June 1st, the trailer parks eviction date, a handful of activist and community members gathered at the location, and barricaded the entrances to the to the mobile home. Today, June 4th, an occupation is beginning to take place. Activists have set up a media outlet, a trash team, a food committee, and much much more.
Here are some quotes from local media:
Earlier this month, 32 residents of the Riverdale Mobile Home Village in Piatt Township received notification the park had been sold to Aqua PVR LLC. They have until May 1, 2012 to vacate the park.
Why did Aqua PVR, LLC buy the park? Aqua PVR, LLC plans to eliminate the park and build a water withdrawal facility to be used by the natural gas industry. The company received permission from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission on March 15 to withdraw up to 3 million gallons of water per day from the site. The water will be transported via pipeline to gas drilling sites located to the north of the township.
PVR is constructing the fresh water pipeline and handling negotiation of water pipeline capacity contracts with producers. Aqua will operate the system when completed and handle water intake supply arrangements. Aqua and PVR each anticipate investing approximately $12 million for construction of the first segment of the project. The joint venture has entered into an agreement with Range Resources – Appalachia, LLC a wholly owned subsidiary of Range Resources Corporation (NYSE: RRC) to supply fresh water to three of Range’s water impoundments, and negotiations with other area producers for supply agreements are on-going.
The residents of Riverdale Mobile Home Village were told the developer would provide residents with a $2,500 incentive payment if they moved by April 1, a $1,500 payment if they moved by May 1. Quotes from mobile home movers have put the cost of moving the trailers at between $5,000 and $12,000.From The Huffington Post : Hands Across Riverdale, the Human Cost of Fracking
A few months before the property had been re-zoned as industrial. Aqua PVR LLC, owned by Nicholas DeBenedictis, who served as the head of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources under Governor Dick Thornburgh in the 1980s, needed the small patch of land to build a pump station. The Susquehanna River Basin Commission had given Aqua America permission to withdraw up to 3 million gallons of water per day from the Susquehanna River to their fracking operations in the north, and the residents of Riverdale had been given a "generous" offer. Anybody who moved out by April 1 would be given a $2,500 incentive. Anybody who moved out by May 1 would be given $1,500. Since it would cost at least $5,000 to relocate each trailer, and since rents in nearby Williamsport had skyrocketed due to the recent influx of gas workers, it was the worst possible news. Some of the residents of Riverdale, who had lived there for decades, were elderly people in their 70s and 80s, and had little chance of finding work or new living accommodations. It was, quite literally, the end of their world.
Indeed, as Wendy Lee argues in her excellent article "Why Fracking Epitomizes the Crisis in American Democracy: Profiteering and the 'Good American'" the current boom in "natural" gas may not even be about "natural" gas or energy at all. It may just be the next big speculative real estate bubble masquerading as a patriotic engine for "energy security."
"It turns out that even the patriotic rhetoric of "cheap and abundant" natural gas is simply a cover story for the acquisition and marketing of land -- country to be sure -- but demoted from national idea to transferable real estate. To identify the good of this corporation with the health of the country is to identify the health of the country not with the freedom of its citizens, not with the stability or strength of its democratic institutions, but with its market value -- 15 million acres in McClendon's case. The state, moreover, has not only become an enthusiastic player in what Arthur Berman, respected energy consultant, calls a Ponzi Scheme, it is now engaged in the erection of laws -- including laws that criminalize protest -- aimed at protecting what now must be called America, INC."