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March 26th, 2015

Fracking Company Sues for Access to Ohio Town’s Water

By Alison Auciello

UnknownHere in Ohio, the fracking industry can get water from just about anywhere for their thirsty drilling endeavors. Apparently, that’s still not enough for this water-intensive industry. Yesterday, the Oklahoma-based Gulfport Energy sued Barnesville, Ohio to bully them into allowing continued withdrawals from the Slope Creek Reservoir.

The fracking process uses up to 4.1 million gallons per gas well, and 2 million gallons per oil well, and that number is expected to grow. This intensive water use, combined with Ohio’s dry fall, would not leave enough water for Barnesville residents. That’s why officials stopped water withdrawals for any other purposes besides municipal use last fall due to abnormally low water levels. As Village Solicitor Marlin Harper told Think Progress, “We felt like we had to shut everyone off to protect the regular users…” because “We don’t have unlimited water.”

There is no shortage of options for oil and gas companies in terms of buying water. And thanks to multiple sweetheart deals with the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD), oil and gas companies can purchase it on the cheap. Out-of-state companies have purchased hundreds of millions of gallons of water over the last couple of years from reservoirs in the largest watershed within Ohio’s borders. This year, frackers plan to take billions of gallons from the Muskingum Watershed at the rate of less than ten dollars per 1,000 gallons.

The special treatment for fracking companies must end, especially when it means depriving people of water. The water crisis in Toledo last summer should be warning enough of the importance of access to water, and Barnesville took a step to avoid their own crisis and stood up for their citizens when they put their drinking water first.

We can recognize when the industry uses scare tactics and expensive legal action to feed their insatiable greed for profit, and we stand with Barnesville. We can only hope that the judge puts an end to this legal assault on the community’s water and throws the case out.

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March 25th, 2015

Monsanto Wants to Keep You in The DARK

By Wenonah Hauter WenonahHauter.Profile

In the absence of a federal requirement to label GMOs, food activists have taken matters into their own hands, passing labeling laws in Vermont, Maine and Connecticut and putting the issue on the ballot in California, Washington, Colorado and Oregon. Big Food and its friends in the biotechnology industry haven’t liked this one bit, and have spent over $80 million over the past several years to defeat GMO labeling ballot initiatives. Read the full article…

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A Mega-Merger Too Far: Kraft Foods-H.J Heinz Announce Merger

By Patrick Woodall Ketchup_Kid

Do you like ketchup with your mac and cheese? H.J. Heinz and Kraft sure appear to. This morning, processed food powerhouse Kraft Foods and ketchup kingpin H.J. Heinz announced a merger that will create the world’s 5th largest food company. The post-merger company would sell $28 billion worth of food annually and control eight brands with sales over $1 billion and five more brands with sales between $500 million and $1 billion. Read the full article…

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March 24th, 2015

Bonnie Raitt: Taking A Stand Against Fracking

By Bonnie Raitt, Musician and Activist

1503_FBSq_RaittQuote-C1I’ve been involved in many movements for social justice in my lifetime, from opposing destructive fossil fuel and nuclear energy projects, to standing up for human rights and music royalty reform. As a founding member of Musicians United for Safe Energy, I feel that one of the most critical environmental issues of our time is banning fracking everywhere because it destroys our water, our communities and our planet.

Food & Water Watch has partnered with Movement Music Records to put out a compilation record, “Buy This Fracking Album,” that 22 artists (including myself) have provided tracks to in an effort to spread the word about the dangers of fracking.

Can you help support the “Fracking Album” project to help build the movement to ban fracking?

Food & Water Watch has been a national leader in the movement to ban fracking. They were the first national group to call for a ban on fracking everywhere, and they’ve been working with communities all across the country to pass local bans, and do the hard work to hold elected officials accountable in order to keep our drinking water safe from this dangerous practice.

Art and music play a vital role in building and strengthening social change movements, and “Buy This Fracking Album” will follow in that tradition with your support! There are more than 20 artists, and hundreds of others involved in this project who all believe in this cause and want to help get the message out through our music, but we need your help to get this project into the world.

Can you help amplify the work for a national ban on fracking by supporting this new music project?

In addition to my song, this album includes music from artists including:

-Pete Seeger
-Natalie Merchant
-Michael Franti
-John Butler Trio
-Rusted Root
-DJ Logic and friends
-Josh Fox (“Gasland”)
-Indigo Girls
-Anti Flag
-Marco Benevento
-Tom Chapin
-Meshell Ndegeocello and many more!

All of the songs have been donated, and any proceeds from the sale of the album will go to groups working for a ban on fracking. However, without your support this album might not make it into the world.

