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As someone who has been actively concerned about food and water for almost half a century, I appreciate that Food & Water Watch is bringing accurate and important information to people spreading the word about issues that only a few of us used to be aware of.
Sanda Everette

Press Releases: Common Resources

Press Releases Found: 23
February 11, 2014

Supporters of Poultry Fair Share Act Challenge O’Malley’s Backing of Big Polluters in the Chesapeake Bay

Press Release: Proponents of the Poultry Fair Share Act today condemned Governor Martin O’Malley’s threat to veto the legislation that would require polluting factory farms to contribute to the clean up of the Chesapeake Bay. The groups speculate that O’Malley is bowing to agribusiness in his hopes of gaining critical support from farmers when he heads to Iowa as part of his presidential bid leading up to 2016 elections.

“Governor O’Malley is sorely mistaken if he thinks he’s going to come here to Iowa and get the support of our farming community because he refuses to hold companies like Perdue liable for their waste,” stated former president and current board member of the Iowa Farmers Union, Chris Petersen. “Companies like Perdue are no friend to real farmers, and neither are politicians like O’Malley who work to keep these big companies free from responsibility.”

A hearing for the Poultry Fair Share Act, introduced this year in the Maryland legislature is set for February 25 before the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. The bill, which would require the large Eastern Shore poultry companies to contribute their fair share to the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay, was introduced in both the House, by Delegate Shane Robinson, and in the Senate by Senator Richard Madaleno, but was pulled from House consideration after Governor O’Malley promised industry that he would veto any bill that asks them to contribute to Bay cleanup in the way that all citizens in Maryland do.

February 7, 2014

O’Malley Once Again Sides With Big Agribusiness Over Maryland’s Citizens

Statement: “In yet another clear indication that Governor Martin O’Malley cares more about big agribusiness than he does about the state’s citizens, he announced last night at the Taste of Maryland annual dinner that he would veto a bill now before the state legislature that would require the four Eastern Shore chicken companies to contribute to the cost of the Chesapeake Bay restoration.

“Governor O’Malley’s veto threat shows he’s more interested in votes in Iowa than he is in protecting the Chesapeake Bay. We know from the response agribusiness has had to this bill, they don’t want to debate their role in polluting the Bay. The Governor is trying to help them cut off that debate.

“In announcing his intent to veto the bill, O’Malley stated that he doesn’t subscribe to the “us vs. them” message that the tax would convey. However, during O’Malley’s seven years as Governor, he’s overseen the implementation of several taxes on Maryland’s citizens. Some of the taxes, like the PFSA, are designed to improve Bay water quality, including a doubling of the “flush tax” to $60 per year on households in the state for sewage and septic use and a “rain tax” on several counties and the City of Baltimore to help address runoff to the Bay. Obviously O’Malley is fine with the “us vs them” approach as long as the “them” are the working and middle class of Maryland who are footing the bill for Bay restoration and not his friends at Perdue.

“Gov. O’Malley’s press secretary Nina Smith stated that he was vetoing the bill to protect Maryland’s ‘number one industry. The false claim that agriculture is Maryland’s leading industry is used to fight off any reasonable effort to regulate the industry. A quick look at O’Malley’s own Department of Business & Economic Development website tells the real economic story of agriculture. In a list of industry contributors to the state’s Gross Domestic Product, agriculture ranks second to last at 0.2%, only above mining. And agriculture only ranks that high because its contributions are combined with those from forestry and fishing. On that same site, the agriculture industry doesn’t even show up on the list of highest employers in the state.

February 4, 2014

It’s the Poultry Industry’s Turn to Pay Their Fair Share

Senator Richard Madaleno (D-18) and Delegate Shane Robinson (D-39) introduced the Poultry Fair Share Act in the Senate and House respectively today. The legislation would hold Maryland’s big poultry companies, some of the biggest polluters of the Bay, partially accountable for their contribution to nutrient pollution in the Chesapeake Bay by requiring them to pay their fair share towards the necessary costs of Bay restoration.

