38 New York Groups Unveil “Climate Can’t Wait” 2022 Advocacy Agenda

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Albany, NY — Today, 38 organizations across New York State announced the formation of Climate Can’t Wait 2022, and unveiled their package of priority proposals for action in 2022 by the Legislature, the Governor and state agencies. After two years without significant climate action in Albany, the groups highlighted that the climate emergency has only accelerated, with increased extreme heat, fires, storms and floods, culminating in Hurricane Ida which took the lives of 42 New Yorkers in 2021.

At a press conference announcing the legislative package endorsement, groups called on the New York State Legislature, Governor Hochul and state agencies to fulfill the promises of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) and listen to the thousands of New Yorkers who support bold climate policies and recently voted to make access to clean air, clean water and a healthy environment a constitutional right for all New Yorkers. The group called on legislative leadership to pass 11 bills and take action to fund and implement the CLCPA, necessary to combat climate change.

The Climate Can’t Wait 2022 advocacy agenda consists of:

  • All Electric Building Act (A8431, Gallagher; S6843, Kavanagh)
  • CLCPA Implementation By State Agencies and $15 Billion Funding for Climate Justice in the 2022 Budget
  • Clean Futures Act (A6761, Mamdani; S5939, Ramos)
  • Climate and Community Investment Act (A6967, Cahill; S4264, Parker)
  • Cryptocurrency Mining Moratorium (A7389, Kelles; S6486C, Parker)
  • Cumulative Impacts Act (A2103, Pretlow; S1031B, Stewart-Cousins)
  • Energy Efficiency, Equity and Jobs (A3996, Hunter; S3126, Parker)
  • Fossil Fuel Subsidy Elimination Act (A8483, Cahill; S7438, Krueger)
  • Green New Deal For New York Act
  • New York Build Public Renewables Act (A1466, Carroll; S6453, Parker)
  • Renewable Capitol Act
  • Teachers’ Fossil Fuel Divestment Act (A6331, Kelles; S4783, Brisport)

Climate Can’t Wait activists are holding additional rallies today in New York City and Westchester County, calling on Governor Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to pass the advocacy agenda with haste. Food & Water Watch New York Organizer Emily Skydel said:

“We can’t say it enough — we are running out of time. Climate can’t wait and neither can we. We are demanding bold leadership from our legislative leaders and Governor Hochul, right now. We must pass and enact the Climate Can’t Wait 2022 agenda, which would ban fossil fuels in buildings, cryptocurrency mining and power plants; invest in jobs and climate justice; and stop the flow of public money to the fossil fuel industry that’s spurring on the climate crisis.”

“The nation and the whole world has eyes on New York, looking to see if we will continue to build off of the landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) and follow the wisdom and leadership of frontline, environmental justice communities disproportionately impacted by a racialized and gendered climate crisis they had little hand in creating” said Anthony Rogers-Wright, NY Renews Steering Committee member and Director of Environmental Justice with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. “There’s no time for specious or rhetorical approaches to climate change — we must engender and fund New York’s Just Transition post haste, while holding polluters accountable for decades of systemic environmental racism. The Climate Can’t Wait package is the vehicle and we need our lawmakers to do their job and drive it across the finish line.”

“Citizen Action is working to mobilize tens of thousands of New Yorkers with Climate Can’t Wait to bring the message to our state leaders to get serious about climate in 2022,” said Ivette Alfonso, President of Citizen Action of New York. “Hurricane Ida in 2021, Hurricane Isaias, which left over 800,000 New Yorkers without power in 2020, and Sandy in 2012 all demonstrate that climate change is a crisis in the here and now, wreaking havoc on our state’s infrastructure and our economy. And, we can’t ignore the needs of Black and Brown communities, who are so often first in line when it comes to environmental pollution and last in line when it comes to getting the jobs and public funding necessary to build healthy communities. Climate leaders are advancing a unified agenda on climate in 2022, and Governor Hochul, state agencies and the Legislature have the responsibility to act on it.” 

“In 2021 there were three one-hundred-year climate events in five weeks including tropical storm Fred that caused flooding across New York City, Hurricane Henri which pummeled Long Island with heavy rain, and Hurricane Ida which forced most of the subway system to shut down with many stations flooded and at least 43 people dead, mostly from drowning in basement apartments. Sadly, at the current rate of addressing climate change, we will leave our grandchildren a dystopian future mirroring ‘The Walking Dead’ with inadequate air, water and limited arable land. Climate Can’t Wait’s package of bills will help in the effort to leave a viable planet for posterity. The Renewable Capitol Act is an important symbolic step toward building a just and renewable future, and it will protect the environmental justice neighborhood of Sheridan Hollow from the fracked gas plant that currently pollutes the community in order to heat the Capitol and Empire State Plaza,” said Merton D. Simpson Jr., Albany County Legislator and Co-Chair of Sheridan Hollow Alliance for Renewable Energy (SHARE).

“Governor Hochul needs to break with Cuomo’s garbage climate policies, which put PR over creating jobs to cut fossil fuel use,” said Rachel Rivera, a Sandy survivor and member of New York Communities for Change. “It’s time to fund climate action and pass these vital bills because climate can’t wait. There’s no time to waste with the climate crisis: delay equals death.”

“It is 2022. Climate legislation needs to start getting passed! We are far too deep into the climate crisis to be holding off any longer. Yet, despite the present danger we are in, the New York State Legislature has failed to pass the large-scale climate legislation needed to comply with the promises made by the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). As young people, the fight for our future is more crucial than ever, which is why the New York Youth Climate Leaders are proud to be a part of the Climate Can’t Wait Coalition and join with other like minded activists and heroes from across the state in pushing for the much needed passage of climate legislation. The Governor and our state legislators must listen to our voices of all ages, but especially the youth, as our future is in peril. We need them to pass legislation to let New Yorkers transition to a renewable energy economy, thus saving our future which we will not stop fighting for,” said Mandy Berghela, senior in high school and co-director of Government Affairs with the New York Youth Climate Leaders.

A recording of today’s press conference is available here; additional quotes are available here.

Climate Can’t Wait is a collaboration between 350NJ-Rockland, 350NYC, 350Brooklyn, Citizen Action of New York, Divest NY, Empire State Indivisible, El Puente, Energy Democracy Alliance, Food & Water Watch, For the Many, Forest Hills Green Team, Fossil Fuel Subsidies Coalition, Franciscan Action Network- NYA Franciscan Justice Circle, , Hudson Center for Community and Environment, Indivisible Harlem, Indivisible Nation BK, Indivisible Scarsdale, Mid Hudson Valley DSA, New York Communities for Change, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, NYC DSA Ecosocialist Working Group, NY Renews, New York State Council of Churches, New York Youth Climate Leaders, NYCD16 Indivisible, PAUSE, People’s Climate Movement-NY, Professional Staff Congress CUNY, Province of St. Mary of the Capuchin Order, Queens Climate Project, Queens County Young Democrats, Rockland United, Sheridan Hollow Alliance for Renewable Energy (SHARE), Sunrise Movement NYC, Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative, TREEage, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and WESPAC Foundation.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Virginia Delegate Introduces Fossil Fuel Moratorium Legislation

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Richmond, VA — Today, Delegate Kaye Kory introduced HB 1355 to place a moratorium on any new fossil fuel projects and infrastructure in Virginia. With an effective date of January 1, 2023, HB 1355 would halt the construction of pipelines and fracked gas facilities for power generation.

Food & Water Watch Southern Region Director Jorge Aguilar issued the following statement:

“As Governor Youngkin signals regressive energy policies that threaten to take Virginia backward on efforts to tackle climate change, it’s inspiring to see this landmark legislation introduced to fight the climate crisis head on. HB 1355 is the bold climate leadership we need in Richmond, putting an immediate end to our reliance on fossil fuels.

“As projects like the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Chickahominy Pipeline and Power Plant continue apace, state leadership must commit to the passage of HB 1355 and put an end to these destructive projects, once and for all.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NY Gov. Hochul’s Budget Furthers Statewide Gas Ban In New Construction; Requires Bolder Timeline

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Governor Hochul’s 2022 executive budget unveiled last night includes a statewide ban on fossil fuels in new construction by 2027. The move is the boldest taken in any state to move off climate-warming fossil fuels and safeguard public health from building pollutants — but it does not go far enough to stave off the impending climate crisis.

Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director Alex Beauchamp issued the following statement:

“Yesterday’s move is an undeniably big one — but Governor Hochul must go further and faster. The devil really is in the details. We simply cannot move fast enough to ban fossil fuels in buildings to lower greenhouse gas emissions, keep indoor air pollution at bay, save lives and lower utility bills.

“We call on Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins to enact the All Electric Buildings Act, S6843A/A8431, with haste, as part of the state budget due April 1. This will ensure New York’s new buildings are constructed without fossil fuels by the end of 2023. It’s time we move as fast as the crisis is moving towards us.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

One State’s Faulty Energy Plan Is Incentivizing Pollution Nationwide — Biden Wants To Make It The National Model

Categories

Food System

California’s clean energy program is leading to the unprecedented growth of factory farm biogas facilities nationwide, an emerging sector of the fossil fuel industry that creates methane gas from factory farm pollution to inject straight into pipelines alongside fracked gas.  

The nascent industry has secured allies in high places, from California Governor Gavin Newsom to President Biden, whose USDA is set to unveil a plan to expand the flawed program. 

How “Renewable Natural Gas” (RNG) Props Up Polluters

Big Ag is teaming up with the fossil fuel industry to bail out their stranded fracked gas assets. The false climate solution they misleadingly call “renewable natural gas” (RNG) incentivizes the worst practices of the polluting industries. From pipelines to gas hookups in buildings, factory farm biogas keeps gas infrastructure on the grid and provides the rationale to build more. While industry touts RNG as a way to eventually supplant fossil fuel gas, the numbers tell a different story: This is an energy source that, at full potential, with 2019 data, accounts for just one percent of total natural gas use. At a time when we need to move off fossil fuels, factory farm biogas extends a lifeline to the fracked gas industry.

Biogas also drives polluting factory farm expansion, driving increased industry pollution and hampering efforts to transition our food and agriculture system away from emissions-intensive factory farming. Factory farm air pollution includes the release of ammonia, a smog-forming particle linked to more than 12,000 premature deaths annually — anaerobic digestion has been proven to concentrate the pollutant further. Further, the waste left over from the anaerobic digestion process is often land-applied, leaching harmful pollutants like nitrates into drinking water supplies, cropland and regional ecosystems.

How California Is Driving National Biogas Growth

In 2018, there was not a single factory farm biogas facility in California’s low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) program. Today, at least 66 facilities in nine states profit off the credit system. More than 30 large-scale projects are under construction explicitly to generate pipeline gas eligible to profit from the California program. 

California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) is the nation’s largest and most lucrative carbon credit system for factory farm biogas. Intended to incentivize the production and use of low-carbon fuel sources for the transportation sector, the LCFS determines credits based on the life cycle emissions of each energy source. Under the LCFS, factory farm biogas lifecycle emissions don’t include many of the greenhouse gas emissions attributable to factory farming, resulting in calculations that the fuel has a vastly lower emissions intensity than in reality. This faulty accounting attributes a greater supposed climate benefit to factory farm biogas that can be sold as a “credit”.

In his November Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan, Biden charged his USDA with developing a plan which we anticipate will borrow language from California’s faulty LCFS. This threatens to extend the system’s faulty accounting nationwide, broadening the market and profit horizon for the polluting industry.

How Taxpayers’ Clean Energy Money Goes to Polluters

Factory farm biogas digesters need public funding to turn a profit. Unsubsidized and outside of a credit system, factory farm biogas costs between four and six times as much as fracked gas, per energy unit generated. With LCFS credits, digester facility operators can pay off their startup costs in no time — as much as a few years to profit, despite the hefty startup price tag, which ranges from $3-10 million.

Yet public money flows freely to the false solution. In his 2022 budget, California’s Governor Newsom directed $48 million to factory farm biogas facility development, and the facilities carry President Biden’s endorsement. Federal efforts to prop up the false solution of factory farm biogas spell disaster for our climate. Seeing lucrative public investment, tax credits and pollution trading programs like California’s LCFS, private investment in the biogas scam has tripled since 2017 to $1.6 billion.

Food & Water Watch is tracking the factory farm biogas industry’s growth nationwide, and is engaged both in local fights to stop these methane refineries, in legal action to stop the buildout, and organizing to ban factory farms federally and in states across the country. In October, we worked in coalition to file a petition calling on California to remove factory farm biogas from its LCFS.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Food & Water Watch Urges Broward County Commission to Halt LNG Shipping at FL Port Everglades

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Yesterday, the national environmental organization Food & Water Watch issued a letter to the Broward County Commission, urging the Commission to act within their legal authority to direct Port Everglades to halt all shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Citing documents revealed in a Food & Water Watch public records request that demonstrate imminent plans to quadruple the amount of LNG transported through Broward County for export at the Port, the letter requests that the Broward County Commission exercise its “right to restrict or prohibit the entry or handling of any cargo or other property in the Main Zone [at Port Everglades] due to its hazardous… nature.”

As of last week, the U.S. is the world’s largest LNG exporter, threatening climate chaos globally and public safety locally. Beyond the climate hazards of continuing to promote the extraction, transport and burning of fossil fuels, LNG is also a highly dangerous material and its transport is a significant public safety concern. Dangers include explosive vapor clouds from LNG container punctures, boiling liquid expanding vapor explosions, deadly fireballs, and fires untamable by conventional firefighting and hazardous response measures.

Florida’s East Coast is currently involved in a dangerous “bomb train” experiment, putting residents at further risk as the LNG is transported by both truck and train through the county to Port Everglades. The Florida East Coast Railway received a special permit from the Trump administration, which exempted them from the recent federal order to halt LNG transit by rail, citing safety concerns.

With the letter, Food & Water Watch Southern Region Deputy Director Michelle Allen issued the following statement:

“The Broward County Commission has a duty to keep county residents safe. Yet for years, residents have been subjected to the threat of deadly liquefied natural gas (LNG) being silently transported through the region, without a full comprehensive review by the state or the federal government. It’s time to put an end to this senseless threat.

“The evidence is clear — LNG is a danger to communities and our climate. To have any real hope of keeping climate change below a tipping point, we must stop the transport and use of LNG immediately. And to uphold their responsibility to keep constituents safe, the Broward County Commission simply must stop the transport of LNG at Port Everglades now.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Third Carbon Capture Pipeline Scam Proposed For Iowa

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Today, news broke of plans to develop a third carbon capture pipeline in Iowa. The new project, proposed by Archer Daniel Midland and Wolf Carbon Solutions, marks the third carbon capture pipeline project proposed for Iowa. The efforts have garnered widespread resistance from thousands of impacted landowners and Iowans.

In response, Food & Water Watch Senior Iowa Organizer Emma Schmit issued the following statement:

“Carbon capture and storage is an unproven and unsound technology that will do nothing to mitigate the climate crisis — it’s an industry scam and distraction from the real work of reforming our agricultural and energy sectors to combat the looming climate emergency.

We envision an Iowa where communities work together to care for our land, climate and communities alike — carbon capture has no part in that future. We will continue our sustained resistance to these corporate fat cats looking to profit at our peril. We urge our state legislators to introduce legislation this session to put an end to this destructive profiteering, and keep carbon capture out of Iowa. It’s time to focus instead on the real solutions to our climate and agriculture crisis by stopping destructive, emissions-intensive agricultural practices from factory farming to monocropping and ethanol production.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Advocates, Legislators Urge NY Gov. Hochul to End Fossil Fuels in New Buildings Via Budget

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, with one week until Governor Hochul is set to present her 2022 budget to the state legislature, more than 90 advocates and state legislators gathered to demand that she prioritize the phaseout of fossil fuels in new buildings through the budgetary process. Gov. Hochul announced her support for a statewide ban on fossil fuels in new buildings in her State of the State address, in a move critiqued by advocates for its slow timeline.

