There is a long time in me between knowing and telling." --Grace Paley, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute
Welcome to Day 19 of The Next Thirty Days!
This is our last weekend of work together before the DEC's February 13 deadline to publish the sGEIS--or miss the February 27 deadline for finalizing the draft regulations and thus necessitating a "game over" restart to the whole rule-making process. You can think of next Wednesday as a belated Groundhog Day: either the sGEIS will pop its head out its Albany burrow or it won't. The outcome forecasts our future.
The way to keep the sGEIS groundhog in hibernation is by raising a mighty noise. So, forget whatever plans you might have for this weekend and start banging on pots and pans.
And then take up this new assignment: At this eleventh hour, let's send our thoughts, questions, and concerns to Department of Health Commissioner Nirav Shah, M.D. and his three outside reviewers. All together, the four of them are collectively responsible for the "health review," and, as such, each of them are playing a pivotal role in determining the future of fracking in New York State.
Perhaps far more determinative than they realized when they signed up for duty.
Each one of them is an esteemed scientist/physician/public health expert. Almost certainly, none of them has ever been in a situation quite like this one. And, of course, neither have we.
Curiosity and empathy are good starting places for this writing assignment.
Click here to get started. Then, click to share this important writing assignment on Facebook and forward this email to a friend who might participate as well.
To serve as a model or counter-model for your work, here below is my own message to three reviewers. I know each of them professionally, so I've addressed them by first name. You may wish to be more formal. Contact information and links to the recent testimonies about the status of the health review by DOH Commissioner Shah (and also DEC Commissioner Martens) are found on the website. Dr. Shah is a public servant. So, feel free to email him directly. The three reviewers have other day jobs. Thus, I've set up an easy form through which you can submit messages to them for automatic compilation them into one document, which I'll then send as a single email to each.
I'm coming at you with more writing assignments very soon. So don't ask for an extension! And there's no such thing as an incomplete. . . .
At this point, we have a lot of knowledge and insight to offer. Let's pour it out and pour it on.
to the unfractured future,
* * *
Dear John, Dick, and Lynn,
I write again to ask you to stand with us in New York. Please join our call for opening up the fracking heath review to public comment and a public hearing. Public anger about the secretive health review continues to build. Surely, transparency is part of your message.
I also continue to worry that you have become the de facto guarantor for the Governor's assurance that fracking will only go forward in New York if it can be done safely and all public health concerns can be met.
Below are news reports from the past few days.
The first is coverage of a Tuesday news conference at which 65 state legislators released a letter asking that your health review--and the decision it is informing--be put on hold until the process is opened up to the public. A link to the letter itself is also included.
The second is coverage of a Wednesday news conference at which 612 local elected officials made a similar request.
The third is an email blast from Environmental Advocates, a mainstream organization that is not part of the fracking ban movement. It, too, pans the secretive review and lack of transparency.
The fourth is a about a protest yesterday at the DEC regional offices in Buffalo, also calling for an end to secrecy in the health review.
The fifth is an email blast from a pro-bono legal defense group, whose principals are considered local heros because they have crafted local fracking ban legislation for dozens of municipalities. They confront the reports that we are hearing that Cuomo is planning a demonstration project in the Southern Tier area of our state, an idea that amounts to enrolling people as unconsenting subjects in a human experiment.
The sixth is reportage from the Legislative Gazette about Monday's protest in the Capitol building--also calling for an end to secrecy.
The seventh is a report from a state-wide "pray in" by faith leaders across the state for a ban on fracking.
And, yes, it's true, as the last news report indicates, that I myself was very unexpectedly threatened with arrest by the sergeants at arms when I attempted to talk about your health review with DEC Commissioner Martens prior to the start of Monday's hearing. Here it is on the evening news, if you are interested: http://video.wcny.org/video/2331985746