To all Oregon Safe Drinking Water Advocates,
Our heartfelt thanks to all who participated Wednesday in the SB 99 hearing, both as speakers and friendly faces in the crowd offering support. I think we can congratulate ourselves on a strong, effective showing in opposition to SB 99. While the chair, Senator Fisher, was clearly invested in retaining his pro-fluoridation point of view, he did allow everyone to speak without a time limit, extending the hearing past 5pm. For that, I have thanked him.
Our terrific lineup included the following:
– Jeff Green, Director of Citizens for Safe Drinking Water
– Hardy Limeback, BSc, PhD, DDS, researcher, practicing dentist and Head of Preventive Dentistry, University of Toronto
– Ann Durrant, DC, Vice President, Oregon Doctors of Chiropractic
– Eric Dover, MD, family physician, member Physicians for Social Responsibility
– Paul Engelking, PhD, professor of chemistry, University of Oregon
– Mary O’Brien, Ecosystem Projects Director, Science and Environmental Health Network
– Travis Williams, Executive Director, Willamette Riverkeeper
– Rhett Lawrence, Environmental Advocate, toxics and clean water, OSPIRG
– Sandy Duffy, municipal lawyer
– Frank Gearheart, President, Citizens Interested in Bull Run, Inc.
– Michael Framson, citizen
– Miriam Green, citizen
– Lynne Campbell, coordinator, Oregon Citizens for Safe Drinking Water
Also testifying in opposition were numerous city and county officials. These included:
* The League of Oregon Cities, concerned that SB 99 “erodes local decision making” and does not provide for ongoing and equipment replacement costs
* The Oregon Utility Council, which said it would support any decision as long as the decision was made locally
* The City of Portland (in written testimony), commenting on a long history of voting fluoridation down and expressing concern about the high cost of necessary chemicals to compensate for fluoride‘s depression of water pH
* The Special Districts Association of Oregon, declaring that fluoridation should be decided on by “locally elected officials and their constituents”
* The Eugene Water and Electricity Board, whose director presented personal views in opposition, stating that they needed to be providing quality water, not delivering medicinal substances
* The Medford Water Commission, which felt that this was a decision to be made at the local level
The most surprising testimony came from House representative Dr. Alan Bates (Democrat, Eagle Point). You could feel the honesty, integrity and sense of surprise in his statement. New to looking at credible opposing documentation, he sounded apologetic, saying he would have liked to support SB 99, that certainly up until a few weeks ago he would have, but based on recently shared information from fellow physicians, he now had profound questions about fluoridation. He said he’d been searching for “outcome” studies and hadn’t been able to find any. He felt he could no longer comfortably say that fluoridation is safe and urged senators to proceed with extreme caution.
Opposing testimony probably outnumbered supporting testimony by approximately two to one. Supporters tended to cover similar ground, expressing concern with the difficult consequences of untreated decay in children, and asserting that fluoridation is a safe, effective, economical means of preventing caries, endorsed by many health-related and health-professional-trade organizations.
Special thanks to Emily Kalweit, coordinator of Washington State Citizens for Safe Drinking Water, and Robyn McGlade, who were on hand to help out…passing out “SAFE WATER” tags to wear, turning in testimony, setting up the “food show,” which gave senators a quick visual of fluoride content in numerous commonly purchased foods, and preparing a great dinner for Jeff, Dr. Limeback, and me the night before. Additional thanks to Maureen Jones, of San Jose, who made and highlighted a zillion copies of supporting documentation which she shipped up to us under deadline, and to John MacArthur, of Bend, for his editing skills on written testimony, applied at the eleventh hour.
Truly a concerted effort, it is both heartwarming and exciting to see the connections being made and to feel the collective power we have to make a difference in protecting this most precious resource of ours — our water.