Community Leaders Provide Vision for Fully Public Long Island Power Authority

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Hempstead, NY — Today, at the first public hearing held by the Commission on the Future of the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), community leaders shared their vision for the region’s electric system. The public hearing is the first since the passage of legislation in 2022 that established the Commission and a pathway to a public power system for Long Island and the Rockaways — a victory for climate and community advocates. Under the law, the Commision is charged with creating a road map to a fully public system to replace the current private-public model.

At today’s hearing, held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, members of the Reimagine LIPA Campaign described how, by replacing PSEG with a fully public model, the authority could achieve the goals of affordable, reliable, renewable energy.

The Reimagine LIPA Campaign is made up of over 40 community, environmental, faith, civil rights, Indigenous, and social justice organizations that came together in the aftermath of Tropic Storm Isaias to transform LIPA into a more democratic, accountable, fully public system.

Food & Water Watch volunteer Fred Harrison, a Merrick resident said:

“The future of a public Long Island Power Authority is bright. Cutting the cord with the scandalously incompetent PSEG will deliver concrete benefits to Long Islanders and our climate. As New York looks to adopt renewable public power by passing the Build Public Renewables Act, Long Island can lead the way, delivering affordable renewable energy that is accountable to we the people.”

“The LIPA Commission, established through ratepayer organizing, is our moment to reimagine, reinvent, and restructure LIPA and ensure it is led by those most affected by our energy system. Privatization failed us, PSEG is failing us, and now is the time for the public to lead us in a new direction,” said Ryan Madden, Sustainability Organizer with the Long Island Progressive Coalition. “Across the country and here in New York, public power is cheaper, more reliable, and better able to transition to renewables. Coupled with democratic reforms, more equitable rate structures, and community oversight of the utility, LIPA will become a model for the nation.”

“As a fourth generation Long Islander, I have a strong desire to see our community as a great place to live. The current LIPA/PSEG model has demonstrated for years its poor performance, high fees, inadequate service after storms, and punitive policies that cut users off from the basic rights to cook, use phones, and run home medical equipment. Corporations in the service of profit have no room in providing electricity to the public,” said Marion Flomenhaft, an activist with the Reimagine LIPA campaign from Malverne.

“PSEG LI is not accountable. They were not prepared for Tropical Storm Isaias and now as rates rise, they are shutting off power to seniors and low income residents. These hearings are a chance for ratepayers to demand a new system.  It’s our money, let’s create a renewable, resilient, public power system for Long Island and the Rockaways!” said Professor Michael Menser, Associate Director, Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay, Brooklyn College/CUNY.

“The Green Party of Nassau County supports fully turning LIPA over to the public. We must reimagine LIPA to prevent climate catastrophe, while not leaving our bank accounts more vulnerable as well. Only with the restructuring we’re asking for, will we be able to reasonably have a say in how it runs. A public process that convenes appropriate stakeholders to serve and engage our communities is the only conduit to genuinely improve all the prior managers’ unwillingness to,” said Joseph Naham, Chairperson of the Green Party of Nassau County.

“Long Island Activists stands with the residents of Long Island, local businesses, and all the organizations who are demanding that the Long Island Power Authority recognize that the service provided under the current public-private model is flawed and does not serve our best interests,” said Joe Sackman, Long Island Activists Steering Committee Member. “With ongoing issues around service, response to storms, and a need for a system that can handle all the current and future utility demands of our communities, the best solution for Long Islanders is one that embraces a fully public utility model. We need a system that gives the community a say in how things are run and puts the needs of the rate-payers before profits.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

30 Groups Demand Pause on Carbon Pipeline Approvals 

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Yesterday, 30 groups sent a letter to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) requesting that the federal agency issue an advisory to states recommending that they refrain from permitting any new carbon dioxide pipelines until the PHMSA regulations are final. Groups also requested that the agency hold a public meeting on the urgent need for a rigorous rulemaking.

PHMSA announced its carbon pipeline safety rulemaking in May, citing serious safety concerns with current regulations, laid bare by a 2020 rupture in Satartia, Mississippi that forced the evacuation of 200 people and sent 45 to the hospital. California has already established a moratorium on certain carbon pipeline projects until PHMSA finalizes its regulations.

Carbon pipelines pose significant dangers to public health and safety. Ruptures can expel lethal levels of carbon dioxide, an invisible asphyxiant, for miles. What’s more, carbon dioxide displaces oxygen, stalling combustion engines and impairing emergency response services.

