Remarks in the Great Western Staircase, Albany

February 4th, 2013

My name is Sandra Steingraber. I’m a founder of Concerned Health Professionals of New York.


In my first job out of graduate school, I was assigned to be the AIDS Education Coordinator for an entire college campus. It was at a time in our nation’s history when we didn’t know everything about how HIV could be transmitted, and there was lingering doubt about whether HIV was even the causative agent.


So it was life and death biology, and I was working in a moving stream of data.


But the lesson of public health is “when in doubt, stop the exposure.” When lives are at stake, you don’t wait for absolute proof to protect people. Instead, you move people out of harm’s way first and then let the wheels of scientific proofmaking grind on. That is a lesson we learned too late with lead paint, with Love Canal, and with the Hudson River.


But it’s not too late for fracking.


Governor Cuomo, we don’t know everything about the health effects of fracking, but emerging data and studies now in progress give us reason to be concerned. The hasty, secretive review now being compiled by your DOH and DEC is being conducted without normative protocols and without transparency and public participation.


Governor Cuomo, public health is never protected by keeping secrets. The people of New York deserve and demand a real health study, not a last-minute, improvised review.


We deserve transparency and participation, not “trust us, you can see it when it’s all done.”


Concerned Health Professionals of New York demand a proper comprehensive health impact assessment.


And, until it is done, communities where people live and work should not be proving grounds for industrial experiments. Governor Cuomo, if you move forward to allow even limited tracking without a true health study open to public participation, you will violate your duty to protect New Yorkers. Concerned Health Professionals joins the rallying cry here today: NOT ONE WELL.