HYDRAULIC FRACTURING (FRACKING)
Joy Horowitz, author of PARTS PER MILLION: The Poisoning of Beverly Hills High School, has
documented in vivid detail how commercial interests can triumph over medical science and destroy
community protest. Neither parental opposition, nor toxic tort litigation has interrupted or slowed the
extraction of oil from beneath the playing fields and classrooms of Beverly Hills High School. As the
facts begin to surface in this well researched and engrossing volume, it becomes apparent that
industrial drilling operations on the campus of this prestigious school have exposed generations of
students and staff to hazardous levels of toxic chemicals.
Ms. Horowitz was raised in Beverly Hills and attended Beverly Hills High School. After learning that
many of her former classmates, teachers, and neighbors had been diagnosed with lymphoma and
thyroid disease, Ms. Horowitz embarked upon a courageous personal journey.
Utilizing her professional skills as an investigative journalist, she began a review of the toxins released
by industrial drilling and studied the available data from research institutes and medical centers. She
conducted hundreds of interviews with alumni and patients. She spoke at length with school and city
officials and industry personnel -- many of whom were evasive, or dismissive of scientific data. Soon
it became apparent there would be no acknowledgment from the oil industry, or from city or school
officials, that hazardous drilling operations on the campus of Beverly Hills High School may be
contributing to high rates of morbidity and mortality in Beverly Hills.
When a concerned and informed group, consisting of former students, patients and resident families
initiated toxic tort litigation, a defiant and well-organized defense team re-interpreted public testimony
and discounted a body of scientific research -- a strategy which not only influenced dismissal of the
cases, but effectively demoralized the plaintiffs by casting doubt and uncertainty upon their claims.
Drained of energy and momentum, a vigorous and well- organized community protest was quickly
reduced to a murmur, and soon a notable silence.
The universality of this theme can be observed in small towns and large cities across the country where
geographically based epidemics of illness and cancer are observed and recorded by courageous
investigators who subsequently find that relevant medical evidence has been distorted, or obscured by
official disinformation and corporate denial. When the courts rule in favor of special interests and
corporations purchase public approval through the distribution of royalties, or other benefits, a
polarization often occurs which divides friends and neighbors and discourages further debate and
After reading PARTS PER MILLION, Board members of the Environmental Relief Center debated how
best to honor Joy Horowitz for her elegant prose and heroic determination to share her story. In
the style of Silent Spring (Rachel Carson's expose of the chemical industry and the excessive
production and marketing of hazardous pesticides), the vulnerability of those who have been victimized
by the reckless operations of industry has been extensively and carefully documented by Ms. Horowitz.
Recognition of Ms. Horowitz, as our ENVIRONMENTAL HERO for 2008, continues the tradition of
publicly honoring those who have stood firm in defending the truth, and whose personal contribution
has helped to reverse tragic patterns of illness and loss of life. History tells us such heroic efforts
have effectively turned the tide of local passivity and hopelessness. Within this tradition, we believe
heroes are ubiquitous in their local communities, frequently serving as primary catalysts in alerting
others to reckless land-use decisions and the resulting environmental hazards and degradation which
are known to impact public health and destroy lives.
Barry Siegel, Author, and Pulitzer Prize-winning director of the Literary Journalism Program at U.C.
Irvine, states in his review of PARTS PER MILLION that Joy Horowitz raises important alarms in her "
fierce, penetrating and vibrant challenge ... wisely telling all of us to be aware -- and to care." Here,
at The Environmental Relief Center, we view " caring" as one of the defining characteristics
of a hero. We are proud to have chosen JOY HOROWITZ as our ENVIRONMENTAL HERO for 2008.
PLEASE NOTE: Not long ago, Ms. Horowitz was interviewed on, ALOUD, a local program filmed at the Los
Angeles Public Library. Her intelligence, technical knowledge, and subjective reflections profoundly
moved a large audience. The videotaped presentation can be viewed at www.joyhorowitz.com. Click on
"Appearances" and enter"Joy Horowitz" in the search window.
For an in-depth report on the toxins and compounds emitted by the extraction, refining, and use of fossil
fuels, please visit the Natural Resources Defense Council, w.w.w.nrdc.org/policy/reports.asp, for their study
entitled, DRILLING DOWN.
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