Appalachian Basin

Form Letters vs. New York’s Future

Well, our friends in the anti-fracking movement are at it again.

Food & Water Watch claims that opponents of hydraulic fracturing have submitted a “vast majority” of the 200,000 letters to Governor Cuomo on the subject of shale development in New York. We’ve heard this story before, and it’s just so painfully clear that they are not submitting anything close to as many legitimate comments as they claim.  Instead, the other side has likely submitted their 30 Days of Fracking form letter thousands of times.

The reader will recognize the tactic: send out an e-mail to your fellow activists across the world and get them to push a button to send a form letter you can reproduce, stuff into a dozen boxes, and then get a photograph of yourself with your sourest face marching them into someone’s office.

The few individual letters we read were short comments submitted electronically to Cuomo.  Their substance (lack of substance, actually), can be discerned by following the above link.  Here is but one example from that earlier post:

What’s wrong with today’s reg? EVERYTHING: An inadequate protection on a sacred watershed, unequal protections between upstate and downstate, and old leaky aqueducts that can be fracked around or under, risking catastrophic collapse. These are just other FRACKING PROBLEMS.

This appeal to fear was combined with a link to the 30 Days of Fracking Regulations page, which cites the proposed N.Y. Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regulations and outlines a basis for comments.  It’s well-written, but engages in a much more subtle form of demagoguery – and contradiction.

The page suggests two lines of attack: one for downstaters and one for upstaters.  If you’re a downstater, you are supposed to say the current prohibition of natural gas development in the New York City watersheds is inadequate. But if you’re an upstater, you’re told to raise the issue of why New York City is protected and you’re not!  The inherent contradiction in the activists’ scripted talking points seems not to have occurred to them – or they just don’t care.


More to the point: have they sent more than 100,000 of these?  Without a doubt they’ve bombarded the Governor’s office with these and other absurdities.  I wonder if they also sent the pictures they often draw depicting Cuomo as a devil – you know, the ones they use on those posters at their protests?

Still, there is a certain consistency to their comments: superficial and baseless assertions backed up by absolutely nothing in the way of hard data or science.

Not to be outdone, these same groups are now trying to indoctrinate our children.  They claim to be sending 1,000 letters signed by children to Governor Cuomo begging him not to open New York to responsible natural gas development.  We’ve touched on this issue before, but this tactic remains a low point in what could otherwise be a civil discussion about our energy future.

Wasn’t it Governor Cuomo who told the public just a short time ago, “I will base my decision on science and facts, not fear and emotions”? Using children to sign letters on a topic they likely don’t even understand is exactly what Cuomo told the public he would eschew – fear and emotion. And yet our economy has been held hostage to stunts like these for nearly half a decade!

For those of us who live in New York, we deserve a better future than one guided by form letters and flimsy arguments based entirely on emotion. You can go here and tell Governor Cuomo what you think about hydraulic fracturing and shale development. No need for manufactured talking points or a pre-scripted letter. If you think responsible shale development is worth pursuing (as our neighbors in Pennsylvania do), then speak up!

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