We still need to raise about $40,000 to produce the album, manufacture it, and get the word out to the world. If you can help chip in today, you’ll be one of the first to receive the album, and help build the movement to ban fracking. Different donation amounts give you different incentives. I am not only chipping in my music, but also a couple of guitars signed by me, personalized to YOU! Check it out!

Can you chip in today to help get this album out and build the movement to ban fracking?

Thank you for your support.

In solidarity,

Bonnie Raitt
Musician/Activist

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Rep. Slaughter Again Takes on Antibiotics in Factory Farms

By Kate Fried Antibiotics_Pill_Bottle

It’s difficult to pick up a newspaper these days without being reminded of the escalating public health threat posed by super bugs and antibiotic resistance. That’s in part due to the fact that a whopping 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are actually used in factory farms to compensate for stressful, filthy, crowded conditions. That’s why last year Food & Water Watch launched its campaign to save antibiotics for medicine, not factory farms.

Since then, we’ve seen some great developments in the movement to keep these vital drugs working for us when we need them most. In February, the city council of Olympia, Washington became the 51st local government to pass a resolution calling for federal action to end the misuse of antibiotics on factory farms. Today, Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) stepped up and reintroduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA). Read the full article…

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March 20th, 2015

Ten Ways to Protect the Human Right to Water on World Water Day

By Katherine Cirullo and Ryanne Waters

“Water is a commons, a public trust, and a human right.” — Maude Barlow

“No water, no life. No blue, no green.” – Sylvia Earle

Water is an essential common resource that nobody, and no thing, can live without. But around the world, even here in the United States, the human right to safe, clean, affordable water is under great threat; a global water crisis is looming, and in some places, has already begun.

Here are ten ways you can protect the human right to water and promote sustainable water management on World Water Day. Let’s dive in.

1. Join Tap-a-palooza! Mobilize your college campus to kick the bottled water habit and take back the tap.

The commodification of water by the beverage industry is a huge con. Research shows that in the United States, bottled water is not safer than tap water and it only serves to perpetuate our planet’s plastic bottle waste problem. When corporations like Nestlé commoditize what many consider to be a human right, communities lose out and executives fatten their wallets. If you’re a student, encourage reusable water bottle use by pledging to ban the sale of plastic water bottles on your college campus.

TBTT

2. Say “no” to international water privatization schemes; oppose fast track of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

The United States and the European Union are secretly negotiating a deal that would make it easier for the world’s biggest corporations to privatize our public water systems. And when private companies buy out public water systems, community members often experience degraded service at a higher price. Opposing fast track would make it harder for Congress to pass terrible trade deals like the TTIP.  Tell your member of Congress to oppose fast track today.

Fast Track

3. Support the campaign to stop water privatization in Lagos, Nigeria on twitter.

The city of Lagos, Nigeria is in great need of water supply and infrastructure improvements. But research shows that private ownership of municipal water systems does not benefit the community and often results in poor service at an unjust rate. 180 cities in 35 countries have fought hard to “re-municipalize” their water systems because of these failures. Lagos should not have to go down the same path. Tweet your support Tweet: I stand with Lagos, Nigeria. NO to water privatization! #OurWaterOurRight #Right2Water @followlasg @tundefashola for public water to the Lagos state government (@followlasg) and the governor (@tundefashola) by using the hashtag #OurWaterOurRight and #Right2Water.

LagosShareFB_we

4. Write to your member of Congress asking them to cosponsor the bill to ban fracking on public lands.

Did you know that our national forests and land surrounding our national parks are being fracked? Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and associated activities such as wastewater injection can contaminate nearby rivers and streams that feed these treasured places – their vegetation and wildlife. Stopping fracking on public lands will bring us one step closer to stopping fracking, and protecting water, everywhere. Ask your member of Congress to cosponsor the bill.

PublicLands

5. Sign this emergency petition to immediately stop fracking in California.

According to NASA, California has only one year of water left. But did you hear that oil and gas industry regulators in California recently admitted that they’ve failed to protect the state’s precious water supply from toxic contamination? Regulatory systems like these are unacceptable. Join us in calling on Governor Brown to issue an immediate emergency moratorium on fracking in California.

California

6. Urge the Ohio Legislature to protect the Great Lakes from toxic algae blooms.

Industrial agriculture is threatening Lake Erie. Last summer, a huge algae bloom left half a million people in Toledo, Ohio without water. The state legislature is trying to address the problem, but their bill falls short of real, meaningful agricultural reform. Tell them to toughen up and protect the Great Lakes from factory farms!

Toledo Algae

7. Demand that authorities in Detroit restore affordable water service.

Detroit’s water is simply unaffordable, and thousands of residents have had theirs shut off as a result. The United Nations recently visited Detroit to investigate the water shut offs and found that they violate the human right to water. Protect public health and the human right to water by urging officials in Detroit to restore water service under a water affordability plan.