Senator Brian Kavanaugh and Assembly Member Emily Gallagher, prime bill sponsors of legislation to ban fossil fuels in new construction, S6843A/A8431, and other state legislators joined advocates today in a virtual press conference calling on Governor Hochul to incorporate the bill into her budget to expedite its passage. With less than a decade remaining to avoid a tipping point in the climate crisis, advocates and state legislators urged Governor Hochul to act quickly on the ban, taking concrete steps to shut down New York’s market for climate-warming fossil fuels.

“Governor Hochul has laid out a timeline for a statewide gas ban that fails to meet the urgency of the climate crisis,” said Assembly Member Emily Gallagher, Sponsor of A8431. “This bill will put New York on course to building the green economy of the future, and reduce the air pollution that kills thousands of New Yorkers each year. Governor Hochul — thank you, but go further. It’s clear that you understand the need to stop fossil fuels in buildings, but we need to move faster. Put the Electric Buildings Act in your budget.”

“The CLCPA set ambitious climate emissions reductions goals for New York and is the strongest state legislation in the country, but we urge speed. We want as rapid as possible implementation and enactment of the Electric Buildings Act. We cannot wait until the last week of session — this is an urgent crisis,” said Senator Brian Kavanagh, Sponsor of S6843A. “As we engage in conversations about the budget, we need to include the electric buildings act and get it done.”

Should Governor Hochul ban fossil fuels in new construction, New York would be the first state in the country to do so. The push for action at the executive level comes weeks after New York City made history as the nation’s largest city to pass a fossil fuel ban in December. Food & Water Watch Senior New York Organizer Eric Weltman said:

“New York is primed to make history as the first state to ban fossil fuels in new buildings — all we need is for Governor Hochul to rise to the task. With a stroke of her pen, she can cement New York as a leader in addressing the climate crisis head on, banning fossil fuels in new construction to crack down on greenhouse gas emissions and indoor air pollution. Governor Hochul must include the NY state gas ban in her budget.”

“This winter’s exorbitant heating bills have exposed the lie that the fracking industry and its corporate utility partners claim that gas equals cheap energy,” said Kim Fraczek, Director of Sane Energy Project, member of the Renewable Heat Now campaign  “Passing the All Electric Buildings Act will not only help us lock in affordable and efficient electric heat pumps and geothermal, but help alleviate the dangers and poison that comes from gas in our buildings.”

“Continuing gas infrastructure expansion is not affordable for today’s gas customers and it’s not sustainable for the climate, which is why we must stop constructing new buildings with gas and other fossil fuel systems,” said Avni Pravin, Deputy Policy Director of Alliance for a Green Economy. “We call on Governor Hochul and the legislature to pass the All-Electric Buildings Act as soon as possible, without weakening the timeline or the affordability provisions.”

“Fossil fuels burned in buildings are the single biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions,” said Lisa Marshall of Mothers Out Front NY. “This is why the Renewable Heat Now Campaign is a priority for our organization. We fully support the All-Electric Building act and the rest of the bills that are part of the Renewable Heat Now legislative package. Including these bills in the 2022 budget will demonstrate unequivocally that New York is committed to meaningful climate solutions.”

“We all know that the technology to build electric buildings is there, that building electric will create jobs, and help push New York state into a fossil fuel free economy — it’s time to make it happen,” said Sonal Jessel, Director of Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “We believe that all people deserve to live in healthy housing that is free from pollution sources like gas stoves, and we believe that we must ensure that low-income people and people of color across New York state don’t bear the utility burden from continued fossil fuel expansion. S6843A/A843 will make that happen — Governor Hochul must enact a statewide gas ban in her budget.”

“When Sandy hit New York, I lost everything, and I almost lost my daughter. Then, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, Ida hit New York, and we keep losing even more lives and compiling trauma,” said Rachel Rivera, Hurricane Sandy survivor and NYCC member. “I commend Governor Hochul for supporting a statewide gas ban, but waiting for 2027 is too long — we need to move faster. It’s just getting worse out here.”

“Going all electric for new buildings keeps fossil fuels out of buildings and keeps residents healthy. The students we work with will inherit more extreme weather and rising sea levels from the climate crisis. That’s why we are fighting for a future with breathable air and safer, more resilient communities. S6843A/A843 will help us get there and must be implemented immediately,” said Megan Ahearn, Program Director for NYPIRG. 

“The All Electric Buildings Act is a no regrets solution. There is no reason to wait on a statewide gas ban,” said Conor Bambrik, with Environmental Advocates NY. “While this bill will have important impacts on climate emissions, it is also going to have a huge impact on public health. Fully electric new buildings will go a long way to helping the climate and the health of our communities.”

“Fossil fuels have no future in New York state,” said Bill Nowak of NY-GEO, the New York Geothermal Energy Organization. “I can’t see any self-respecting business setting up their customers with obsolete heating and cooling systems at this point. Governor Hochul’s announcement gets us part way there, but we need to move faster. Our industry is ready — put S6843A/A843 into law and we will make it happen.”

“BIPOC & low-income communities seeking opportunities for a new home or a new apartment should not have to sacrifice their health for a better place to live,” said Daphany Rose Sanchez, Kinetic Communities. “Equitably funding electrification in new construction and prioritizing disinvested communities is the only path forward for a just clean energy transition. Let’s shift our communities to center people and health first — make S6843A/A843 into law.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

35 Groups Urge Governor Carney to Oppose Biogas Infrastructure Development in Delaware

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Today, 35 groups from across the Delmarva region issued a letter to Governor Carney, urging his opposition to factory farm biogas infrastructure development moving forward in Delaware. The controversial Bioenergy DevCo biogas scheme in Sussex County currently seeking state permits will be the first facility of its kind in the state and region. Groups warn that the project is only the start of what could be a destructive regional industry buildout, if allowed unchecked.

Letter signatories cited a host of concerns with the Bioenergy DevCo biogas operation, including:

  • Traffic and the safety of public roads: The methane refinery Bioenergy DevCo has planned would bring at least 20,000 heavy-duty truck trips per year (or more than 50 every day) to local roads. A yet undisclosed number of the trucks added to local roads would be hauling explosive gas – sometimes called “truck bombs.” 
  • Air quality: Biogas facilities emit smog-forming nitrogen oxides, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide. These chemicals are known to cause chronic lung disease and other respiratory ailments like asthma, and would directly affect health in nearby neighborhoods.
  • Water quality: The waste at biogas facilities inevitably seeps into the soil either through mismanagement at the site or land application to fields, and has the potential to poison local drinking water with nitrate contamination that is linked to birth defects, miscarriages, various cancers and blue baby syndrome.
  • Environmental justice: The community surrounding Bioenergy DevCo’s proposed biogas facility is home to people of color at almost twice the rate of Sussex County as a whole and home to people living in poverty at almost three times the rate of Sussex County as a whole. To place a dirty and dangerous industrial plant for the sole purpose of extracting gas (and generating profit) from slaughterhouse sludge in this community is simply unjust.

In the letter, groups requested that Governor Carney direct the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to reject Bioenergy DevCo’s sought-after permits and oppose all buildout of biogas infrastructure. Food & Water Watch Delaware Organizer Greg Layton said:

“Delaware is facing the crises of a destructively expansive factory farm poultry industry and the imminent doom of the climate crisis. As they always do, Big Ag is looking to profit off the situation by peddling a false solution in factory farm biogas. But make no mistake — factory farm biogas will do nothing to aid our poultry waste overload, and everything to further entrench both factory farms and fossil fuel infrastructure in our communities. Governor Carney must say no to Bioenergy DevCo and no to biogas.”

“Biogas is a threat not only to the environment, but to the health of the communities in which our members live and work,” said Javiel Nazario, UFCW Local 27 VP & Executive Asst. to the President. “We call on Governor Carney to oppose the buildout of biogas infrastructure in favor of safer, cleaner energy alternatives.”

“Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice (SDARJ), supports fellow environmental justice advocates and, therefore, opposes the construction of an anaerobic digestion system in Sussex County,” said SDARJ Chair Charlotte King. “The hazards associated with the proposed methane refinery site that have been shared with state agencies responsible for protecting the environment and the health of Delawareans, state and county legislators and residents, raise serious concerns that the project would import and concentrate massive quantities of pollutants, and would threaten local and regional water quality. In addition, given our mission, SDARJ is especially concerned about people of color who live near the proposed plant. As a matter of fact, in Seaford, Delaware, people of color make up about 32 percent of the population within the three-mile radius of the proposed anaerobic digester. Indeed, an extensive and expanding body of scientific evidence finds that people of color are located more often in communities that are exposed to disproportionately higher levels of pollution.”

“The Sierra Club Delaware Chapter strongly opposes this methane refinery in Sussex Co,” said Sherri Evans-Stanton, Sierra Club Delaware Chapter director. “The facility would send toxic chemicals in the air and would poison our local drinking water. This would result in significant increased health impacts. Additionally, the facility would be located next to some of our most vulnerable communities. Biogas is not a renewable energy and this project should be denied.”

“Factory farm gas or so called ‘biogas’ is a dirty energy with serious safety and health concerns for the minority communities where this project is being sited,” said Maria Payan, Socially Responsible Agriculture Project senior regional representative. “Furthermore, to represent this as an Environmental Justice solution for frontline communities is reprehensible. “

“The Community Housing & Empowerment Connections Inc. (CHEC) stands with Food & Water Watch and other nearby residents in Seaford in preventing Bioenergy DevCo’s project from moving forward. While there are a number of reasons why this project should not be located there, the primary one is that it’s harmful to people’s health,” said Penny Dryden, Community Housing & Environment Connections, Inc. Executive Director. “Low income communities of color already face higher pollution burdens than their more affluent and whiter neighbors, as highlighted in our 2017 EJ for Delaware report. The placement of dirty digesters in these communities is unjust, detrimental to health and will only exacerbate the existing environmental hazards facing these vulnerable communities in Sussex County Delaware. CHEC Inc. urges the governor and all other public officials to put the people above profits and reject this project.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NY Governor Hochul Ignores Crypto-Mining Threat to Her Climate Agenda

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

In her State of the State address this afternoon, Governor Hochul pledged bold commitments to phasing fossil fuels out of New York’s energy grid, including voicing support for a statewide gas ban. Unfortunately, the governor’s proposed gas ban takes effect far too slowly – 2027 – to meet the immediacy of the climate crisis. What’s more, her climate plan fails to address the growing threat of the crypto-mining industry in New York.

In response, Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director Alex Beauchamp issued the following statement:

“Governor Hochul is taking the necessary strides on climate that her predecessor was too meek to address. Yet, in 237 pages of a staggeringly detailed State of the State book, Governor Hochul fails to address the mounting climate threat that crypto-mining poses to her climate agenda. We are hopeful that the Governor’s encouraging words on climate will be backed up by strong action, starting with a rejection of the Greenidge fracked gas power plant currently powering a bitcoin mining operation in the Finger Lakes and a commitment to stop the ludicrous practice of firing up dirty, retired power plants to mine cryptocurrency.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NY Climate Activists Say Gov. Hochul’s Proposed Gas Ban is Too Slow, Urge Immediate State Action

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

After a successful campaign to pass a ban on gas in new construction in New York City, climate activists are pressing for rapid state-level action to enact a gas ban statewide. The move would make New York the first state in the country with a statewide gas ban, combating climate change, cutting deadly local air pollution, and creating jobs. Eric Weltman, Senior Organizer for Food & Water Watch said:

“The threat of climate change demands rapid action to move New York off fossil fuels, but Hochul is moving dangerously too slow. We don’t have time to wait on banning gas in buildings statewide. Governor Hochul is right to stand with New Yorkers and her own Climate Action Council in supporting a ban on gas in new construction, but she must accelerate the timeline. Hochul’s proposal would take effect by or in 2027, slower than New York City’s newly-passed gas ban or even what the Climate Action Council proposed. Governor Hochul must act quickly, enacting the statewide gas ban through the state budget — now.” 

The #GasFreeNY campaign urges Governor Hochul to incorporate S6843A/A8431 (Kavanagh/Gallagher) into the state’s budget, enabling an immediate gas ban at the state level that would take effect in one year on new permits, as in other jurisdictions. 

Additionally, the state must not preempt stronger local gas bans on new construction by any municipality, including New York City.

“We urge Governor Hochul to incorporate gas ban legislation (S6843A/A8431) sponsored by Senator Brian Kavanagh and Assemblymember Emily Gallagher into the state budget. The state should act immediately. There is no time to waste in the climate crisis and a gas ban also creates good jobs while cutting deadly air pollution. If the legislation passes, New York State would become the first state to end gas use in new construction, which has been enacted at the municipal level by over 50 localities nationwide to date, including New York City, San Jose, Sacramento, Oakland, and Seattle,” said Megan Ahearn, Program Director for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG).  

The #GasFreeNY campaign, which is expected to grow rapidly in the wake of climate activists landmark NYC-level victory, is composed of Earthjustice, Food & Water Watch, New York Communities for Change and NYPIRG.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NY Gov Vetoes Ban on Spreading Oil and Gas Waste on Roads, Sides with Industry Over People

Categories

Climate and Energy

On December 23rd, Governor Hochul vetoed critical legislation (S355/A903) banning the spreading of oil and gas waste on New York’s roads. Fifteen counties in New York have already banned this dangerous practice, which poses a direct threat to both people and the environment. Both houses of New York’s legislature overwhelmingly voted in favor of the ban earlier this year.

Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director Alex Beauchamp issued the following statement:

“Governor Hochul’s decision to side with the oil and gas industry over New Yorkers is appalling. As we head into the winter season, toxic waste from oil and gas operations is routinely being dumped on roads across the state, putting people at risk. Earlier this year, both houses of the legislature overwhelmingly passed crucial legislation to protect New Yorkers from this hazardous practice. Governor Hochul’s veto can only be described as an early Christmas present to corporate polluters.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Company Issues Misleading Letter to Landowners Impacted by Dangerous Carbon Pipeline Proposal

Categories

Climate and Energy

This weekend, news broke that former Governor Terry Branstad had issued letters on behalf of Summit Carbon Solutions to landowners impacted by the controversial carbon pipeline project proposed for the Midwest. Proposed to cover hundreds of miles across Iowa, Summit’s pipeline is a disaster in the making, posing serious threats to communities, land and climate.

The misleading letter from the pipeline developer warns landowners against community and environmental groups opposed to the destructive pipeline, saying that such groups “are not your friends” and could be “making wild claims about the pipeline and encouraging you to oppose it.” News of these misleading letters comes on the heels of the state refusal to make public the names of landowners impacted by the dangerous pipeline proposal, hampering the efforts of environmental and community groups to conduct outreach on the project.

In response, Food & Water Watch Senior Organizer Emma Schmit issued the following statement:

“Carbon capture and storage is an unproven and unsound false climate solution. A distraction from the real work of reforming our agricultural and energy sectors to combat the looming climate emergency, carbon capture stands to make corporate cronies like Rastetter and Branstad very rich, while regular Iowans bear the brunt of the project’s many risks.

Carbon pipeline developers are using landowner names to specifically organize a misinformation campaign, while weaponizing the Iowa Utilities Board to prohibit community groups from conducting public education — it’s unjust. Iowans have the right to understand the many threats carbon capture and storage pose to our communities, land and climate.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Midwest Groups Ask Sen. Schumer to Exclude Carbon Capture Credits from Build Back Better Act

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, eight groups issued a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, requesting that federal taxpayer dollars, credits and incentives do not go toward carbon capture and storage. Carbon capture and storage is a false climate solution that threatens to entrench both the fossil fuel and industrial agriculture industries and steal public money away from real climate solutions like wind and solar. The letter comes amidst Congressional debate on the Build Back Better Act.

To minimize the harms that carbon capture and sequestration poses, groups requested that Senator Schumer and Congressional Democrats:

  • increase minimum capture rates to 90%, which industry leaders consistently claim to the public that they are able to achieve,
  • eliminate the tax credit for carbon dioxide used in enhanced oil recovery, and 
  • ensure that CCS facilities and related infrastructure are not sited in disadvantaged communities.

The group’s letter came days after U.S. Representative Ro Khanna introduced legislation dubbed the End Polluter Welfare for Enhanced Oil Recovery Act to eliminate public subsidies for enhanced oil recovery.

