The Wild Wacky World of Fractivism

Fractivism -  Tom Shepstone Reports Tom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.


No one could write a believable script to match the wild wacky world of fractivism. Yet, this irrational behavior is given credibility by some legislators.

We recently became aware of yet another Dimock tour yesterday by fractivists out of New York City. Called the Fracking Reality Tour, the tour was apparently organized by Food & Water Watch and documented by a guy known as Minister Erik R. McGregor. We don’t know an awful lot about it, but the pictures on McGregor’s Facebook page tell us enough to know what happened. It was less a reality tour than another wild and wacky exercise in fractivism.

These tours are surreal to the max and wouldn’t justify our attention except that they continue to attract the interest and support of Big Apple politicians, who, on the political scale, are often several degrees removed from reality, so far from the mainstream as to operate in some other parallel universe. This one apparently involved New York City Councilmember Donovan Richards, who represents Far Rockaway and nearby areas of Brooklyn and chairs the Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection.

There were several interesting personalties involved, beginning with Minister Erik McGregor, pictured below:

fractivism MacGregor

McGregor, a photographer, is associated with an Occupy Wall Street “Call to Action and Media Working Group” and fancifully refers to himself as “Supreme Ruler and Magnanimous Omnipresent Leader.” The Minister tag apparently comes from part of the Universal Life Church Monastery, where you can be ordained on-line for free. He’s also part of the “Reverend Billy And The Stop Shopping Gospel Choir,” an “irrepressible choir [that] can conjure soaring harmonies lovely enough to convert even the most jaded consumer into a stop shopping true believer.”

Then there is Eric Foodandwaterwatch, who, in real life is Eric Weltman, a “Senior Organizer” for Food & Water Watch in New York. “He has over 20 years of experience leading social justice campaigns and building progressive power,” their website says. They add that “Eric has helped direct ground-breaking coalitions, organize high-visibility media events, write influential publications, and manage successful initiatives to pass legislation, fund programs, and elect candidates.” That’s funny; I thought Food & Water Watch was a 501(c)3 non-profit charity, not a political organization. Those IRS double-standards sure are difficult to grasp.

Also on the Fracking Reality Tour was Kevin G. O’Neill. O’Neill is a “Commercial Project Developer” at SunUp Solar and a big-time opponent of the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion, as his Facebook indicates. That project, part of the Spectra Pipeline system, will deliver natural gas to New York and New England so it doesn’t freeze this winter. O’Neill was formerly associated with Citizen Action of New York and resides in Scarsdale, NY where 74% of households heat their homes with natural gas. Obviously, they don’t need a pipeline or any fracked gas. So, they brought in Matt Walker from the Philadelphia-based and Heinz and William Penn Foundation funded Clean Air Council to help oppose it. All the usual suspects are also involved (e.g., Delaware Riverkeeper, Catskill Citizens, Damascus Citizens, et al), demonstrating how few people fractivism really depends upon.

Next, there are the serial protestors who are employed to do this astroturf. Alex Lotorto, who hasn’t missed a protest since high school was there. Alex likes to claim he’s part of the “Wobblies” or Industrial Workers of the World, as it’s more properly known which is a radical, international industrial union formed in 1905. They promote the idea all workers should be “united as a social class to supplant capitalism and wage labor with industrial democracy,” whatever that is. Alex lives in Milford, far from any fracking, but goes wherever the cameras go to oppose it or anything else that might attract attention. Here he is in Wilkes-Barre at a Susquehanna River Basin Commission meeting:

Isaac Silberman-Gorn was also there. He, too, is associated with Citizen Action and is paid to do protests and fractivism astroturf in the Binghamton area. The money comes from groups like the NY-PIRG, which is in the business of scamming students and making rain for trial lawyers. Gorn comes from a well-to-do metro area family and loves the cameras almost as much as Lotorto. He is prone to making all sorts of unsubstantiated claims of the sort you do when you’re a student and think assertions are as good as facts.

Finally, there’s Vera Scroggins, who continues to do her tours of Cabot and WPX sites making wild statements to anyone who will listen. Her credibility was shattered long ago, of course, when she claimed a normal spring algae bloom in a local stream was caused by fracking, when she was caught on video mouthing multiple strings of obscenities and bigoted comments at Phelim McAleer and when she claimed to be excluded from going to her doctor by a court order when she had in hand documents indicating otherwise, not to mention the blocking of fire exits and far worse.

Despite all this horrid history, Vera Scroggins stills manages to find buyers to see her deliver her schtick. She’s prominent in several of McGregor’s photos and resonates in wild wacky world of fractivism where the more bizarre your behavior, the more interest they have in hearing what you have to say. This bus trip is just more instance of fractivism’s ugly side.