The request for federal action to safeguard public health, safety and the climate, comes as carbon pipeline corporations scramble to profit off of massive federal taxpayer subsidies. The Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law this year, raised Section 45Q tax credits 70%; as a result, three companies proposing carbon pipelines in the Midwest are poised to cash in on $40 billion taxpayer dollars. All told, Summit Carbon Solutions, Navigator Heartland Greenway and Wolf Carbon have proposed 3,650 miles of hazardous pipeline across six states: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. The plans have generated tremendous opposition, establishing the Midwest as a key battleground for the future of carbon capture pipelines.

Food & Water Watch Policy Director Jim Walsh said:

“Carbon capture and the hazardous pipelines it relies on are a danger to public health, safety and our climate. It would be ludicrous to allow pipeline corporations eager to cash in on a gold rush of federal subsidies to run roughshod over communities while the federal government is still evaluating the explicit dangers of those proposals. PHMSA must direct states to halt carbon pipeline approvals — these projects are far too dangerous to proceed.”

According to Carolyn Raffensperger, Executive Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network, “The disaster in Satartia illustrated the unique hazard posed by CO2 pipelines. The CO2 shipped through these pipelines is an asphyxiant and can kill very quickly. States owe it to their communities to wait until PHMSA has filled its knowledge gaps and finalized its rule before even considering permits for these lethal pipelines.” 

Original letter signatories include 350.org, Bold Alliance, Science and Environmental Health Network, Climate Investigations Center, Food & Water Watch, Center for Biological Diversity, Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility and Great Plains Action Society. The letter was initiated by a working group convened by the Science and Environmental Health Network.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NY Governor Hochul Vetoes Bill to Assess Utility Affordability Crisis

Categories

Clean Water

For Immediate Release

Last week, the day before Thanksgiving, Governor Hochul vetoed A7554-B/S5451-C, a bill to assess New York’s utility affordability crisis. The bill, passed this legislative session, would have, for the first time, required public water utilities to report data on the unaffordability of their service to the Public Service Commission (PSC). Under the bill, the PSC would be required to compile and publish this data, along with data from gas and electric utilities, to reveal the scale and extent of the utility affordability crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

“We are in the dark about New York’s hidden utility affordability crisis. We don’t know how many New Yorkers have lost their water or are at risk of doing so. This legislation is essential to understanding the scale of New York’s crisis in unpaid bills, water shutoffs, and other affordability problems. It is imperative that Governor Hochul include this legislation allowing us to measure this crisis in her budget. As the pandemic persists and inflation soars, the state must deploy every tool in its toolbox to maintain reliable and affordable access to water in New York.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NY Governor Hochul Signs Precedent-Setting Moratorium on Fossil Fueled Cryptocurrency Mining

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Yesterday, Governor Kathy Hochul signed the first-in-the-nation cryptocurrency mining moratorium. The law will put a two-year pause on new and renewed air permits for fossil fuel power plants that house proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining, and require the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to conduct a study into the practice’s environmental impacts.

Eric Weltman, Senior New York Organizer with Food & Water Watch said:

“Governor Hochul has struck a powerful blow against fracking and fossil fuels. This is a victory for our climate and communities over greedy corporations. By signing the moratorium bill, Hochul has taken an important and necessary step towards moving New York off fossil fuels. New York has no hope of achieving its climate goals if we allow the burning of fossil fuels for cryptocurrency mining. We look forward to Hochul taking the next step and closing the two facilities, Greenidge in the Finger Lakes and Fortistar in North Tonawanda, already using fracked gas for Bitcoin mining.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

As Rep. Jeffries Bids for House Minority Leader, NY Activists Highlight His Weak Climate Record, Fossil Fuel Industry Ties

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, climate activists held a press conference at Congressman Hakeem Jeffries’ Brooklyn office to condemn his weak climate record and his ties to the fossil fuel industry, urging him to take a stand against Senator Manchin’s Dirty Pipeline Deal. In 2022, two of Jeffries’ top ten donors were private equity companies with fossil fuel holdings. Jeffries’ campaign accepted $80,550 from Apollo Global Management and Blackstone Group this year, as he continued to refuse to take the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge, signed by 59 members of Congress.

Since taking office in 2013, Rep. Jeffries has failed to deliver bold action to end U.S. reliance on the fossil fuels supercharging the crisis, from banning fracking nationwide, to halting new fossil fuel infrastructure, banning fossil fuel exports and cutting off taxpayer subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. Most recently, he was one of only two New York City Democrats in the House who did not publicly oppose Sen. Manchin’s “Dirty Pipeline Deal”. 