“Carbon capture and storage has no place in a clean energy future — and no place in our backyards,” said Emma Schmit, Food & Water Watch Senior Iowa Organizer. “Posing immediate dangers to Iowans’ lives, land and livelihood, carbon capture and the pipelines that come with it are a false solution to the crisis we face. Congress must eliminate loopholes that funnel taxpayer dollars to this corporate scam. It’s time to double down on addressing the true causes of climate change — stopping fossil fuels and reforming our agriculture system.”

“Carbon capture and sequestration is just another greenwashing scheme designed to prop up the fossil fuel industry,” said Julie Duhn, Hardin County resident and member of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. “We don’t want our tax dollars lining the pockets of corporate profiteers who only seek to further destroy our planet when we should be trying to heal it. That’s why Iowa communities are banding together to keep these pipelines out of Iowa.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Company Behind Gowanus Fracked Gas Plant Repowering in NY Discontinues Project

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Yesterday, as advocates celebrated the New York City Council’s passage of a citywide gas ban in new buildings, the company behind the Gowanus fracked gas power plant repowering quietly announced their discontinuation of the controversial project. The project had drawn opposition from New Yorkers and more than forty elected officials including Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Mayor-Elect Eric Adams.

In response to the news, Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director Alex Beauchamp issued the following statement:

“Gowanus is the latest fossil fuel project to close its doors in New York. From Governor Hochul’s decisions to stop both the Danskammer and Astoria fracked gas plants, to the New York City Council’s passage of a bold citywide gas ban, the days of fracked gas in our state are numbered. No Gowanus repowering means better health outcomes for New Yorkers and better climate outcomes for everyone. Eastern Generation’s decision to pull out of the project underscores New Yorkers unequivocal stance that fossil fuels and those who profit off their pollution are not welcome here.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Virginia State Agency Awards Controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline A Critical Water Permit

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Richmond, VA — Today, despite mass grassroots opposition, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Water Board narrowly awarded the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) a critical water permit, by a margin of 3-2. The fate of the massive fracked gas pipeline will now rest with Biden’s federal agencies. Biden’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and Army Corps of Engineers will have the final say on the project, with decisions expected from these agencies in early 2022.

Food & Water Watch Southern Region Director Jorge Aguilar issued the following statement:

“Mountain Valley Pipeline offers a critical opportunity for President Biden’s administration. Where Virginia state agencies and our Governor have abdicated responsibility to protect Virginians from the destruction and pollution of this massive fracked gas project, the federal government must now act. Leadership on climate change simply cannot include the Mountain Valley Pipeline. We call on President Biden to direct his federal agencies to deny the Mountain Valley Pipeline its required permits.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

New York City Set to Ban Gas Use in New Construction Buildings

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

New York, NY – After a successful campaign led by the #GasFreeNYC coalition, New York City will soon ban the use of gas in new construction. 

Negotiations for legislation banning gas hookups in new buildings in New York City by limiting carbon emissions concluded late last night, with a final version of the bill slated to be voted on by the City Council next week. The legislation is sponsored by Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel of Brooklyn and has 26 co-sponsors. Mayor de Blasio supports the legislation as does Speaker Johnson. 

The bill, Introduction 2317, ends gas use in small buildings under seven stories tall in two years (2023), starting on new permit applications, and ends gas use in large buildings over seven stories in five years (2027).

The #GasFreeNYC coalition, led by New York Communities for Change, NYPIRG, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and Food & Water Watch, championed this gas ban legislation for months, and issued the following statement today:

“Our climate movement is winning. The nation’s largest city is about to end gas hookups in new buildings and set a big precedent for other cities and states to follow. As climate action stalls at the federal and international level, New York City is leading the way on fighting climate change, cutting air pollution, and creating good jobs. The evidence is clear: an immediate shift to requiring gas-free buildings is both feasible and necessary. We have the technology and the skills to build all-electric buildings, many of which are already built or under construction across the city.

We applaud the leadership of Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel, who introduced the bill and fought hard against industry efforts to weaken it. We also thank Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Johnson for their support. Most of all we thank the activists, organizations, and experts who made this pioneering victory possible. We call on the City Council to pass Introduction 2317 and officially end the use of gas in new construction. The devastation caused by Hurricane Ida in New York City this year was a painful reminder that delaying climate action is lethal for New Yorkers. Additionally, this legislation will prevent the use of future gas infrastructure in homes that contributes to poor air quality and therefore causes respiratory and cardiovascular illness.

We also urge the state legislature and Governor Hochul to pass the fossil-free building legislation (S6843A/A8431) introduced by Senator Brian Kavanagh and Assembly Member Emily Gallagher, which would end fossil fuel use in new construction in one year for all of New York State.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

IA Landowner Names Impacted by Carbon Pipelines Must be Public, Legal Filing States

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Yesterday, Food & Water Watch filed legal comments requesting that the names of landowners impacted by the proposed Summit Carbon Solutions carbon pipeline be made public. Given the project’s substantial dangers and uncertain regulatory environment, Food & Watch demanded the Iowa Utilities Board make landowner names public to facilitate transparency and community organizing around the proposed project.

In an attempt to prevent organized public opposition to its project, Summit has been pressuring the Iowa Utilities Board to prevent the disclosure of impacted landowner names. The project has been met with widespread opposition from landowners, and the public access to names is critical to sharing accurate information on project risks with impacted citizens.

Food & Water Watch Senior Iowa Organizer Emma Schmit issued the following statement:

“Iowa is not a sacrifice zone. Our state is already ravaged by the factory farming and corporate agriculture industries that pollute our air, water and land with abandon. We cannot give another free pass to corporate abuse — that begins by releasing the names of Iowan landowners impacted by the proposed pipeline.

Carbon pipelines are a nightmare for Iowa. The dangerous project has already seen massive opposition. Information sharing and community organizing are critical to ensuring all parties have an accurate understanding of how to take action against the proposal. Governor Reynolds and her Utilities Board must make all impacted landowner names public.”

Contact: Seth Gladstone, [email protected]

Food & Water Watch Sues Sussex County Commission Over Factory Farm Biogas Facility

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

On Friday, Food & Water Watch, alongside and on behalf of a local resident, filed a lawsuit against the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission for their unlawful zoning decision regarding CleanBay Renewables’ planned factory farm biogas facility in Georgetown. The petitioners argue that the Commission exceeded its jurisdiction and ignored County law when it found that construction at the site was “substantially underway,” and that therefore CleanBay Renewables’ conditional use approval could remain in effect.

Food & Water Watch was forced to bring this lawsuit after County officials refused to process its appeal to the Sussex County Board of Adjustment. This refusal marks only the latest move by County officials to ram through factory farm biogas facilities in areas otherwise reserved for agriculture and low-density residential uses, despite local opposition. County officials’ apparent disregard for impacted residents is an affront to their constituents. 

If the lawsuit is successful, CleanBay Renewables’ zoning approval will become null and void, a major setback in its effort to bring a polluting factory farm biogas facility into the area. Given the public health, safety and environmental threats of factory farm biogas, a voided permit would be a victory for nearby residents, who staunchly opposed the facility when it was first proposed in 2018.

With the filing, Food & Water Watch Attorney Emily Miller issued the following statement:

“In flagrant violation of their own County Code, the Commission’s decision to allow CleanBay Renewables’ zoning approval to remain in effect flies in the face of the law and the best interests of their own constituents. Commissioners claimed they were giving the company the ‘benefit of the doubt’ when they made this unlawful decision. But the benefit of the doubt should go to the communities who will bear the brunt of the public health impacts from the toxic air and water pollution the gas refinery would emit — not to the companies who stand to profit off the entrenchment of two mega-polluting industries, factory farms and dirty energy providers. Factory farm biogas must not take root in Delaware. That begins with holding developers like CleanBay Renewables to account, as opposed to giving them special treatment in contravention of state and county law.”

Petitioners are represented in this matter by Kenneth T. Kristl, Esq., Professor of Law & Director of the Environmental & Natural Resources Law Clinic at Widener University Delaware Law School.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

TECO Net-Zero Plan Threatens to Take Tampa Backwards on Clean Energy Commitments

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Yesterday, with the support of Tampa’s Mayor Castor, the city’s utility monopoly TECO announced a plan to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The commitment is severely lacking in details, but one thing is for sure — it threatens to take the city backwards on clean energy, without a firm commitment to ending the use of fossil fuels citywide. 

TECO’s announced commitment is at odds with an enacted resolution passed by the Tampa City Council earlier this year, which called for 100% renewable energy by 2035, more than a decade before TECO has committed to a weaker “net zero” energy grid. In addition to a slow timeline, advocates warn that net-zero commitments are smoke and mirrors, relying on faulty carbon offsets and untested carbon capture technology to distract from the continued burning of polluting fossil fuels.

Where the city has all but abdicated responsibility to act boldly on clean energy, Tampa Bay Climate Alliance groups called on Tampa’s U.S. Representative Castor to push bold federal policies that eliminate fossil fuel use nationally to act where Tampa is not. Brooke Errett, Food & Water Watch Senior Florida Organizer said:

“With less than a decade left to enact sweeping reforms of our energy grid, TECO’s faulty net-zero commitment is an embarrassment. Business as usual is nowhere near bold enough for the crisis we face. Mayor Castor should know better than to buy greenwashed corporate commitments like this one. We need U.S. Representative Castor to step in and champion federal policies that cut fossil fuels out of our energy grid once and for all.”

“TECO’s Net Zero by 2050 commitment just means the company will pay for carbon offsets or invest in carbon capture technologies as they continue to pollute, with no formal commitments to transition or phase out of fossil fuels,” said Mary-Elizabeth Estrada, Tampa Climate Justice Organizer with the Florida Student Power Network. “We need a just-equitable transition from TECO, not another performative greenwashing commitment to continue business as usual, while our future is at stake.”

“PSR Florida joins climate scientists and healthcare professionals around the globe in viewing net zero carbon as a dangerous trap that denies the urgency of the climate crisis and net zero’s inequitable application for low-income communities. Shame on TECO and the Mayor of the great City of Tampa for dragging the city into the trap,” said Howard Kessler, MD, President PSR Florida. “PSR Florida calls on federal policy makers to protect public health and address the climate crisis by promoting 100% clean and renewable energy legislation today.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

New Biden Administration Rule on Liquified Fracked Gas (LNG) Rail Transport Won’t Protect Floridians

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation filed an anticipated new rule suspending a 2019 Trump Administration rule that opened the door to allow shipments of LNG (liquefied fracked gas) by rail. The new rule temporarily suspends rail transport for the highly flammable hazardous material, while the agency evaluates whether LNG by rail should be allowed in a separate rulemaking. 

The rule reversal will not, however, impact the dangerous “bomb train” experiment moving forward along the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC). Thanks to a special federal permit FEC acquired under the Trump administration, this new rule from the Biden Administration will not impact New Fortress Energy’s rail transport of LNG in Florida.

In response to the report, Food & Water Watch Southern Region Deputy Director Michelle Allen issued the following statement:

“For the past few years, the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) has been transporting extremely volatile LNG on tracks that pass through dense communities. Public health advocates and engineers alike have been sounding the alarm on the ticking time bomb of LNG rail transportation projects like Florida’s. Simply put, LNG transport by rail poses unnecessary risks to Florida’s communities.

Big Oil & Gas’ insatiable thirst for profits will inevitably lead to more LNG projects across Florida unless stronger action is taken by the Biden Administration. Miami-Dade, Broward, and Jacksonville are already home to LNG facilities, and companies are eyeing further expansion across Florida. As more LNG facilities are built, the industry will look to expand the rail transport of the dangerous substance through more Florida communities. The Biden Administration must do more to protect Florida from dangerous LNG rail transportation. President Biden must permanently ban all rail transport of LNG, including overturning FEC’s special permit.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

DE Governor Carney’s Climate Action Plan Promotes False Solutions In Factory Farm Biogas

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Yesterday, Governor Carney released Delaware’s Climate Action Plan, outlining a roadmap for the state to prepare for climate change in the years to come.

Included in plans for how to reduce high global warming potential greenhouse gases, the Governor’s plan outlines a strategy to “increase renewable natural gas production and incentivize markets for its use as a fuel.” The plan goes further, identifying “renewable natural gas” as a clean energy source, despite its known threats to public health, climate and the environment.

In response, Food & Water Watch Delaware Organizer Greg Layton issued the following statement:

“Cutting climate warming emissions must begin at the pollution source — by banning the continued growth of the factory farm industry in Delaware. Factory farm biogas is a false climate solution that props up polluters. Methane refineries keep the factory farm industry solvent, and biogas provides a lifeline to fossil fuel infrastructure.

Factory farm biogas is neither a clean or renewable energy source and the methane gas refined from factory farmed animal waste does nothing to lower our greenhouse gas emissions. We have no time to waste on false climate solutions, peddled by polluting industry. Governor Carney must invest in real renewable energy in the form of wind and solar, and reject factory farm biogas operations as the scam they are.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NY Gov. Hochul Signs Legislation Enabling Public Water in Nassau County

Categories

Clean Water

For Immediate Release

Yesterday, Governor Hochul signed legislation establishing two new public water authorities in Nassau County. The bills were passed by the New York legislature in June, and have been awaiting the Governor’s signature to enable the process of taking public control of the water systems currently owned and operated by American Water on Long Island. The move comes two days after New Yorkers voted overwhelmingly to approve a Constitutional right to water in the state.

Advocates hailed the move as a powerful blow to the corporate control of water in New York and an essential step towards better service and more affordable, cleaner water. In New York, private water systems like American Water were found to charge almost twice the amount of their public counterparts, making this a critical victory for public ownership of essential water services. Joseph M. Varon, a West Hempstead resident and volunteer with Food & Water Watch said:

“Since becoming governor, Kathy Hochul has demonstrated tremendous leadership in opposing corporate control and abuse of our most vital resources — the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the climate we rely on. Water is a human right — one now enshrined in New York’s constitution — and Governor Hochul’s actions are a major step towards honoring that right on Long Island.”

“We are so thankful and grateful to Governor Hochul for recognizing this injustice and signing the North Shore Water Authority Legislation into law,” said Agatha Nadel, Director of North Shore Concerned Citizens. “We are also so thankful and grateful to Senator Gaughran and Assemblymen Lavine, Montesano and Ra for their leadership and support in getting this legislation unanimously passed. We have suffered under this private water debacle of astronomical rates, never ending surcharges/taxes, water quality issues and lame customer service for way too long. Water is a necessity of life and should always be in the public’s trust — not by private companies who profit from this resource and are accountable to their shareholders. Our time has arrived to cross over the finish line to affordable public water.”

“Glad to see the governor has done the right thing. For the 113,000 NYAW customers in Hempstead, it is now up to the town and the county legislature to do the right thing and appoint independent, non-partisan, non-political commissioners to this new authority with the financial, environmental, civic and legal expertise to implement the public takeover authorized by this legislation,” said Dave Denenberg, Co-Director of LI Clean Air Water & Soil.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NY Votes to Enshrine Right to Water and Healthful Environment in State Constitution

Categories

Clean Water

For Immediate Release


Last night, New Yorkers overwhelmingly voted to enshrine the right to water and a healthful environment in the state constitution. As communities across the state struggle with PFAS contamination, lead pipes and unaffordable service, the new amendment paves the way for greater state efforts to ensure the safety of drinking water and access to essential water services. With the vote Tuesday, New York joins states like Virginia and Pennsylvania in formally recognizing the human right to water.

In response, Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director Alex Beauchamp issued the following statement:

“Water is a human right, but New York’s policies don’t ensure access to this essential resource. Statewide, communities are moving to take over public control of their water utilities, removing them from corporate control and abuse. Communities are pushing back on PFAS and lead contamination in drinking water, demanding stricter regulations, testing and cleanup. And households statewide are grappling with unaffordable water service and water debt.

With the right to water codified in our state constitution, it’s time to get to work putting control of this most critical resource into the hands of the people, it’s time to clean up New York’s drinking water and it’s time to cancel water debt and make water service affordable for every person.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Ag Sector Methane Emissions Are A Big Problem — Factory Farm Biogas Is Not The Solution

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Today, the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy released its U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan. The plan promotes the use of anaerobic digesters, and touts a “new public-private partnership” to promote factory farm biogas as a solution.

