Monday, April 22, 2013

Sandra Steingraber is my Earth Day Hero!

While many people today are "celebrating" Earth Day by, oh, wearing an organic cotton T-shirt while drinking fair trade coffee, Sandra Steingraber - a hero of mine for years, but now more than ever - is spending Earth Day in jail because of her deep commitment to the environment.

You can read the story here.  (includes video).
And you can read Sandra's writings from jail here.

Sandra, along with 11 other inspiring activists, blocked the path of a truck to prevent it from storing toxic fracking waste under Seneca Lake, which provides drinking water to many people.  She was arrested for this non-violent act of trespassing and sentenced to 15 days in jail.  She is there now.  Fifteen days away from her husband, her children, nature, fresh air, coffee, her work, her home, privacy, and adequate sleep.

Instead of sending her letters of support, Sandra wants people to send letters to the editor and/or letters to Governor Cuomo to say no to fracking.  (There's a template here.)   In solidarity with Sandra, and in gratitude for the personal sacrifices she is making to take a stand for the Earth's health, I'm pledging now to engage in some form of anti-fracking/environmental activism (e.g. blogging, letter-writing, monetary donations) every day for the duration of Sandra's sentence.

To start with, here's my email to Gov. Cuomo, which I sent in the mail to Sandra, too:

Dear Governor Cuomo:

My name is Britta, and I live in Vermont.  I'm writing to you today because I'm deeply concerned about the negative health effects of fracking, and I urge you to be a truly inspiring leader by banning fracking in New York - Vermont already has, and I'm so proud to be a Vermonter.  Why do I write to you, when I live in VT?  Because all across the nation, those of us who care about the health of the Earth - for humans' health is dependent on it - are watching you.  If you are bold enough to say no to fracking, and say YES to health, others will follow suit.

At the VERY least, I request that you maintain New York's Marcellus Shale gas extraction moratorium until your Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner, Dr. Nirav R. Shah, completes a comprehensive Public Health Impact Study of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF).  This study must document:

A: The broad spectrum of toxic and persistent pollutants generated by HVHF activities;
B: The environmental fate and transport mechanisms associated with the toxic and persistent pollutants generated by HVHF activities;
C: Known and potential public exposures to toxic and persistent HVHF pollutants, including: contaminant concentrations; exposure duration; an assessment of all potential public health consequences; and
D: Whether the Draft SGEIS adequately safeguards public health from HVHF toxic pollution threats. 

I write to you in solidarity with biologist Sandra Steingraber, a hero of mine.  Her work to protect the health of the Earth and the health of humans has been inspiring me for years.  She is in jail right now for blocking the path of an Inergy truck that was going to put toxic fracking waste in storage under Seneca Lake.  Her small and non-violent act of trespassing was an attempt to prevent a bigger, more dangerous act of trespass: the trespass of toxic, carcinogenic, endocrine-disrupting chemicals into our air, drinking water, and bodies.  Yes, I say "our" even though I live over 250 miles away from Seneca Lake and have never even been there, because toxic chemicals know no boundaries - DDT is found in mothers' breast milk today, despite being banned over 30 years ago.  There is virtually no body of water in the country in which Atrazine cannot be found.  The nuclear disaster in Japan resulted in radioactive milk in New England.  Everything is interconnected; it’s all one Earth.

I have friends and family in New York whose health and well-being I care about, and fracking would put them in danger.  I would like to be able to continue visiting New York, and buy food produced in New York, but I will be hesitant to do so if there is fracking going on, for I’ve already had cancer twice and I’m only 34.  Please keep New York healthy and safe by banning fracking, and by doing so, set an example for the rest of the country.

Thank you,


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