Urgent Call to Action!

Many of you have likely already heard about the New York Times article (6/13  http://tinyurl.com/77wbeg7) which indicated that Governor Cuomo and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) officials were coming up with a plan to initially allow fracking in central Southern Tier counties, including Broome County. Cuomo responded to the article by that denying that such a plan existed (6/14 http://tinyurl.com/6vxlevn) but then days later miraculously indicated that fracking "will be done shortly" (6/22 http://tinyurl.com/768hofh). This announcement also came on the last day of the New York State Legislative Session, essentially eliminating the possibility for New York State elected officials from responding and debating this issue in Albany as part of the NYS Senate and Assembly.

Governor Cuomo and the DEC are moving forward to allow an industrial practice despite the call from numerous public health and medical professionals to first conduct a study of the long-term and cumulative health impact. In other words, we have no idea what will be the long-term effect on our health from all of these wells and fracking activity; we have no idea because no one has ever studied it. The Broome County Medical Society has supported the need for such a study (http://tinyurl.com/7blpdvz) as have numerous medical and scientific societies, organizations, and professionals in their letter to NYS Department of Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, MD, MPH (2/28/2011 http://newyork.sierraclub.org/documents/Letter_to_Dr_Shah-02282011andwithadditionalsignatoriesandsummary005302011.pdf).

Despite the obvious and publicly expressed concerns from scientists and professional health officials and practitioners, it seems that we in Broome County are being targeted. According to the NY Times article, Gov. Cuomo seems to think we in the central Southern Tier have severe economic needs and that therefore warrants the toxic and industrial extraction and disruption of our community. Hmmm, perhaps it is instead that this is where the thickest part of the Marcellus Shale is located (http://www.marcellus.psu.edu/images/Marcellus_thickness.gif)- a gift to the industry? Or perhaps even a little "thank you" from the our state leaders for the $4.5 million from natural gas-related companies and trade groups spent lobbying in Albany during the last three years, according to NYPIRG (http://www.nypirg.org/pubs/goodgov/2012.04.05_NYPIRG_Lobbying_in_2011.pdf) This industry is so volatile, even the banks are staying away from land that has been leased for fracking. If you call your local lending and financial institution, you will likely discover that they will not mortgage property with a lease; they understand that this is a high-risk and high-stakes process and do not want to invest in land leased for such a risky endeavor.

The point is, Gov. Cuomo and the DEC are not making this decision in the interest of the people of New York. Further, it is not even the job of the DEC to discuss whether this practice should be happening. Instead, they cite the positive economic benefits and that the DEC's "Division of Mineral Resources administers regulations and a permitting program to mitigate to the greatest extent possible any potential environmental impact of drilling and well operation" (http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/205.html).

The question is, then, who is to decide whether this should be happening at all in our communities. The answer is: "we are." We, through our local municipal elected officials, have the power to prohibit exploration for, and production of, oil and natural gas, supported by a recent decision from the NYS Supreme Court (http://ecowatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/dryden.pdf).

We the Town of Union Citizens Against Fracking (TOUCAF) have been working diligently to inform our friends and neighbors about our concerns about fracking and to express support this from Town residents and citizens in favor of a ban to the Town Board. With Gov. Cuomo indicating that fracking will come soon and it appears we are targeted as the proverbial "guinea pigs," we must act now to urge the Town of Union Board to act ASAP. If we don't get a ban, we'll get fracked.

Please, contact the Town Board members directly via the contact information listed on the Town website at http://www.townofunion.com/town_council.html and copied below:

Rose Sotak (Deputy Supervisor)

(607) 786-2930

(607) 748-6824


Thomas R. Augostini

(607) 786-2930

(607) 797-6514


Frank Bertoni

(607) 786-2930

(607) 754-4751


Leonard J. Perfetti

(607) 786-2930

(607) 744-0259


Also, please come to a Town Board meeting on Wednesday July 18 and tell them in person about your concerns and support for a ban. Meetings begin at 7:30 in the Town Building, 3111 E. Main Street, Endwell. Please, it is important that you come to this meeting so that they can see that there is concern in the community. It is also important that you come to this meeting because of the time urgency with impending decisions from the DEC! Please also invite your friends, family, and neighbors to come along to the meeting. You don't have to given an extensive speech- just say you are concerned about fracking and support a ban.

If you are interested in getting further involved, please contact us at toucaf@riseup.net. We have numerous ways to get involved, including collecting support for a ban through petitioning and collecting information.


Erin Riddle

Get Involved!

If you have any ideas for further outreach, let me know. This can be hanging up signs in different areas, coming up with ideas for events and public outreach, etc.If you would like to get involved with the effort to pass a ban and protect our community from the risk of fracking, you can do so in one of the following ways:

Attend Board Meetings
The Town of Union Board meets every first and third Wednesday of the month (though the frequency is reduced in summer months- check the Town of Union calendar online at http://www.townofunion.com/calendar.html). Please come to speak to the Town Board directly to express your concerns about fracking and support for a ban, or even simply wear a button or t-shirt indicating your position and sit in the audience. We need to show the Board members that there is a large contingent of people that support a ban.  If you need a ride, please feel free to contact us and we can arrange for a ride to pick you up, take you to the meeting, and bring you back home.

We are in the process of collecting signatures for our petition to the Town Board in support of a ban and welcome you to get involved. You can either go with us door-to-door or print the petition from the Sign the Petition page and collect signatures from your own family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.

Collecting Information
We also need help collecting information (such as for the website) and keeping track of things that are going on in the community. If you see a relevant news article, report, or other piece of information, please send it to me.

If you would like to get more involved, in whatever capacity you feel most comfortable, please contact us. Thank you for your interest and concern for our community.

See the calendar below for a variety of events related to fracking. Most of them are not sponsored by TOUCAF, but if you contact us we will try to get more information. Included in the calendar can be events from the Town of Union website, Vestal Residents for Safe Energy (VeRSE), New York Residents Against Drilling (NYRAD), Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter or Susquehanna Group, and New Yorkers Against Fracking, among other groups .

(calendar forthcoming)

Town of Union Citizens Against Fracking (TOUCAF) | PO Box 404 | Johnson City, NY 13790-0404 | toucaf@riseup.net

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