WTF?! What the Frack?!


10Normally, we’d applaud any funding in support of a reputable breast cancer prevention organization. But we find this disturbingly odd.

Baker Hughes, a $22 billion a year company that makes equipment used in fracking, has donated $100,000 to the Susan G. Komen Foundation to promote breast cancer awareness. Fracking involves drilling deep wells and then shooting a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals into the ground to extract natural gas. Chemicals used in fracking have been linked to cancer and other serious health problems, and many communities near fracking sites say that their water is contaminated by fracking chemicals.

Somewhere along the way, a thousand of Baker’s drill bits got painted pink to symbolize their commitment to Komen’s mission.

Yeah, pink drill bits.

A number of non-profit groups, including Breast Cancer Action (BCA), have cried foul. BCA called the collusion between Baker and Komen the most egregious example of “pinkwashing” they’ve ever seen, noting that “Baker Hughes helps fuel breast cancer while Komen raises millions of dollars to try to cure it.”

On the other side, the industry argues that the pink drill bits aren’t used in fracking (because drilling doesn’t count as fracking—even though you can’t frack without drilling first. This is like a dentist saying getting a filling doesn’t hurt but, whoops, you didn’t ask about the drilling!), and that, by the way, the link between fracking and cancer has been debunked. Surely this dispute will rage for minutes, if not hours.

Fracking, chemicals and Komen

Despite numerous controversies, many people continue to view the Susan G. Komen Foundation as a brand that has stood for supporting women with this terrible disease. Fracking is relatively new, but there is no dispute that exposure to chemicals used in fracking pose serious health risks, and our work has exposed how fracking can be especially harmful to women and children (even the Komen website lists “Common chemicals that may be associated with breast cancer,” including several chemicals that are used in fracking).

In our view, the Susan G. Komen Foundation showed poor judgment in allowing a company involved in potentially cancer causing activities to leverage their brand.

Why Should You Care

Too many corporations donate a few bucks to nonprofit health organizations to cover up the fact that their multi-billion dollar operations are built on polluting practices that put our health at risk. Call it greenwashing, pinkwashing, or just plain hypocrisy: either way, it’s critical to hold corporations accountable for unsafe practices, and not let them off the hook because they pose as generous philanthropists.

What You Can Do

Join BCA in calling on the Komen Foundation to end their relationship with Baker Hughes and take a stand against fracking. It’s a little (pink) bit you can do to help stop pinkwashing.