In response, Food & Water Watch Policy Director Mitch Jones released the following statement:

“Agricultural sector methane emissions are a critical driver of climate change — but stopping them requires shifting away from gas infrastructure, not more industry-friendly band aids like digesters. Factory farm biogas and carbon trading schemes are false solutions that distract from the root cause of the industrialized agriculture industry’s pollution problem — the continued concentrated corporate control of our food system.

Congress must pass the Farm System Reform Act to curb the growth of this destructive factory farm model, and President Biden must direct his administration to stop incentivizing false solutions like factory farm biogas, which only intensify the current system.  

We have no time to waste on greenwashed solutions that offer a lifeline for the destructive corporate agriculture industry.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

New Report Highlights MD Poultry Industry’s Stranglehold Over People and the Environment

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

A report released today by the Environmental Integrity Project, finds that Maryland’s expanding poultry factory farm industry is woefully under-inspected, despite massive pollutant violations. Key findings include, that:

  • As the number of factory farms increases, the number of operations inspected by Maryland Department of the Environment’s two or three inspectors has declined by 40 percent since 2013.
  • 84 percent of Maryland’s inspected poultry factory farms failed their first state inspection; almost half (43 percent) also fail follow up inspections. Only four percent were penalized by the state.

In response, Lily Hawkins, Food & Water Watch Maryland Organizer, issued the following statement:

“Factory farm violations come at the direct expense of people and the environment. Over decades, Maryland’s poultry factory farm industry has tightened its stranglehold on the region, polluting air and water with abandon, and threatening the public health of those who work within the barns and those living near them. This report solidifies what advocates have known for years — factory farms are an unchecked threat to our health and environment.

For too long, factory farms have been given a pass. It’s time to double down on stopping the expansion of this polluting industry. At the federal level, that means passing the Farm System Reform Act. And in Maryland, that means keeping false solutions to the poultry industry’s excessive waste problem like factory farm biogas out of our state’s renewable energy portfolio.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NY Coalition Applauds Permit Denial for Danskammer Fracked Gas Plant

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, Governor Hochul’s Department of Environmental Conversation (DEC) denied the Danskammer fracked gas power plant required permits, shutting down the proposed project. The decision will protect clean air and water in the Hudson Valley and town of Newburgh, and help New York achieve its emissions reductions targets under the landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). Coupled with the agency’s simultaneous denial of the Astoria NRG fracked gas permits, the decision is a major victory for the Stop Danskammer Coalition and climate advocates across the state, who have organized for years against fracked gas in New York.

The rejected proposal to construct a full-time Danskammer fracked gas plant would have brought over 25 times more health-damaging particulate matter and volatile organic compounds (VOC) to the region, worsening air quality and exacerbating public health concerns like asthma in environmental justice communities in and around Newburgh.

This precedent-setting decision heeds the call of activists and community members to reject new fracked gas infrastructure and commit to clean, renewable energy. New Yorkers submitted over 5,500 comments to the DEC this summer, and 175 speakers testified against the proposal at hearings this summer, overwhelming sparse support for the plant, and building on the thousands of comments opposing the plant submitted through the Article 10 process. Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director Alex Beauchamp said:

“Governor Hochul’s decision strikes a critical blow to the fossil fuel industry, providing a huge victory for New York’s climate movement. She is showing the nation what real climate leadership looks like. The next step is for Governor Hochul to commit to halting all fossil fuel infrastructure, including the North Brooklyn pipeline and the Gowanus power plant.”

“The Sierra Club applauds Governor Hochul and the Department of Environmental Conservation for denying the permits for the proposed Danskammer and Astoria NRG fracked gas power plants, citing their inconsistency with New York’s nation-leading climate law,” said Allison Considine, NY Campaign Representative with Sierra Club. “Today, Governor Hochul made clear that fracked gas power plants have no place in New York’s energy future, heeding the call of environmental justice and climate advocates and community members who organized tirelessly for this climate victory. We are at a pivotal moment in the fight against the fossil fuel industry, and New York is showing true leadership in rejecting dirty energy and committing to the clean, renewable energy system all people deserve.”

“Today Governor Hochul and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation affirmed that New York is serious about preventing projects that will exacerbate the global climate crisis and worsen pollution in surrounding communities by denying permits to Danskammer and Astoria,” said Manna Jo Greene, Environmental Action Director for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. “Instead, we must focus on Climate Solutions, including the rapid implementation of renewable energy infrastructure, with storage and efficiency. That can and should include an excellent alternative proposal for Danskammer to become a battery storage facility to ensure the reliability of solar and other renewables generated in the surrounding region.”

“We applaud today’s bold decision by Governor Hochul and the DEC. The denial of Danskammer’s air permit makes clear that New York is serious about delivering on the promise of the Climate Act to phase out fossil fuels and transition rapidly to a clean energy future,” said Scenic Hudson Director of Advocacy and Legal Affairs Hayley Carlock. “The Danskammer project would have emitted millions of tons of climate-warming greenhouse gases and worsened air quality in environmental justice communities like the City of Newburgh, which already suffer disproportionately from the health impacts of pollution. With the days of new fossil fuel plants behind us, the Hudson Valley can now focus on climate solutions that bring benefits to all.”

“Riverkeeper applauds today’s decision by Governor Hochul and the Department of Environmental Conservation for upholding the requirements of New York State’s Climate Act,” said Riverkeeper Staff Attorney Chris Bellovary. “We all know the risks of climate change, on a local, national, and global level. In the Climate Act, New York made a clear decision to decarbonize its economy, and the Department’s determination earlier today upholds that decision.”

“Orange RAPP applauds the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for demonstrating their commitment to our communities’ environmental and public health. We thank the DEC for their reasonable and necessary decision to deny the permit for further fossil fuel burning in Newburgh, NY,” said Sandra Kissam, Chair of Orange RAPP

“The next generation of Hudson Valley residents will accept nothing less than the cleanest air and the cleanest water for our communities. The Young Democrats of Orange County applaud Governor Hochul and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s decision to deny Danskammer’s Title V permit, and their commitment to upholding the provisions of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. We must now immediately commit ourselves to building a green energy economy, because there is absolutely no future for the fossil fuel industry here in New York,” said Zak Constantine, President of The Young Democrats of Orange County.

“NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)’s decision today is an important step that comes as a huge relief to our communities who organized and spoke against this plant and the Astoria NRG plant. Today’s decision signals hope for our state’s fight against climate change but we cannot stop now, there is more work to be done. We urge Gov. Hochul to also permanently ban other new fossil fuel infrastructure and commit to championing public renewables,” said Sarahana Shrestha, Mid Hudson Valley DSA & Public Power NY. 

“Today the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation concluded that proposals for two fracked gas plants are inconsistent with our state’s climate law and are not needed for grid reliability. The denial of permits for these plants by Governor Hochul’s administration will decrease New York’s reliance on unhealthy, unjust, ecologically destructive, and economically uncompetitive forms of energy as we pursue a just transition to renewable energy options and create dignified, productive, and ecologically sustainable jobs for the future in our communities,” said Andra Leimanis, Communications and Outreach Director, Alliance for a Green Economy.

“There’s no need to continue poisoning us — our community, our constituents, neighbors — with fossil fuel emissions. If we have the options and opportunity to utilize a cleaner and more efficient form of energy, we ought to. If we care about the future of our city and the next seven generations, the answer to Danskammer is NO. We’re grateful the DEC is acting accordingly,” said Ali T. Muhammad CEO of Melanin Unchained.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Maryland Groups Begin Campaign to Clean Up State Renewable Energy Standard

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, 13 environmental and social justice groups announced the creation of the Reclaim Renewable Energy Coalition (Reclaim REC); formed to clean up Maryland’s Renewable portfolio standard (RPS). 

Maryland’s RPS was created by the state legislature in 2004 as a way to ramp up the supply of emission-free electricity on our grid, and reduce the use of polluting fossil fuels. Despite good intentions, the RPS has in fact had little impact on state greenhouse gas emissions reductions, as described in a report from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Additionally, the report notes, energy from several sources currently counted as renewable emits even higher levels of asthma and cancer causing pollutants than sources of energy already excluded from the RPS, such as natural gas. 

For years, Maryland has allowed polluting, carbon-intensive fuel sources like trash incineration and factory farm biogas to qualify for subsidies and credits under the RPS program, undermining the very purpose of the standard. In a report chronicling state RPS, Food & Water Watch gave Maryland an “F” for its system, which allows numerous “dirty” energy sources to count as clean. These subsidies are paid by Maryland households and businesses in the form of utility bill surcharges that should be supporting emission-free energy development.

Delegate Vaughn Stewart (D-Montgomery) has pledged to introduce legislation to eliminate dirty energy sources from the RPS in the 2022 General Assembly session. The coalition is united in the need to ensure Maryland’s RPS supports in the development of clean energy sources, like wind and solar, while cutting out language that allows polluting fuel sources like municipal waste incinerators, biogas digesters, burning wood and more to qualify for support from ratepayers. To announce the new coalition, the groups released a video with coalition demands.

“These giveaways are great for corporate polluters, but terrible for working families in Maryland,” said Delegate Vaughn Stewart (D-Montgomery). “Handouts for dirty energy means fewer clean energy jobs and higher utility bills. It’s way past time to turn off the pollution spigot.”

“For too long, Maryland has allowed corporate polluters to profit off a public health crisis and climate destruction — it’s time for the state to clean up their act,” said Lily Hawkins, Maryland Organizer with Food & Water Watch. “For too long, false solutions like factory farm biogas have proliferated under the guise of  “greenwashed” clean energy. The people of Maryland know better and deserve better. It’s time to cut dirty energy out of Maryland’s renewable portfolio standard.”

“Factory farm gas, or so-called biogas, has no place in Maryland’s Clean Energy Plan. It’s not clean. It’s not green — and it’s not a solution,” said Maria Payan, Senior Regional Representative with the Socially Responsible Agriculture Project. “To improve our state’s renewable portfolio standard and ensure our communities are resilient against climate change, we must adopt clean energy solutions that effectively address the climate crisis.”

“Trash is not a renewable resource, and burning trash is not renewable energy,” said Patrice Gallagher, president of the Frederick Zero Waste Alliance. “It’s expensive for local governments, emits dangerous pollution and greenhouse gases, and takes attention and support away from healthier solid waste management strategies like composting, recycling, reuse, and reduction. When a new trash incinerator was proposed for Frederick County and Carroll County, our local residents — and eventually our local governments — looked at the evidence and decided ‘No.’ Now it’s the General Assembly’s turn to say ‘No’ to renewable energy subsidies for trash incineration.”

“Maryland communities with incinerators, built or proposed, have been asking the state to take incineration out of the RPS ever since it was added ten years ago,” said Jennifer Kunze, Maryland Program Coordinator with Clean Water Action. “As long as incineration and other polluting energy sources are included in the RPS, money that each one of us pays in our utility bill for ‘renewable’ energy will be flowing to polluters, and not financing the transition to truly renewable energy that we need to face the climate crisis.”

“Young people are facing an existential threat. The climate crisis is here, and it is way past time our elected leaders stepped up to take serious action. Maryland is the richest state in the richest country in the world and is responsible for leading the transition to a renewable energy economy. That’s not going to happen as long as Maryland continues funding dirty sources like trash incineration and factory farm biogas with renewable energy subsidies – that’s greenwashing! Let’s get serious,” said Stephen Leas of Sunrise Baltimore. “We’re reclaiming renewable energy for Maryland while we still have time. We call on Maryland voters and the Maryland General Assembly to join us in fighting the climate crisis and building the real renewable energy economy we deserve.  Let’s go!”

“Communities of Baltimore City are some of the most vulnerable to global climate change in the State of Maryland.  Our current RPS makes a mockery of renewable energy by subsidizing waste-to-energy projects that endanger citizens and the larger ecosystem,” said Matt Lewis of the Greater Baltimore Democratic Socialists of America. “For too long we have allowed polluting private interests to extract wealth from our communities while poisoning our air and exacerbating global climate change. The working families of Baltimore City and the State of Maryland deserve a renewable portfolio standard that ensures their utility payments are going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and harmful airborne pollutants while creating new green union jobs in their communities. Now is the time for the General Assembly to act and reclaim renewable energy for working people of Maryland.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Reclaim Renewable Energy Coalition is comprised of the following groups: Assateague Coastal Trust, Center for Community Engagement, Environmental Justice, and Health, Clean Water Action, Envision Frederick County, Food & Water Watch, Frederick Zero Waste Alliance, Greater Baltimore DSA Ecosocialist Committee, Howard County Climate Action, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Sentinels of Easter Shore Health, Socially Responsible Agriculture Project, Sugarloaf Citizens Association, and Sunrise Movement Baltimore

NY Gov. Sides with People Over Polluters, Denies Astoria NRG Fracked Gas Plant Permits

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, Governor Hochul’s Department of Environmental Conservation rejected permits for the Astoria NRG fracked gas plant, shutting the project down and keeping polluting fossil fuels out of Astoria, Queens. The decision is a victory for the No Astoria NRG Plant Coalition and broader state grassroots climate movement, who have been relentlessly organizing against the project for years. Today’s decision tees up similar outcomes in the ongoing permitting processes of other polluting projects currently moving forward including the Gowanus repowering in Brooklyn. The members of the No Astoria NRG Plant Coalition applaud the decision.

An approved Astoria NRG fracked gas plant would have brought more fossil fuels onto the grid, spurring on the climate crisis and intensifying the public health crisis in New York’s heavily-polluted “asthma alley.” Throughout the state permitting process, the local community made it clear that they did not want more polluting infrastructure built in their neighborhood. New Yorkers flooded the DEC with more than 6,000 public comments filed against the plant. At public hearings on the project this summer, 156 New Yorkers testified against the project — only 12 speakers spoke in support.

While the Governor and the DEC’s decision is a critical first step in moving New York off fossil fuels, advocates warn that it is not enough. In order to head off the worst effects of the climate crisis, Governor Hochul must transition the state off fossil fuels entirely. The No Astoria NRG Plant Coalition calls on the Governor to stop other fossil fuel infrastructure projects currently moving forward, and enact real legislation that will ban all new fossil fuel infrastructure; build a publicly-owned, democratically controlled energy system; and repair the environmental injustices perpetrated against working-class communities. Laura Shindell, Astoria-based Senior New York Organizer with Food & Water Watch said:

“New Yorkers can breathe a little easier today. We hope Governor Hochul’s decisions to stop Danskammer and Astoria NRG are the first of the dominoes to fall. We expect similar decisions on polluting projects from National Grid’s fracked gas vaporizers in Brooklyn, to the proposed Gowanus power plant, and look forward to seeing state commitments to a truly clean energy future for New York — free of fossil fuels.”

​​”When working class people fight, we win: and today we defeated fossil fuel Goliath NRG,” said Stylianos Karolidis, NYC-DSA Ecosocialist Working Group. “We look forward to beating the fossil fuel industry again and again for the next decade. New York State has passed zero climate legislation in the last two years, and our state is behind its climate goals. We urge the Governor and the state legislature to create an energy system that is publicly owned and democratically controlled. Public Power now!” 

“The Sierra Club applauds Governor Hochul for denying the permits for the proposed Danskammer and Astoria NRG fracked gas power plants, citing their inconsistency with New York’s nation-leading climate law,” said Allison Considine, NY Campaign Representative with Sierra Club. “Today, Governor Hochul made clear that fracked gas power plants have no place in New York’s energy future, heeding the call of environmental justice and climate advocates and community members who organized tirelessly for this climate victory. We are at a pivotal moment in the fight against the fossil fuel industry, and New York is showing true leadership in rejecting dirty energy and committing to the clean, renewable energy system all people deserve.” 

“The New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) commends the action taken by Governor Hochul, Commissioner Seggos and the Departmental of Conservation (DEC) to deny the permits for these proposed fossil fuel infrastructure projects today,” said Eric Wood, Regional Coordinator of NYPIRG. “New York has a history of not following through with promises made to make steps toward a clean energy future. It is inspiring to see some rhetoric followed through with action!”

