SHANNON HAYES’ BLOG ON LOCAL ANTI-FRACKING LAWS IS TOO GOOD NOT TO PASS ON!
“The democratic process is pretty sleepy in my town. Monthly council meetings are conducted by a group of dedicated citizens who talk about unglamorous issues such as road repair, dog warden reports and budget matters. Meetings begin at 7:30pm with relatively few attendees, as many of the citizens tied to the local farming economy are either still outside working, or getting ready to fall into bed. But if you want to wake a sleeping bear, suggest making the local junkyard law more restrictive.
Then you’ll see some angry constituents.
That happened a few months ago, when some members of the community who preferred mowed grass and plastic whirly gigs to scrap metal and recycled lumber piles tried to bring forward a discussion about making our town look a little more “picked up.” That was a decidedly unpopular idea, and neighbors filled our town hall beyond capacity to drive their point home. My family was among them.
We are also among the group of neighbors who have begun a dialogue with council members discussing the need for an anti-fracking law. While the threat may not be as imminent as it is for those folks in the Southern Tier of our state, we feel that proactive measures taken now will protect us as fracking technology changes and the industry expands into our region. A few of our council members remain dubious that such a law would be wanted by our citizenry. How could folks who are pro-junk also be anti-frack? It’s all about self-reliance.
A lot of us keep “treasure” in our yards that someone from a high-end suburb might see as “trash.” But someone from a high-end suburb can collect a six figure salary several times over, pay an urban mechanic to maintain a new car, pay the electric bill to run the dryer for their clothes, pay the clerk at Whole Foods for their “farm fresh eggs,” pay someone else to come in with the necessary tools to maintain their lawns and homes.
But here in the town of Fulton, we depend on our own hands for many of these things. The “junk” in our yards is a resource base from which we can fix our cars, repair our houses, jury-rig a chicken coop, find a spare part to fix a mower, salvage some glass to hob together a cold frame for vegetables. The “junk” represents the tools we need to get by without a lot of income.
Whether it is a junkyard law or an anti-fracking law, the impetus remains the same: We desire legislation that protects our right and need to be self-reliant. Hyrdo-fracking purports to offer some quick cash for a few landholders, but everyone else runs the risk of losing their self-reliance when drinking wells either dry up or the water becomes too polluted to drink. If we no longer have potable water to raise our vegetables, can our tomatoes, make jelly from the wild brambles, or care for our livestock, we’ve lost our ability to take care of ourselves and thrown our well-being at the mercy of government, charity, and the companies who are now in business to haul water to communities that are confronting the fall-out of hydro-fracking.
None of us wants to wind up there. We want our junkyards. We want our anti-fracking laws, too. To live well around here, most of us need to be somewhat self-reliant. Money doesn’t grow on trees around these parts, but fruit does. And vegetables grow in the ground, livestock grow in the pastures, and firewood grows on the hills. If we have clean water to sustain all of it, we’ll have enough food in our bellies, wood in our fires and junk in our backyards to have a great life, regardless of how much money is in our pockets.”