MONTROSE — An opponent of natural gas drilling insists her civil rights are being violated after Cabot Oil and Gas got her barred from parts of Susquehanna County. The woman is known for protesting against hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” a controversial way of injecting water and chemicals into the ground to extract oil and gas.
Anti-drilling activist Vera Scroggins wants a judge to lift an injunction he imposed six months ago. It restricts where she can and cannot go in Susquehanna County.
Scroggins, of Brackney, claims she’s just a grandmother taking on a multi-million dollar energy company in Susquehanna County.
“I feel they’re trying to silence me.”
Scroggins’ lawyers went to court saying a judge in Susquehanna County went too far in October when he signed Cabot Oil and Gas’s request for a temporary injunction to ban Scroggins from drilling properties.
They say the injunction is worded so she can’t go anywhere Cabot has leases to mineral rights, and that’s 40 percent of the county.
“They’re trying to make this more difficult for me so that I couldn’t do it, or to intimidate me so that I would stop doing it,” Scroggins said.
For the past five years, Scroggins videotaped fracking operations in Susquehanna County and uploaded the video online.
But critics say her activism often turned ugly.
Others posted video of Scroggins confronting pro-drilling activist and filmmaker Phelim McAleer.
“Go get drunk and be a drunken Irish freak,” said Scroggins on the video. “How does it feel to get money from the one percent and be a male prostitute?”
“I don’t allow my children to use that language,” said Kelly Harding of Franklin Forks.
Outside the courthouse, a group of landowners and supporters of natural gas drilling in Susquehanna County said Cabot’s trucks and drilling sites are less disruptive than Vera Scroggins’ protests.
“Screaming, and going onto private property, and putting people at risk, and blocking public roads,” Harding said.
In court, Cabot’s lawyers clarified the injunction it seeks, claiming it only wants to ban Scroggins from active drilling sites and have her stay 150 feet away.
But she won’t commit to following these terms.
“If I have to go to jail to protect my planet and my life, and to expose this industry, then yes.”
Cabot’s attorneys say the move to restrict Vera Scroggins is for her safety and the safety of its workers.
A judge says he will rule soon on just how close Vera Scroggins can get to Cabot’s drilling sites.