New York and Washington, D.C. – Food & Water Watch, a national consumer nonprofit organization that works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainably produced, today announced it has launched a new legal advocacy project, Food & Water Justice. New Food & Water Justice staff members Scott Edwards and Michele Merkel will work in close cooperation with policy directors and other senior leadership to develop and implement legal strategies and remedies to help meet organizational goals related to clean water and safe food.
Food & Water Justice will bring a new, complementary approach to the already very successful community organizing, policy and legislative work done by Food & Water Watch, seeking to more actively engage the judiciary as a vehicle for positive change. The project will begin by designing and implementing litigation and regulatory strategies for the work done by Food & Water Watch on the harms of industrial agriculture and hydraulic fracturing (fracking).
“I am thrilled to add this dimension to the efforts already underway at Food & Water Watch,” said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director. “I think that it will take our very effective campaign work to a new level.”
Scott Edwards comes to the Food & Water Justice project after spending eleven years with Waterkeeper Alliance, most recently as Director of Advocacy. Scott’s work at Waterkeeper involved designing and implementing strategies for a whole host of campaigns on issues such as industrial agriculture, mercury contamination, coal and military wastes. He has brought cases against the U.S. Navy for the bombing of the island of Vieques, prosecuted U.S. energy companies in Canadian courts for contamination of waterways and has been very active against factory farms in both North Carolina and the Chesapeake region. While at Waterkeeper, he was also very active in setting up programs in Asia, including China, India, Bangladesh and Nepal. Prior to getting his law degree and entering the practice of environmental law, Scott taught ecology and environmental sciences to New York City high school students. He works out of the New York office of Food & Water Watch.
Michele Merkel was formerly the Chesapeake Regional Coordinator for Waterkeeper Alliance. At Waterkeeper, Michele helped to develop and implement the campaigns of the eighteen Waterkeeper programs that protect the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays. Prior to joining the Alliance, Michele was Senior Counsel and co-founder of the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP). At EIP, she was responsible for developing legal campaigns under the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, focusing mostly on industrial livestock production and municipal sewage issues. Michele previously served as an attorney for the United States Environmental Protection Agency, where she worked closely with the Department of Justice to bring actions for violations of federal environmental laws. Prior to joining EPA, Michele was General Counsel for Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, and worked for a few years in the criminal defense section of a private law firm. Michele will be working out of Food & Water Watch’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Contact: Kate Fried, Food and Water Watch, (202) 683-2500, kfried(at)fwwatch(dot)org.