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8. Educate yourself and your friends on the global water crisis by reading Blue Future: Protecting Water for People and the Planet Forever, by internationally best-selling author and Food & Water Watch Board Chair, Maude Barlow.

Maude Barlow is a water justice warrior. The latest in her best-selling series, Blue Future exposes the handful of corporate players whose greed is impeding the human right to water. It lays out the obstacles ahead in this looming water crisis and details the many victories that have been won by communities in the fight to protect their right to water.

Maude_Barlow

 

9. Keep an eye out for a pre-screening of the film Dear President Obama, Americans Against Fracking In One Voice from Jon Bowermaster.

In this film, Bowermaster takes a national look at the issue of fracking and the threats it poses to water quality and public health. The film profiles the victims of fracking across the U.S., checks in with experts on the topic, and takes a look at alternative energy sources gaining traction around the globe.

DearPresidentObama

10. Stay up to date on global water issues and learn how you can get involved by signing up here.

Whether by banning fracking, stopping terrible trade deals, promoting public ownership of water systems or protecting waterways from agricultural pollution, Food & Water Watch is working with communities to hold the industries that threaten the right to safe, clean, affordable water accountable.

IMG_3406

Update, March 22: Check out Maude Barlow’s World Water Day post about how to address the world water crisis.

March 18th, 2015

Beware of the Corporate GMO Spin Doctors

By Wenonah Hauter

This piece originally appeared on Food Tank.

BlogThumb_BillNyeYou may have heard that popular scientist Bill Nye has mysteriously revised his outlook on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Several years ago, the children’s show host advocated for the labeling of genetically modified foods, citing concerns about what GMOs could do to ecosystems. But now his position on the controversial technology has flipped. This development is the latest in a trend spearheaded by agribusiness giants to discredit the GMO labeling movement, and it’s especially hard to disassociate his reversal from this PR blitz since it coincided with Nye’s recent trip to Monsanto’s headquarters.

We’ll never know what actually went down during Nye’s visit, as Tom Philpott at Mother Jones notes, but we do know that Monsanto has poured millions of dollars into public relation efforts to sell the public on GMOs. Because that’s what you do when you are a corporation with deep coffers and a product that the public is wisely skeptical of.

Read the full article…

March 11th, 2015

Fifty Years After Selma, We Still Need To Organize to Protect Our Civil Rights and Environment

BlogThumb_Wenonah1

Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch

Protect our democracy:
Oppose Citizens United

TAKE ACTION

By Wenonah Hauter

Last weekend, many leaders gathered in Selma to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the violent police crackdown on African American community members who were marching from Selma to Montgomery for the right to vote. The televised police violence captured the attention of the nation and ultimately led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA). But today, thanks to a small handful of wealthy elites, we must redouble our efforts to maintain our civil rights — as well as protect our environment and public health.

Voting rights under attack 50 years later

The same big corporate interests that are behind the legislative push to deregulate our environmental laws and prevent any meaningful action to protect our planet are the same ones pushing to restrict access to the ballot, effectively rolling back 50 years of civil rights gains. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), made up of corporations including Koch Industries and ExxonMobil, lobbies for reactionary state legislation around the nation like backing restrictions on voting including voter ID laws. It is no wonder that these powerful interests are working to restrict the vote – their agenda is unpopular and they can only continue to push their regressive policies by preventing popular democracy from flourishing.

The VRA was the ultimate outcome of effective organizing. It was used to strike down many onerous, discriminatory, and oppressive laws that disenfranchised people including poll taxes, literacy tests, inequitable redistricting plans, voter ID laws and other unfair measures that restricted or otherwise interfered with the right to vote.

In 2013, however, the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, ushering in a new era of legislation restricting the right to vote. From Texas to Wisconsin and Alabama to Pennsylvania (and elsewhere) conservative state legislatures, at the behest of ALEC, have moved to restrict the right to vote.

Another powerful grassroots movement: fighting fracking

We can see the impact of voting rights and participatory democracy through the environmental work we are engaged in – and the powerful movement rising up over the past decade to stop hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in our rural communities is a great example. New powerful technologies have enabled the oil and gas industry to drill deep into previously hard-to-reach sources of gas, but the cost of the new technique is high: some people who live near fracking sites have become seriously ill from contaminated air and water. Others can light their tap on fire due to the amount of methane in their water. What’s worse, the oil and gas industry isn’t required to disclose the chemicals they use in the fracking process, but many are known endocrine disruptors and carcinogens. Communities with fracking have seen declines in property values, increases in crime and losses in local tourism and agriculture.

