What an exciting day it was, January 25, when the Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment brought together ordinary people from across the state of New York to speak with their elected representatives in Albany about hydrofracking. Some of us from the Tompkins County area met last night to discuss how we might follow up on that important first step in establishing a dialogue between citizens and lawmakers about horizontal drilling for natural gas.
We decided that some of the information that was needed to help people to be well-informed and confident in discussions with their representatives was a bit hard to locate in a hurry. And, of course, most citizens barely have enough time to go to a legislator’s town hall meeting or send an email to the Governor, let alone do a bunch of research to find the details of current bills and so on.
So, the idea was born of having a spot on-line where materials could be organized and updated that would empower and enable regular citizens (and their local groups, too, of course) to go visit a government official with some solid and up-to-date info in hand. Rather than 30 local groups all trying to track the movements of a bill in the State legislature, one site could be responsible for updating that info, and all the groups could link to it, or subscribe via RSS feed and update their own sites when Solid Shale indicated that there had been a change.
What this effort isn’t is an attempt to set an agenda for public advocacy around the Marcellus Shale gas development. Different groups, different people, different localities will have their opinions on that. But, as the old saw puts it, while we are entitled to our own opinions, we are not entitled to our own facts. But, it can be hard to discern the “facts” when the actions and processes of governments can be confusing to citizens, and seem to constantly change and be in flux. So, this site will be dedicated to keeping people all over NY well-informed about what your government is doing through which legislative or executive office. If you want to enter into discussions, debates, or even polite differences of opinion about how it is best for citizens to respond, feel free to use the comments section for that purpose. However, comments will be moderated, and anyone who can’t keep their comments civil, or who is too disruptive of the mission of the site, will have their commenting privileges revoked, after one warning.
So, what do you think of this idea?