*** UPDATE: SCROLL DOWN FOR SHORT LETTER OPTION ***
Autumn Stoscheck wrote a letter to her Van Etten Town Board members and Chemung County Legislator, asking if they’re going to attend the Regional Legislative Conference on Natural Gas Development at Morrisville State College on June 20th. She and other citizens have been sending letters and giving in-person invitations, and following up with phone calls to ask public officials if they’re going to attend, and if not, why not.
She writes, “These public officials need to be put on notice. Energy development impacts are not speculative. They are studied and known. If elected officials continue to sit on their hands when information and resources are available to them (such as this conference) they must be held publicly accountable. I urge you to let your officials know this as well… PLEASE TALK TO YOUR TOWN!”
Below is Autumn’s letter – feel free to copy it, edit, and change it as you see fit. For added impact, follow Autumn’s excellent example and send your letter to several papers as well.
[Your name and address]
[Name and address of public official]
Dear [Name of public official],
By now I am sure you are aware that Van Etten sits a top the largest known natural gas reserve in the United States and that when the NYSDEC issues its revised SGEIS some time this year, it intends to begin issuing some 2,000 drilling permits per year, and that multi-national energy corporations such as Fortuna, Epsilon and Chesapeake intend to apply for permits to drill in this town.
I am writing to urge you to attend the Regional Legislative Conference on Natural Gas Development at Morrisville State College on June 20th. NYSAC, ATOSNY, NYCOM, as well as Madison and Chenango Counties sponsor the conference.
Many experts agree that drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale and other unconventional gas bearing layers, will constitute the largest land use change in New York State since the virgin forests were clear cut for agriculture. The preparation required for this magnitude of change will require a level of planning such as the current board has not experienced.
To put this into perspective, Marcellus Shale wells can be drilled on a forty-acre spacing. That means up to 1,500 wells could be drilled in Van Etten alone. In Pennsylvania, the DEP estimates that one horizontal Marcellus well requires 1,000 truck trips during drilling and fracking. That’s a lot of road use.
While gas drilling has economic benefits such as an increase in property tax and royalty payments to some landowners, studies show that the costs of energy development are often greater than the benefits. Energy development impacts range from damage to infrastructure such as roads and bridges, increased use of services such as police, fire and EMT, increased attendance in public schools by non-taxpayers, loss of property values, and water contamination to name a few. These impacts are not speculation: Communities in energy extraction states have been dealing with them for decades and many studies have been done. I urge you to read Energy and the West: Informing Choices About Energy Development a study done by Headwaters Economics which can be downloaded for free at www.headwaterseconomics.org
Just over the boarder in Bradford County, PA communities are already dealing with the impacts of Marcellus Shale development. One thing is clear: the level of preparedness is a determining factor in which towns win and which towns lose in energy development. At a time when the energy industry is making record breaking profits, and ordinary Americans are struggling to pay the bills, Van Etten can not afford to lose. On its own, failing to bond our roads could cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. As an elected representative, it is your responsibility to be educated, informed and take action to protect the citizens of Van Etten.
Thank you for making this a priority.
[List names of papers and other media outlets here, if you are sending copies to the media]
This is a shorter-form letter you can send, if you prefer.
Subject: Morrisville State College to Host Regional Legislative Conference on Natural Gas Development June 20
Hello, Town Representative,
Please see the attached information about an upcoming summit on gas drilling at Morrisville State College on Saturday, June 20th from 9am to noon.
I would like to ask that you attend this informative summit in which town board members and municipal leaders in this state will engage in a serious discussion about the very real impacts of gas drilling in our region. The gas drilling here in the Ithaca region may well be a few months away. The host of this summit has first hand experience with dealing with the gas companies and this is just the kind of information we need at this time.
Pre-registration is preferred, but not required, by contacting Town of Lebanon Supervisor Jim Goldstein at Lebanon@citlink.net or 315-837-4152.