Blogs | Food & Water Watch - Part 10
Victory! Governor Cuomo bans fracking in New York. more wins »
X

Welcome!

You're reading Smorgasbord from Food & Water Watch.

If you'd like to send us a note about a blog entry or anything else, please use this contact form. To get involved, sign up to volunteer or follow the take action link above.

Blog Categories

Blog archives

Stay Informed

Sign up for email to learn how you can protect food and water in your community.

   Please leave this field empty

Blog Posts

July 16th, 2014

Fracking in Paradise, FL

By Vickie Machado

Organizers in Florida learned that the Dan A. Hughes Co. will cease operations at its Collier Hogan well site. While the company states that they took this action on their own, allies of Food & Water Watch have been pushing the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to revoke its permit at the Collier Hogan site and it looks like the Florida DEP will file a suit against Dan A. Hughes Co., to shut down permanently. The state will also seek $25,000 in penalties against the company. We see this as a victory, and Food & Water Watch Florida Organizer Vickie Machado tells us how it all unfolded.

I am a third generation South Floridian. Both my grandfather and my mother were born and raised in Miami, long before it’s present bustling nature of high-rises and the never-ending flow of traffic. I grew up hearing stories of how my grandfather watched Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach expand past their boarders to become the South Florida region of today.

While the expansion brought the wonder of new cultures, flavors, and styles, by the time my mother came of age, this growth also continually meant infringement upon natural areas, pushing houses, shopping centers and cars further west towards the beloved Everglades. As we continue to push the boundaries, I continue to worry about our populations’ impact on what’s left of our neighboring wetlands.

While development and construction weigh heavy on my heart, more recently my fears extend further beyond my backyard sea of grass to the western most boundaries of the Everglades. It is here, on the West coast of Florida, where something perhaps more harmful than development was threating this precious ecosystem.

The Dan A. Hughes Company was found acid fracking near Naples in Collier County, the western most region of the Everglades. The process of injecting acid under high pressures is a drilling procedure never before used in Florida. To me, this means they are using the most sensitive and important ecosystem in Florida as a lab rat for their scheme to make an easy buck. When issued a cease and desist order, the company said no and decided to pay a fine while continuing with operations.

In this situation, I realize our demand for cheap energy is also to blame, as we allow this debacle to unfold. It is our cars that are being driven, our homes being cooled and electrified and our excessive livelihoods being energized. It is also our government and lawmakers who are setting the policies that allow intensive resource extraction such as acid fracking to occur. As a Food & Water Watch Organizer on the east coat of Florida, I am grateful to the grassroots groups in Collier (namely the Stone Crab Alliance and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida) struggling for the integrity of our environment and our water on a daily basis. I am also grateful to Collier County as they requested the state to revoke the oil driller’s permit.

More recently, these efforts have led to the shut down of the Collier-Hogan well and a State driven lawsuit to permanently cease operations. This has been a huge victory in the eyes of Food & Water Watch and our grassroots coalition partners. While we celebrate this triumph, it is important to know the struggle is far from over.

While Dan A Hughes walks away, the public is forced to deal with the wastewater from the Collier-Hogan well, which is said to be on its way to Miami-Dade County for disposal in treatment facilities that were not built to deal with the chemicals from acid fracking. It is situations like these that show the problems of fracking will sooner or later make it to all of our backyards.

It is up to us to demand our lawmakers start listening to the concern people of Florida and place a ban upon extreme extraction and wastewater disposal. I want to ensure we still have a South Florida to call home with clean water and preserved wetlands. This being said, it is simply unacceptable for companies to engage in such environmentally degrading activities, only to later buy their way out of trouble and send the clean up to someone else’s home. 

Posted in  |  3 Comments  | 
July 14th, 2014

Organizing is Not Glamorous… But It’s Powerful

By Jessica Wohlander

Jessica Wohlander (left) and Jacob Abaraoha, Food & Water Watch interns, practice canvassing in Brooklyn.

If you are an intern at Food & Water Watch in Brooklyn (like me), Eric Weltman will take you out for coffee on your first day. He will talk about the organization for a while, explain what “bird-dogging” is, and inevitably tell you that organizing work is not glamorous. You know that already, but it isn’t until you’ve spent two solid weeks trying to phone bank your way through a list of nearly 3,000 names with a gaggle of volunteers that you understand what he means. Having the same conversation or leaving the same message on answering machines 3,000 times is not glamorous work.

