A Letter to the Editor (LTE) is a short opinion-oriented statement that you submit to your local newspaper.
Instructions: LTEs should be fewer than 250 words, the shorter the better. If you can relate it to a recent story or current event, the likelihood of getting it published increases. Both mobilizing for Don’t Frack NY and signing the Pledge to Resist Fracking in New York are good hooks (something new, a current event) for your letter. If there is a recent story in your paper about fracking and you can relate your letter to that story, that is also a good strategy. You should not try to cover everything in your letter, but rather focus it on one or at most two points.
Sandra Steingraber just published a great LTE in the Star Gazette that serves as a nice example. Her letter is short (117 words) and was in response to a recent article about the SGEIS being 4,000 pages long. See her LTE here: http://stargaz.tt/NuqrL8
Submitting your LTE: Go to your local paper’s website and do a quick search for “letters,” “opinions,” “editorials” or “letters to the editor” and you should find a page with either an in-the-browser form to submit your LTE or an email address to which you can send it. A follow-up call to your paper (ask for the editorial/opinion desk or editor) before or after submitting your LTE will greatly increase the likelihood that it gets published. If you can’t figure this out, feel free to contact John Armstrong at email@example.com or 607-220-4632.
Sample LTE text:
I am proud to have joined with more than 1,500 New Yorkers at Don’t Frack New York on August 27 who marched from the glistening Hudson River, through the streets of Albany, to our State Capitol to tell Governor Cuomo: listen to the science, ban fracking! We delivered that message with a powerful new PLEDGE TO RESIST FRACKING IN NEW YORK, a solemn but strong personal commitment to take action to stop the environmental and public health disaster that fracking would bring to our communities.
The gas industry wants to pretend that everyone opposed to fracking as radical and emotional, but it is the science, that drives us to take action. It is fact that well casings are destined to fail, a fact that fracking destroys air quality and covers communities in carcinogenic silica dust, and the science that shows methane leaks from fracking spell disaster for the climate. All of these things have been confirmed by hundreds of doctors, independent scientists, and medical organizations. Given the Department of Environmental Conservation’s grossly inadequate and flawed study and review of fracking, only one emotion t would lead Governor Cuomo to give fracking the green light: greed. Specifically, the greed of the oil and gas industry that has already spent millions to influence Albany. Greed is an emotion — and one that must not be allowed to dictate the future of New York State. Join over 3,000 New Yorkers in signing the pledge at www.DontFrackNY.org.
Key points and suggestions for your LTE:
We suggest that your LTE introduce the Pledge to Resist Fracking in New York and use that as the introduction for a compelling reason why you have signed the pledge. The following list provides many such compelling reasons. Remember, you want to focus on one point, not try to cover everything. The more personal you can make it, the better.
· The community impacts of fracking are unacceptable. New Yorkers will not let our schools and daycare centers be covered in carcinogenic silica dust, have our children grow up in communities with increased crime rates, have our communities paved through with spider webs of well pads, access roads, pipelines, and unending noise that is akin to an airport runway.
· Independent scientists and science have demonstrated that fracking cannot be done safely. The DEC’s review is grossly inadequate and flawed and offers Governor Cuomo no ground on which to say that fracking can be done without jeopardizing the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers.
· Governor Cuomo has said that “all watersheds are sacrosanct.” I wholeheartedly agree, and ask how it is that he can say that fracking is too dangerous for the NYC and Syracuse watersheds but not for my water source and my community?
· *Especially for NYC* How is it that NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg can say no way to fracking in the NYC watershed but give millions of dollars to frack anywhere else? If it’s too dangerous for NYC, it’s too dangerous for everyone.
· Fracking threatens to cause precipitous drops in home values, undermining the financial stability of my (/many) family(s).
· Reduction of property values may cause a reduction in our local tax base.
· The grassroots opposition to fracking is the greatest grassroots movement in New York’s history, and it will only grow exponentially in size and commitment if fracking is given the green light.
· Independent economic studies show that sustainable economic engines such as tourism and agriculture will be crowded out for industrial shale gas extraction
· Independent economic studies show that areas that have hosted extractive industries are worse off when the industry moves on.
· Nationwide Insurance recently stated that fracking and associated activities are too risky.
· The American Nurses Association has called for a national moratorium on fracking permits on the premise that the health concerns have not been studied and addressed. That included New York, where no health impact assessment has been done even though hundreds of doctors and medical organizations have called for it.
· New York has the opportunity to become a national leader in renewable energy, but investment in fracking and accompanying infrastructure would crowd it out.
· In this time of terrible drought, fracking stands to greatly exacerbate climate change due to the release of methane, an extremely potent greenhouse gas.
· Dangerously high levels of radon – the #1 cause of lung cancer among non-smokers – in the Marcellus Shale threaten to put New Yorkers across the state at risk of lung cancer right in our own homes as radon spews out of our kitchen stoves.
· Fracking would wreak havoc on our air quality, just as it has done across the country such as in mountainous areas of Wyoming that went from pure mountain air to air worse than downtown LA in just a few short years of fracking development.
You do not have to be an expert on any fracking-related topic – simply speak to your concerns.