The press conference came days after Jeffries announced his bid for House Minority Leader, a role he is widely expected to assume later this month. Speakers called on Jeffries to deliver bold climate leadership from Day One as House Minority Leader. Activists with 350 Brooklyn, Climate Families NYC, Food & Water Watch, Indivisible Brooklyn, New York Communities for Change, and Sunrise Movement NYC demanded that Jeffries oppose any renewed version of Senator Joe Manchin’s “Dirty Pipeline Deal” that fast tracks the Mountain Valley Pipeline and other fossil fuel infrastructure, while weakening bedrock environmental laws, and urged him to fight the House Republican majority, which is dominated by climate deniers and fossil fuel extremists.

Food & Water Watch New York Organizer Santosh Nandabalan said:

“Rep. Jeffries’ capacity for leading Democrats in the House is called into question by his virtual silence on perhaps the greatest threat facing humanity — the climate crisis. While New Yorkers put up fight after fight against the fracked gas plants and pipelines threatening our health and climate, Rep. Jeffries has failed to use his considerable influence in Washington to further the cause. As House Minority leader or as Brooklyn Representative, our demands are the same — Rep. Jeffries must stand up to his corporate fossil fuel donors and champion bold legislation to end our addiction to fossil fuels.”

“For a very long time now, Rep. Jeffries has stood with corporate interests over the planet and the working people in his district harmed by the climate crisis,” said New York Communities for Change member and Jeffries constituent Sonia Medrano. “As House Minority Leader, Rep. Jeffries must turn around his weak climate record and come out to reject any renewed version of Sen. Manchin’s ‘Dirty Deal’ that might be in the works.”

“Democrats outperformed their midterm expectations because of young and millennial voters who care about climate by huge majorities. But politicians like Jeffries still ignore climate at best, and do the bidding of the fossil fuel industry at worst,” said Liat Olenick with Indivisible Nation Brooklyn and Climate Families NYC. “The party and Hakeem Jeffries need to choose — young people or fossil fuels. And the choice is clear.”

“The climate crisis is accelerating rapidly, even as Congressman Jeffries stays silent,” said Sara Gronim of the local grassroots group 350Brooklyn. “Right now Senator Joe Manchin is trying to add language to the National Defense Authorization Act that would let fossil fuel companies ram through interstate pipelines over environmental and local concerns. Right now the United States is exporting more liquified natural gas than any other country on the planet. That methane gas is 85 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Where is Congressman Jeffries? Leadership means responsibility. We need him to shoulder responsibility for real action on climate.”

Recorded livestream available on Food & Water Watch – NY Facebook page

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Public Advocate Williams + NY Advocates Rally for Gov. Hochul to Sign Cryptomining Moratorium Now!

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Five months since the NYS Legislature passed the cryptomining moratorium bill (A.7389-C/S.6486-D), Governor Hochul has still not committed to signing it into law. The bill would put a pause on new and renewed air permits for fossil fuel power plants that house proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining, and require the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to conduct a study into the practice’s environmental impacts.

Today, with the year-end deadline looming, NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Ana Maria Archila, and advocates with Food & Water Watch, Earthjustice, NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, NYPIRG, Sunrise Movement, and more gathered outside of the Governor’s New York City office to demand that she take action now. Advocates also urged Governor Hochul to shut down the fracked gas-powered Bitcoin mines Greenidge Generation and Fortistar North Tonawanda.

“Cryptocurrency mines that use a ‘proof-of-work’ process are known to cause significant damage to the environment and local economy, which is why many countries have completely banned the practice. The state legislature passed a critically important moratorium on this type of harmful mining months ago, so we can ask questions now rather than dealing with the fallout later, but the Governor has failed to sign this common sense legislation into law. This is a no-brainer, especially when there are other ways to mine cryptocurrency technology. The governor must stop delaying and sign this moratorium, allowing our state to create the kind of infrastructure we need to protect New Yorkers and our environment from harmful economic and environmental impact,” said NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

Food & Water Watch Senior New York Organizer Eric Weltman said:

“The most significant climate legislation passed this year in New York is sitting on Governor Hochul’s desk, collecting dust. At the very time we need to move off fossil fuels everywhere, Governor Hochul is allowing the tanking cryptocurrency industry to slide in the back door, firing up fracked gas plants to run their power-hungry operations. It’s time for Hochul to strike a blow against fracked gas before time runs out. Governor Hochul must sign the moratorium on fossil fueled cryptomining now.”

“Every minute the Governor twiddles her thumbs, out-of-state speculators are getting rich off our natural resources, while local communities and our $3 billion agritourism industry pay the price. We’re sick of her siding with this volatile, tanking industry over the planet and real New Yorkers.” said Yvonne Taylor, Vice President of Seneca Lake Guardian. “Shut down Greenidge now, and sign the moratorium.”