“Queens Climate Project is thrilled with today’s announcement from the DEC that New York State will not allow these disastrous fossil fuel projects to continue,” said Elaine O’Brien a core group member of Queens Climate Project. “We believe that the rejection of the Astoria and Danskammer plants will send a signal to the fossil fuel industry that New York State is no place for fracked gas and fossil fuel plants. New Yorkers are ready for renewables, and halting these dirty plants is the first step.”

“Today’s victory belongs to the people of Astoria and across New York who fought this dirty fracked gas plant and fought so hard to pass the CLCPA,” said Lee Ziesche, Sane Energy Project. “The DEC is sending a clear message today, fracked gas does not comply with New York law and we look forward to the DEC & Governor Hochul applying the same standard to National Grid’s proposed fracked gas vaporizers in North Brooklyn and other fracked gas projects across the state.” 

“350Brooklyn is encouraged by the Hochul administration’s decision to do the right thing for the people of New York City by rejecting the Astoria NRG Peaker Plant. This decision signals that it is long past time for the state of New York to move on from fossil fuels and embrace renewable energy. We hope that this visionary leadership is a sign of the continued progress toward our CLCPA goals that is to come,” said Georgi Page, an organizer with 350Brooklyn’s City Action committee. 

“We applaud Governor Hochul and the DEC for stopping these climate-destroying projects. People power is winning! What’s needed, though, is for the Governor to reject the feckless Cuomo policies where all of us had to fight these projects one by one. It’s time for a clear new policy: no new fossil fuel infrastructure in New York,” said Pete Sikora, Climate & Inequality Campaigns Director, New York Communities for Change.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NY Governor Hochul Rejects Applications for Danskammer and Astoria Fracked Gas Plants

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, Governor Hochul and her Department of Environmental Conservation denied permits for both the Astoria NRG and Danskammer fracked gas plants, citing their inconsistency with New York’s landmark climate law, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

In response, Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director Alex Beauchamp issued the following statement:

“Governor Hochul’s decision strikes a critical blow to the fossil fuel industry, providing a huge victory for New York’s climate movement. She is showing the nation what real climate leadership looks like. The next step is for Governor Hochul to commit to halting all fossil fuel infrastructure, including the North Brooklyn pipeline and the Gowanus power plant.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

New Report Finds U.S. Will Be World’s Largest LNG Exporter Under Biden; FL Communities at Risk

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

A new report issued yesterday from Global Witness found that the US is “set to become the world’s top exporter of liquefied fossil gas by 2023, on Biden’s watch.” Despite President Biden’s climate rhetoric, his administration has failed to stop the production, use, transport and export of fossil fuels including fracked gas. States like Florida are ground zero for much of that LNG infrastructure, with five existing LNG operations and proposals for at least four more.

In response to the report, Food & Water Watch Southern Region Deputy Director Michelle Allen issued the following statement:

“President Biden’s climate leadership is failing Florida. The very coastlines most at risk from rising sea levels have become ground zero for LNG transport and export expansion. Make no mistake — LNG is fracked gas, plain and simple. The expected growth of LNG exports in the coming years is a threat to public safety in Florida, where residents are already involved in a dangerous bomb train experiment.

The Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) is transporting the highly flammable LNG on the same tracks as passenger cars, to meet growing demand for shipments and export at state ports. Earlier this year, the Biden administration announced a temporary suspension of LNG transport by rail to allow time to fix hastily made rules under the Trump administration, citing safety risks — but he must go further. For Biden to make good on his climate commitments at home and abroad, he must make the temporary suspension of LNG transport by rail permanent and he must stop all LNG operations.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NY State of Emergency Cancels Climate Rally in Albany

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

As a record-breaking bomb cyclone, super-charged by climate change, hits the West Coast, Governor Hochul has issued a state of emergency for the fast-approaching storm predicted to rock New York with more flash flooding mere weeks after Hurricane Ida ripped through the state, killing more than a dozen people.

Activists opposed to fossil fuel infrastructure in the state are postponing their planned rally, slated for this afternoon in Albany. Activists from the Stop Danskammer Coalition had planned to deliver thousands of citizen petitions demanding Governor Hochul deny the proposed Danskammer fracked gas plant its permits, but will remain at home instead, given the dangerous approaching storm. Activists will deliver petitions at a later date.

In response, Hudson Valley Organizer Emily Skydel issued the following statement:

“The irony of cancelling a climate rally in order to stay safe in a climate change-induced weather event, is not lost on us. Climate change is here, making our storms more frequent and more dangerous. Governor Hochul has it within her power to stop the fossil fuels driving this crisis, starting with denying Danskammer, Astoria NRG and the Gowanus fracked gas plants their required permits. How many more storms will it take?”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Community Ombudsman Ignores DE Advocate Concerns About Factory Farm Biogas Proposals

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

More than a month after having cancelled a meeting to discuss frontline constituent concerns, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Community Ombudsman has repeatedly ignored advocate requests for a rescheduled meeting to resolve environmental justice complaints about factory farm biogas proposals. Constituents representing the Sussex Health and Environmental Network, Delaware Civil Rights Commission, Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice and Food & Water Watch have conducted repeated outreach to the office by phone and email, to no avail. This silence comes ahead of a survey currently being conducted by Delaware State University on DNREC’s responsiveness to community concerns.

The community surrounding the Bioenergy Devco proposed biogas site is home to people of color and people living in poverty at about twice the rate of Sussex County as a whole, and advocate outreach has demonstrated a lack of DNREC communication with these community members, many of whom are Spanish speakers, about the details and dangers of the proposed facility. The office of the Community Ombudsman exists to serve as an advocate for communities such as these that are affected by DNREC projects and environmental injustices.

Advocates are requesting a meeting with the Community Ombudsman to present a number of complaints regarding the injustice that the proposed Bioenergy DevCo factory farm biogas facility poses. Advocate demands include that:

  • DNREC conduct outreach to the Spanish-speaking population near the proposed biogas facility to provide them with information about the industrial activity possibly coming to their neighborhood — and to help them participate meaningfully in the public decision-making process.
  • DNREC hold all upcoming permit public hearings for the project in both Spanish and English.

“Latinos, due to language isolation and modest socio-economic resources, deserve special accommodation in having their voices heard. Instead, DNREC has ignored requests of their representatives for weeks to discuss their concerns related to the proposed biogas plant near Seaford,” said Charito Calvachi-Matetyko, of the Delaware Civil Rights Commission. “DNREC’s silence shouts out: Brown lives don’t matter. They are insulting the people they have been employed to safeguard, and putting their health and safety at risk.”

“Inasmuch as community engagement is a part of DNREC’s operation, one can only wonder why the agency has not responded to requests to meet with the community and interested parties to discuss their concerns about health and safety risks associated with the proposed biogas plant in Sussex County,” said Marlene Saunders of the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice. “In this case, the community is attempting to do its part as a partner with an agency charged with ensuring a healthy environment for all Delawareans.”

“Those charged with protecting communities from environmental injustice are ignoring the very communities on the frontlines of the fight against factory farm biogas,” said Food & Water Watch Delaware Organizer Greg Layton. “Biogas facilities are industrial, polluting operations that threaten the health and safety of those who live nearby, making it imperative that frontline communities are a part of the conversation. To shut neighbors out of the process and ignore constituent requests for inclusive public education is unjust. We demand a meeting with the DNREC Ombudsman to right this wrong.”

“This is a total dereliction of duty that has been the norm for years within DNREC and it must change,” said Maria Payan, Senior Regional Representative of Socially Responsible Agriculture Project and co-founder of Sussex Health & Environmental Network. “The duty of the Community Ombudsman, according to DNREC’s website, is to increase the flow of information between communities and the department, increase community participation, and facilitate dialogue among all stakeholders during the decision-making process. That has not happened. We will no longer stand silent.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NY Gov. Hochul’s Green Hydrogen Endorsement Puts the Cart Before the Horse on Clean Energy

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, Governor Hochul announced the start of construction of North America’s largest green hydrogen plant in Genesee County. The announcement came one month after her endorsement of the CPNY transmission line project to draw hydropower from upstate New York and Canada. Despite public commitments to clean up New York state’s energy grid through these endeavors, Governor Hochul remains silent on the most important priority in reforming the state’s grid — ending the use of fossil fuels.

In a report released today by the United Nations Environmental Program, the international body found that fossil fuel energy production and use must drop precipitously in order to achieve clean energy targets. Without eliminating fossil fuels from the energy grid, New York risks avoiding true grid clean up. While Governor Hochul celebrates investments in nascent technologies like hydrogen, fracked gas plants including Danskammer, Astoria NRG and Gowanus are continuing to move through the state permitting process, threatening to lock New York into dirty energy for years to come.

In response to Governor Hochul’s announcement, Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director Alex Beauchamp issued the following statement:

“To be a true climate champion, Governor Hochul must double down on eliminating fossil fuels, cutting the dirty fuel sources out of New York’s energy grid for good. That means no Danskammer, no Astoria NRG, no Gowanus, no Greenidge Generation facility — no more fossil fuels, period. When we must be focused on shutting down fossil fuels and building wind and solar, diverting renewable energy to hydrogen production is a distraction. At its worst, hydrogen can even be a backdoor to continued fossil fuel use.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NY Activists Hold “Die In” in Brooklyn to Demand Bold Climate Action

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

This afternoon, community and environmental activists rallied outside Senator Schumer’s Brooklyn apartment, calling for an end to fossil fuel subsidies. Each year, $15 billion worth of federal taxpayer dollars are spent buoying the profits of fossil fuel companies through tax breaks, loopholes and other forms of government subsidies. As the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Schumer has a critical role to play in ending the polluting industry’s lifeline.

Activists rallied around the need to end fossil fuel subsidies by commemorating the victims of the latest climate change charged disaster to hit New York City – Hurricane Ida. They then staged a “die in” to dramatically and visually highlight the deadly reality of the climate crisis.

“Senator Schumer has the opportunity — indeed the moral imperative — to end fossil fuel subsidies now,” said Food & Water Watch Volunteer Ken Schles. “Any cent that goes toward the destructive fossil fuel industry is a notch in our own coffin. Public money should go toward the public good, not toward extending a lifeline to an industry that is killing us. Senator Schumer, it’s time to stop fossil fuel subsidies once and for all.

“Senator Schumer has opposed fossil fuel subsidies, which further oil and gas extraction, environmental racism and the climate crisis. We welcome his stance. Now, it’s time to deliver,” said Alice Hu, federal climate campaigner at New York Communities for Change.

“Every day, more innocent people are becoming victims of climate change while Exxon and other large corporations responsible for this crisis are bailed out by American taxpayers. The tax code protects and supports the fossil fuel industry, with taxpayers footing the bill for billions in fossil fuel subsidies. In order to prevent further climate destruction and save future potential victims of climate change, Senator Schumer needs to be a climate leader and end fossil fuel subsidies. Our government can no longer continue to put polluters over people,” said Abigayle Reese, Grassroots Organizer with Friends of the Earth.

“Fossil fuels killed 8.7 million people globally in 2018 alone. Between 2010 and 2019, the United States experienced 119 climate disasters that each caused damages of $1 billion or more. By using the Build Back Better act to facilitate the inevitable transition to renewable energy while eliminating toxic fossil fuel subsidies, Congress will set the course for a future that allows our communities to not just survive, but thrive. Sen. Schumer and Democrats must seize the once in a generation opportunity to invest in life saving climate action,” said Greenpeace USA Senior Climate Campaigner John Noël.

Photos of the event are available here.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Maryland Approves Use of Dirty Biogas In State Pipelines

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Yesterday, BGE became the first utility in Maryland to gain regulatory approval for the use of “renewable natural gas” in state pipelines. What industry calls “renewable natural gas” is really biogas — a false climate solution that provides a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry by keeping dirty energy infrastructure like pipelines on the grid. Food & Water Watch Maryland Organizer Lily Hawkins said:

“Biogas is nothing more than an industry greenwashing scam. Instead of moving our state onto truly clean, renewable energy, Maryland has established a renewable portfolio standard that allows loopholes for dirty energy sources like biogas. Maryland needs to clean up its act and cut polluting energy sources out of our energy grid — starting with biogas.”

Bioenergy Devco will be the first company to bring biogas online in Maryland. The company is exploring multiple biogas facilities in the region, including one using factory farm gas in Delaware and one using food waste in Howard County. Both projects have been met with staunch opposition from local residents concerned by the public health, safety and environmental threats posed by the polluting industry.

“Facing declining sales to power plants and buildings, the gas industry wants to lock in continued production and use. The industry has embraced biogas as so-called Renewable Natural Gas (RNG), promoting its use to maintain and extend current gas infrastructure. We are working to move Howard County and Maryland to all-electric homes in the coming decades — we do not want the gas industry using RNG to justify the continued use of gas in homes and other buildings,” said Ruth White of HowardCountyClimateAction.org.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Over 40 New York Elected Officials Urge Gov. Hochul to Stop the Gowanus Fracked Gas Plant

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

This afternoon, 43 elected officials issued a letter to Governor Hochul, demanding that she stop the Gowanus fracked gas plant repowering proposal in Sunset Park. Officials at all levels of New York government signed onto the letter urging Governor Hochul to stop the fossil fuel project, including Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, New York State Senators and Assemblymembers, and New York City Council Members.

At a press conference held this afternoon, elected officials stood with environmental advocates from Food & Water Watch, New York Communities for Change, New York Youth Climate Leaders and 350 Brooklyn in highlighting the threats the repowering project poses to the climate, environmental justice and public health. Food & Water Watch Senior New York Organizer Santosh Nandabalan said:

“New Yorkers are adamant in our demands to move the state off fossil fuels. Instead of buying the fossil fuel industry’s bait-and-switch tactics, we are proud that elected officials at all levels of city and state government stand with the people in opposing projects like the Gowanus fracked gas power plant. Governor Hochul must listen to us and shut down the Gowanus fracked gas plant.”

The project would bring more fossil fuels onto the grid in New York at a time when the state is working to drastically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, and it would do so while endangering public health in an already overburdened environmental justice community. Encouraged by the state’s decision to reject the permits for the Williams NESE fracked gas pipeline, letter signatories made clear the need to disallow the construction of new fossil fuel power plants in the state to keep with mandated emissions reductions targets as outlined in the Community Leadership & Community Protection Act.

“More fossil fuel infrastructure is the opposite of what our community needs for a healthier and more sustainable future,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “New York’s ambitious and essential climate goals require that we make the shift now, not later, to fully renewable green energy. Rejecting the Gowanus gas plant extension and all other new fossil fuel infrastructure is a necessary step towards those goals.”

“Since taking office, the Borough president has been committed to building a more equitable energy plan,” said Jeff Lowell, Policy Director for Borough President Eric Adams. “Our city has goals to reduce emissions, and the Gowanus repowering project is a step in the wrong direction. This is our opportunity to commit to a greener New York. Our borough’s health and wellness requires a better, more equitable approach. It’s time for us to live up to our environmental goals, and time to put action behind our words.”

“The possibility of a new fracked gas plant in Gowanus will only interfere with our State’s goals set by the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, while steering us away from equitably addressing the effects of climate change. It is fundamentally important to consider this at a time when our frontline working-class communities like Gowanus and Sunset Park are still recovering from the impacts of Hurricane Ida and decades of intentional environmental injustices,” said Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes. “Our priorities should be to continue to push to end the dependency on fossil fuels and, instead, invest in renewable energy that is clean, affordable, and accessible to all New Yorkers regardless of income or zip code. We should not return to forcing our frontline working-class communities to deal with the most immediate impacts of climate change on their own.”

“The Gowanus fracked gas plant repowering proposal flies in the face of the goals of Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. If New York is going to live up to its stated goals of reducing emissions by 85% by 2040, we must only invest in renewable energy generation. Governor Hochul should seize this opportunity and reject this proposal and all new fracked gas proposals in New York; that would be real climate leadership,” said Assemblymember Robert Carroll.

