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Vera Scroggins; Vera who?
January 29, 2014 2:31 PM   Subscribe

Googling Vera Scroggins on News doesn't return much except a Guardian story and and a brief Wilkes Barre Times-Leader leader.
It turns out she has been barred from her local hospital and supermarkets for upsetting Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation.
A spokesman appointed by Cabot states "I believe she is a public menace because what she does is she essentially trespasses not so much on property – though she does do that – but she trespasses on the soul of the community."
None of that activity by Scroggins or other activists was illegal, or presented a public danger, according to Jason Legg, the district attorney for Susquehana County.
posted by adamvasco (36 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
In any sane world, Tom Shepstone and a bunch of other people would be wearing tar and feathers right now. At the very least.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:46 PM on January 29 [4 favorites]


It's a foolish ruling that could probably be struck down by a higher court if Scroggins had the money to appeal. To wit:
(Scroggins' lawyer George Kinchy) ...said Cabot was lucky Scroggins was not represented by a lawyer at the hearing.

The company was not pressed to demonstrate the gas leases gave it the right to make such absolute decisions about access. "They have no proof that they had the right to exclude her. They didn't present evidence of leases that gave them the right to treat the property as their own," he said.
It would make sense if the ruling just blocked her from Cabot facilities and access roads, but to block her from every square meter that Cabot leases is a silly overreaction.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:46 PM on January 29 [1 favorite]


Well, that's apparently a bit of a clusterfuck of a ruling. Quite aside from the issue of lack of clarity regarding the property it applies to, it appears a classically disproportionate SLAPP case with considerable first amendment issues.

It's a foolish ruling that could probably be struck down by a higher court if Scroggins had the money to appeal.

It won't take money on her part, this has test case written all over it. She's likely to get financial support and/or pro bono representation from either anti-fracking groups or the ACLU.
posted by jaduncan at 2:49 PM on January 29 [4 favorites]


but to block her from every square meter that Cabot leases is a silly overreaction.

I think you'd have to know what the leases say in order to arrive at that conclusion. If they do allow Cabot to limit access then its hard to see how it wouldn't stand up. The weird part is the lack of mapping? Like how's she supposed to know?
posted by JPD at 2:54 PM on January 29


Being a complete outsider I find it slightly amazing that no American media as such has picked up on this. I think there might have been something on reddit; though there is something about everything on reddit.
How can a company get away with stalking her.?
Cabot's security contractor, Northeast Diversified Services told the court it had posted photographs of Scroggins in their guards' campers, and had been following the activist since 2011.
"Yes, we follow you, yes, from site to site," the company's vice-president, Thomas Tolan, told the court.
As usual I find myself thinking the wrong person was on trial.
posted by adamvasco at 2:54 PM on January 29 [7 favorites]


Being a complete outsider I find it slightly amazing that no American media as such has picked up on this.

Seems like exactly the sort of story the Daily Show correspondents would go after, doesn't it?
posted by Navelgazer at 2:57 PM on January 29 [3 favorites]


I look forward to further definitions of 'soul of the community' and how one does or does not trespass on such a communal soul.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:57 PM on January 29 [3 favorites]


I think you'd have to know what the leases say in order to arrive at that conclusion.

That's a good point.

The weird part is the lack of mapping? Like how's she supposed to know?

Exactly. I don't think the judge meant to bar her from the grocery store when he made the ruling - but that's what happened, probably because he didn't know the extent of Cabot leases either.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:58 PM on January 29


I would think the ones who were trespassing on the soul of the community is the frackers.
posted by bleep at 3:01 PM on January 29 [4 favorites]


Please tell me that this is not the same Cabot as the cheese.
posted by oceanjesse at 3:01 PM on January 29


Not the same Cabot - but it is a successor company of the Cabot that was involved in Tantalum - which makes fracking look like cheesemaking.
posted by JPD at 3:04 PM on January 29


as long as it's not Sebastian Cabot. Say it ain't so, Mr. French!
posted by scody at 3:11 PM on January 29 [2 favorites]


its worth reading the comments on the article in the local press. Can't speak to the veracity of course.

Evidently she was leading buses of folks around the drilling pads.
posted by JPD at 3:13 PM on January 29 [1 favorite]


maybe not so sympathetic? of course neither is her target

"You're an Irish Freak"
posted by JPD at 3:20 PM on January 29 [1 favorite]


I have to think that this will be overturned on appeal.
posted by rhizome at 3:22 PM on January 29


This is a great bit of activism, right here. I wonder if she went unrepresented on purpose. Because frankly this is an excellent David and Goliath story that will get exposure far beyond what she's been able to do on her own to date.
posted by Hoopo at 3:31 PM on January 29 [1 favorite]


Ever read Ibsen's An Enemy of the People, or seen it performed? Ms. Scroggins is the Thomas Stockmann of the Marcellus Shale. All of her friends and neighbors stand to make a crapload of money off of fracking. If she really manages to get the gravy pipe turned off, she'll hear the noise.