Governor Hochul has repeatedly responded to questions about whether she’ll sign the moratorium by claiming she has hundreds of bills to review. Over the summer, Governor Hochul signed 600 bills, but on Thursday, when asked about whether she planned to sign the bill, she hedged, saying “we have a couple weeks.” Meanwhile, Bitcoin has plummeted 65% this year, and the crypto industry is imploding. Greenidge’s stock is tanking too – down to a record low ~$0.71/share, from $17.29/share in January 2022. The company’s CEO abruptly stepped down, and in a statement announcing the shakeup, Greenidge projected $22 million in losses for the 2022’s third quarter, and reported losing $107.9 million in the second quarter.

Watch the rally here.

Ana Maria Archila, national immigrant rights leader and former candidate for Lieutenant Governor, said, “New Yorkers elected Kathy Hochul to lead, and we need someone who is going to stop stalling and stand up for the people affected by this environmentally-destructive industry. The people of the Finger Lakes region and all New Yorkers need bold action on climate, and it’s well past time for the Governor to sign this vital bill into law.”

“Does Governor Hochul believe New York should keep dying fossil fuel power plants alive just for the private gain of cryptominers? It’s a no-brainer that this should be a resounding ‘no’ – even the White House agrees. This legislation is essential to meeting New York’s own climate law mandates, and is in lockstep with New York’s climate actions to-date, so what’s the hold up? Cryptocurrencies don’t need massive amounts of fossil fuel based energy to function, so the Governor can ignore the whining of a vocal few and stand up for the people who depend on her to guarantee our air and water,” said Liz Moran, New York Policy Advocate for Earthjustice.

“This is a narrow, common-sense piece of legislation that will ensure New York meets our critically important climate goals and protects New York’s fresh water, which is some of the last surface fresh water in the world,” said Assemblymember Anna Kelles. “It is time for Governor Hochul to sign this bill into law and demonstrate that she is a climate champion. We simply cannot allow the crypto industry to fire up old inefficient dormant fossil-fuel power plants to operate this highly energy and water-intensive method of cryptocurrency validation known as crypto mining. Not only have currencies like Ethereum proven that cryptomining is not necessary for crypto validation, we know it doesn’t produce significant jobs and it increases electricity costs for other residents. We also cannot allow cryptomining to put our billion dollar agritourism industry at risk, including risking the tens of thousands of people that it employs.” 

On September 15, industry giant Ethereum successfully “merged” from the energy-intensive proof-of-work mining method to proof of stake, reducing the cryptocurrency’s energy consumption by 99.95%. Ethereum is the second largest cryptocurrency (after Bitcoin) and its merge confirms that the industry can innovate and upgrade to more sustainable business practices.

Even the White House is sounding the alarm about cryptomining — in September, the Office of Science and Technology Policy released a report about the industry’s climate threats and the need for regulation. But cryptomining continues to grow rapidly across New York and the country. Earthjustice and the Sierra Club recently released a new Guidebook, finding that from July 2021-22 Bitcoin mining in the U.S. alone consumed as much electricity as four states combined, emitting 27.4 million tons of CO2 – equivalent to the emissions of as much as 6 million cars annually.

“Even if proof of work mining operations were powered 100% by renewable, green energy, it would mean that renewable energy won’t be available to power a home, factory, or electric car. New York state simply can’t cater to proof of work cryptomining,” said Isabella Grullon, NYPIRG activist, student at Hunter College.

Celeste Perez, Policy Organizer with NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, said, “Power plants being repurposed for energy intensive industrial uses, such as cryptocurrency mining, could have detrimental impacts on air and water quality in environmental justice communities, while also hindering New York’s progress toward reaching the emission reduction goals mandated in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). We are calling on Governor Hochul to sign the crypto moratorium bill and prioritize clean energy alternatives and the public health of New Yorkers.”

“We have an obligation as elected officials to do everything we can to fight for environmental justice and combat the climate crisis before it’s too late. I’m proud to have supported the crypto-mining moratorium bill alongside my colleagues in the Assembly and Senate. We took a stand last legislative session and it’s time Governor Hochul signs this bill into law,” said Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas.

Background

Last month, nearly 500 organizations, businesses, wineries, labor, and faith groups sent a letter to Governor Hochul strongly urging her to sign the cryptomining moratorium without delay. Signatories include 1199 SEIU, Action Center on Race and the Economy, Earthjustice, Finger Lakes Business Coalition, Food & Water Watch, WEACT for Environmental Justice, and NY League of Conservation Voters. And just last week, a group of winemakers called on Governor Hochul to shut down Greenidge. The company’s operations pose an existential threat to the Finger Lakes $3 billion agritourism economy, employing approximately 68,000 people.