“The time to end investments in fossil fuel infrastructure has long since passed. Our society absolutely should not spend another dime on extending the use of antiquated technology that pollutes our communities and accelerates climate change,” said Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz. “This money needs to be instead focused on renewable and clean energy sources, and I am proud to stand with Food & Water Watch and allies to oppose the investment of new money in the Gowanus fracked gas plant.”

“Additional energy fueled by fossil sources does not comply with our stated state agenda for the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act,” said Assemblymember Harvey Epstein. “We must act now and shut down fracked gas at Gowanus and around our state. We must advance renewable energy sources and this plant does not support those goals.”

“Hurricane Ida flooded the basement I live in and destroyed my belongings. I’m just lucky I got out alive,” said Luis, member of New York Communities for Change and resident of Sunset Park. “I hope Governor Hochul thinks of me and so many others affected by climate change, and rejects the permits for the proposed Gowanus fracked gas plant in my neighborhood.” (Translated from Spanish)

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Food & Water Watch Files Legal Challenge to Factory Farm Biogas Facility in Georgetown

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Today, Food & Water Watch, alongside and on behalf of local residents, filed a legal challenge to a recent zoning decision in Sussex County, regarding CleanBay Renewables’ planned factory farm biogas facility in Georgetown. The appellants argue that the  Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission’s decision to sustain the company’s conditional use permit, which gives CleanBay permission to build its heavy industrial facility in an agricultural and residential area, was made unlawfully. Specifically, appellants allege that the Commission not only exceeded its authority by making the decision in the first place, but it also acted without proof of “substantially underway” construction as defined in Sussex County Code.

Appellants are asking the Sussex County Board of Adjustment to reverse the Commission’s decision and declare the company’s permit null and void. The CleanBay Renewables project is one of two factory farm biogas facilities vying for environmental permits in Delaware, along with the nearby Bioenergy Devco facility proposed near Seaford. These factory farm biogas projects are part of a growing trend in agribusiness companies’ exploitation of clean energy mandates, while not actually reducing emissions or agricultural pollution. Given the public health, safety and environmental threats of factory farm biogas, a voided permit would be a victory for nearby residents, who staunchly opposed the facility when it was first proposed in 2018.

With the filing, Food & Water Watch Delaware Organizer Greg Layton issued the following statement:

“Factory farm biogas has no place in our communities. We already bear the brunt of agricultural pollution from factory farms taking over our rural areas. Factory farm biogas operations like CleanBay’s will only further pollute our air, our water and make dangerous truck traffic the norm on our roads. Stopping factory farm biogas from taking root in our region begins by holding our local government accountable to the people — not industry. The Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission noted that this company did not do what they needed to do to maintain their conditional use permit and chose to look the other way. The Board must reverse their unlawful decision and declare CleanBay Renewables’ permit null and void.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NY Advocates Continue Sustained Opposition to Danskammer Gas Plant, Flooding Public Hearings

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

This week, the New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment held a second set of public hearings on Danskammer LLC’s proposal to expand their fracked gas power plant in Newburgh.

The hearings are the second opportunity for public comment under the Article 10 process, following an earlier set of hearings in March 2021, which ran for more than nine hours and drove more than 10,000 comments in opposition to the project. The new hearings were scheduled in response to activist calls for additional hearings to accommodate the opposition.

In the wake of Hurricane Ida, the need to move off of climate-destroying fossil fuels is clearer than ever. If Danskammer’s expansion is approved, it will be the first power plant in the state to move forward under New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), and threatens to lock New York into a fossil fuel future. While Governor Hochul focuses clean energy commitments on New York City, activists are clear in the need to move the whole state off fossil fuels, including the Hudson Valley. 

Food & Water Watch Hudson Valley Organizer Emily Skydel issued the following statement:

“New York does not need newer, bigger fracked gas plants, and we certainly don’t want them. At every opportunity, New Yorkers have made our demands clear — it is time to shut down Danskammer. Governor Hochul must honor the repeated, sustained calls from her constituents and say no to Danskammer and fossil fuels in New York.”

Recordings of the public hearings are available on the Department of Public Service YouTube channel here.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NYC Activists Stage Die-In at City Hall, Demanding Passage of Gas-Free NYC Bill

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, 75 activists staged a die-in outside New York City Hall in memoriam of the lives lost in Hurricane Ida, and to demand the City Council pass the Gas-Free NYC Bill, Int 2317. Activists, Ida-impacted New Yorkers and elected officials spoke at the somber rally, urging Speaker Johnson to give the bill a hearing and pass the critical legislation.

The extraction and burning of fossil fuels such as fracked gas supercharges storms like Ida, making natural disasters more deadly and more frequent. Speakers warned that Hurricane Ida, which killed fourteen people in New York City and caused extensive property damage, is a sign of what is to come should the City Council fail to enact bold policies like the Gas-Free NYC Bill. Food & Water Watch Senior New York Organizer Eric Weltman said:

“Lives are being lost, and fossil fuels are to blame. Speaker Johnson and the New York City Council must pass the Gas-Free NYC Bill to move New York off the fossil fuels that supercharge storms like Ida. Speaker Johnson must take bold action by committing to voting on Intro 2317 without any further delay.”

Buildings currently produce more than 70% of the City’s greenhouse gas emissions, making construction a critical opportunity for pollution reduction. The Gas-Free NYC Bill would immediately ban all fracked gas in new construction and gut renovations within New York City, helping the city make big strides towards lowering climate change-driving emissions. The bill would also create new jobs in clean energy and improve local air quality, saving lives.

“My family lost everything in Sandy, and we were hurt again in Ida. How many climate disasters are enough to make the point? Speaker Johnson and the Council should end gas in new construction and gut renovations now,” said Rachel Rivera, a member of New York Communities for Change.

“Despite the desperate calls for action from frontline communities, scientists, and my generation, the fossil fuel industry and other entrenched interests dig in their heels against climate action. We’re calling on Council Speaker Corey Johnson and the City Council to get a hearing on the calendar for Intro 2317, the Gas-Free NYC bill, without delay. The climate-change fueled tragedies we saw during Hurricane Ida cannot become the new status quo,” said Sadiya Hoque, Brooklyn College student and NYPIRG Board of Directors Chairperson.

“Politicians keep talking about the need to take bold action on the climate crisis, a theme we’ve heard often – even before Climate Week. Meanwhile, communities of color continue to suffer from the disparate impacts of climate change,” said Sonal Jessel, Director of Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “Here’s an opportunity to take some bold action to reduce New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions. The City Council must step up and pass Intro 2317. Delays are no longer an option. How many more people need to die? How many more storms and heat waves will it take? How much more damage must be inflicted before Councilmembers muster the courage to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions?” 

Photos of the event are available here.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Broad Coalition of National & NY Groups Demand Sen. Schumer End Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, a broad coalition of dozens of national and New York organizations released a letter urging Senate Majority Leader Schumer to reject billions of dollars in federal subsidies for the fossil fuel industry in the reconciliation bill being negotiated by Congressional leaders this week. The Congressional Democrats’ Build Back Better Act is a historic opportunity to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, including:

  • A subsidy enacted in 1916 (Sections 263(c) and 291) allowing many fossil fuel producers to deduct 100 percent of many costs associated with extraction;
  • A subsidy enacted in 1926 (Sections 611 through 613A and 291) that allows many producers to deduct 15 percent of gross income annually, which often results in a deduction greater than the value of actual assets;
  • A tax credit for “carbon capture and sequestration” (Section 45Q), an unrealized, faulty technological process that is falsely characterized by the industry as a solution to toxic climate emissions.

Just last week, the House failed to meet the moment, advancing fossil fuel subsidies within the reconciliation package, and even adding new ones like those for false solutions like carbon capture. As the Act moves into the Senate, groups across New York expect Senator Schumer to champion the issue and ensure no fossil fuel subsidies are left in the bill that passes the Senate.

Senator Schumer has called for the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies in the Act, and environmental, youth and justice organizations across the state, representing a wide swath of the Senator’s constituents expect him to deliver on his promise. With New York still reeling from deadly Hurricane Ida, a crisis supercharged by fossil fuel-driven climate change, the imperative to move off of fossil fuels is clearer than ever.

“For decades, our federal government has used public money to prop up polluters,” said Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director Alex Beauchamp. “And New Yorkers like those who lost their lives or loved ones in Ida pay the consequences. Senator Schumer must stand up to this powerful industry and cut off their taxpayer lifeline — New Yorkers will be watching to see if he matches his words with action, and backs up his rhetoric with leadership.”

“Since the House dropped the ball on repealing domestic fossil fuel subsidies, Senator Schumer’s climate leadership is more important than ever,” said Britten Evans, Senior Regional Organizer with Friends of the Earth. “It’s bad enough that Big Oil poisons our planet; they shouldn’t get $15,000,000,000 in taxpayer dollars per year to do it.”

“Including fossil fuel subsidies in the infrastructure package spits in the face of the working class choking to death on toxic smog and dying in climate disasters like Hurricane Ida,” said Stylianos Karolidis, Organizer with the New York City Democratic Socialists of America. “We urge Senator Schumer to accept the science and eliminate fossil fuel subsidies from the infrastructure package. If he fails to do so he will continue this country’s coal, oil, and gas fueled march to global apocalypse.”

“New Yorkers know the extreme dangers of the climate crisis first-hand, with the recent deaths from Hurricane Ida serving as yet another tragic reminder,” said Pete Sikora, Climate and Inequality Campaigns Director with New York Communities for Change. “Now, we need Senator Schumer to stand strong and eliminate subsidies to the fossil fuel companies poisoning our communities for corporate profit.”

“Democrats need to deliver on their promises to voters, and Senator Schumer should take action to fulfill Democrats’ promises on the climate crisis, inducing ending fossil fuel subsidies,” said Paco Fabián, Director of Communications and Campaigns at Our Revolution. “Failing to deliver on ending fossil fuel subsidies will have consequences at the ballot box during the 2022 midterm elections and beyond.” 

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

County Commission Unlawfully Allows Dirty Factory Farm Gas Facility to Proceed in Delaware

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Today, Food & Water Watch and Sussex Health and Environmental Network issued a letter to the Sussex County Council and Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission, notifying them as to the unlawful actions of the Commission last week in allowing a clearly lapsed conditional use permit to remain in effect for CleanBay Renewables’ factory farm biogas facility in Georgetown. Citing photo and video evidence that demonstrate the company’s failure to construct at the site before the August 1, 2021 deadline established in Sussex County Code, the groups are requesting the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission reconsider their unlawful approval of the company’s lapsed permit.

Factory farm biogas facilities are a growing trend in agribusiness companies’ taking advantage of clean energy mandates, while not actually reducing emissions or agricultural pollution. Until the CleanBay permit legally lapsed in August, the project was one of two poultry factory farm biogas digesters in motion in Delaware, along with the nearby Bioenergy DevCo project, moving forward near Seaford. Given the significant risks to public health, safety and the environment posed by these industrial facilities, it is imperative that Sussex County officials scrutinize these proposals seriously, not give corporate developers the “benefit of the doubt.”

Given the unlawful decision, Food & Water Watch and Sussex Health and Environmental Network request that the the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission reconsider its determination, and inform CleanBay that their conditional use permit “is null and void as of August 1, 2021, and that therefore no construction or use of the site under that non-existent conditional use approval is permitted.”

Food & Water Watch Staff Attorney Emily Miller issued the following statement:

“Factory farm gas entrenches the dirtiest factory farming practices and keeps fossil fuel infrastructure on the grid. By creating a monetary incentive for factory farm waste production, projects like CleanBay’s that seek to produce gas for the regional energy grid, are a nightmare in the making. Sussex County has issued an unlawful determination that CleanBay’s clearly lapsed zoning approval was still in effect, paving the way for the polluting facility to endanger local residents’ health, safety and the environment, while handing the corporation a blank check. The Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission must notify CleanBay Renewables of their lapsed permit, putting an end to this destructive project.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Over 9,000 Comments Filed in Opposition to NY Danskammer Fracked Gas Plant Expansion

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Yesterday, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation public comment period for the Danskammer fracked gas power plant expansion ended. New Yorkers filed more than 9,000 comments in opposition to the project, which would take the Danskammer “peaker” plant from operating less than one percent of the time, to operating nearly all the time, emitting dangerous fossil fuel pollution into surrounding communities and contributing greenhouse gasses to the worsening climate crisis.

In addition to the thousands of comments submitted in opposition to the fossil fuel power plant, 175 New Yorkers testified at public hearings last month against the project — only 19 speakers at the hearings spoke in support. Advocates pledged to turn out further opposition at the next hearings on the project, scheduled for September 28th and 29th with the New York Public Service Commission.

Food & Water Watch Hudson Valley Organizer Emily Skydel issued the following statement:

“For more than a year, New Yorkers have made our staunch opposition to Danskammer’s fracked gas power plant clear. A bigger Danskammer facility will bring more polluting fossil fuels into the Hudson Valley at the very time that we need to quickly ramp down our reliance on these destructive energy sources. It’s time for Governor Hochul to put an end to this scheme, and direct her DEC to deny Danskammer its permits. In the meantime, we’ll keep making our voices heard.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

In Wake of Hurricane Ida, Activists Urge Speaker Johnson and Council to Pass Gas-Free NYC Bill

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, the New York City Council held a hearing on Hurricane Ida, the deadliest storm to hit New York City since Hurricane Sandy. As council members discussed the serious storm impacts, activists urged passage of the Gas Free NYC bill, Int 2317. The legislation, which currently has 23 co-sponsors, would end gas use in new construction and gut renovations in New York City.

Food & Water Watch Senior Organizer Eric Weltman issued the following statement:

“Fossil fuels are driving the climate crisis, and they’re super-charging disasters like Ida that took the lives of thirteen New Yorkers. Speaker Johnson and the New York City Council have the moral imperative to take bold action to combat the climate crisis. That starts with the Council’s passage of the Gas Free NYC bill. To make progress on climate, we need to stop burning fossil fuels — New York can and must lead the way.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

More than 6,000 Comments Filed in Opposition to Astoria NRG Fracked Gas Plant

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Yesterday, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation public comment period for the Astoria NRG fracked gas power plant ended. Over two and a half months, 6,000 comments were filed in opposition to the project, which would bring more fossil fuels onto the grid and intensify the pollution in Astoria, a neighborhood which already bears the moniker, “asthma alley.”

In addition to the thousands of comments submitted in opposition to the fossil fuel power plant, 156 New Yorkers testified at public hearings last month against the project — only 12 speakers at the hearings spoke in support. With the close of the public comment period yesterday, Gov. Hochul and her Department of Environmental Conservation now have 45 days to decide whether or not to approve the project.

The No Astoria NRG Plant Coalition issued the following statement:

“The people of New York have spoken — there is no need and no desire to bring more dirty, polluting fossil fuel projects into Astoria. As Hurricane Ida made crystal clear, the impacts of climate change are upon us now. It’s time to get serious about climate change, and that means that New York simply cannot bring any more fossil fuels onto the grid. Governor Hochul must listen to New Yorkers and stop the Astoria NRG fracked gas power plant.”

The No Astoria NRG Plant Coalition is made up of Food & Water Watch, NY DSA, Sane Energy Project, Queens Climate Project, NYPIRG, Sierra Club, New York Communities for Change and 350Brooklyn.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, Food & Water Watch, [email protected]

Tampa Climate and Youth Activists Rally at Rep. Castor’s Office to End Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Tampa, FL — Today, climate and youth activists representing Food & Water Watch, Sunrise Movement, Tampa Bay Climate Alliance, Physicians for Social Responsibility Florida, Florida Student Power Network and Central Florida Jobs with Justice rallied at US Representative Castor’s Tampa office, urging her to end fossil fuel subsidies.

American taxpayers currently spend $15 billion each year subsidizing the dangerous fossil fuel industry, and the latest bipartisan infrastructure bill includes approximately $25 billion of new subsidies for the dirty industry. Representative Castor has called for an end to fossil fuel subsidies since taking office in 2007, including most recently in a conversation with Brooke Errett of Food & Water Watch. With weeks left before the House vote on the reconciliation package, advocates rallied to demand Rep. Castor shows up to end fossil fuel subsidies now. 