Fractivism is all astroturf, it’s not credible at any level and it’s confined to a very tiny group of people who show up everywhere doing the same things over and over again. It is, as both we and Nick Grealy have recently noticed, on the fast track to obscurity. The good news is this; when Food & Water Watch and NY-PIRG have to rely upon folks like these and depend on images like this one from the tour (of Ray Kemble, a Dimock junkyard operator) to make their case, we know how little they really have.

fractivism RayKemble

It says it all, doesn’t it? That’s the wild and wacky world of fractivism.

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13 thoughts on “The Wild Wacky World of Fractivism

  1. hmmm .. and let me make a wild gas their bus ran on?

    Fossil fuels …

    and in obtaining those fuels there will be mistakes …

    but its ok because those mistake occur on the lands of people that they dont really give a damn about ….

    as long as they can lead their pampered life styles …

    hmm quit a minister …

    certainly understands the brotherhood of humanity

    like I have always said …cant really take any of these people seriously until they give up all fossil fuel use … which with their pampered life styles will be impossible

  2. Bill– if fractivists were factivists this article likely wouldn’t have been written. Fractivists have substituted fiction for fact for two years in Queens and Brooklyn with the Rockaway Pipeline project and National Grid’s BQI. They have added to that in the last year and a half by also concocting a conspiracy theory that an LNG import project proposed for offshore of Long Island is secretly an export project for Marcellus Shale gas. They have posed as experts and stakeholders and that most definitely includes Mr. McGregor and friends. They have received money from Move On via a Brooklyn for Peace activist to spread myth and they have a variety of reporters and other outlets and environmental groups where they can spread their message far and wide.

    I have watched for two years as these activists have taken information handed to them and turned that information entirely upside down. Their preferred method of communication is usually either exagerration or worse complete untruth.

    The movement is most effective at drawing attention to itself. Up close and personal it is shocking to witness what these activists are wiling to do and who or what they are willing to run over in order to do so.

    Maybe you would like to take a stab at why it might be that Howie Hawkins the Green Party candidate for Governor would describe Port Ambrose as a proposed export facility when every piece of data on file on the project says the opposite? I can tell you why. A small networked group of people is confusing fact with fiction and they are some of the people listed in this article among others.

  3. If you’re going to maintain your site here, Tom, mocking victims of fracking and Industry’s detractors, at least come up with some new material.

    Your propaganda is becoming stale and sounding canned.

    “The Wild and Wacky World of Fractivists and Greens” …. even your titles are getting redundant.

    Same ad hominem attacks, different day.

    • I keep hearing “ad hominem” thrown around as if it wasn’t fair to criticize the opposition or question someone’s credibility. That is hardly “ad hominem” and there’s nothing on this site that comes close to the trash put by the other side – nothing at all.

        • I said we don’t do what the other side does. Secondly, if you really believe questioning credibility is not appropriate, then perhaps you ought to ought to practice what you preach.

          • You said this site is not as bad as others.Tom,

            “there’s nothing on this site that comes close to the trash put by the other side” Tom

            It’s not possible that you don;t see the vitriol on this site. Every article has the same snide, demeaning hyperbolic tone.

            I have never and will never make personal attacks on anyone.

            I will dissect the factual errors and often point to where these myths came form.

            But I believe personal attack does nothing but undermine the national conversation.

          • It took me all of 30 seconds to find these comments by you, Hope:

            “Your ilk fights for that – the end of the human race.”

            “Stupid people also repeat themselves.”

            “Pro-drilling dupes often lie – as Industry has trained them to … as it claims activists lie.”

            “Imagine selling out future generations for profit now. Who could have conceived of such evil? $$”

            “The jerk who was CEO at the time? – currently on a speaking tour.”

            Get off your self-righteous high horse, please, Hope.

          • “another piece of mercenary junk science, they have the veracity of a Kardashian wedding vow, junk science research of certain Cornell University staff, fractivist radicals and blue bloods, the NRDC gang of blue bloods, fractivist radicals all joined hands to plunge the sharp knife deep into his back, their own junk version, taking a big bite out of their turncoat rear-ends, they now what phonies most of the fractivist radicals really are, go back to saving the whale or something, fear mongering fractivist radicals, surreal to the max, several degrees removed from reality , see her deliver her schtick, fractivism’s ugly side, fast track to obscurity.”

            Looks like crap out of context, doesn’t it?

            None of it belongs on a professional’s blog.

            Oh, and I stand behind this one;

            “Imagine selling out future generations for profit now. Who could have conceived of such evil? $$”

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