Fractivist Antics on Mariner East 2 Are Divine Comedy

natural gas boats - Tom Shepstone ReportsTom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.


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.

Mariner East 2

Elise Gerhart and her mother

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:

Mariner East 2 Mariner East 2

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:

Mariner East 2

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 StateImpactPAWhat 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:

Mariner East 2This 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.

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8 thoughts on “Fractivist Antics on Mariner East 2 Are Divine Comedy

  1. The trees Elise Gerhart climbed were her own trees…Trees on her land..
    She and her Mom fought to keep the pipeline off their land and did not want them there to cut their beloved trees.
    Instead, the pipeline was forced on them and they were imminent domained..
    Americans have every right to protest and resist what they consider not “Right”.
    Just because a Pipeline is supposedly “legal”, does not make it “right”.
    Just because Nazism and the rounding up of Jews was legal in Germany , does not make it “right”.
    Just because Women not having the right to vote till 1917, which was “legal”, does not make it “right”.
    Just because African Americans did not have the full right to vote till 1964, which may have been legal, but that does not make it “right”..
    Just because the Vietnam War was legal , does not make it “right”.
    We have a Right to Protest whatever we consider not “right” and it’s a shame you still denigrade and defame those who protest what they consider not “right”.
    And Joe Massaro does not have to deal with anything forced on him and his land like the Gerharts and others..
    I honor Elise and her Mom and Alex and Kim and all who protest what is not Right in the US and are willing to expose what they consider dangerous and risky.
    And, Tom, whatever you used in the “Divine Comedy” to describe the Gerharts and others, can also be turned around and used on you….

    • Does it mean you get the right to determine what’s right? Putting aside all the ridiculous analogies you tried to use, that’s what you’re saying, isn’t it?

      • Vera, no one cares what you honor or don’t honor. The fact is Kim Fraczek and sane energy have been bald-faced lying for years. They named me personally on their social media site years ago as well.

        You don’t protest. You run misinformation and smear campaigns. I’m sure you remember Kim and friends when nyc councilman Donavan Richards took a busride with them and food and water watch right?

  2. It might be a fuller story, particularly for the likes of Scoggins, if the “compensation” award amount monetarily, for whatever eminent domain action was taken, is stated. In the days before the cognitively challenged attention seekers, like this woman and Scoggins, folks protested, err, filed a claim and went to court to determine the facts, for the amount of compensation one is entitled to. Eminent Domain was one of my favorite Law School classes as the results from trial, to appeal, vary quite dramatically at times. Needless to say, those that put up a good fight, whether it be for a new pipeline, a school, a transmission line, a dam, highway or anything else for the public need, the awards can be far and above what the condemnation property true market value may be. Maybe the motivation this lady has is simply for more money? If so, then her antics would make a little more sense.

  3. How many people have really good knowledge about this movement Tom? We ought to be able to find a way to bring that information out in the open, shouldn’t we?

  4. This is trash. YOU are the people damaging the economy. You ruin small business and bring out of state workers to build your pipelines. You do this to keep the working class divided. Your article reeks of corporate dogma. I wonder how much they paid you for this…

  5. When you call journalists activists, you need to be aware of what you write before committing libel. I am a friend of Elise Gerhart and I happened to be a writer at The Altoona Mirror at the time. I was letting her know that I would share her information with a writer who wasn’t her friend or her advocate to do proper, balanced research. Something you did not do before accusing me of being unethical. So, who is the unethical one.

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