Prepared Remarks for Press Conference, State of the State Rally: Transcript

January 8th, 2014

Hi, everyone. My name is Sandra Steingraber. I’m a biologist and founding member of Concerned Health Professionals of New York.


I’ll speak personally today.


This morning, before dawn, I said goodbye to my sweetheart in room 438 of the Cayuga Medical Center. When I lay down with him on the narrow hospital bed, I had to be mindful of the monitor cables.


My otherwise healthy, middle-aged husband is an artist, a jazz musician, a teacher, and a stroke patient. We don’t know what’s causing his repeated stroke incidents. More intensive testing lies ahead.


What I do know as an environmental health professional is that air pollution is a proven risk factor for stroke—especially exposure to diesel exhaust, ultrafine particles, and ground-level ozone (smog).


What I do know is that diesel exhaust, ultrafine particles, and ground-level ozone accompany drilling and fracking operations wherever they go.


What I do know is that fracking-related air pollution would be a demonstrable risk to the health and well-being of the man who is the father of my children and who must work so hard—yet again—to regain his speech.


That’s why I am here today, speaking for both of us. The best thing I can do to safeguard my family’s health—and the public health of all New Yorkers—is to join the call for a ban on hydrofracking.


The data are clear on this point. Just last month, a study from West Virginia found high levels of benzene near fracking sites—corroborating similar findings from Colorado. Meanwhile, the American Lung Association has documented harmful air quality in intensely fracked rural areas in multiple states.


And it’s not just air pollution. A new investigation by the Associated Press has confirmed drinking water contamination from drilling and fracking operations in four states—including Pennsylvania. And in Colorado, researchers found high levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals in water collected near fracking sites—including the Colorado River itself.


Governor Cuomo, you promised to listen to the science. The science is saying—increasingly loudly, increasingly clearly—that fracking is inherently unsafe, necessarily risky, and irreparably harmful.


And we are saying—all of us here today, from all over the state, who have taken the day off work and away from our families to travel the highways in the bitter cold—we are saying that nothing is more important to us than preserving the air and water of New York on which our lives and health depend.


We are saying that we are not willing to sojourn in Room 438 of the medical center so that the gas industry can bring temporary profits to a few and permanent ruin to many.


We are saying to you, Governor Cuomo, that we want a ban on fracking in New York State.