Quantcast

Pinkwashing: Fracking Company Teams Up With Susan G. Komen to 'End Breast Cancer Forever'

Insights + Opinion

TAKE ACTION: Tell Susan G. Komen Don’t Frack With Our Health

What do you get when you cross a breast cancer charity with a frack job?

The answer is the image below, which, as I am writing, is going epidemically viral.

It’s hard to stop staring in utter baffled amazement. Is it some kind of … phallic cyborg?

The opening scene of a yet another sequel to Tremors? (Kevin Bacon! Nevada! Subterranean, worm-like, cross-dressing graboid!)

A sex toy from hell?

In fact, it’s all these things and more. Susan G. Komen, the largest breast cancer organization in America with more than 100,000 volunteers and partnerships in more than 50 countries, has teamed up with Baker Hughes, one of the world’s largest oilfield service companies with employees in more than 80 countries. Susan G. Komen hands out pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness, and Baker Hughes fracks. So, there you have it: a pink, fracking, drill head.

That’s Susan G. Komen pink, by the way. It’s special. Like John Deere green. And that signature color has been painted by hand on a thousand drill bits, which will soon be shipped by Baker Hughes to well pads all over the world, thus facilitating a thousand fossil fuel extraction projects just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Which is this month. (But please don’t confuse Baker Hughes pink drill bits with Chesapeake Energy’s “even-rigs-can-rally-for-a-cure” pink drill rigs. That was so 2012).

I am not making this up. Read more about the Komen/Baker Hughes frack-for-the-cure effort here. Watch a little promotional video about it here.  And then share the contents of your heart with Susan G. Komen headquarters: right over here.

As the story explains, when the pink drill bits are shipped in their boxes (and, yes, the boxes are pink, too), they come packed with information about “breast health facts, breast cancer risk factors and screening tips.”

And exactly whose breast cancer awareness quotient will be bolstered out there on the well pad? Inside the trailers and the trucks? Down on the drilling floor? Up on the derrick?

“The hope is that the roughneck who cracks open that container learns a little more about the disease that afflicts 200,000 women per year.”

Here’s what I’m wagering that roughneck does not learn from the literature shipped with his drill bit this October: I’m betting he does not read about the recent study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that found dangerous levels of benzene in the urine of workers in the unconventional (aka fracking) oil and gas industry. Benzene is a proven human carcinogen.

According to Bernard Goldstein, MD, toxicologist and former dean at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health, “These workers are at higher risk for leukemia. The longer, the more frequently they do this, the more likely they are to get leukemia particularly if the levels are high.”

Read page 1

In addition to leukemia, benzene is also a suspected cause of, well, breast cancer.

Benzene exposure is known to induce breast cancer in laboratory animals and is modestly associated with breast cancer among women. But the best evidence we have for the benzene-breast cancer link comes from studies of young male workers exposed on the job. Male breast cancer is clearly linked to occupational exposure to benzene.

So, maybe those pamphlets really will come in handy in the man camps.

The carcinogenic dangers of fracking begin at the job site and extend far beyond. They include silica dust (a lung carcinogen); volatile organic air pollutants (linked to lymphoma); radioactive wastes, such as radon and radium (lung and breast cancers again); and drinking water contaminants, such as arsenic and brominated byproducts (both bladder carcinogens). Indeed, cancer hazards are present at every stage of the drilling, fracking, processing, and distribution process.

Researchers at the University of Colorado School of Public Health found higher excess cancer risks in people living within a half-mile of drilling and fracking operations than people living further away.

But I’ll guess that particular study is not packed in the box with the drill bit and the cancer screening tips.

So, here’s a message from me to America’s biggest breast cancer charity:

Susan G. Komen, it’s time to stop taking money from the frackers and come home. Your roots—as well as my own—are in central Illinois. (I grew up near Peoria. And so did the woman named Susan, in whose memory the organization was created. And so did her sister Nancy who founded it).

While your pink drill bits are multiplying on social media, here’s an image from Illinois that’s also enjoying a bit of traction. Take a look: more than 100 people pack a county board meeting last night in objection to plans to drill for oil in McLean County. The signs they hold: “Not one permit.”

More than 100 people pack a Bloomington, Illinois county board meeting last night in objection to plans to drill for oil in McLean County. The signs they hold read: “Not one permit.”

Here is the vision statement that your $100,000 donor, Baker Hughes, distributes to the world:

“We are looking forward to the next 100 years of working side by side with our customers to continue expanding the limits of oil, gas and alternative energy drilling, completion and production ...”

Meanwhile, back in your home and mine, folks are hunkered down in the fight of their lives against fracking and are messaging under the banners #NoDrilling and #ClimateChange.

Those are the hashtags of awareness—enough for this month and all the rest to follow.

All together, it’s the beginning of the cure we’ve been racing after.

Sandra Steingraber, PhD is a biologist, a cancer survivor, and co-founder of Concerned Health Professionals of New York. She is author of Living Downstream: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment, also an award-winning film.

YOU MIGHT ALSO L IKE:

Tell Starbucks to Serve Only Organic Milk From Cows Not Fed GMOs

Poisoned Fracking Playgrounds a Threat to Texas Kids

Who Killed the Vote on Fracking and Squashed Democracy?

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Tim P. Whitby / 21st Century Fox / Getty Images

The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.

Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.

The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.

Read More Show Less
A protest march against the Line 3 pipeline in St. Paul, Minnesota on May 18, 2018. Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

By Collin Rees

We know that people power can stop dangerous fossil fuel projects like the proposed Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline in Minnesota, because we've proved it over and over again — and recently we've had two more big wins.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Scientists released a study showing that a million species are at risk for extinction, but it was largely ignored by the corporate news media. Danny Perez Photography / Flickr / CC

By Julia Conley

Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.

Read More Show Less
DoneGood

By Cullen Schwarz

Ethical shopping is a somewhat new phenomenon. We're far more familiar with the "tried and tested" methods of doing good, like donating our money or time.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

Summer is fast approaching, which means it's time to stock up on sunscreen to ward off the harmful effects of sun exposure. Not all sunscreens are created equally, however.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Mark Wallheiser / Getty Images

The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.

Read More Show Less
Flooding in Winfield, Missouri this month. Jonathan Rehg / Getty Images

President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.

"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.

Read More Show Less
Reed Hoffmann / Getty Images

Violent tornadoes tore through Missouri Wednesday night, killing three and causing "extensive damage" to the state's capital of Jefferson City, The New York Times reported.

"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."

Read More Show Less