Yet when the day of the rally has arrived, and you’re wandering around with a clipboard asking every individual in a crowd of over 500 if they’ve signed in, one of those 500 faces might stop you. In this case, the rally was to tell Governor Cuomo to ban fracking in New York.

“You work with Food & Water Watch?” they might ask. “What’s your name? I think you’re the one who called me. I wouldn’t be here right now, if you hadn’t made that phone call. Thank you.”

And then you realize that you are a part of something much bigger, and those hours on the phone with individuals have created momentum towards real change. You chat with them for awhile, and they pick you out of the crowd at the next rally to say hello, and suddenly you are not just a volunteer making phone call after phone call in a big noisy room in Brooklyn, but a part of a very large community with a very specific purpose and a growing voice to create real social change. And when you chant the chants at that next rally, you realize that you can shout them out with a little more enthusiasm and a lot more confidence.

My experience interning at Food & Water Watch has taught me that together, through organizing, we are unstoppable. A statewide ban on fracking is possible!

Jessica Wohlander is an intern with Food & Water Watch in Brooklyn.

Posted in  |  No Comments  | 
July 11th, 2014

Give Detroit Real Relief: Turn the Taps Back On

By Katherine Cirullo

Right now, in the heat of midsummer, thousands of Detroiters do not have access to safe drinking water, cannot flush their toilets, bathe their children, wash their dishes or boil water to cook food to feed their families. This is what happens when we treat water like a commodity instead of a common resource and basic human right.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department says that more than 80,000 residential households are in arrears, in addition to many Detroit businesses, so it is cutting off service to households that cannot pay their bills. With nearly 40 percent of Detroit residents living in poverty, water bills are simply unaffordable for these households. That’s why the United Nations (UN) recently declared the shut-offs in Detroit a violation of the human right to water and has called for immediate restoration of this essential service. 

It is in this context that Nestlé Waters North America has revved up its PR machine after delivering bottled water to Detroit residents. Does Nestlé believe that this gesture will actually relieve the horrible, unsanitary and unsafe conditions of a mid-summer without running water? Or is it simply banking on the fact that its PR stunt may pay off down the road?

The decision to deliver one truckload of bottled water to Detroit is not enough to fix the city’s water woes, and it seems the real beneficiary of Nestlé’s PR stunt is Nestlé.

While we do not wish for anyone to go thirsty, and we appreciate the efforts of the groups in Detroit doing all they can to help their neighbors, Nestlé’s gesture completely misses the seriousness of the situation. A family cannot actually survive the summer’s conditions on bottled water, let alone a small, limited amount of it. Bottled water is not practical for flushing toilets. It cannot keep children clean and fed, and it cannot prevent the spread of disease. Detroiters don’t need environmentally wasteful and inconvenient water that costs thousands of times more than their tap water. They need their pipes turned back on.

Second, Nestlé’s bottled water delivery (water, mind you, that has been usurped from communities that need it) to Detroiters casts a curious shadow on the root of the issue: the privatization and commodification of our water resources.

Bottled water takes public water supplies to sell at prices that are unaffordable for many people around the world. If given the chance, the industry would create a world where rich people buy their water in expensive, environmentally damaging bottles, while our public water systems erode and deteriorate, leaving poor people without safe and clean water.

In Detroit, we’re seeing the consequences of what happens when government bureaucrats treat water like a commodity. The Detroit Water Board uses that false notion to rationalize cutting service off to people that genuinely cannot afford to pay their bills. It is unconscionable to leave poverty-stricken households, including families with small children, without water during the heat of summer.

Water is not a widget to be bought and sold. It is an essential public service and a common resource. Our elected officials have a fundamental responsibility to ensure that everyone has access to safe and affordable water service. 

In the midst of this internationally-recognized water crisis, bottled water cannot prevent this looming public health crisis, but turning the taps back on will. Take action to give Detroit real relief: restored service at an affordable rate.

