August, 2011 | Food & Water Watch
Victory! Farm Bureau case challenging EPA’s right to share factory farm data dismissed. more wins »


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Blog Posts: August 2011

August 31st, 2011

Fair Farm Bill Tour 2011: Stories From the Road

From across the country, stories and pictures have been pouring in. Typically, the cow suits get all the attention, but our organizers are meeting fascinating people who are accomplishing amazing feats in the world of food. Their stories are truly inspiring. Find out what’s happening along the Fair Farm Bill campaign trail. These are just a sample of the conversations we’re having as we continue to cover 20 states in 34 days. Keep checking back with us, and be sure to visit our event page on Facebook and check out our gallery photos.

Read the full article…

Confused About Fracking? The American Enterprise Institute’s Disinformation Campaign may be the Cause.

By Hugh MacMillan

It is in the public’s best interest to dissect the claims of industry—and their backers—and get to the roots of what is known and what is unknown about shale gas development.

High-volume hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is making it possible to extract natural gas from rock formations deep underground. Many sing its praises. Many do not. Then there are those that just try to confuse policymakers and the general public alike by spewing false information. With so many contradictory reports out there on natural gas, it’s sometimes nearly impossible to tell fact from fiction.

Fear not, we’re here to help.

Among those creating the confusion is Jon Entine of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), whose recent blog “More Questionable Reporting About the Dangers of Shale Gas” degrades public understanding of fracking.

AEI is, of course, an influential right-wing think tank to which the media (for better or worse) pays attention. It has a long history of taking money from corporations to promote the free-market, deregulatory agenda of big business, and a history of falsely undermining climate science.

Exxon Mobil, now the largest producer of natural gas in the United States, is in AEI’s “Corporate Leadership Circle,” having donated over $200,000 last year. So, Entine’s arguments are really questionable at best. Read the full article…

Does Dick Cheney Regret The Halliburton Loophole?

By Rich Bindell

Former Vice President Dick Cheney is promoting his new book with no regrets. Photo by David Bohrer.

In various interviews conducted to promote his book, In My Time—hitting stores this week—former Vice President Dick Cheney has expressed a no regrets, no remorse attitude regarding his two-term stint as Vice President, particularly about controversial topics like waterboarding and the basis for going to war. But, what about his horrible energy policy, specifically the Halliburton Loophole? Does he regret that decision?

Before his stint as Vice President, Cheney was the CEO of Halliburton, the corporation credited with inventing hydraulic fracturing. He played a critical role in exempting fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act and establishing an environment where the oil and gas industry could operate protected from regulations and fines that would have required higher standards of safety when it came to protecting our drinking water from dangerous chemicals. Read the full article…

August 26th, 2011

Worried about Triclosan? Don’t Rely on the Feds to Do Much About it (For Now)

By Kate Fried

In my time working for Food & Water Watch I’ve learned quite a bit about the risks posed to consumers through the products we use everyday. It’s also taught me that the government can’t always be trusted to keep us safe, and that products sometimes enter stores before it’s been proven that they won’t mess up our endocrine systems or cause us to develop cancer. Those of you who have been following our triclosan campaign may appreciate this too.

Recently, word surfaced that the Food and Drug Administration, which has been reviewing safety concerns relating to triclosan since April of 2010, will extend its assessment of the chemical after several animal studies have shown that it may disrupt hormone levels and cause antibiotic resistance. Read the full article…

Tweets for Tap Water Included in Hurricane Irene Preparation

By Royelen Lee Boykie

Follow Us on Twitter (@foodandwater)

Follow Us on Twitter (@foodandwater)

As the east coast prepares for Hurricane Irene, your tweets on tap water versus bottled water are inspiring me, entertaining me and then there are those that are maddening. You’ll be able to tell which is which.

As seen on Twitter:

@bryandunn: Man, Big Bottled Water must love hurricanes.

@annaborchert: For reals RT @seantacts Buying all the bottled water in the city doesn’t prepare you for a storm it only profits the bottling company

Read the full article…

August 25th, 2011

Can Fracking Cause Earthquakes? What About a Zombie Apocalypse?

By Rich Bindell

Gas companies in Pennsylvania have signed leases for land that includes cemeteries. Should we be worried about a zombie apocalypse? Photo by Petr Novák and used according to Wikipedia rules of permission.

While some are speculating that Tuesday’s earthquake was caused by fracking, maybe we should be more concerned that fracking could potentially cause another type of disruption. Since energy companies are banking on serious output from gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale region, they are going to extraordinary lengths to lease land wherever they can find it, even if the acreage includes businesses, homes or, as we found out recently: cemeteries.