As far as silence in the media goes, the usual collection of right-wing shitbags have already started in on the character assassination.
posted by panglos at 3:46 PM on January 29 [6 favorites]


Lucky she didn't mention the Susquehana Hat Company.
posted by w0mbat at 4:27 PM on January 29 [1 favorite]


its worth reading the comments on the article in the local press. Can't speak to the veracity of course.
Evidently she was leading buses of folks around the drilling pads.


That's mentioned quite clearly in the FPP's linked article itself:

"she has organised bus tours of frack sites for anyone who is interested – from Yoko Ono and Susan Sarandon to visiting Canadian elected officials.

None of that activity by Scroggins or other activists was illegal, or presented a public danger, according to Jason Legg, the district attorney for Susquehana County."
posted by like_a_friend at 5:00 PM on January 29


I look forward to further definitions of 'soul of the community' and how one does or does not trespass on such a communal soul.

You might be waiting for a while. According to the county solicitor, "Scroggins brought her legal problems down on herself by failing to following the "unwritten rules" of civilised discourse."

I thought that lawyers were supposed to concern themselves with the written rules.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:21 PM on January 29 [8 favorites]


A statement he probably regrets making now, after being quoted in a major newspaper.

It is classic activism. She pushes them by shining a light on what they do, then they push back, overreact, and look foolish.
posted by Kevin Street at 5:26 PM on January 29 [5 favorites]


That article raised as many questions as it answered. Granted, it was tough to focus over the sound of all that ax grinding.
posted by jpe at 5:56 PM on January 29


Sometimes axes need to be ground. It's what keeps them sharp, after all.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:12 PM on January 29 [3 favorites]


God bless this woman. I admire her.
posted by Asparagus at 6:29 PM on January 29 [1 favorite]


All of her friends and neighbors stand to make a crapload of money off of fracking.

Much of which will likely go towards chemotherapy.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:32 PM on January 29 [4 favorites]


The very least the judge should have done is require a clear map of the property he was proposing to ban her from before he passed judgement. Poor verdict.
posted by arcticseal at 6:49 PM on January 29


My ancestors left the Montrose/Harford PA area in 1841 to settle in "the West" - Fond du Lac, WI.

I hope Vera Scroggins and I share some old blood. I would be proud to be related to her.

I hope she whales the tar out of 'em.
posted by aryma at 7:46 PM on January 29


According to the county solicitor, "Scroggins brought her legal problems down on herself by failing to following the "unwritten rules" of civilised discourse."

Wow. Is that an elected position? Because I would love to see an opponent use that in a debate.

"What unwritten rules would you prosecute? Which wouldn't you? Why the difference?

I have your list of campaign promises here. Now, please, tell me - how many unwritten ones do you have? And if you fail to live up to those unwritten ones, will you resign - since you take unwritten things so seriously?"
posted by nubs at 7:52 PM on January 29 [3 favorites]




I am doubly on her side in being against fracking both environmentally and because it's not a good idea to turn the place into a fuckin' petrostate. (Lot of you guys think the DC power cares about like, abortions y/n welfare y/n, they care about petrostate y is what they care about.)

Still, I just find it completely fucking ridiculous when people act like they are gonna come at someone / some organization politically, but their enemy's gonna somehow feel compelled to lay down and take it, no hitting back.

I think the nice thing about living in feudal times must have been there was so much less absolute bullshit everywhere about the various exercises of power.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 9:15 PM on January 29


Still, I just find it completely fucking ridiculous when people act like they are gonna come at someone / some organization politically, but their enemy's gonna somehow feel compelled to lay down and take it, no hitting back.

I assume you're referring to the fracking company here.
posted by rhizome at 11:27 PM on January 29 [4 favorites]


Since those leases are updated daily as deals are made and wells are drilled and data comes in the only practical way she could abide by this ruling is by constant contact between her and Cabot's land department. And there might not be one single person in Cabot's land department who has constant access to every scrap of data on the current leasehold, so even that might be a physical impossibility.
posted by bukvich at 7:56 AM on January 30




Since those leases are updated daily as deals are made and wells are drilled and data comes in the only practical way she could abide by this ruling is by constant contact between her and Cabot's land department.

Now there is a good step two for a protest.
posted by jaduncan at 9:21 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]




Of course now the gag order has been unsealed Range Resources is saying that no, of course it doesn't apply to the family's children. After a little light is applied in a formerly dark place everyone starts acting reasonable.
posted by Kevin Street at 8:23 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


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