Six Books Our Staff are Reading This Summer

By Elizabeth Walek

Nothing beats lounging by the pool with a really great book! Summer is a perfect time to get caught up on reading that you’ve been putting off for weeks. Plus, books are a great way to learn more about the issues Food & Water Watch handles every day. I asked around our offices to find out which socially, politically and environmentally conscious books our staff love lately. Check out our top picks, and share your own summer reading recommendations in the comments!

Read the full article…

July 10th, 2014

Taking Back Our Democracy, One Step at a Time

By Mitch Jones

On June 17 I wrote a blog about efforts in the United States Senate to move forward a Constitutional Amendment that would overturn the disastrous Citizens United ruling.

Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) introduced S.J. Res. 19, a constitutional amendment that would grant Congress and the states the power to regulate the raising and spending of money in federal and state elections, last year. This summer, the resolution is moving towards a possible vote on the floor of the Senate.

Citizens United opened the door to an obscene amount of corporate dollars flowing into political campaigns. The case had three major components that have made it nearly impossible to keep corporate money out of politics… 

  1. It found that free speech rights are about the speech, not the speaker (in other words, it doesn’t matter who’s speaking, but that speaking is taking place.)
  2. The case reconfirmed the notion of corporate personhood.
  3. Since political speech is the most important First Amendment right, constraint of free speech must meet strict scrutiny.

The way the amendment would work is that it would give the federal and state governments the clear constitutional authority to regulate how money is raised and spent in elections – just as they’ve been doing for over 100 years before Citizens United.

Already, pundits are predicting that the 2016 Presidential election will cost considerably more than the $2 billion spent in 2012. Most of that money, we know, will come from corporate interests trying to buy influence in whatever administration takes over in 2017. That’s why we need to let the politicians in Washington know we are fed up with dollars trumping votes and corporations trumping people.

It’s time to get the money out of politics and put the people back in.

On July 10, the Senate’s Judiciary Committee will consider the resolution. If it passes it will move to the full Senate for a possible vote.

Email your Senators today and ask them to support S.J. Res. 19 when it comes up for a vote.

 

July 3rd, 2014

FDA’s Six Month Update Shows There’s Still More to Do

By Sarah Borron 

As of this month, twelve U.S. communities have taken action to urge Congress to ban the misuse of antibiotics on factory farms. While many are urban centers that will probably never see an industrial farm, these cities and towns are standing in solidarity, shedding important new light on a growing problem — the fact that misuse of antibiotics on factory farms can make us sick. 

It was therefore extremely timely that this week, the FDA released a six-month update on the progress of its voluntary efforts to change how antibiotics are used to raise livestock. But despite the agency’s upbeat tone, not much has actually changed. 

Read the full article…

Posted in  |  1 Comment  | 
July 2nd, 2014

Energy In Depth: Working Overtime to Strain Credibility

By Alison Auciello

We usually don’t engage with the fracking PR echo chamber when they make outrageous claims about our staff members or our organization. But their latest attempt to malign us is so desperate and bizarre that it’s worth correcting the record if only to show the depths of their ability to misinform and twist facts to suit their agenda.

The oil and gas industry PR front Energy in Depth recently claimed that we redacted recently-released documents regarding the Kasich administration and fracking—when in reality, the PDF documents we posted rendered oddly once they were uploaded to our file sharing program, which inadvertently hid text that had been highlighted in the original documents we had obtained from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). (We’ve since re-uploaded those documents to our web server, which renders them correctly across most browsers as far as we can tell, and the Ecowatch story has been corrected—you can find links to all the documents here.)

The fact that Energy in Depth took an honest technical error and jumped to the conclusion (without contacting us) that we “redacted” information that actually buttresses our case—that Ohio Governor Kasich is sympathetic to industry talking points—strains credibility. (The text that didn’t render correctly included the assertion that “There has never been an instance of groundwater contamination related to the injection of oil-fuel waste.”)

We included all of these documents to demonstrate that the ODNR is using the same talking points commonly used by the oil and gas and they reflect the items that were mentioned in the state’s communications plan to promote fracking. So, why would we redact them?

Energy In Depth is an industry front organization, but with their newfound interest in transparency, we hope they will join us in pushing for real transparency, especially around industry meetings with ODNR, members of the Kasich administration and state legislators and endorse legislation requiring the full release of the contents of fracking chemicals.

