Advocates for Morris
PO Box 177
Morris NY 13808
September 2, 2014
Town and Village of Morris
Morris NY 13808
Town Supervisor Lynn Joy
Board Member Royce Webster
Board Member Dave Johnson
Board Member William Pickens
Board Member Marilyn Roveland
Highway Superintendent Jonathan Foote
Village of Morris Mayor Michael Newell
Copy to: Natural Resources Defense Council, Attorneys Kate Sinding and Jon Krois
Community Environmental Defense Council, Attorneys David & Helen Slottje
Otsego 2000, Board Chairman Nicole Dillingham & Executive Director Ellen Pope
Oneonta Daily Star, Editor Sam Pollak
The Freeman’s Journal /Hometown Oneonta, Editor Jim Kevlin
Ladies and Gentlemen:
For more than five years, the Advocates for Morris have presented you with volumes of evidence and reports on fracking – information critical to your decision-making concerning the future of our community. We now submit for your review copies of a July 2014 report entitled Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking (Unconventional Gas and Oil Extraction), prepared by Concerned Health Professionals of New York. We urge you to carefully examine these reports.
The Concerned Health Professionals of New York (“CHPNY”) is an initiative by health professionals, scientists and medical organizations dedicated to scientifically evaluating the impacts of fracking on public health and safety. CHPNY provides educational resources and works to ensure that careful consideration of the science and health impacts are at the forefront of the fracking debate. This fully-referenced Compendium and related links may be accessed online at the following site: http://concernedhealthny.org/compendium/.
These copies of the Compendium have been prepared for your review by Otsego 2000. Otsego 2000 is an environmental stewardship organization working to protect the Otsego region’s rural and agricultural landscapes. They focus on protecting Otsego from inappropriate development, sprawl, and large-scale industrialization that would negatively affect air, water, and soil quality, as well as disrupt its rural, agricultural character and quality of life.
We urge you to consider the information, reports and data in this Compendium. The Compendium is comprehensive, addressing: air pollution; water contamination; engineering problems; radioactive releases; occupational health and safety hazards; noise pollution, light pollution and stress; earthquake and seismic activity; oil and gas wells as pathways for gas and fluid migration; flood risks; threats to agriculture and soil quality; threats to the climate; increased crime rates; and threats to neighbors’ property values and mortgages. It also reports on industry’s inaccurate job claims, inflated estimates of reserves and their profitability and the failure to disclosure serious risks to investors. CHPNY concludes by calling, as the Advocates for Morris have recommended for years, for a cautious approach involving more study and greater transparency.
Unfortunately, the Morris Town Board has not responded to these calls. Beginning as early as 2009, you, as our elected officials, have heard the grave concerns your constituents and neighbors have about fracking. The Advocates for Morris have made repeated appeals, in writing and in person, urging you to address these concerns. In 2011, town officials were presented with the results of a town-wide petition calling for a ban or moratorium on fracking in Morris. Shortly thereafter, however, the newly-created gas drilling advisory committee was disbanded by the town board.
Town officials also declined offers of pro bono legal assistance from the Community Environmental Defense Coalition (“CEDC”) attorney David Slottje. CEDC believes that citizens have a right to insist that the community’s interests come before shareholder’s profits, and that communities have the right to refuse to allow industry to pollute our common water, air and natural resources. Further, CEDC believes that when risk extends beyond a property owner’s borders, the entire community has a right to decide whether it is willing to accept those risks. If the community is not willing to accept the risks, then the community has the right to refuse to allow the risky use to proceed unless and until all risk is confined to the property owner alone.
The Advocates for Morris agree with CEDC that our community’s health needs to come first. We encourage you to read more at: http://www.cedclaw.org/home-rule-fracking#sthash.p0MjcYB5.dpuf.
In 2013, you were presented with the results of a town-wide opinion poll that showed that an overwhelming majority--70%--of the 449 respondents oppose fracking. Survey responses were tabulated and remain on file with the Natural Resources Defense Council (“NRDC”). This strong opposition to fracking has gone unaddressed.
To date, Morris town officials have also not responded to NRDC’s invitation to meet with members of the town board.
There are growing numbers of Morris citizens, your neighbors and constituents, who believe that the Board is failing to protect the community and provide for the safety and welfare of the people. On their behalf, we urge you to review the Compendium we are providing and to act to protect Morris from the risks of fracking. Unless trust can be restored, the people will hold accountable those who fail to protect the community.
ADVOCATES FOR MORRIS