WATCH: Anti-Fracking Protesters Interrupt Pennsylvania Democratic Governor’s Debate at Drexel

A protester calling for a moratorium on fracking in Pennsylvania rushed the stage at last night’s gubernatorial primary debate. She was booed.

About halfway into last night’s Pennsylvania Democratic gubernatorial primary debate at Drexel University, a protester jumped on stage to criticize the four candidates — Rob McCord, Kathleen McGinty, Allyson Schwartz, and Tom Wolf — for failing to support a moratorium on fracking, the controversial mining technique.

The protester was Liz Arnold, who has been working with Pennsylvania Voters Against Fracking. The group held a rally against the process outside the gubernatorial debate at Drexel — but were rebuffed from entering the debate, says Food & Water Watch Fund Senior Pennsylvania organizer Sam Bernhardt. FWW Fund is the political arm of the D.C.-based Food & Water Watch, and is coordinating Pennsylvania Voters Against Fracking’s advocacy this election season. The group supports a moratorium on fracking in the state.

Bernhardt says the decision to interrupt the debate was not the first step, noting they began by hand-delivering reasons to support a moratorium on fracking to the candidates and eventually progressed to holding up signs during a debate earlier this year. The group attended about 10 candidate forums and debates and 10 individual candidate rallies this year, Bernhardt said. He said the group would liked to have jumped in on a question about fracking, but “we knew that fracking itself was probably not going to be asked [about] during the debate.”

“We hadn’t done anything as bold or disruptive as what Liz did last night,” Bernhardt said. “We felt it was time to do something that bold because the candidates clearly haven’t been hearing our message. We weren’t expecting that, knowing the party leadership on both the statewide level and the city level has tried to sweep this issue under the rug, we weren’t expecting that we would get a question specifically along those lines.”

Arnold actually did a fantastic job sliding in. She jumped on stage as Schwartz responded to a question from Daily News columnist John Baer over her criticism of Tom Wolf’s “failed leadership.” The protester opens with, “The candidates all fail the leadership test!” As the crowd booed and moderator Larry Kane asked for someone to “please come up,” the protester noted that Pennsylvania’s Democratic party supports a ban on fracking and waved a list of 1,700 state landowners who say they’ve been affected by fracking. After a diversion to school funding, as she was escorted off stage she said fracking is “poisoning our state and ruining our chance for a strong economic future.”

“We didn’t want to be perceived just as disruptors, we wanted to be perceived as responders,” Bernhardt said. “Fracking has been talked about during debates pretty frequently — just not on the terms that we think it deserves to be talked about.” At the debates, candidates have primarily talked about of their support of a continued moratorium on fracking in the Delaware River Basin, and of the taxes that should be applied to fracking (slang for induced hydraulic fracturing).

After Arnold was taken off the stage — and someone near a microphone let out a fantastic laugh — Pennsylvania “fracktivist” Craig Stevens begins to speak before being booed down by the crowd.


“Ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to continue this debate,” moderator Larry Kane then says. “Free expression is one thing, inappropriate behavior is another.”

Schwartz says she appreciates the strong feelings the protesters had toward fracking and the health concerns over the process. Kane then tells her she’s almost out of time, and she goes on to answer the much less interesting question about “leadership” and whether she’ll support Tom Wolf in the general election if he is to win the primary.

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  • mau628

    Thank you to Elizabeth Arnold and Craig Stevens for not being silenced. It is disgusting how the gubernatorial candidates have ignored this issue at OUR peril.

    • matthew brandley

      you would rather see high paying jobs destroyed, economy ruined. people unemployed all for your precous wells? How sick. None of this has be proven to contanminate the ground

      • 1jane1

        Do your homework.. yes.. much has been proven to contaminate the ground..and the water. Fines have been issued many times.. The Industry..nor the state..have denied contamination. Faulty wells..leaks and spills, have caused many people to loose their homes, due to no clean water to drink, clean or cook with. Many people have to leave their windows open a crack.. so the methane.. does not build up ..and have their homes explode! Many people are sick, because of the air pollution, caused by the constant release of toxins/carcinogens in the air. This is not a concern, to people who don’t live it..YET… the right this state wants to go.. we will all be living it..not just Some of US..but ALL of us. We need to starting thinking of our children, their future..and their safety.. and.. PS.. there are just as many job opportunities in Renewable Energy!


        • 1jane1

          this is just one example..

          UPDATE: 1,100 Tons of Contaminated Soil Removed Last Week From Range Resources Impoundment in Washington County

          • 1jane1

            not to mention.. all the other dangers involved in getting the gas to market..

            “Feds not doing a good job overseeing natural gas pipelines, audit finds

            Pennsylvania, which maintains 46,000 miles
            of natural gas distribution pipelines, has a strong record on safety, a
            PUC spokeswoman says.”

            Read more:,0,2542957.story#ixzz31fPfmiqk

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          • matthew brandley

            methane occurs naturaly from decaying vegatation you nut job. Homes explode from natural gas leaks in pipe lines due to decaying infrastructure not being taken care of you lunatic. If it wasnt for fracking and the crude trains all the refineries in the Phila , Souht Jersey De area would be shut down and we would be paying over 5 bucks a gallon for gas and we would have spot shortages of no gas you dumb ass! Do you damn homework!

          • 1jane1

            I don’t appreciate the name calling….and…my darling….I LIVE IN GASLAND..a lunatic I am NOT!!!…..and yes..methane does naturally occur..which should be a red flag as to WHERE NOT TO DRILL..YOU IDIOT! SO..there ARE people who now..have to leave windows open 24/7. INSTRUCTED BY the DEP AND THE GAS COMPANY…because of the build up of methane constantly threatening their homes.!
            AND Grow up..if u want to have a decent discussion..or simply go slither back into your hole…you TROLL!

          • 1jane1
          • 1jane1

            OOooo…my little sweetie PIE…don’t you know? ??….ALL OF THIS GAS IS BEING SHIPPED OVER SEAS…MY DEAR UNEDUCATED PROPAGANDA speading TROLL!!! The truth is..we will never see “cheap gas”..and soon..we will be paying.. $5.00 FOR A GALLON OF WATER!

  • clivedaddy


  • paulroden

    Please visit the following three Websites and read the contents.Drilling Down Series of the New York Times:

    State Impact PA: The Impact of Fracking In PA on the
    Environment, Water, Health, Safety, Infrastructure, and the Economy:

    The Solutions Project: The only sane, rational and humane conclusion that anyone concerned about the environment and stopping climate change is that fracking is too dangerous, too expensive and totally unnecessary for our energy needs.