We won’t hold our breath, though.

Posted in  |  No Comments  | 

Declaring Our Independence From Corporate Influence

By Wenonah Hauter

Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director

Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. Click here to become a Food & Water Partner today.

It’s been more than 200 years since the colonists fought for independence from the British. Now, in 2014, we’re in a fight for independence of a different sort.

This July 4th, you could help us declare our independence from corporate influence by becoming a Food & Water Partner.

It’s no secret that decades of bad policy have helped corporations become more powerful and more influential in U.S. politics than ever before. In fact, the law of the land is now unlimited corporate spending in politics. Because of Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United and McCutcheon, corporations can spend unlimited money and are buying more influence in our government than at any other time in U.S. history.



This is why so much of our work at the federal level is harder than ever. Big Industrial Agriculture and Big Oil and Gas interests are buying influence at universities, with non-profits, and with policymakers with the goal of increasing their profits at the expense of our health and communities. But we envision a world where people count more than profits; where everyday people have a say in the decisions that affect their lives and health, and we’re not alone.



If you believe in democracy, if you believe that people should have control over their own basic needs, and you are willing to fight fearlessly for what is right, then I want to invite you to become a Food & Water Partner.

 That’s why we’re announcing a bold goal: We need 435 new Food & Water Partners to commit to monthly giving who will stand with us, and give us the financial support we need to change the conversation and weaken the influence of big money in politics so that our democracy serves people, not corporate profits.



Why 435? That’s how many representatives there are in Congress, and even though it’s a symbolic start, we want to show we’re building support in every district, regardless of whether it’s red or blue, urban or rural. We’re all in this together.



The bread and butter of Food & Water Watch is our organizing. We are committed to building power in communities across the country to pressure decision makers to do the right thing. We don’t think it’s okay for leaders in either political party to take marching orders from corporations, so we hold them accountable just like we would any politician that gets a little too cozy with industry.

Furthermore, we’re building for the long term, and we know we need a true 50 state strategy that builds power in every state and every district because we can’t live without safe food and clean water. We are making moneyed interests and entrenched political leaders sit up and take notice. Food & Water Watch’s uncompromising activism and movement building are game-changers that are eating into the influence of those who would profit from our food and water.





As a Food & Water Partner, your regular donations as a monthly supporter allow us to keep our fundraising costs low so more money goes to our work protecting our essential food and water resources and empower you to make contributions that fit your monthly budget while making a big impact on the issues we all care about. Become a Food & Water Partner today.

Posted in  |  1 Comment  | 
July 1st, 2014

Governor Brown: Climate Leader or Climate Loser?

By Adam Scow

California Governor Jerry Brown

When it comes to fighting pollution, global warming and our climate crisis, Governor Jerry Brown is big on talk and weak on action. Governor Brown frequently warns us that climate change is a major threat we must solve, citing the ongoing drought and recent fires as indicators of global warming’s threat to our economy and standard of living. Yet when it comes to governance and real action the Governor is letting the oil and gas industry expand fracking and refineries that pollute our climate with more emissions of carbon dioxide and methane, worsening global warming and our climate crisis.

When asked about the contradiction between his rhetoric and support for fracking, the Governor has made inaccurate statements and blamed Californians for his lack of action.  First, Governor Brown continues to make the inaccurate argument that because Californians drive cars, it is necessary to frack California. In reality, California has long imported and will continue to import most of the oil it uses, a trend confirmed by the Energy Information Administration’s reduced estimate of recoverable oil in California. The EIA, which once projected that over 15 billion barrels of oil reside in California’s Monterey Shale formation, has reduced its estimate to just 600 million barrels—a 96 percent reduction.

The Governor is wrong again when he implies fracking in California will decrease or offset oil imports into California. Despite California using less oil, imports are now increasing into the Golden State via rail and ship, threatening to cause major accidents in transit. California’s 17 refineries, mostly located in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, are processing and exporting more refined oil overseas to China and other markets. To meet the foreign demand refineries are looking to expand their operations to process the growing influx of oil from North Dakota and Canada to then be sold overseas.  