Over the past several decades, the water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed has declined as factory chicken farms on Maryland’s Eastern Shore produce a billion and a half pounds of waste a year in this historic watershed. Since these big companies refuse to take any responsibility for the waste from its 300 million chickens on the Eastern Shore, their contract growers are forced to dump excess manure on already saturated farm fields, where it ends up in the Bay and its tributaries. As a result of this irresponsible behavior, agriculture is the largest contributor of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment to the Bay watershed.

“A healthy Bay is important to Maryland’s economy, and all Marylanders benefit from making the Bay cleaner,” said Senator Richard Madaleno. “So, it’s important that all major polluters of the Bay pay their fair share, and this legislation ensures that one of the biggest sources of pollution begins to do just that.”

“Poultry companies are polluting with impunity while the public pays for the cleanup,” said Delegate Shane Robinson. “Poultry corporations need to pay their fair share by contributing to the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund. It’s important that we all do our part to save the bay.”

January 17, 2014

Fisheries Research Should Not Become “Collateral Damage” of Trade Deal

Washington, D.C.—“Today, 9 members of Congress sent a letter to the United States Trade Representative to ensure that fisheries research does not become the unintended collateral damage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Trade Agreement.

Currently, the TPP is being negotiated in secret and includes some of the world’s biggest fish and seafood exporters (Vietnam, Malaysia, Canada, Mexico) and is designed so other nations can just join it in the future. Already the Philippines, China, South Korea, Thailand and India (and their tremendous fishing and aquaculture industries) have expressed interest in joining TPP.

TPP would eliminate all or nearly all tariffs on imported fish, which is just another reason to oppose fast track. Some of these tariffs are used to fund domestic fisheries research. Given the beating our fishermen already have taken from massive seafood imports, they don’t need this added injury.

Food & Water Watch heartily shares the Congress Members’ concerns that fisheries research will become the unintended collateral damage of TPP negotiations.”

January 9, 2014

Congressional Push for Fast Track Authority Threatens Basic Consumer Rights, Food Safety, Local Sovereignty

“With the introduction of fast track legislation today in the Senate and House of Representatives, the Obama Administration came a step closer to its goal to be allowed unchecked authority to promote trade deals that undermine basic consumer rights, food safety and local sovereignty. The President is seeking fast track authority in order to complete controversial trade deals including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the U.S.-EU Free Trade Agreement, which are actually corporate power grabs disguised as trade agreements.

“It’s deplorable that Congress would consider giving up their oversight role and allow the White House to push for an accelerated timetable for something as critical and far-reaching as the TPP. If Congress passes fast track, it would allow the President to set the terms for all future negotiations relating to trade deals, without any ability of Congress to amend the language.

“Fast track approval would pave the way for the TPP, which could have disastrous implications for American consumers. The TPP threatens the very essence of our democratic process by promoting privatization of public resources and corporate self-regulation. It would give companies the power to overrule local governing bodies on decisions about fracking, food safety, public health and the environment. Despite the far-reaching implications of these negotiations, the TPP has mostly been negotiated in secret. But over 600 official corporate ‘trade advisors’ are privy to the content in the agreements, even though Members of Congress, governors, state legislators, the media or the public haven’t had access to its text.

December 16, 2013
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D.C. District Court Fails on Pollution Trading: Clean Water Act Trading Lawsuit Dismissed Due to Burden of Proof

Washington, D.C.—Last Friday, a Washington, D.C. District Court dismissed a lawsuit brought by Food & Water Watch and Friends of the Earth that challenged the legality of water pollution trading under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The groups filed the lawsuit after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sanctioned water pollution trading in its December 2010 Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) as a mechanism for polluters to avoid meeting CWA permitting requirements. The legal action sought to have the practice declared illegal. Food & Water Watch is now considering an appeal of the court’s ruling.

