In case you missed it, on December 16th, The New York Times ran an editorial extolling the potential economic gold rush, of the U.S. exporting oil, based on enormous extraction of shale gas, available due to new technologies.
Imagine this! The U.S., for decades has been despoiling the land, air and water of third world nations, so that we can use their mineral, and oil resources to power our economy and cars. In this new, nightmare economy of shale gas, we may now despoil our own land, water, and air so that we can provide oil to growing third world nations.
We become the third world country, degrading our land, air and water, to enable a growing middle class of Chinese and Indian citizens buy and drive more cars. These millions of new cars will, of course, be putting more carbon into the atmosphere.
What will be left of our country, as we squeeze the last drops of oil from Mother Earth?
The argument of the shale gas economists, is that regulation can make fracking safe.
Yoko Ono, in her December 26 Letter to the Times refutes this argument saying: “There is no amount of regulation that can make fracking safe… “Cement in wells many thousands of feet under the earth cracks and leaks under the great pressure and temperature changes. No one can be sent housands of feet under the earth to make repairs once this happens…” “Industry documents show that six percent leak immediately, and that 60 percent leak over time, poisoning water and putting powerful greenhouse gas methane into our atmosphere…” and “We need to develop truly clean energy, not dirty water created by fracking.”
We must send this message to our state, and federal officials, as well as to our media.
Re-appoint Howard Harris To ZBA
William O. Douglas, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States and an advocate of zoning laws once said “I’ve often thought that if our zoning boards could be put in charge of botanists, of zoologists, and geologists, and people who knew about the earth, we would have much more wisdom in such planning than we have when we leave it to engineers.”
The history of zoning laws is about 100 years old in the United States with New York City enacting them for the first time in 1916. Zoning laws are part of a police power that government has to protect the property interests of the majority. There has never been a time when the matters before a zoning board have not been confrontational and been referred to the Courts for final resolve.
I am dismayed to see that the Town Board has not moved to re-appoint Howard Harris to the Woodstock Zoning Board. Howard Harris has served the town for over 15 years and worked tirelessly at his position as Chairman of the Woodstock Zoning Board. I have known Howard to be committed to the interests of the people by proper consideration of the law as zoning cases came before the Woodstock Zoning Board.
I became aware of Howard’s separation from the Zoning Board in a press release where Jeremy Wilber offered “In recent years the Woodstock ZBA has made many decisions, and as can be expected almost anywhere, some of them have been challenged in court. The Town Board hired attorneys, at taxpayers’ expense, to defend every single ZBA decision. It would please me to inform the taxpayer that the Town achieved outstanding success defending these ZBA decisions. Let the public record speak for itself.”
It is astounding, and perhaps without precedent, to think that Woodstock would want to remove a volunteer from service who has dedicated time and effort working on our behalf. The fact that the ZBA decisions were upheld in Court should offer evidence of the knowledge and effectives of the Board. The appearance is that we are seeking to yield to the violation of law rather than to uphold the law and pay the costs associated with enforcing the will of the people.
I personally want to thank Howard Harris for his years of service to Woodstock.
The resignation of the other members of the Woodstock Zoning Board in support of Howard Harris will leave Woodstock with a deficit of knowledge and experience. I do not believe that this is a risk we should want to take. Zoning law plays an important role in keeping Woodstock the great place it is.
My hope would be that the Town Board re-think its decision to remove Howard Harris from the Woodstock Zoning Board and to encourage the other members to reconsider their resignations.