Refinery expansion is strongly opposed by community and environmental organizations, yet Governor Brown is allowing Chevron to expand its enormous Richmond refinery and increase its pollution. A recent lawsuit by Communities for a Better Environment challenging Chevron’s expansion cites increased pollution emissions as undermining California’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Yet the Brown administration, consistent with its “cap and trade” program that allows big polluters to continue polluting in exchange for a small fee, is content to let Chevron pay to increase its pollution and worsen our climate. Governor Brown is also permitting a refinery expansion in Bakersfield, which already suffers from some of the worst air quality in the nation. To put the icing on the cake, the Brown administration recently weakened its already weak cap-and-trade program to allow petroleum refiners to receive 100% of their emissions allowances for free until 2017—meaning for the next three years Chevron and others may not pay a dime for their refinery pollution

California’s pollution from carbon emissions has been getting worse, reflected in the California 2012 greenhouse gas inventory released in May by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The total inventory climbed from 2011, which means California went backwards towards reaching its goal of 1990 levels of emissions by 2020. While total California oil and gas production slightly declined in 2012 from 2011 levels, this inventory shows a 4 percent increase in the amount of greenhouse gas pollution released by this sector. Since the Brown administration has yet to determine the true carbon intensity of oil and gas development, this increase is likely underestimated and will rise again for 2013.  

Governor Brown’s support for fracking and refinery expansion is worsening California’s pollution problems and undermining our state’s ability to meet its pollution reduction targets by 2020. While polls continue to show that a majority of Californians oppose fracking outright and nearly 70 percent support an immediate moratorium, the Governor has sided with the oil companies to let them keep fracking under the false pretense of strong regulations, which do nothing to make the practice safer or prevent pollution.

California needs real leadership in the effort to transition from dirty oil to clean energy. If the Governor is sincere about fighting the climate crisis, he can prove it by stopping the fracking and opposing refinery expansion. So far Governor Brown has talked some talk, not walked the walk, and is making our pollution problems worse.  

This blog originally appeared at WilderUtopia.com.

Posted in  |  2 Comments  | 
June 30th, 2014

Protecting Our Water: It’s Simply the Right Thing to Do

By Nisha Swinton

I have worked with Food & Water Watch – Maine on bottled water issues for almost five years, and I am always so excited when new people join our growing movement against corporate control of our most precious natural resource. I met Nina and her mother Molly, recently, and I was immediately inspired. Nina is nine years old, in 3rd grade, and loves to swim. Nina was not shy at all about discussing her bottled water work at her local elementary school.

“I found out about global warming through nature shows and I realized that polar bears were endangered, so I wanted to do my part in helping the polar bears by helping people notice that plastic water bottles are NOT cool,” Nina explained one afternoon. “One of the reasons I want to keep the ocean clean is because I love swimming and I don’t want to swim in trash or have the fish be sick.”

Nina started the Protect Our Land and Resources (POLAR) Kids Club at school. She and other club members have been speaking in classes, holding raffles for Take Back the Tap reusable water bottles, meeting with teachers and administration, and collecting student signatures to ban bottled water and plastics from their school. POLAR has collected more than 500 signatures already, from a school of 700 students! 

Across the United States and the world, students like Nina are making headlines for their efforts to ban the bottle. People are realizing that bottled water is not safer than tap water. Increasingly, bottled water comes from the tap. Bottled water creates mountains of garbage and causes other major environmental problems. Bottled water is thousands of times more expensive than tap water. Bottled water companies mislead communities into giving away their public water in exchange for dangerous jobs. 

Nina’s work is most important right here in Maine because we are facing a huge battle with the bottled water industry giant Nestle North America, which owns Poland Spring. Nestle is looking to go into a 45-year contract with a water district right here in Maine. We need more and more Mainers, young and old, to learn from Nina’s story and work in their communities to ban bottled water to protect our natural resources for Nina’s generation and beyond.

Molly is proud of her daughter’s hard work. “I’m really proud of Nina for being passionate about an important issue and working to share her ideas with her peers, and not giving up. She has put aside her own fear of public speaking for the sake of this cause about which she feels so strongly. For her, the ideas are simple and she is motivated to protect the environment. Her reasons are not political or economical, it’s simply the right thing to do.” I couldn’t agree more.

Posted in  |  2 Comments  | 
Page 10 of 158« First...8910111213...203040...Last »