Black Tie Protesters at Waldorf Greet Pa. Governor-Elect

12/14/2010 04:20 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Since 1899, the Pennsylvania Society, has held its annual weekend retreat in New York City -- and this past weekend, they feted newly elected Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett with three days of black tie dinners, cozy cocktail receptions, and posh luncheons at the Waldorf Astoria on New York's Park Avenue. According to Wikipedia, the event features "political networking and fundraising," and in recent years "receptions hosted by lobbyists, political committees, and corporations," with its image a "stereotypical "smoke-filled room" where lobby groups gain access to government officials, a few of whom have been known to use taxpayer funds to pay their way to New York."

Usually this event passes un-noticed by most New York residents, but this time New Yorkers and Pennsylvanians came out in force (and in evening dress) to protest the gathering, at which the Energy Association and the Marcellus Shale Coalition hosted after-parties. Governor-elect Corbett favors hydraulic fracturing, a new evolution of an old drilling process which uses high volume toxic chemicals. "A preliminary study by Academy of Natural Sciences researchers suggests that even without spills or other accidents, drilling for natural gas in Pennsylvania's rich Marcellus Shale formation could degrade nearby streams," the Philadelphia Inquirer reported recently. Moreover, as reported by Gas Drilling Awareness for Cortland County, the Medical Society of the State of New York has recently called for a moratorium on natural gas extraction using high volume hydraulic fracturing in New York State until "valid information is available to evaluate the process for its potential effects on human health and the environment."

When Josh Fox, director of the film, Gasland, appeared on Countdown, Keith Olbermann commented that hydro-fracking is like bring the Gulf Oil spill on-shore." In her current blog on the BP Oil Spill, Naomi Klein makes the same connection, "even more striking than the ferocious power emanating from the well, was the recklessness with which that power was unleashed. The carelessness, the lack of planning, that characterized the operation from drilling to clean up. If there is one thing BP's watery improv act made clear, it is that as a culture, we are far too willing to gamble with things that are irreplaceable and precious to us. And to do so without a back up plan, without an exit strategy."

The protest sponsor, Damascus Citizens reports that drilling activities have ravaged water, agriculture, and air in Pennsylvania. Recently New York's outgoing Governor Paterson vetoed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, passed by a sizeable majority in both the New York State Senate and Assembly. His veto sets the stage for vertical hydraulic fracturing in New York.

Protesters chanted, "Once you frack, you can't go back. Keep our water pure." Watch here:

For green health insight and activism, go to

To learn more about hydraulic fracturing, see the movie, Gasland.