Youths Protest Fracking and Mountain Top Removal in Pittsburgh

by Duane Nichols on October 19, 2013

PowerShift 2013 Comes to Pittsburgh Advocating Clean Energy

From an Article by Kaitlynn Riely / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / October 19, 2013

Power Shift 2013 has come to Pittsburgh this year with a “fracking protest” today and a “mountain top removal protest” on Monday. “We will be marching to call for a green economy,” said Whit Jones, campaign director at the Energy Action Coalition, the convention’s organizers.

About 7,000 people registered to attend the conference, which started Friday at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, and Mr. Jones expects about 3,000 to 4,000 people to participate in the outdoor events Monday.

A rally, featuring speakers and performers, will start at 10 a.m. at Allegheny Landing on the North Side.

The march is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. and will result in some street closures and parking restrictions Downtown. According to Pittsburgh police, participants will proceed from Allegheny Landing onto Federal Street, then cross the Clemente Bridge, turn left onto Fort Duquesne Boulevard, then right onto Ninth Street, right onto Liberty Avenue, right onto Sixth Street, then back across the Clemente Bridge to Allegheny Landing by about 1 p.m.

Pittsburgh police will be present for the march, and police spokeswoman Diane Richard said the bureau anticipates the rally and march will be “peaceful and without incident.”

The Power Shift summit typically ends with a rally and a march, Mr. Jones said, but usually it’s happening in Washington, D.C., where the every-other-year gathering has been held since 2007. This year, they decided to come to Pittsburgh.

“We’re taking it out of Washington, D.C., and bringing it to Pittsburgh because we really want to focus more on grassroots strategies” on climate change, Mr. Jones said. The city’s status as one of the first to ban fracking within its limits also appealed to the group’s message.

“Our main message is that we need folks to join us in building a strong green economy and to stop financing fossil fuels and permitting fracking,” Mr. Jones said. The four-day conference includes panel discussions, political organizing training and concerts. It is open to the public, with registration starting at $80.

A smaller march to demand NO FRACKING in Allegheny County parks will depart from the convention center at 2 p.m. today, Saturday, bound for the Allegheny County Courthouse, Downtown, and is expected to include Power Shift attendees.

But the main march will be Monday, and one of the main targets of the protesters is PNC Bank, with its headquarters Downtown.

Mr. Jones said marchers want PNC to “stop financing” mountaintop removal mining. A spokeswoman for PNC declined to comment on the planned march, instead pointing to its 2013 corporate responsibility report, which says “PNC does not extend credit to individual MTR mining projects or to a coal producer that receives a majority of its production from MTR mining.”

The larger message of people attending Power Shift, most of whom are ages 17 to 23, is to urge the United States to move to “clean energy,” primarily wind and solar, Mr. Jones said.

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