New Mexico can stop new fracking permits,
protect health, environment and people.
Dr Sandra Steingraber was interviewed after the Senate hearing in Conservation by host Lorene Mills of the Santa Fe Report that airs on New Mexico PBS https://www.pbs.org/video/dr-sandra-steingraber-ktethb/
"I understand that New Mexico funds its public schools with a big assist the oil and gas industry. This is a tough ethical conundrum for you—the fossil fuel industry is helping prepare children for a future that the fossil fuel industry is also actively destroying via climate change. And harming children’s health in the process. A pause on new drilling may give you time to unwind this relationship and find new ways to finance early education.
The research we’ve compiled shows that in shale boom areas, school districts suffer lower test scores, lower attendance, higher teacher turn over, and exacerbated educational inequities."
- Dr Steingraber From the testimony before the New Mexico Senate Conservation Committee- Feb.13, 2021
As of 2020, hydraulic fracturing techniques have been used on an estimated one million U.S. wells to shatter rock layers and extract the oil or gas trapped inside. As fracking operations in the United States and abroad have increased in frequency, size, and intensity, a significant body of evidence has emerged to demonstrate that these activities are dangerous in ways that cannot be mitigated through regulation. Threats include detrimental impacts on water, air, climate stability, public health, farming, property values, and economic vitality.
Emerging science also shows that fracking is an environmental injustice, with injuries not borne equally by all. Throughout the United States, pregnant women, children, communities of color, Indigenous people, and impoverished communities are disproportionately harmed by fracking.
A growing body of research reveals fundamental problems with the entire life cycle of operations associated with fracking and its infrastructure. Independent, peer-reviewed analyses and industry studies alike indicate that fracking is a dangerous process with innate engineering problems that include uncontrolled and unpredictable fracturing, induced earthquakes, and well casing failures that worsen with age and lead to water contamination and fugitive emissions.
Unpreventable problems also originate from other sources. These include radiation releases; unmapped and abandoned wells that serve as pathways for contamination; and operations necessary for safety (venting, flaring, blowdowns) that result in methane releases and hazardous air pollution. The disposal of fracking wastewater remains a problem with no solution. More than
17.6 million people within the United States live within one mile of an active oil and gas well.
The result is a public health and climate crisis.
Public health harms now linked with drilling, fracking, and associated infrastructure include cancers, asthma, respiratory distress, rashes, heart problems, and mental health problems.
Multiple studies of pregnant women living near fracking operations across the nation show impairments to infant health, including birth defects, preterm birth, and low birth weight.
North American fracking operations are driving the current surge in global levels of methane, a greenhouse gas 86 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide over a twenty-year period. Methane escapes into the atmosphere from all parts of the extraction, processing, and distribution system, at significant rates that exceed earlier estimates by a factor of two to three.
In sum, the vast body of scientific studies now published on hydraulic fracturing in the peer- reviewed scientific literature confirms that the climate and public health risks from fracking are real and the range of environmental harms wide. Our examination uncovered no evidence that fracking can be practiced in a manner that does not threaten human health directly and without imperiling climate stability upon which public health depends. The rapidly expanding body of evidence compiled here is massive, troubling, and cries out for decisive action. Across a wide range of parameters, the data continue to reveal a plethora of recurring problems that cannot be sufficiently averted through regulatory frameworks. The risks and harms of fracking are inherent to its operation. The only method of mitigating its grave threats to public health and the climate is a complete and comprehensive ban on fracking. Indeed, a fracking phase-out is a requirement of any meaningful plan to prevent catastrophic climate change.
December 2020— Co-authored by Dr. Steingraber, the "Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking" is a fully referenced compilation of the evidence outlining the risks and harms of fracking. Bringing together findings from the scientific and medical literature, government and industry reports, and journalistic investigation, the Compendium is a public, open-access document housed on the websites of Concerned Health Professionals of New York and Physicians for Social Responsibility. Like previous editions, this sixth edition focuses on topics most closely related to the public health and safety impacts of fracking. These include risks from fracking infrastructure, including compressor stations, pipelines, silica sand mining operations, natural gas storage facilities, the manufacture and transportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG), and, for the first time, gas-fired power plants. Fracking, a major source of two greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane, is incompatible with climate solutions. Climate change is a public health crisis and receives our close attention in the seventh edition.
An advocate for the precautionary principle, Dr. Steingraber argues that environmental decision making should follow four guidelines:
● taking preventive action in the face of uncertainty;
● shifting the burden of proof to the proponents of an activity;
● exploring a wide range of alternatives to possibly harmful actions;
● and increasing public participation in decision making.
Co-Founder of New Yorkers Against Fracking, Dr. Steingraber and her organization were instrumental in the passage of the New York State fracking ban, translating the science into plain English for political leaders, the media and the general public, and creating a compendium of more than 400 studies illustrating the health impacts of hydraulic fracturing.
A cancer survivor, Dr. Steingraber’s highly acclaimed book, Living Downstream: An Ecologist's Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment, presents cancer as a human rights issue. Published in 1997, it was the first comprehensive effort to bring together data on toxic releases from US cancer registries. This was followed by Having Faith: An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood, selected as a best book of 2001 by the Library Journal, and Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis.
Steingraber was named a Ms. Magazine "Woman of the Year" and later received the Jennifer Altman Foundation's first annual Altman Award for "the inspiring and poetic use of science to elucidate the causes of cancer." The Sierra Club has called Steingraber "the new Rachel Carson," and Carson's own alma mater, Chatham College, awarded her its biennial Rachel Carson Leadership Award. In 2006, Steingraber received a Hero Award from the Breast Cancer Fund, and in 2009, the Environmental Health Champion Award from Physicians for Social Responsibility, Los Angeles. Steingraber was the 2011 recipient of the Heinz Award for extraordinary service to the environment.
Steingraber has delivered the keynote addresses at conferences on human health and the environment throughout the United States and Canada and has lectured at many universities, medical schools, and hospitals—including Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Columbia, and the Woods Hole Research Center. She has testified in the European Parliament, before the President's Cancer Panel, and has participated in briefings to Congress and before United Nations delegates in Geneva, Switzerland. Recognized for her ability to serve as a translator between scientists and activists, her testimony promises to be powerful and eye opening.
Dr. Sandra Steingraber, defender of human environmental rights, to Speak at the New Mexico Conservation Committee Hearing on the #pauseonfracking SB 149
Her acclaimed book, "Living Downstream," was the the first to bring together data on toxic releases.
She has appeared before Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency, and UN.
Rachel Carson Leadership Award Winner and Ms. Magazine's "Woman of the Year."