Greenidge isn’t the only cryptomining operation threatening New York’s climate goals while harming New Yorkers and creating few jobs but big profits for an out-of-state corporation. In September, the New York Public Service Commission approved the sale of the Fortistar North Tonawanda power plant (FNT) to Digihost, a Canadian cryptomining company. Digihost has already been mining Bitcoin at the facility using power sourced from the grid, and is now one step closer to generating its own power with fracked gas for proof-of-work cryptomining. Over the last five years, FNT has only produced energy as a peaker plant between 2% and 13% of the time, emitting relatively small amounts of CO2 and other harmful air pollutants. Now Digihost will be able to pursue operating 24/7/365, multiplying its greenhouse gas emissions by up to 3000%, all while the rest of New York works to drastically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. 

Greenidge and FNT are just the beginning, which is why advocates are calling on Governor Hochul to sign the cryptomining moratorium before more outside speculators take advantage of New Yorkers, just to make rich people richer.

About Greenidge Generation + Proof of Work Cryptomining

Located on the shores of Seneca Lake, Greenidge is a once-mothballed power plant that was converted into a bitcoin mine by the private equity firm that owns it. The plant has brought only 48 new jobs to the region, while poisoning the Finger Lakes’ natural resources. Greenidge also sucks 139 million gallons of water each day from Seneca Lake and dumps it back in at up to 108 degrees, risking toxic algal blooms that could make this water source for 100,000 people non-potable. 

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) denied Greenidge’s air permit renewal in June stating that the facility poses a threat to the state’s climate goals. But Greenidge is still operating and even expanding as it appeals the DEC’s decision. It’s also attempting to renew its water permit without having met the conditions of its expired water permit

Gothamist recently reported, “The company has added about 10,000 computers and mined about 300 bitcoins in July alone, which would be worth more than $6 million. Their hash rates, a unit of how much power the bitcoin network is using, increased by nearly 70% over the last four months.” The added computers mean more greenhouse gas emissions (it’s on track to emit at least as much as 100,000 homes), more harm to Seneca Lake (a new study confirms that Greenidge’s operations are warming the lake).

Proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining is an extremely energy intensive process that threatens the ability of governments across the globe to reduce our dependence on climate-warming fossil fuels. Mining requires thousands of machines whirring 24/7 to solve complex equations. The more machines that are running, the faster a coin is mined. Each one of these machines requires energy to run, plus more energy for cooling. Globally, Bitcoin mining consumes more energy each year than the entire country of Argentina. In the U.S. alone, Bitcoin mining produces an estimated 40 billion pounds of carbon emissions each year. Cryptocurrency mining facilities are major emitters of air pollutants. And when cryptocurrency miners rely on the public grid, they can stick everyday people with the bill. A 2021 study estimates “the power demands of cryptocurrency mining operations in upstate New York push up annual electric bills by about $165 million for small businesses and $79 million for individuals.”

Powering Bitcoin mining with renewables is not a viable solution, as renewables supply cannot possibly meet the extreme energy demands of Bitcoin mining in addition to daily necessities such as heating and cooling homes and running cars. Any renewable energy that supports Bitcoin mining is renewable energy that is being diverted from the public grid. 

At last year’s Environmental Conservation budget hearing when asked about the potential impact of the escalating cryptocurrency mining activity in upstate NY on the state’s energy grid, the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) President Doreen Harris stated, “There could be a very significant impact on NY load resulting from cryptocurrency mining depending on the penetration of the resource.”

Cryptomining is also at odds with the overwhelmingly popular amendment to the state constitution passed last year, which guarantees every New Yorker the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthful environment. Revitalizing old polluting power plants for private financial gain, with drastic consequences for our air, water and climate, all while causing huge amounts of noise pollution, is now unconstitutional – and ought to be treated as such.Reform groups Common Cause/NY and NYPIRG have specifically criticized the crypto mining industry for exploiting public resources and straining the energy grid for private gain, and a group of federal lawmakers led by Senator Elizabeth Warren requested details from six major Bitcoin mining companies about their electricity usage and contributions to climate change.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

After 78 Degree Fall Weekend, Advocates Demand NY Gov. Hochul Put Climate Over Crypto

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

The day after Election Day, advocates are demanding that Governor Kathy Hochul prioritize signing the cryptomining moratorium (A.7389-C/S.6486-D), which the NYS Legislature passed in June. She has until the end of the year to sign the legislation. Governor Hochul has repeatedly responded to questions about whether she’ll sign the moratorium by claiming she has hundreds of bills to review, while acknowledging the important decision of denying Greenidge Generation’s air permit (most recently mentioned in Gothamist). Prior to Election Day, Governor Hochul signed 600 bills. 