“The time for climate symbolism is over — now is our time to act,” said Brooke Errett, Food & Water Watch Florida Senior Organizer. “Our actions today to keep fossil fuels in the ground and cut off taxpayer-funded subsidies, ending the fossil fuel industry’s lifeline, will pay dividends for generations to come. Representative Castor has repeatedly called for an end to fossil fuel subsidies, and it’s time she used her position of influence to show up for the end of these destructive subsidies. We need to end fossil fuel subsidies now, and expect Rep. Castor to lead on making it happen.”

As Chair of the Select Committee on Climate Crisis, Rep. Castor has a crucial role to play in showing up to end fossil fuel subsidies. Activists delivered a sign on letter from twenty-six Tampa Bay organizations urging her to do just that. In tandem with the rally, activists invited Rep. Castor to champion the issue by ‘cutting up the check’ to end subsidies to fossil fuels by the House of Representatives’ projected September 27th vote.

“Ending fossil fuel subsidies means a livable planet for my generation,” said Mary-Elizabeth Estrada, Florida Student Power Network. “This industry has spent billions of dollars lobbying for subsidies to actively destroy our planet, when they could have been investing in clean renewable energy for our future. The time is now to cut the check to fossil fuel companies.”

Images of the event are available here, and a livestream is available here.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NY Climate Activists Rally Outside President Biden’s Queens Visit

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Queens, NY — This afternoon, President Biden visited areas of Queens ravaged by Hurricane Ida’s flash flooding and heavy rainfall. President Biden’s trip comes as climate groups are pushing his administration for more aggressive action to stop fossil fuel projects and to live up to his campaign pledge to end leasing federal land for fossil fuel extraction – a pledge he has failed to fulfill. Activists representing Food & Water Watch, New York Communities for Change and other environmental groups, held up signs and chanted loudly, picketing the President’s appearance in the storm ravaged neighborhood.

As Queens and the broader region struggle to recover from yet another extreme weather event supercharged by climate change, which is caused by emissions from fossil fuels, New Yorkers rallied outside President Biden’s appearance in Queens to send a strong message that he must reject, not continue to approve, fossil fuel projects. 

In response, Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director Alex Beauchamp issued the following statement:

“Fossil fuels are destroying our climate with direct impacts in our own backyard. It’s time President Biden doubled down on his campaign commitments to end our reliance on fossil fuels by stopping the leasing of public lands for fossil fuel extraction and halting the construction of fossil fuel infrastructure projects.

In New York, Governor Hochul must do her part to end the fossil fuel projects like the NRG Astoria plant moving forward mere blocks from Biden’s visit today, to ensure New York doesn’t bring any more disastrous fossil fuel projects onto the grid. The fossil fuel age is over — our leaders must commit real action to moving us into an era of clean energy.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Company behind mysterious VA pipeline argues state agency does not have jurisdiction

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Richmond, VA — On Friday, the company behind the mysterious Chickahominy Pipeline proposed for central Virginia filed for SCC declaratory judgement, requesting the state confirm that the agency responsible for vetting fossil fuel infrastructure construction does not have jurisdiction over the project. The company, Chickahominy Pipeline LLC, has also requested an expedited decision from SCC on the matter, hoping for an answer as to SCC’s jurisdiction by November 1st. If the declaratory judgement is approved, the Chickahominy Pipeline would move forward without any public or governmental oversight from SCC.

In response, Food & Water Watch Virginia Organizer Jolene Mafnas issued the following statement:

“Chickahominy Pipeline’s filing is notable for all the information it fails to include. The proposed pipeline plans to service Chickahominy Power Station which has faced public outrage because if built, the fracked gas plant would pollute environmental justice communities. From the multiple counties this pipeline would run through to the vast number of private landowners’ property that would be needed to build the pipeline infrastructure, this project is a nightmare in the making. Not only should this project receive full governmental and public oversight, but it must be denied if we are to make any progress towards achieving emissions reductions in Virginia. Governor Northam and state agencies must stop this project.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

FL Representative Castor Commits to Ending Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Tampa, FL — Yesterday, while participating in Rep. Crist’s Protect Our Care bus tour, Representative Castor made a verbal commitment to Food & Water Watch Senior Florida Organizer Brooke Errett that she would end federal fossil fuel subsidies in the infrastructure package currently moving through Congress. Currently, the federal government provides about $15 billion in direct subsidies to the fossil fuel industry each year — the latest bipartisan infrastructure bill includes approximately $25 billion of new subsidies for the dirty industry.

“We are cutting them,” said Representative Castor of fossil fuel subsidies. “As the Chair of the Climate Crisis Committee, I am working right now to make sure that we cut the fossil fuel subsidies out of the federal budget and instead invest in renewables.”

Representative Castor has called for an end to fossil fuel subsidies since taking office in 2007, and advocates are clear in the urgent need to follow through on that commitment in this pivotal moment for climate action. Her commitment comes on the heels of the Tampa City Council’s own clean energy resolution, which called on Rep. Castor to act on climate where the city could not. Chief among the City’s calls to action was a demand to stop fossil fuel subsidies in the federal infrastructure package. Food & Water Watch Senior Florida Organizer Brooke Errett said,

“We are emboldened by Representative Castor’s commitment to end fossil fuel subsidies, and will rally support here in Tampa to ensure that commitment makes its way into the final infrastructure package passed out of Congress. Every dollar of taxpayer money must go toward clean, renewable energy — not towards the destructive industry destroying our planet. The time to end fossil fuel subsidies is right now, and we expect Rep. Castor to lead as a Congressional champion on this issue.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NY Elected Officials Protest in Astoria Against NRG Fracked Gas Plant

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, elected officials including Senator Gianaris and Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani rallied outside the proposed location of the NRG fracked gas plant in Astoria to protest the dirty fossil fuel project. The rally came on the second and final day of public hearings for the project, currently under review by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. To date, more than 150 speakers had overwhelmed the forum with opposition to the project. Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director Alex Beauchamp said,

“The people are clear, and our elected officials are clear that Astoria does not need a fracked gas plant, and we don’t want one. Governor Hochul has the opportunity and indeed moral imperative to stop this plant — it’s time to pull the plug on NRG.”

The proposal to build a new fracked gas plant in the heavily-populated borough has drawn the attention of powerful elected officials, including Senator Schumer, Representative Ocasio-Cortez, Representative Maloney and Mayor de Blasio who have all come out against the plant in recent months.

Elected officials who spoke at today’s rally emphasized the opportunity for now Governor Hochul to take an early stance against fossil fuels in her administration, by stopping the Astoria project and doubling down on a commitment to bring clean, renewable energy to the borough instead.

“For far too long the residents of western Queens have lived in the shadow of New York City’s power plants, bearing the brunt of the environmental and health consequences as the smoke stacks continue to belch pollution – that needs to stop today,” said US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “A rebuilt NRG plant that will keep a fossil fuel-dependent power plant in Astoria for years to come and would directly undermine the urgently needed goals laid out in New York’s groundbreaking climate law, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. A law I was proud to champion. I am also proud to stand with great local leaders and activists who are fighting for climate justice, and we won’t stop until we power-down this dangerous plan.”

“Given the severity of the climate crisis, no new fossil fuel plants should be getting built, period. I urge DEC to reject these permit applications and stop this destructive plant from being built,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris. “I will continue working with my community to fight against this ill-conceived project until it is finally dead.”

“My neighbors are literally and figuratively sick of being used as sacrificial lambs for the fossil fuel industry,” said State Senator Jessica Ramos. “Astorians do not want another fracked gas plant polluting the air that they breathe. As we are currently experiencing the deleterious effects of climate change, it is absolutely ludicrous that this even needs to be debated. Governor Hochul and the DEC must deny these permits to NRG to protect Astorians and our climate.”

“Every day, I see my neighbors across Astoria suffer from some of the worst air quality in our city and we have the asthma rates to show for it. Enough is enough; we are sick and tired of investments being made in dirty fossil fuels when we can build clean energy today. Our climate laws, our neighbors, and the state of our climate crisis are leading us to the same conclusion; the DEC and Governor Hochul must reject NRG’s new gas plant. We should not be building new fossil fuel plants in Astoria, or anywhere across New York State,” said Assembly Member Zohran K. Mamdani.

“It is absurd that we are still fighting new fossil fuel plants in New York in 2021. The DEC and Governor Hochul are obligated to reject NRG’s new gas plant. Continuing to entertain the fracked gas plant while the world burns, without public renewables on the way, is reprehensible. If this plant is approved, it will be another strike in the endless list of crimes against humanity that fossil fuel corporations and their state enablers are guilty of. I hope to look back in 30 years and see that New York did the right thing this time,” said Stylianos Karolidis, organizer with the Democratic Socialists of America. 

“NYC cannot afford to extend our reliance on dirty energy,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “The proposed NRG peaker plant flies in the face of NYC’s commitments to reduce existing emissions and adopt renewable energy. The climate crisis isn’t coming, it’s already here. Now is the time to invest in green energy solutions that will power a more resilient future.” 

“The Astoria Replacement Project is a huge step in the wrong direction,” Chair of the New York City Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection, Council Member James F. Gennaro, said in his public comment. “We should be mindful that no one elected power plant operators to protect our environment. They don’t make the siting rules – the State does. We elect the Governor and State Legislators to protect us, our air, and our climate. It’s high time our State elected officials did exactly that.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Environmental Activists Demand Sen. Warner End the Fossil Fuel Subsidies Hurting Virginia

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Vienna, VA — Today, activists protested outside Senator Warner’s Vienna office, calling on the Senator to commit to ending the $121 billion in wasteful taxpayer dollar spending that goes toward fossil fuel subsidies.

With cash-filled oil barrels and a long pipeline signifying the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline project, protesters highlighted the role that federal taxpayer dollars play in propping up the destructive fossil fuel industry that has been harming Virginia residents for years. Food & Water Watch Virginia Organizer Jolene Mafnas said:

“Senator Warner has the power and influence needed to cut the flow of public money into the destructive fossil fuel industry. It’s time to stop paying the polluters tearing up our backyards with pipelines and locking our future into fossil fuel-driven climate catastrophe. Senator Warner must seize the opportunity presented in the infrastructure debates to end fossil fuel subsidies once and for all.”

The explosive growth of unconventional fracking techniques over the last ten years for oil and natural gas production in the U.S. has been made possible by the billions spent annually in taxpayer subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.

In Virginia, fossil fuel industry growth has recently resulted in a series of dangerous new proposals for interlocking pipelines and gas plants like the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Chickahominy gas plant that will threaten to worsen climate change and harm public health, particularly in disadvantaged environmental justice communities.

As a member of both the Senate Budget and Finance Committees, Senator Warner will be a key deal broker among Senate democrats as the budget negotiations in Congress continue. Most recently, Sen. Warner has been involved with a bipartisan deal on infrastructure legislation that could add an additional $25 billion in fossil fuel subsidies to fund dirty energy projects like carbon sequestration and hydrogen energy that promise to keep the U.S. hooked on fossil fuels for decades.

“This is no time to sit on the sidelines,” said Lukas Ross, with Friends of the Earth U.S. “Senator Warner needs to take the lead on ending billions in Big Oil handouts. The budget resolution that just passed in Congress may be his last chance to do just that.”

“We want Senator Warner to know that the government should be prioritizing the planet and our people in legislation. And we can’t afford to give away any more dollars to rich fossil fuel companies,” said Kristin Hoffman, a member of Our Revolution Arlington.

“The federal government is spending about $15 billion of our tax money each year in direct subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. Our money is funding fossil fuel expansion instead of investing in getting us to 100% renewable energy, which is desperately needed if we are to respond to the climate crisis in a meaningful way. Congress needs to pass the End Polluter Welfare Act,” said Helene Shore, Co-Founder and Co-Chair of 350Fairfax.

For photos of the event, please visit this folder.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

VA DEQ Releases Draft Recommendation to Approve Key Permit for Mountain Valley Pipeline

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Richmond, VA—Today, after the better part of a decade of pushback from local and national groups urging ruling bodies to stop the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a draft recommendation to approve a key state water permit that would allow the project to move forward. Environmental and social justice groups decry the DEQ’s draft ruling, which was expedited in recent months, and which ignores a recent EPA recommendation arguing for the permits to be denied. 

“In what has become an alarming trend for Gov. Northam’s DEQ, the agency is once again disregarding environmental impacts and widespread community opposition in their approval process for a fracked gas pipeline,” said Food & Water Watch Virginia Organizer Jolene Mafnas. “This is a failure of leadership at a time when many Virginians are looking to keep fossil fuel infrastructure out of Virginia. Governor Northam must step in to ensure DEQ denies Mountain Valley Pipeline its permits.”

According to Virginia law, MVP is subject to the Virginia Water Protection (VWP) Permit in order to fulfill the CWA Section 401 Water Quality Certification, issued by the Army Corps of Engineers. This past March, DEQ asked the Army Corps for an extension in issuing the final permit ruling stating that, “based on the complexity of this project and past public controversy, we cannot reasonably issue the VWP permit before December 2021 and we believe it is quite likely that we could not issue this permit until early 2022.”

Nonetheless, the DEQ proceeded with its draft recommendation on an expedited schedule, and seems to have provided little detail on how the hundreds of waterways and wetlands will actually be impacted. Two years ago, MVP was forced to pay $2.1 million to the state for hundreds of violations of its previous water permit, but DEQ does not mention factoring these past violations into its recommendation.

Earlier this summer, the EPA recommended against issuing a key water permit for the project, citing insufficient information and serious threats to waterways. The DEQ’s draft ruling disregards that July recommendation to the Army Corps of Engineers, but fails to provide sufficient reasoning as to why the project might not pose a threat to waterways as the EPA had found. 

“This is a sad day for the community and all that is affected by the proposed pipeline,” said 7 Directions of Service Co Founder, Crystal Cavalier-Keck. “It is a travesty that DEQ isn’t listening to the millions of citizens it is affecting. As an indigenous person we never had a concept of owning land, property, or material things. Traditionally, we regarded the land as a communal resource, with ownership vested in the group rather than in any one individual. We also believed that spiritual forces were everywhere, dwelling in heavenly bodies and in sacred places on the Earth. Spirits lived within plants and animals. However, we were assimilated into European mentalities and here we are today fighting against major corporations that do not value people, animals, plants, land, or the earth.”

“MVP has already had hundreds of water quality-related violations in the course of construction of their dangerous fracked gas pipeline,” said Lynn Godfrey, Pipeline Organizer with the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter. “Why should we give them the chance to cause further destruction to our waterways? It’s clear that MVP can’t be trusted to safely build or operate their pipeline. The State Water Control Board must heed the mounting concerns about this dangerous project from EPA and the public and reject its permit to pollute Virginia’s waters.” 

In tandem with the draft ruling, DEQ has opened a public comment period that runs from August 28th until October 13. The agency will also host public hearings on the project on September 27th and 28th in Rocky Mount and Radford respectively with no official indication of a remote participation option. The ultimate decision on the key MVP permit will fall with the State Water Control Board, who will vote on the VWP Permit after reviewing DEQ’s draft permit and public comments. 

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NY Governor Hochul Ignores Climate Change In First State Address

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Albany, NY — In her first state address this afternoon, Governor Hochul laid out a clear set of priorities for the early days of her administration. In her eleven minute address, New York’s new governor made no mention of climate change, despite the recent IPCC report which declared the climate crisis a “code red for humanity.”

In response, Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director Alex Beauchamp issued the following statement:

“It is disappointing that Governor Hochul failed to mention climate change among her list of priorities. The governor faces several urgent decisions on climate change, with the state holding public hearings on two fracked gas power plants just this week. Governor Hochul must prioritize moving New York off fossil fuels, starting with saying no to the Danskammer and Astoria fracked gas power plant proposals.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

New Yorkers Present Overwhelming Opposition to Astoria NRG Fracked Gas Plant

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, more than fifty advocates overwhelmed the New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s first of four public hearings on NRG’s proposal to build a fracked gas power plant in Astoria. As of two hours into the hearing, only a single speaker (NRG’s Director of Government Relations) had spoken in favor of the project. The comment period for the project has also been extended until September 13th.