Since most gas companies refuse to divulge the chemicals they use in the fracking process, we can only speculate as to what types of apocalyptic effects they could have on a cemetery. This begs the question: do we need to worry about fracking causing a zombie apocalypse? It’s happened before in the region. Read the full article…

Governor Christie Blew It: A One-Year Moratorium is a Disappointment

By Rich Bindell

The New Jersey Legislature can override Governor Christie's conditional veto of the fracking ban. Click on the photo to take action!

Just moments ago, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie surprised many when he conditionally vetoed a fracking ban that was approved by the State Legislature earlier this summer and instead called for a one-year moratorium on fracking in the Garden State, potentially ruining New Jersey’s chance to become the first state to ban fracking. This completed a roller coaster of a day for water advocates closely following the situation in New Jersey.

As of this morning, it looked like Governor Christie was going to propose a five-year moratorium on fracking instead of signing the ban. This decision was met with mixed emotions. Although it would have fallen short of an outright ban, this would have been considered a victory that spared New Jersey from the dangers of fracking in the near future and bought another five years to prove even more conclusively that this was the right decision, possibly pushing the state to commit to a ban. Read the full article…

August 24th, 2011

What Happens to Water Infrastructure in an Earthquake?

By Rich Bindell

While everyone was checking in on Twitter and Facebook to confirm whether or not we had actually experienced an earthquake — and not Congress breaking out into a big brawl — I was listening to the sounds of emergency vehicle sirens and wondering what kind of damage was sustained throughout the city. After pondering what might have happened to office buildings, monuments, our underground train system and the animals at the National Zoo, I started thinking about our water infrastructure. What would happen to our pipes in an earthquake? Does the water utility have to check the entire system? How do they keep track of this stuff?

Conveniently, a colleague shared an article the other day about a Virginia Tech professor who is doing just that — keeping track of our nation’s water infrastructure. Virginia Tech News reports that Sunil Sinha, an associate professor of of civil and environmental engineering and an expert on sustainable water infrastructure management systems, has been developing a database to keep track of information pertaining to the functionality of our water systems. Read the full article…

August 19th, 2011

This Week in Fracking: Beware the Messenger

By Rich Bindell

Yesterday, The Washington Post published an opinion piece on shale gas that was written by John Deutch. The tone of Deutch’s writing might suggest that he was attempting to bridge the gap between the supporters and protestors of fracking, a chasm made larger by varying degrees of mistrust for industry practices when it comes to the environment and public health. But sending in a messenger like Deutch and including him in the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board Subcommittee to convince people that fracking can be responsibly regulated is exactly why this mistrust continues to build — he is both an academic swayed by industry and a profiteering board member of one of its companies.

John Deutch is currently an Institute Professor at MIT in the same department that produced an industry-influenced study on fracking’s environmental impacts just a few short months ago. He also sits on the board of Cheniere Energy, where, according to the Environmental Working Group, he made $882,000 between 2006 and 2009. Is this the person we want promoting “cooperation between industry and regulators on a new commitment to data-driven best practices that will lead to a continuous improvement in environmental outcomes?” Read the full article…

August 17th, 2011

Recycling is a Bottled Beverage’s Best Friend

By Rich Bindell

Did you know that we have a Senate Recycling Caucus? The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) recently offered their support to the co-chairs of the Senate Recycling Caucus who are behind US Senate Resolution 251, a “sense of the Senate resolution” that allows senators to vote for support of recycling, without actually taking any steps to support it.

The IBWA, who represents the bottled water industry — itself responsible for the production of millions of plastic bottles every year — believes that recycling is “the best method of cost-effectively diverting solid waste from landfills….” Given that recycling is a post-consumer response to the problem posed by the millions of plastic bottles produced and sold every year, it’s not surprising the IBWA and its members take this position. It absolves them of responsibility and allows them to continue to profit from the production of the bottles.

So, of course, the IBWA pushes recycling programs. It takes the burden of cost away from their industry and thrusts it upon local taxpayers. We pay for curbside recycling programs to cart away these bottles, away from our eyesight and consumer consciousness.

The IBWA also embraces recycling programs so they can convince consumers that bottled water is an eco-friendly beverage option — just grab a bottle of water while you’re on the go and drop it in a recycling bin that’s convenient for you. But recycling bottled water requires energy, even if we don’t think about it after we drop that bottle in the bin. That’s the difference between what’s immediately convenient for us as individuals versus what’s incredibly destructive and inconvenient for an entire society further on up the road. Read the full article…

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