Dear Secretary Clinton,
I am a long-time admirer and proud to say so. Without giving away too much personal information, let’s just say that I know a lot about bullying, and I know you know what that means. Only an object of bullying can claim to know it, because the perpetrators are in a muddle of their own feelings of fear and self-loathing, which makes them blind, deaf and numb to the feelings of their victims. Grownup bullies see all this talk about it as whining and excuse-making (aka “political correctness”).
Then there’s you. No “whining,” no “excuse-making.” You drive them crazy!
Your response to decades of bullying by sorry and muddled menaces has been to leap over them and stick the landing: stick to your convictions, live out your values, keep on moving toward the light at the end of the tunnel. You do make it look easy, but millions of us know better. You have championed women, children, families, racial minorities, vulnerable constituencies in our country, and civilian populations yearning for democracy all over the world. There’s no question, you are a hero.
It is apparent to me from watching you and from reading Hard Choices, that you also stick to habits I suspect you learned in college. You carefully gather information from accredited sources, surround yourself with people who know more than you do, and then—the piéce de resistance—you go on listening expeditions. Whether in your travels as Secretary of State, or in campaigning for office, you listen to the voices of the people you would lead. Your leadership, then, is a collaboration on many levels.
I am writing to ask you to listen to my constituency. I live in Western New York. You know New York, every inch, so I don’t have to tell you that this region is economically vulnerable and usually left behind when the rest of the country is in boom. This makes us look very juicy to promoters of new prisons, toxic waste dumps, and now every kind of environmental insult related to hydraulic fracturing.
We are fighting back. It’s a fight I think you might champion, if you had the chance to hear from us directly. Let me recommend one of our local heroes, Dr. Sandra Steingraber, as someone you need to know. Stop almost any day by the gates of the gas storage company Crestwood Midstream (recently shored up by Con Ed), and see some of the 500+ local citizens—veterans, teachers, nurses, musicians, clergy, professors, authors, artists, librarians, union members, doctors, parents and grandparents—who have offered themselves up for arrest to save our beautiful Seneca Lake from contamination and disaster.
I get the role that fracking plays in freeing Eastern European countries from Russian domination, and the role it has played in alleviating our country’s dependence on Mid-Eastern oil. I understand some of the priorities you and President Obama weighed in pushing this technology as a bridge to the renewables of the future.
But the truth is that fracking is a danger to every region it touches, and to the entire world. Industry claims about safety do not stand up to science. Pipelines leak, water supplies are destroyed forever, the earth is shaking, and local communities are torn apart by competing interests. Moreover, widespread methane leaks are a lollapalooza of climate change toxicity, and we are running out of time!
People in sensitive environments like ours are shouting at the top of our lungs: no more sacrifice zones! We may not have the economic power and cultural force of a major city, but we fully understand the value of a natural environment that is serene and ethereal—therefore eminently vital. How can the world maintain its humanity by sacrificing its natural wonders?
Groups like We Are Seneca Lake and Gas Free Seneca and hundreds of extraordinary citizens in our region are taking a stand against bullies, and we need you on our side. Please, if you can, visit Western New York. Come and listen. (My friends and I write songs about this stuff. We’ll sing one for you.)