The costs of the new hydraulic fracturing technique are so high that communities from New York to California have risen up to say no to fracking. More than 450 communities have successfully passed measures taking action against the destructive practice. And thanks to strong grassroots organizing, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo moved to ban fracking last December. Everywhere the governor went, he was met by people urging him to keep fracking out of the state. Countless protests, call-in days, petition gathering events and other grassroots pressure finally tipped the scales in democracy’s favor.

We must keep organizing to shore up progressive wins

We must keep up the pressure—from organizing to stop fossil fuels development in favor of developing cleaner energy technologies, to upholding and advancing civil rights gained at Selma.

As we reflect on the 50th anniversary commemoration events, it is critical that we push for a legislative restoration of the Voting Rights Act. And, it is important for all of us in the environmental and broader progressive movement to actively support these efforts, while at the same time working at the local, state and national level to insure that our basic rights are upheld.

The environmental and civil rights movements, beyond being ultimately progressive in nature, have common cause. We know that communities of color and the poor are disproportionately impacted by environmentally polluting industries, which are driven by large corporate interests. From fracking operations that impact communities in California’s central valley and Pennsylvania’s rural communities, to water privatization that affects people living in large urban areas like Detroit, to factory farms that pollute rural communities from New Mexico, to Iowa and North Carolina, the communities that are most likely to be impacted by environmental pollution are also most likely to be affected by legislative efforts to restrict the vote. Environmental rights and civil rights go hand in hand and communities that are impacted by environmental harms need to be empowered to protect themselves through free and clear access to the ballot.

As we are battling to restore our planet, we need to stand together as a broad based progressive movement to restore our democracy and the right of everyone to fully participate in it. The acts of the protestors of the civil rights movement took great courage. Again, we need acts of great courage to sustain our democracy.

Food & Watch is proud to have stood against the regressive efforts of ALEC as members of the Democracy Initiative, a broad coalition advocating for reforms to get money out of politics and expand the right to vote. We are proud to have stood with the NAACP’s Rev. Barber and the Moral Monday movement and protests in North Carolina. And, we are proud to stand with communities suffering from environmental pollution across the country. But we must do more and we must do more together.

We live in a time where our environment and our democracy is threatened by a cabal of massive corporations led by people that are willing to destroy our communities in order to extract every last bit of profit. We need the maximum engagement and participation of all to push back against these forces.

Let’s reflect on the courage and achievement of the brave marchers for justice in Selma 50 years ago and then recommit to championing meaningful legislation to advance voting rights, restore our democracy and protect our environment for all people and future generations.

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March 10th, 2015

Nobel Laureate Joins Food & Water Watch Opposing Fast Tracking TPP

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Food & Water Watch New York Organizer Eric Weltman speaks out against the TPP at a press conference in Manhattan.

By Eric Weltman

If there were ever a rock star among economists, Joseph Stiglitz would get my vote. On February 25, the Nobel Prize winner headlined a community forum in Queens on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The event was part of Food & Water Watch’s national campaign to stop the Fast Tracking of this dangerous trade agreement.

Three hundred people jammed the auditorium of PS 69, the neighborhood elementary school, to hear Stiglitz along with local community leaders. Our focus that evening was Congressman Joseph Crowley, the local representative and a member of the House Ways & Means Committee, whose opposition to Fast Track could be crucial. We were partnering with some great allies, including the Communication Workers of America, the Working Families Party and the Sierra Club.

Stiglitz’s credentials are a mile long. He was the chief economist for the World Bank and Chairman of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors. And he effortlessly and absolutely shredded the TPP and the entire process of negotiating and trying to win Congressional approval for the agreement.

Stiglitz targeted the Obama administration for its secrecy, asking, “What are they trying to hide?” He blasted them on Fast Track, calling the move “an end-run around Congress.” He discussed how previous trade agreements had destroyed jobs and increased income inequality. He noted that the TPP would limit access to generic medicines. And he declared that the bottom line is “moneyed interests, special interests trying to get what’s good for them.” You can watch for yourself here.

He was awesome. But it’s going to take more than rock star economists to defeat the corporate giants behind the TPP. This event was just part of the hard work that Food & Water Watch, along with our allies in New York and across the country, are engaged in to defend what’s most important: our jobs, our health, our communities, our environment. Take action now by asking your member of Congress to oppose Fast Track and the TPP.

March 6th, 2015

Capitol Hill’s Other Funding Battle

Water_Manhole_CoverBy Kate Fried

As the battle to fund the Department of Homeland Security quelled this week, another funding controversy quietly took shape. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy announced plans to cut the department’s main wastewater fund by 23 percent in 2016. The Clean Water State Revolving Funds (CWSRFs) are the primary source of federal funding for our wastewater and storm water infrastructure, critical to keeping our wastewater systems in working order. You don’t want to image a scenario in which they can’t. Read the full article…

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