The CWA requires point sources of pollution, including waste water treatment facilities and manufacturing plants, to limit their discharges based on strict, technology-based land water quality-based standards. EPA’s trading scheme turns that approach on its head, instead granting these facilities the right to purchase credits in lieu of meeting these standards.

Unfortunately, instead of addressing the legality of this “pay-to-pollute” system, the court dismissed the case on non-substantive grounds, claiming that Plaintiffs have not met their burden of showing that pollution trading has yet resulted in harm to people who live and recreate near facilities that purchase pollution credits.

January 28, 2013
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Groups File Notice Letter to Sue NRG Energy for Massive Pollution

Press Release: Today Food & Water Watch, Patuxent Riverkeeper and Potomac Riverkeeper – represented by Public Justice and Columbia University School of Law Environmental Law Clinic – announced the filing of a Clean Water Act notice of intent to sue the energy company NRG Energy, Inc. for water pollution violations at three of its coal-fired power plants—violations revealed in documents obtained by Food & Water Watch. The groups allege that the company has been and continues to be in violation of its nitrogen discharge limits at the Chalk Point, Dickerson and Morgantown facilities. In addition, the groups, all headquartered in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, allege that the Dickerson plant is also in violation of its phosphorus discharge limits. The documents also reveal that NRG is engaged in a complex system of credit swapping and offsets among the three plants.

“It’s critical to enforce the Clean Water Act to the letter if we want a clean Bay,” said Michele Merkel at Food & Water Watch. “Here we have three sources of pollution who are unable to meet their discharge limits, so instead of upgrading their technology, they’re attempting to mask their violations by entering into a convoluted scheme of credit transfers and offsets. None of those maneuvers, however, changes the fact that these facilities are exceeding their permit limits.”

Under the Clean Water Act, “point source” facilities like NRG’s power plants operate with permits that limit the maximum amount of pollution each plant can discharge. These limits are designed to minimize harm to local waterways while motivating industries to implement technological upgrades to reduce discharges. Each of NRG’s three power plants are permitted to discharge nitrogen in the hundreds of pounds, but recent discharge monitoring reports Food & Water Watch obtained under a Maryland Public Information Act request show nitrogen discharges in the several thousands of pounds. In the case of Chalk Point, which is permitted to discharge just 329 pounds of nitrogen each year, the reports show discharges of over 14,000 pounds in 2010 and 2011 combined – exceeding the legal limits by almost 2200 percent.

January 16, 2013

Cashing Out Our Clean Air and Water with Pollution Trading

Pollution Trading: Cashing Out Our Clean Air and Water documents government-sanctioned pollution reduction programs that provide a market place for trading credit allotments in an effort to offset harmful discharges. But these mechanisms don’t deter industrial pollution. In fact, they give companies an opportunity to pay and trade for the “right” to pollute.

July 20, 2012

Agricultural Offsets Won’t Improve California’s Cap-and-Trade Program

Media Statement: The recent news that American Carbon Registry approved a new methodology for estimating nitrous oxide (N20) emissions from fertilizer application in agriculture renews our concern that California is considering allowing agricultural offsets in its carbon cap-and-trade program. Allowing these offsets would make an already risky program even worse for the residents of California.

June 22, 2012
Filed in:

The UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio Takes 20 Steps Back

“For the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (CSD) wrapping up today in Rio de Janeiro, 20 years has sadly not meant progress on critical environmental issues that affect our food and water and our communities that depend on vital common resources. In fact, the only sector that progressed at Rio+20 was the private sector. Corporations are more entrenched than ever before in the UN process.

“By our rough count in the final document that heads of state will consider today, the concept of the ‘public sector’ was mentioned 11 times in comparison to the ‘private sector,’ which was mentioned 20 times. Clearly, this is an indication of priorities. Conference organizers of UN-hosted events handed key panelist positions to Nestlé, Aquafed, Unilever, Dow Chemical and other major corporations, while Coca-Cola, Petrobras and others, put their sponsorship signage on tables, chairs and banners throughout the conference.

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