Championed by Assemblymember Anna Kelles and Senator Parker, the bill would put a two-year moratorium on new and renewed air permits for fossil fuel power plants that house proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining, and require the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to conduct a study into the practice’s environmental impacts. 

Food & Water Watch Senior New York Organizer Eric Weltman said:

“Governor Hochul is still stalling on the most important piece of climate legislation that passed this year. If she’s got time to read and sign 600 bills since June, she’s got time to get this done. Governor Hochul must press the pause button on burning fracked gas for Bitcoin mining and sign the crypto-moratorium bill collecting dust on her desk — it’s a necessary step towards moving New York off fossil fuels and meeting our climate goals.”

“It hit 78 degrees this past weekend in the Finger Lakes, and the Governor is still stalling on any meaningful action around cryptomining while we sunbathe in November. We’re sick of excuses, and we’re sick of the Governor siding with an industry that’s lost 50% of its value since last year over the health and safety of New Yorkers,” said Yvonne Taylor, Vice President of Seneca Lake Guardian. “Shut down Greenidge now.”

Advocates are also demanding Governor Hochul shut down the fracked gas-powered Bitcoin mine Greenidge Generation. The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) denied Greenidge’s air permit renewal in June stating that the facility poses a threat to the state’s climate goals. But Greenidge is still operating and even expanding as it appeals the DEC’s decision. It’s also attempting to renew its water permit without having met the conditions of its expired water permit. Meanwhile, the company’s stock is tanking – down to a record low ~$0.71/share, from $17.29/share in January 2022. Its CEO abruptly stepped down in October, and Atlas Holdings, the Connecticut-based private equity firm that owns Greenidge, replaced him with a pair of executives affiliated with the firm. In a statement announcing the shakeup, Greenidge projected $22 million in losses for the 2022’s third quarter, and reported losing $107.9 million in the second quarter.

“Cryptocurrency mining should not come at the expense of our climate or the health and livelihoods of people living near the fossil fuel plants that power crypto operations. Governor Hochul must be the climate champion she says she is and protect New York’s climate mandates. It’s time to sign the cryptocurrency mining moratorium bill and shut down Greenidge Generation,” said Liz Moran, New York Policy Advocate for Earthjustice.

“FrackBustersNY believes it’s a crime to usurp energy from the public for private profit, such as Bitcoin and other cryptomining facilities do. Please sign the bill to stop power plants from being used to produce cryptocurrencies. Keep NY cool when it should be!” said Mary Finneran, FrackBustersNY co-founder.

“We cannot waste even one more day playing whack-a-mole in our local communities while Bitcoin mining in New York is wreaking havoc on our stated climate policies, polluting our communities, ravaging our energy supply and raising our energy costs. So much is at stake. Governor Hochul’s actions will have real life consequences for New Yorkers for decades to come.  We implore Governor Hochul to immediately sign the cryptocurrency mining moratorium bill the New York State legislature passed last spring and uphold the decision to deny the Greenidge air permit,” said Ellen Weininger, Director of Educational Outreach at Grassroots Environmental Education.

Last month, nearly 500 organizations, businesses, wineries, labor, and faith groups sent a letter to Governor Hochul strongly urging her to sign the cryptomining moratorium without delay. Signatories include 1199 SEIU, Action Center on Race and the Economy, Earthjustice, Finger Lakes Business Coalition, Food & Water Watch, WEACT for Environmental Justice, and NY League of Conservation Voters.

Opponents of the cryptomining moratorium argue that it will kill the industry. The argument is clearly false: On September 15, industry giant Ethereum successfully “merged” from the energy-intensive proof-of-work mining method to proof of stake, reducing the cryptocurrency’s energy consumption by 99.95%. Ethereum is the second largest cryptocurrency (after Bitcoin) and its merge confirms that the industry can innovate and upgrade to more sustainable business practices.

Even the White House is sounding the alarm about cryptomining — in September, the Office of Science and Technology Policy released a report about the industry’s climate threats and the need for regulation. But cryptomining continues to grow rapidly across New York and the country. Earthjustice and the Sierra Club recently released a new Guidebook, finding that from July 2021-22 Bitcoin mining in the U.S. alone consumed as much electricity as four states combined, emitting 27.4 million tons of CO2 – equivalent to the emissions of as much as 6 million cars annually.

