June 26th, 2012
By Katherine Boehrer
In Colorado, drought conditions and the worst wildfire season in a decade have brought renewed focus on water budgeting in the state. A new report by Western Resource Advocates (WRA) highlights community concerns about the impact of fracking on Colorado’s water supply. The study found that water used in one year for new oil and gas development throughout the state could supply the entire population of Lakewood, the fourth-largest city in Colorado.
Though oil and gas companies often point out that water used for fracking is a small percentage of that used for agriculture and municipal purposes statewide, in certain counties it can be much more. According to the report, in Weld County, water used for new oil and gas drilling operations equaled between one-third and two-thirds of domestic and public water use in 2011.
Weld County and other area farmers now face extreme water shortages from ongoing drought conditions, requiring them to remove hundreds of acres from production. Nearby cities can’t help because many have already auctioned off all of the water they had allotted for sale to agricultural users and oil and gas companies. Read the full article…
June 25th, 2012
By Wenonah Hauter
Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter
Late last week, the Senate passed its version of the Farm Bill – the sprawling legislation that dictates what and how we eat. From the perspective of consumer protection and leveling the playing field for small and midsized family farmers, the Senate bill does little to address the problems of consolidation and anti-competitive business practices that plague our food system.
Although the Senate bill made changes to commodity policy that will be touted as reform, the bill reinforced prior farm policies that favor large industrial-scale agriculture and overproduction of commodity crops like corn and soybeans. Only a few companies sell what farmers need (like seeds, fertilizer and tractors) and only a few firms buy what farmers raise, which means they pay more for supplies and get less for their crops and livestock. The four largest companies in each industry slaughter nearly all the beef, process two-thirds of the pork, sell half the groceries and process about half the milk in the United States. Read the full article…
By Mitch Jones
With the failure of governments to provide a vision for sustainability at Rio+20, some environmental leaders are looking to other stakeholders—mainly the private sector—to develop a green economy. But we know that corporations are, by nature, profit-seeking entities, and when you bring them to the table at a multilateral forum, they will come representing their shareholders—to whom they have a fiduciary responsibility. But with government leaders like Barack Obama and David Cameron AWOL at Rio, who was representing the rest of us and the planet?
Hopefully not guys like Robert Johnson, executive director of the Institute on New Economic Thinking. Here’s what he said at a recent event at Bard College, which was also posted on Andrew Revkin’s Dot Earth blog:
Water and air are priced at zero…. On the other hand, if you cut off my air and water I would be willing to pay to get it turned back on. So there’s something amiss in a theory of value that doesn’t value these common resources, the common pool on which we all base our lives. Read the full article…
By Seth Gladstone
For the polluting natural gas drillers and corporate lobbyist hucksters that have come under his exposing lens, the investigative filmmaker Josh Fox has become a primary target. Since his 2010 documentary film Gasland opened the eyes of an uninformed nation (and Academy Awards nominators) to the horrific realities of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), the fossil fuel industry has recognized the threat Fox poses to its bottom line. That’s why it set about disparaging Fox and denying the conditions exposed in Gasland immediately upon the film’s release. But thankfully, Fox wasn’t deterred by the personal attacks and outrageous claims made against his work. He’s back, and in his latest anti-fracking expose, he’s honed his message for an audience of one: Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The Sky is Pink, Fox’s 18-minute short film released last week, is a concise and timely update on the battle against fracking that has been waged by countless families for years, and on the latest efforts of the gas industry to misinform the public and community leaders on the issue. But its focus is squarely on the latest front in the fight: New York State. As the Cuomo administration publically ponders a fracking future for the state, Fox uses his punchy, fact-driven piece to update the public – and one key governor – on how the debate has evolved and what real science and data on the issue actually tell us.
Read the full article…
June 21st, 2012
By Patty Lovera
Patty Lovera, Assistant Director of Food & Water Watch
Today the Senate passed the 2012 farm bill, by a vote of 64 to 35. Lots of the votes against the bill came from southern senators who don’t like changes made in the commodity crop programs in the bill, which shifted many crops more heavily into crop insurance instead of government commodity programs.
Overall, this version of the farm bill amounts to a missed opportunity to tackle the root problem in our food system: consolidation and corporate control. The leadership of the Senate did not allow important amendments on antitrust issues, like one that would have banned meatpacker ownership of livestock, from being considered.
The last two amendments we were paying particular attention to today both failed. The debate on the amendment by Senators Sanders and Boxer (S. Amdt. 2310) to allow states to require labeling of genetically engineered foods was long overdue. This amendment received 26 votes with 73 Senators voting against it. Obviously, there’s much more work to be done to ensure our right to know what we’re eating, but the fact that this amendment initiated a debate on the Senate floor is a solid step in the right direction.
And finally, common sense prevailed as Senator Toomey’s amendment that would exempt community water systems from a requirement to mail drinking water consumer confidence reports (S. Amdt. 2247) FAILED. Food & Water Watch opposed this amendment.
The next step in the process is for the House to work on their version of the farm bill. The House Agriculture Committee is scheduled to begin work on the Farm Bill on July 11.
Watch a video explaining the financialization of nature.
By Darcey O’Callaghan and Gabriella Zanzanaini
The distance between the official UN Conference on Sustainable Development (or CSD, where heads of state, corporate stakeholders and NGOs convened this week) and the People’s Summit (an official venue for grassroots solutions) mandated between a one and two and a half-hour commute, which prohibited any meaningful dialogue between the two spaces. There were—literally and figuratively—several mountains between the two summits.
The final text for heads of state to consider makes no commitments, as evidenced by word counts. “We will” was used five times whereas “we support” was used 99 times.
It was continuously stated by the U.S., Canada, and other powerful countries that this is “not a pledging conference,” thus setting the tone for negotiations throughout the week and lowering expectations for outcomes. Read the full article…
Posted in Activism
,Right to Water
June 20th, 2012
By Patty Lovera
Patty Lovera, Assistant Director of Food & Water Watch
Today the Senate continued to plow through amendments to the farm bill, a process that started yesterday. As we mentioned earlier, out of almost 300 amendments introduced, 73 were on the list to get a vote and several of these would make the bill stronger while some would make it significantly weaker.
By the end of the day, here’s where things stood with the six amendments we think are particularly important: Read the full article…
June 19th, 2012
By Patty Lovera
We need a Farm Bill that is as good for farmers and the land as it is for eaters.
The Senate headed home last weekend with no clear indication of how they would tackle the farm bill. There was no agreement on how they would handle the nearly 300 amendments introduced. Then, Monday evening, the deal was announced: they would start a “vote-o-rama” to consider only 73 of the amendments. There were some important amendments on the list of 73 that would make the farm bill stronger and some that would make it significantly weaker.
The biggest disappointment was that the list included no amendments on competition in livestock markets, including an amendment by Senator Grassley that would have banned the ownership of livestock by meatpackers. One bright spot on the list was an amendment by Senators Sanders and Boxer to allow states to require labeling of genetically engineered foods. On Tuesday, 30 amendments were voted on by the full Senate, leaving 43 more to get through on Wednesday before a final vote on the entire bill.
We picked six amendments that we think are particularly important. Three of them were up for a vote on Tuesday. Here’s what happened: Read the full article…
June 18th, 2012
By Darcey Rakestraw
This conference brought to you by…Coca-Cola?
Our “woman” on the ground at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, International Policy Director Darcey O’Callaghan, sent us this picture from a dining hall at the conference. A picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words. It puts this new action by our friends at Friends of the Earth International into perspective, doesn’t it?
Meanwhile, PepsiCo was just honored last week with a prestigious award from the Stockholm International Water Institute for water efficiency. Check out what our Executive Director Wenonah Hauter and Board Chair Maude Barlow had to say about that here (hint: nothing good whatsoever.)
It’s not too late to tell the U.S. representative to the conference, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, to protect our common resources—like water—as a public trust.
June 15th, 2012
By Katherine Boehrer
This week we are celebrating two big successes in Ohio and Alabama, where citizens worked together to protect their public lands and water from the dangers of fracking operations. The victories came after local groups and environmental organizations banded together to demand more public involvement in local decision making regarding shale gas drilling.
Thanks to a dedicated group of activists in Ohio, the Muskigum Watershed Conservancy Board announced that they would not be considering water sales for use in fracking operations until a study is completed by the USGS and the Board reviews its water sale policy.
After a recent sale of 11 million gallons to Gulfport Energy, the grassroots group Southeast Ohio Alliance to Save our Water enlisted the help of activists from Food & Water Watch, the Sierra Club, the Buckeye Forest Council, the Ohio Environmental Council, and other grassroots groups to go before the board’s governing panel of judges, demanding more citizen participation in the water sale process and expressing their concern about the use of public water for fracking. After hearing what they had to say, the judges and the board expressed interest in having more public involvement in decision making in the future. Later that week, they made the announcement that they would halt water sales for use in fracking until more information is gathered. Read the full article…