Above photo: Maggie Henry, left, sits in after the FERC bans the public from attending its monthly public meeting.
The story of Maggie Henry and Beyond Extreme Energy
My name is Maggie Henry. My husband and I own 100 acres of what used to be bucolic paradise in North Beaver Township, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. I’m writing to urge you to take part in the March for Climate, Jobs and Justice in DC and around the country on April 29th. We need to stand up in big numbers on this day!
Here’s my story:
In 2006 my organic farming business was taking off beyond my wildest imagination. I kept adding more products to my market, the customer demand was insane! In a 2 year period I went from 24 laying chickens to 400 and I literally could not keep up or keep eggs in stock at the East End food co-op in Pittsburgh. Following a story on the front page of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the demand just soared. The following year I was actually on the cover of the family section of the New York Times for my Heritage turkeys.
Right around this period the voice of Terry Greenwood, a farmer a couple counties away, crossed my radar. Terry’s story about the devastation that a company called Dominion Resources had done to his farm was just incredible and heartbreaking. I began researching fracking and decided very early on that it wasn’t something that could coexist with organic food production and began objecting to the early gas development in my area. Within the next decade I would literally come to feel like the Biblical Job of fracking! Fracking has destroyed my business and laid to waste everything my husband and I have worked our entire lives to build, our children’s inheritances, keep the farm going yet another generation? All destroyed!
Life in the shalefields of Pennsylvania is poisonous, now proven by over 700 studies, including an EPA one this past December where they were forced to admit to lying about groundwater contamination from the slurry of poisonous chemicals forced into Mother Earth.
Earthquakes, over 80 of them since March of 2014, have destroyed the integrity of my basement foundation. Water now pours down the walls in a rain storm. They shattered my chimney flue pipe and cracked all my drywall. The roof with 40 year shingles we replaced in 2008 now leaks from the ground shaking, the shingles bumped up from the tremors.
I cannot be on the farm for more than a day before the toxic pollution spewed into the air from the cryogenics plant near the farm causes my heart to do somersaults in my chest. We were forced to flee 2 years ago, take out a mortgage on a 3rd house, 3 hours away from our beloved farm. 2 houses stand vacant on the farm, we pay those taxes and the insurances as well!
As if all that isn’t enough I live in terror of pipeline explosions because the adjacent farmer leased his land to the pipeline company. These monstrous snakes were routed 30 feet from the farm house living room and run next to our property a mere 12 inches away. Can you even imagine yourself in this dire situation? We are not wealthy people, we never have been, taxes and insurances are a constant struggle, always have been!
Worst of all the fracking corporations have stolen from me the right to grow old raising my grandchildren on the land their parents roamed, as did four generations of our previous ancestors.
How is all this possible in America, land of the free, home of the brave? I now know what the Palestinians have endured over all these years. I understand their resistance, what choice do they really have? What choice do I have? So I protest, all over the state, and in DC too.
This is where BXE enters the picture. In the fall of 2014 I traveled to DC to take part in a week-long nonviolent blockade of FERC. I was one of about 80 people arrested that week, and I’ve continued to be active ever since.
BXE has been a lifeline for me. Being associated with like-minded individuals around direct action nonviolent protest is just incredible! The support is emotionally healing in a way I find difficult to describe. Their support has moved the nagging question beyond “What did we do to deserve this?” To “What can I do to change things for the future?”
I’m planning to be in DC again in a couple of weeks to take part in BXE’s April 26-29 convergence and actions. You can find out more and sign up here. And I’m really looking forward to taking part in the massive March for Climate, Jobs and Justice on the 29th, and I hope everyone reading this is too.
And you know that BXE needs your financial support to keep going. Please donate here.
Let’s change things for the future!
PS – want to get more regular updates from BXE? Sign up for the BXEekly – a weekly newsletter of calls, actions and inspiration that publishes every Monday.