The proposal to build a new fracked gas plant in the heavily-populated borough has drawn the attention of key elected officials, including Senator Schumer, Representative Ocasio-Cortez and Mayor de Blasio who have all come out against the Astoria NRG plant in recent months. Senator Schumer testified this afternoon in opposition to the plant, with other elected officials planning to speak later this week.

The public hearings for the controversial project followed a full day of public hearings on the Danskammer power plant proposal upriver in Newburgh. Activists see the project as a test both of New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) and of incoming Governor Hochul’s administration.

“New York’s climate movement is speaking — and Governor Hochul must listen,” said Food & Water Watch Senior New York Organizer Laura Shindell. “NRG’s proposal to build a new fracked gas power plant in Astoria is nothing more than a foolhardy profiteering scheme to make investors rich at the expense of Astoria residents’ health. Residents and activists turned out today to make clear our demands that Governor Hochul begin her administration with a commitment to public health, state climate law and morality. She must direct her Department of Environmental Conservation to deny NRG their permits to build this polluting plant that no one wants.”

“In 2019, climate advocates across the state demanded that the legislature pass the CLCPA. This bold and aggressive climate law mandates that 70% of our electricity must come from renewable sources by 2030, and that we withdraw from fossil fuels completely by 2050. How do we expect to achieve these ambitious goals by building yet another dirty fracked gas power plant in 2021? Governor Hochul and the DEC need to act on behalf of New Yorkers, not greedy fossil fuel corporations like NRG,” said Elaine O’Brien, Core Group Member of Queens Climate Project.

“NRG, one of the top 15 most polluting energy companies in the US, wants to build a completely unnecessary and dangerous fracked gas power plant in Astoria,” said Allison Considine, New York Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club. “Governor Hochul and the DEC have the opportunity and the duty to uphold the CLCPA and defend the health and well-being of New Yorkers, both against harmful air pollution in Queens and against new fossil fuel infrastructure that will worsen the climate crisis. DEC must take common-sense action and deny NRG’s permit to make clear that the days of building new fracked gas plants are in the past.” 

“From record-breaking heat waves this summer to unprecedented wildfires and floods, the evidence of catastrophic climate change that scientists have been warning us about for decades is showing it’s face more and more with every heating day,” said Eric Wood, Regional Coordinator with NYPIRG. “Approving the Astoria NRG fracked gas power plant application will only delay New York’s progress in fighting the global climate crisis and meeting our climate goals.”

“The climate science on fracked gas is clear. The public health science on fracked gas is clear. And today we heard the demands of the local community loud and clear — no NRG Astoria power plant,” said Lee Ziesche, organizer with Sane Energy Project. “Governor Hochul has the chance to start off her administration with bold climate leadership by listening to the community and the science, and rejecting this dirty fracked gas project.” 

“NRG has been poisoning my family and my neighbors for decades. They must be forced to shut down immediately and barred from building another fossil fuel plant,” said Sebastian Baez, organizer with the Democratic Socialists of America. “We are far behind on meeting our renewable energy goals, and we will never meet them by allowing corporations like NRG to keep polluting our neighborhoods. Governor Hochul has a legal and moral responsibility to the people of Astoria, Queens, and New York who spoke today to protect our neighbors’ health and safety, significantly improve our air quality, and mitigate climate change by firmly and categorically rejecting all permits for NRG. Anything less is deadly climate denial.” 

“Not only is this plant toxic and unnecessary it is preventing us from moving forward, toward the future we deserve: a New York City that protects the hearts, lungs and health of the most vulnerable; a city that uses the best available technology and creates thousands of green jobs,” said Georgi Page, lead organizer for 350Brooklyn’s City Action committee. “This Astoria NRG Plant is a dangerous waste of scarce resources and it’s time we stand together to embrace a more sustainable future.”

The No Astoria NRG Plant Coalition is organized by NYC DSA, Food & Water Watch, Queens Climate Project, Sierra Club, Sane Energy Project, NYPIRG, New York Communities for Change, and 350Brooklyn.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

New Yorkers Overwhelm Public Hearing to Oppose Danskammer Fracked Gas Plant

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, nearly one hundred advocates overwhelmed the New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s first of four public hearings on Danskammer LLC’s proposal to expand their fracked gas power plant in Newburgh. As of two hours into the hearing, not a single speaker had spoken in favor of the project. The comment period for the project has also been extended until September 13th. Currently a peaker plant that only operates during periods of high energy demand, Danskammer hopes to expand their fracked gas plant on the bank of the Hudson River into a fully-operational gas power plant.

The proposal to expand Danskammer’s current peaker plant operation has been met with fierce community opposition. At public hearings on the project held in April, hundreds of advocates and residents spoke and provided comment in opposition to the project. Only 5% of speakers at the last series of public hearings spoke in favor of Danskammer’s expansion scheme.

Activists see the project as a test both of New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) and of incoming Lt. Gov. Hochul’s administration. If Danskammer’s expansion is approved, it would be the first power plant in the state to move forward under New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), setting up a critical climate battlefield for New York’s next Governor.

“Danskammer is a test for our incoming Governor Hochul,” said Food & Water Watch Hudson Valley Organizer Emily Skydel. “Whether she allows the project to move forward, polluting our air and water and locking our state into a fossil fuel future, or doubles down on our state’s landmark commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the choice is hers to make. The New Yorkers who showed up today have made our demands crystal clear — Gov. Hochul must say no to Danskammer and fracked gas in New York.”

“A new Danskammer fracked gas plant will lead to more unnecessary air and water pollution for Hudson Valley communities that have already voiced their strong opposition to investing in more fossil fuels rather than clean energy,” said Allison Considine, New York Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club. “New York’s climate goals are ambitious, achievable, and will benefit community health and local economies, but only if incoming Governor Hochul chooses to listen to New Yorkers by rejecting this proposal and any new fracked gas power plant in NY.”

“We can’t ignore the fact that, if approved, the proposed plant will burn high volumes of diesel fuel at times when the gas supply is disrupted, resulting in dispersion of particulate matter emissions during the combustion of diesel fuel”, said Eric Wood, Regional Coordinator for NYPIRG. “Researchers estimate that, nationwide, tens of thousands of people die prematurely each year as a result of particulate pollution. We strongly urge the DEC to reject Danskammer’s Title V air permit application, and instead meet New York’s energy needs through means that are consistent with the New York Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act (CLCPA).”

“The people of the Hudson Valley deserve a future of unionized, good paying, green jobs, and an environment that is both beautiful and that protects human health,” said Brahvan Ranga of Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson. “The construction of this plant will be a giant step backwards on both of these fronts: creating the conditions for continued degradation of the environment, hazards to our air, water, and quality of life, and will continue to prop up a destructive fossil fuel company.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Elected Officials And Community Question CA Regulatory Agencies on SoCalGas Compressor

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Ventura, CA – At a virtual, bilingual forum hosted by California State Senator Monique Limón and Assemblymember Steve Bennett in partnership with the Westside Clean Air Coalition, over 300 local residents engaged with three regulatory agencies to ask why there has been no Environmental Impact Report on the SoCalGas compressor station’s expansion at 1555 N. Olive Street in Ventura. Participants included members of the Westside Clean Air Coalition including Food & Water Watch, Manos Unidas, Patagonia, CFROG, and CAUSE.

“For too long, the people of Ventura have been left out of discussions relating to this gas compressor when they are the ones who will live with the consequences of its expansion,” said Sofia Rubalcava, Mayor of Ventura. “It is the responsibility of the California Public Utilities Commission and Governor Newsom to ensure an Environmental Impact Report is conducted with speed and transparency. Ventura’s Westside community deserves answers and clean air.” 

At issue are two phases of the project located in a disadvantaged community: one is the remediation and removal of over 2,500 tons of soil heavily contaminated with lead and other carcinogens, and the other is the long term expansion of the compressor site at 1555 N. Olive Street. Labeled a methane “super-emitter” by NASA, the compressor station sits 70 feet from where children attend the E.P. Foster Elementary School and Ventura Boys & Girls Club. The California Public Utilities Commission has requested SoCalGas provide an alternatives analysis on the compressor project, but they have yet to require an EIR which would include an independent alternatives analysis and a health impact assessment.

“The California Public Utilities Commission has the authority to halt this expansion project until an Environmental Impact Review is performed and they have done the same for similar projects,” said Food & Water Watch Senior Organizer Tomás Rebecchi whose family lives a few blocks from the compressor site. “Requiring SoCalGas to make its alternatives analysis public was a step in the right direction, but until the full community and public health effects of expanding this gas compressor station are studied, residents and our children are in the dark. Ventura’s Westside is an environmental justice community too long overburdened by pollution and too long left out of discussions that decide the future of our children’s health. We ask Governor Newsom to end that streak of negligence now and direct the CPUC to require an Environmental Impact Report before any other work can continue on this facility.”

Approximately 500 people live within a quarter mile of the facility, and as many as 4,750 live within a half mile radius — close enough to be impacted by a gas explosion.

“My children attend E.P. Foster across the street from the compressor station. Many of their classmates suffer from asthma and nosebleeds as a result of the pollution in our community. We deserve to feel safe when sending our children to school and Governor Newsom and the PUC should give us that peace of mind by shutting down this compressor now,” said Isba Silva with Manos Unidas and parent of E.P. Foster students.

Click here for a recording of the meeting.

Contact: Jessica Gable, [email protected]

LA City Council Approves Plan to Transition to 100% Carbon-free Energy

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Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Los Angeles, CA — After a two-week delay, the L.A. City Council ECCJR Committee approved motions today to move the city to 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2035 and to ensure good jobs that build and maintain a robust and resilient clean energy economy. The move puts L.A. on a faster track to clean energy than that of the state as a whole, but raises questions about what “carbon-free” really means.

“While the City Council’s leadership on these motions is spot-on, we clearly have more work to do,” said Jasmin Vargas, Senior Organizer with Food & Water Watch. “The IPCC report makes it plain that we need to stop greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. To do that, LA needs to rapidly phase out dirty energy and instead, double down on expanding community-based solutions that create local union jobs like local solar with batteries, energy efficiency and electrification. It is time LA cuts ties with the oil and gas industry and rejects their false solutions like bio gas and large-scale hydrogen power.”

At issue are the inclusion of fossil fuel industry-backed solutions like biogas that stand in opposition to community-centered solutions like local solar with batteries and electrification. Food & Water Watch had already delivered letters to the Council signed by community organizations that oppose factory farm biogas — composed of methane, a major climate accelerant singled out in the IPCC report as a top priority to reduce — and hydrogen from fracked gas. Representatives from multiple organizations and communities around L.A. testified in favor of community-based clean energy solutions that expand access to local clean energy jobs.

“While it’s labeled as clean energy, hydrogen power is often generated from fossil fuels or burning biomass in plants that pollute communities,” said Maya Golden-Krasner, Deputy Director and Senior Attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “By greenwashing hydrogen, proponents divert resources from what we truly need to address the climate crisis – a phaseout of fossil fuels and robust investment in affordable clean-energy solutions like distributed wind and solar.”

“Our common fight for an equitable transition to 100% clean energy for Los Angeles requires bold action and thoughtful planning. We’re excited to see an accelerated timeline of 2035, however our city needs more than just an ambitious timeline. How we get there is just as important,” said Francis Yang, Senior Organizer for Sierra Club’s My Generation Campaign. “Los Angeles can’t afford to replace one dirty fuel with another like biomass or hydrogen. Our road ahead will require constant engagement from the public to center frontline and environmental justice communities for emissions reductions as well as good, family-paying jobs. Getting LA 100 done right is critical to set the precedent for the rest of the country.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

On Heels of IPCC Report, Research on VA Climate Impacts Should Raise Federal Alarm

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Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

A new report presented this week by the Virginia Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine paints a dire picture of the climate impacts coastal Virginia communities can expect, should climate change continue unchecked. This, a mere week after the latest IPCC report was released, demonstrating a clear call to action for leaders worldwide on the urgent imperative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as rapidly as possible to avoid climate catastrophe.

In response to the report release, Food & Water Watch Virginia Organizer Jolene Mafnas issued the following statement:

“While scientists sound the alarm on the crippling effects of the catastrophe we face, fossil fuel companies continue to pursue dirty infrastructure projects across Virginia. From the Mountain Valley Pipeline to the Chickahominy fracked gas plant and pipeline, our state is at risk of being locked into a fossil fuel future — at our peril. Virginia’s Congressional delegation must take advantage of the federal infrastructure bill moving forward in Congress to take action on climate. It’s time to stop fossil fuel subsidies, cutting off the lifeline that allows these projects to continue.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Lawsuit Challenges Constitutionality of Iowa’s Revamped Ag-Gag Law

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Food System

For Immediate Release

Des Moines, IA – Today the Animal Legal Defense Fund, together with a coalition of public interest groups represented by Public Justice, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, challenging the constitutionality of the recently-passed Iowa Recording Ban. The new Ag-Gag law — which creates a new crime of “trespassing” to engage in video and audio recording — again criminalizes the tools of undercover journalism and investigations in violation of the First Amendment, just as the state’s previous two Ag-Gag laws did that were challenged in the past.

Iowa’s Ag-Gag laws are designed to criminalize investigations at factory farms, slaughterhouses, and puppy mills. The first, passed in 2012, was struck down in 2019 and is now before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. After Iowa passed a second Ag-Gag law, the coalition brought another constitutional challenge and secured a preliminary injunction in 2019 barring the law’s enforcement while the lawsuit proceeds.

While the previous two Ag-Gag laws in Iowa targeted investigative deception and misrepresentation to gain access and employment at industrial agriculture facilities, the new law has created a unique crime to deter investigations and public advocacy. The law threatens increased penalties for recording even in public places and locations advocates have long used for public advocacy, such as in open areas of legislators’ offices and parts of businesses in which other members of the public regularly come and go.

“After repeated attempts by the state of Iowa to thwart animal advocates’ efforts to document the inhumane treatment of animals on factory farms, the legislature has enacted a new and broader law that deceptively impacts a broad range of industries while still maintaining its original — and unconstitutional — purpose of suppressing speech about industrial agriculture,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “The Animal Legal Defense Fund will continue to challenge the various incarnations of Ag-Gag laws that seek to hide animal abuse.”

“By passing yet another unconstitutional Ag-Gag law, Iowa’s state legislature has put on full display its willingness to trample the Constitution in an attempt to hide from the public what really goes on at factory farms,” says Tyler Lobdell, Staff Attorney at Food & Water Watch. “Food & Water Watch is dedicated to fighting back against the increasingly consolidated, polluting and inhumane factory farm industry taking over our rural communities — and making sure the public knows the truth with behind-the-scenes photo and video evidence is critical to that work. Like the many before it, Iowa’s latest attempt to silence inconvenient truths must be struck down.”

“Iowa’s elected officials have once again chosen to make industrial ag companies immune from public scrutiny in violation of the First Amendment,” says David Muraskin, Litigation Director of the Public Justice Food Project, who represents the plaintiff groups in the challenge. “We are confident that this wide-ranging, dangerous, and desperate Ag-Gag law yet will be struck down.”

For more than a century, the public has relied on undercover investigations to expose illegal and cruel practices on factory farms and in slaughterhouses. No federal laws govern the condition in which farmed animals are raised for food, and laws addressing slaughter and transport are laxly enforced. Undercover investigations are the primary avenue through which the public receives information about animal agriculture operations.

This is the ninth lawsuit challenging state Ag-Gag laws around the country including from Iowa. In addition to the challenges to the Iowa laws, earlier lawsuits have resulted in courts striking down similar laws in North Carolina, Kansas, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming. North Carolina and Kansas have appealed—with decisions pending. A challenge to the Arkansas Ag-Gag law is also awaiting a decision by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The coalition comprises plaintiffs Animal Legal Defense Fund, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Bailing Out Benji, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and Food & Water Watch, who are represented by Public Justice, in-house counsel, the Law Office of Matthew Strugar, and Roxanne Conlin & Associates.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

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