Greenidge isn’t the only cryptomining operation threatening New York’s climate goals while harming New Yorkers and creating few jobs but big profits for an out-of-state corporation. In September, the New York Public Service Commission approved the sale of the Fortistar North Tonawanda power plant (FNT) to Digihost, a Canadian cryptomining company. Digihost has already been mining Bitcoin at the facility using power sourced from the grid, and is now one step closer to generating its own power with fracked gas for proof-of-work cryptomining. Over the last five years, FNT has only produced energy as a peaker plant between 2% and 13% of the time, emitting relatively small amounts of CO2 and other harmful air pollutants. Now Digihost will be able to pursue operating 24/7/365, multiplying its greenhouse gas emissions by up to 3000%, all while the rest of New York works to drastically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. 

Greenidge and FNT are just the beginning, which is why advocates are calling on Governor Hochul to sign the cryptomining moratorium before more outside speculators take advantage of New Yorkers, just to make rich people richer.

Background

On June 30, after more than a year of advocacy by residents, business owners, wine makers, environmental activists, and elected officials, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) denied Greenidge Generation a renewal of its Title V Air Permit. Greenidge has been operating as a 24/7 proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining facility for Bitcoin under grandfathered in permits for other usage.

Located on the shores of Seneca Lake, Greenidge is a once-mothballed power plant that was converted into a bitcoin mine by the private equity firm that owns it. The plant has brought only 48 new jobs to the region compared to the existing $3 billion agritourism economy, employing approximately 68,000 people, while poisoning the Finger Lakes’ natural resources. With over 17,000 Bitcoin machines and plans to expand to 32,500, if permitted to continue operating and expanding, Greenidge would emit over one million tons of CO2 each year, equivalent to that of 100,000 homes. Greenidge also sucks 139 million gallons of water each day from Seneca Lake and dumps it back in at up to 108 degrees, risking toxic algal blooms that could make this water source for 100,000 people non-potable. 

Gothamist recently reported, “The company has added about 10,000 computers and mined about 300 bitcoins in July alone, which would be worth more than $6 million. Their hash rates, a unit of how much power the bitcoin network is using, increased by nearly 70% over the last four months.” The added computers mean more greenhouse gas emissions (it’s on track to emit at least as much as 100,000 homes), more harm to Seneca Lake (a new study confirms that Greenidge’s operations are warming the lake), and a bigger threat to the local $3 billion agritourism industry that employs 68,000 people — all for the 48 jobs that Greenidge has brought to the region. 

Greenidge is just the beginning, and advocates are urging Governor Hochul to put a statewide moratorium on proof-of-work cryptomining. New York hosts a significant portion of the U.S.’s Bitcoin mining to the detriment of small businesses, local economies, the environment, and the climate. After China banned cryptomining, citing the environmental threats the practice poses to meeting emissions reduction goals, outside speculators have flocked to upstate New York to take advantage of our clean air, cool temperatures, fresh water, and lack of cryptocurrency mining  environmental regulations. 

Proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining is an extremely energy intensive process that threatens the ability of governments across the globe to reduce our dependence on climate-warming fossil fuels. Mining requires thousands of machines whirring 24/7 to solve complex equations. The more machines that are running, the faster a coin is mined. Each one of these machines requires energy to run, plus more energy for cooling. Globally, Bitcoin mining consumes more energy each year than the entire country of Argentina. In the U.S. alone, Bitcoin mining produces an estimated 40 billion pounds of carbon emissions each year. Cryptocurrency mining facilities are major emitters of air pollutants. And when cryptocurrency miners rely on the public grid, they can stick everyday people with the bill. A 2021 study estimates “the power demands of cryptocurrency mining operations in upstate New York push up annual electric bills by about $165 million for small businesses and $79 million for individuals.”

Powering Bitcoin mining with renewables is not a viable solution, as renewables supply cannot possibly meet the extreme energy demands of Bitcoin mining in addition to daily necessities such as heating and cooling homes and running cars. Any renewable energy that supports Bitcoin mining is renewable energy that is being diverted from the public grid. 

At an Environmental Conservation budget hearing when asked about the potential impact of the escalating cryptocurrency mining activity in upstate NY on the state’s energy grid, the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) President Doreen Harris stated, “There could be a very significant impact on NY load resulting from cryptocurrency mining depending on the penetration of the resource.”

Cryptomining is also at odds with the overwhelmingly popular amendment to the state constitution passed last year, which guarantees every New Yorker the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthful environment. Revitalizing old polluting power plants for private financial gain, with drastic consequences for our air, water and climate, all while causing huge amounts of noise pollution, is now unconstitutional – and ought to be treated as such.

Reform groups Common Cause/NY and NYPIRG have specifically criticized the crypto mining industry for exploiting public resources and straining the energy grid for private gain, and a group of federal lawmakers led by Senator Elizabeth Warren requested details from six major Bitcoin mining companies about their electricity usage and contributions to climate change.

