ITHACA –Ecologist and environmental activist Sandra Steingraber was named the 2012 Person of the Year by the sustainability website Treehugger. Steingraber, a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Ithaca College has spent her career turning a spotlight on the link between cancer and environmental contamination.
Treehugger cited Steingraber’s use of her background as a cancer survivor to become a leader in the anti-fracking movement. Fracking is a controversial drilling technique that uses huge quantities of chemicals and water to break up natural gas deposits locked in shale rock.
“Working to abolish fracking in New York is part of the larger struggle to free our nation from its ruinous dependency on fossil fuels,” Steingraber said in a statement released by Ithaca College. “It’s the animating issue of our time. It’s an honor to be part of this movement and a thrill to be recognized by TreeHugger for it. And Governor Cuomo, we want you by our side.”
Steingraber and other activists are urging Cuomo to ban fracking in the state. They claim the chemicals used in hydrofracturing process release hazardous materials and increases air pollution through high levels of truck travel, as well as contaminating water sources.
The biologist is featured in the documentary “Dear Governor Cuomo,” and helped create the website 30 Days of Fracking Regs, which provides information to help citizens craft comments to the State Department of Environmental Conservation on draft fracking regulations.
Along with being an activist, Steingraber has also written several books, including “Living Downstream: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment.” In 2011 she received the Heinz Award, given for significant achievements benefitting the environment. The environmentalist has also won the Rachel Carson Leadership Award and the Environmental Health Champion Award from Physicians for Social Responsibility.
Previous TreeHugger Person of the Year recipients include primate researcher Jane Goodall, climate change activist Tim DeChristopher and oceanographer Sylvia Earle.