Vermont Families Share Stories from Recent Pennsylvania “Fracking Tour”

Vermont Families Share Stories from Recent Pennsylvania “Fracking Tour”


August 19, 2016



Abby Mnookin

[email protected]



Earlier in August, a group of five families from throughout Vermont traveled to the Pennsylvania shale fields to bear witness to the impacts of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.  These families are a part of Mother Up!: Parents Exchange for Change, a campaign of 350Vermont that engages parents to take action in both their own communities and those most affected by the fossil fuel industry. Abby Mnookin, a Mother Up! organizer who lives in Brattleboro, traveled with her four-year-old daughter.

The four-day trip took them through Susquehanna County, including the town of Dimock, the epicenter of fracking in the Marcellus Shale and the town prominently featured in the two "Gasland" documentaries.  The group worked with local host Energy Justice Network to meet with families and individuals who face polluted waters and seized land, experiencing both nature’s beauty and the suffering caused by extreme extraction of fossil fuels.

Each family had a different story to share. One family’s water supply was contaminated with methane making the water undrinkable and the house susceptible to explosion. Another family suffers from chronic skin irritations due to contaminated water. A family with a small sugar bush lost an eminent domain battle. The maple trees were cut last winter, but the pipeline has been stalled for a lack of permits. One family won a lawsuit against a fracking company, but their water will be forever unusable.

Participants in the family trip included children ranging in age from five months to ten years old.  One reason these families wanted to take the trip was to have a shared experience, not only with other families, but also with their children.  “I want my children to grow up not only aware of the beauty of our natural world,” said Maggie Pesce, a mother from Bennington, “but also that there is a struggle to protect [it].”

“I loved this trip as a radical reinterpretation of what a family vacation means,” said Jane Yager, a mother from Burlington. “It was very much a family vacation, with the kids swimming and petting goats and playing, but at the same time it brought us face-to-face with both the brutal realities of what extractive industries have done to the lives of the people we met and what inspiring resistance to those industries they have mounted.”

Undoubtedly, this family trip was meaningful to both the Vermonters and the Pennsylvania residents.  Vera Scroggins, a Pennsylvanian citizen journalist, acknowledged, “Thanks for coming and witnessing the toxic industrialization of our area...and bringing your children.”

In upcoming weeks, participants from the Mother Up! trip will host local events to share about their experiences.  For more information, contact [email protected] and hear a recent VPR commentary.


About 350 Vermont: 350 Vermont is a statewide organization in Vermont working to build a grassroots movement to reverse climate change. 350 Vermont’s mission is to catalyze the cultural and systemic transformation needed to reverse climate change and return to 350 ppm of carbon in the atmosphere. Although we are an affiliated group of with a similar mission, 350VT is an independent organization, with local campaigns to divest the state pension fund, advocate for a carbon pollution tax, and stop any expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure.