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Gag Order: Town Board Decides Community Can No Longer Discuss Fracking at Town Meetings

The town of Sanford sits in what is called New York’s Southern Tier, on the Pennsylvania border. More importantly, it’s in the heart of Marcellus Shale country.

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You know what? Tough. Again speaking as someone who has spent thousands of hours in public meetings, that’s what happens when people have strong opinions about issues that matter to their lives, their families, and their community: they want to talk about them, and they want their elected decision makers to listen. And for people who live in the Marcellus Shale region, it’s hard to imagine an issue more vital to their health and homes than fracking. Mike Mustante, one of the Sanford residents prevented from speaking out, told NRDC that by gagging him, the town board “ended any chance that I might have to affect the future value of my home, or the quality of the air I breathe, or the water I drink.” That’s the kind of thing a guy won't shut up about.

Scott Dodd is the editorial director of NRDC, which publishes OnEarth. He was a newspaper reporter for 12 years, contributing to coverage of Hurricane Katrina that won a Pulitzer Prize, and has written for Scientific American, Slate, and other publications. CJR praised his expansion of OnEarth.org as an outlet for "bang-up investigative journalism." He also teaches at Columbia University. 

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