Citizens pulling together to stop fracking

Citizens pulling together to stop fracking by Mary Ann Sumner and Stephen J. Stelick Jr., December 31, 2012, Times Union
The Genesee County-based drilling company Lenape Resources filed a lawsuit late last month to force the citizens of Avon, in nearby Livingston County, to accept hydrofracking. It’s not the first time that Big Oil and Gas has tried to intimidate local communities. In the Tompkins County of town of Dryden, we were sued by Anschutz Exploration for trying to protect our town of 14,500 people from the impacts of fracking. Also last year, Norse Energy, a Norwegian company, replaced Anschutz Exploration in the litigation.

The promise of temporary jobs is not worth the risk to the health and well-being of our neighbors and children. The law is on our side. Last February, the state Supreme Court ruled that Dryden had the right, through its zoning powers, to prohibit oil and gas activities in our town. We won, but the case isn’t over. Norse appealed and the matter is now pending in the appellate court. Following the ruling in favor of Dryden, three other courts — two in New York and one in Pennsylvania — agreed that local communities cannot be forced to accept zoning laws that authorize industry to frack wherever it pleases.

In other states, the fracking-enabled drilling rush has hurt people and wildlife, poisoned the water and air, created noise and long lines of truck traffic, and driven down property values. The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, a Colorado research group, has identified more than 360 fracking chemicals and found that almost 80 percent of them may harm skin, eyes, and sensory organs. Fifty-five percent could damage the brain and nervous system and more than 20 percent may cause cancer. Citizens — speaking through their elected local governments — have the right to decide for themselves what goes on within town limits. And Dryden, along with more than 100 municipalities across New York, has said “no” to fracking.

To us — and our constituents and neighbors — Dryden is home. Diverse groups of people who don’t normally agree have come together in opposition to fracking. More than 550 elected officials representing every county in New York have signed a letter to Cuomo urging him to keep the moratorium in place until the facts and the science prove that fracking is safe. The signers of this letter, like the signers of this article, include both Democrats and Republicans. Mary Ann Sumner is the supervisor of the town of Dryden and a Democrat. Stephen J. Stelick Jr. is a councilman in the town of Dryden and a Republican. [Emphasis added]

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