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Press Releases: Common Resources

Press Releases Found: 23
April 16, 2015

Same Old Fast Track Would Unravel Consumer Protections

Today, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) introduced their Fast Track trade promotion legislation (The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, TPA-2015) that includes provisions that would weaken consumer protections, undermine U.S. food safety standards and prevent commonsense food labeling. The legislation is nearly identical to the measure Senator Hatch introduced last year that failed to garner Congressional approval. It replicates the provisions of Fast Track bills from bygone eras (in 1991 and 2002 in the buildup to NAFTA and CAFTA) and deprives Congress of its constitutionally mandated role in setting U.S. policy in a more complex international commercial landscape.

“Congress should reject this retrograde Fast Track trade legislation that is designed to usher in the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership – a trade deal that is a raw deal for consumers,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “The fine print in Fast Track contains an all-out attack on America’s consumer protection and food safety laws.”

The legislation dismisses the importance of food safety and consumer protection in trade negotiations, although unsafe imported foods and products have deluged consumers over the past twenty years of corporate-driven globalization. The bill specifically only allows trade negotiators to “take into account” (not “obtain” or “ensure”) the “legitimate health or safety [and] consumer interests,” relegating these safeguards to second class status behind mandatory objectives for business interests and allowing unelected trade negotiators to decide which U.S. consumer protections are “legitimate” (Sec. 2(a)(13)).

December 16, 2014

EPA, USDA, and the White House Team Up to Promote Bad Nutrient Trading Program in VA

“Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the White House Council on Environmental Quality have mistakenly put their faith in a voluntary, market-based trading scheme in Virginia that will do little to actually reduce pollution. Our government agencies have relied on voluntary programs for agriculture to clean up the Bay and other waterways for 40 years, yet agriculture remains the number one source of nutrient pollution. Instead of relying on an unproven, voluntary nutrient credit trading program, EPA, USDA and the White House would be better off by implementing and enforcing laws that already exist, including the Clean Water Act.

“Food & Water Watch has reviewed similar nutrient trading programs in the Chesapeake Bay region and the Ohio River Basin. In every case, these schemes have allowed polluters to avoid compliance with the law while paying farmers for pollution reductions that are never properly verified. We expect the program in Virginia to be no different.”

September 11, 2014

Senate Chooses Corporate Interests Over People

Today, a minority of the Senate voted down the Udall Amendment, along with a chance to minimize the influence of money in our politics. In defeating the Udall Amendment, these senators chose to side with the Koch Brothers and sent a loud message to American voters that the true voice in politics belongs to those with big coffers.

June 2, 2014
Filed in:

EPA’s Carbon Rule Falls Short of Real Emissions Reduction

“On the heels of two telling reports from the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) and the National Climate Assessment detailing the substantial negative impacts from climate change around the world, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) decision to incorporate emissions trading and offsetting in their new carbon dioxide rule undermines its ability to deliver the real reductions in carbon emissions so urgently needed.

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.

January 28, 2013
Filed in:

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.

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