The Mariner East 2 pipeline project has produced some utterly mad stuff that can only be described as a modern day Divine Comedy; an inferno of absurdity.
More than 700 years ago Dante Alighieri authored his “Divine Comedy,” a three part narrative poem taking the reader through the various levels of Hell (the “Inferno”), Purgatory and Paradise. It’s the classic of classics and well worth reading for the philosophically inclined. Its insights as to human nature are timeless and they immediately came to mind today when someone sent me a Facebook post about my good friend Joe Massaro.
I helped hire and train Joe for Energy In Depth when we both worked on the EID Marcellus team. He now does a lot of work for The Bravo Group, among whose clients is the Mariner East 2 Pipeline, which brings us to the latest fractivist absurdity and a revealing looks inside the slow-motion collapse of fractivism as a movement; much of which is reminiscent of certain parts of the “Inferno.“
The Facebook post to which I’m referring is this one from Elise Gerhart, the Mariner East 2 Pipeline opponent from Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania who’s made herself a poster child for fractivism and achieved her 15 minutes of fame plus some by climbing White Pine trees. These antics have, of course, attracted the adulation of like-minded malcontents and supposed journalists more interested in being part of the action than reporting on it.
This PR success has apparently encouraged Elise to make a career out of it and become a serial protestor. So, she’s taking on additional causes such as fighting logging and promoting fossil fuel divestment. Meanwhile, she’s decided, for some reason, to go after my friend Joe Massaro for representing the company as handed out a donation from Mariner East 2 to a local fire company to purchase a generator. Her grumpiness, it appears from the pictures she included, is attributable to the fact his company, Bravo Group, has also said it is helping Sunoco Logistics, the pipeline developer, “neutralize opposition” to the pipeline, as if there were something wrong about that.
Elise’s world is one where standing in the front of bulldozers, climbing trees, disrupting perfectly legal activities and all that is just fine but attempting to neutralize all that negativity with help for the local volunteer emergency service providers is horrid. Her ideology is an intolerant one that permits no other opinions and holds them to be unethical and immoral whatever the law.
What makes this so interesting, though, is the commentary that follows the post, starting with the fact two journalists are drawn into it, one directly and the other indirectly:
It seems the Altoona Mirror, if it covers the story of Elise’s torment over generous giving to fire companies, will do so as advocacy, not as journalism. Such is the problem with the news media from bottom to top; reporters who imagine journalism is empathy with malcontents of a particular persuasion who want their grievances aired. It appears the reporter at West Chester Daily Local may be of a similar mind.
Then, there is the feigned outrage over the fact Joe Massaro worked for a company that advocated for natural gas without pretending it was neutral; phony complaints that Mariner East 2 used fire company donations as a public relations tactic, as if attempting to be a part of the community where you’ll operate was underhanded. Here are some samples:
Kim Fraczek is a trendy serial protestor from the insane Sane Energy group of Long Island and Alex Lotorto, of course, is a professional protestor who has been organizing protests of anything and everything that will garner tv coverage since he was out of high school. He works with the “Energy Justice Network” which is supported by the Heinz Endowments” that also funds the Clean Air Council and fractivist tool StateImpactPA. What we have, therefore, is a phony conversation among three phonies, which is par for the course in fractivism.
They also imagine themselves to be soothsayers, though not very good ones:
This brings me back to the Divine Comedy. The Inferno is all about poetic justice, including some for soothsayers who are forced to walk in Hell with their heads on backward, unable to see what is ahead, because that was what they had done throughout their earthly life:
they had their faces twisted toward their haunches
and found it necessary to walk backward,
because they could not see ahead of them.
… and since he wanted so to see ahead,
he looks behind and walks a backward path
That’s precisely what’s going on here with Elise Gerhart and friends’ opposition to Mariner East 2. The pipeline is being built. It’s being built legally and will be completed. Elise and friends are deceiving themselves and reinforcing each other’s deceit, much like cult members because that’s what they are, of course, pretending to see everything and yet seeing nothing, walking forward with their heads on backward, imagining that fighting back with fire company donations is somehow a sin.