More than 1,000 organizations, businesses, environmental activists, concerned residents, wine makers, elected officials, and more have taken action over the last year in opposition to crypto mining in New York State. A letter sent to Governor Hochul in October was signed by more than 650 individuals and groups. In letters to Governor Cuomo last year opposing Greenidge Generation‘s expansion from an emergency peaker plant to a 24/7 Bitcoin mining operation, organizations, businesses, and Finger Lakes residents demanded Gov. Cuomo revoke Greenidge’s permits due to its massive greenhouse gas emissions, poisoning of the Finger Lakes, and noise pollution, with no economic benefit to the community. Similar fights have occurred in Plattsburgh and Niagara Falls, which resulted in local moratoriums.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

One Year In, Hudson Valley Legislators and Activists Celebrate Danskammer Fracked Gas Plant Victory, Rally for Gas Free NY

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Photos available here.

Beacon, NY — This morning, Hudson Valley legislators and activists rallied in Beacon to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Department of Environmental Conservation’s permit denial for the Danskammer fracked gas plant in Newburgh. Activists celebrated the victory against fossil fuels in the Hudson Valley and called for the passage of legislation locally and in Albany to ban fossil fuel hookups in new buildings. The Beacon measure is championed by Councilmember Dan Aymar-Blair; in Albany, the All-Electric Building Act has 80 co-sponsors including Assemblymember Jonathan Jacobson who represents Beacon, Newburgh and Poughkeepsie.

The push for all-electric new buildings comes as home heating prices are set to spike over the winter. A new analysis commissioned by Spring Street Climate Fund finds that under the All-Electric Building Act, New York residents of new homes could save an average of $904 each year on home energy bills. As many as 50,000 new homes are constructed every year in the state — the legislation would apply to new buildings under seven stories starting in 2024 and larger buildings by 2027.

Legislators and advocates called for Governor Hochul to include the All-Electric Building Act (S6843C/A8431B), which has 80 co-sponsors in the New York State Senate and Assembly, in her state budget, due in January. Activists also called for the passage of a municipal resolution to ban fossil fuel hookups in new buildings in Beacon. Beacon is already embracing gas free construction in the all-electric new firehouse currently under construction downtown.

Food & Water Watch Hudson Valley Organizer Emily Skydel said:

“The Hudson Valley is committed to keeping fossil fuels like dirty fracked gas out of our communities. We stopped the Danskammer fracked gas plant from polluting our air and water, and now we’re calling on local and statewide leaders to keep fossil fuel companies from infiltrating the buildings where we live, work and play. All-electric buildings save New York families money, fight climate change and improve public health. Governor Hochul must include the All-Electric Building Act in her budget.”

“Beacon Climate Action Now has spent the past few months talking with our neighbors about our proposal for gas-free new buildings in Beacon, and we’ve been energized by their overwhelming enthusiasm about our city leading on climate justice,” said BCAN co-founder Veekas Ashoka. “We know that when Beacon stands up for climate justice, like we did in opposition to Danskammer, Albany listens. Gas-free buildings will improve our children’s health, create good jobs for a green economy, and save Beacon households an average of $848 per year. Our champions on the City Council recognize that this is critical legislation as gas prices continue to spike, and we’re proud to work with them to see this through.”

“All the new buildings going up in Beacon are basically fossil fuel infrastructure, fitted with gas appliances and a gas line,” said Dan Aymar-Blair, City Councilmember for Ward 4. “If we are serious about fighting climate change in Beacon, we can’t have every new building locking in guaranteed emissions for decades to come.”

“I’m proud that the City of Beacon is already building gas-free municipal buildings,” said City Councilmember Paloma Wake. “But in order to have a healthy city over the next few decades, we also need to ensure that no new gas buildings are built moving forward. The technology and economic incentives are here today to make this feasible and many private developers are already moving in this direction. That’s why I’m proud to work with Beacon Climate Action Now on this proposal to make Beacon a more just, vibrant, and healthy community, and I’m hopeful that New York State will follow suit with the passage of the All-Electric Building Act.”

Yvette Valdés Smith, Minority Leader of the Dutchess County Legislature said, “The success we had with stopping the Danskammer gas plant from polluting our water, land, and air here in the Hudson Valley is the beginning of more work that we can all do together in the race against the clock while fighting climate change. It is when our communities stand up and face these challenges together that we succeed. We must face climate change head on and do what we can before it is much too late. Our city of Beacon can be a “beacon” of progress for the entire state. We are the small city that can and will fight climate change head on. Our example here will set the tone for other cities throughout Dutchess County as well as the rest of the State. I stand proudly with those who will continue to plan a healthier Beacon and in turn a healthier, sustainable future for each of us here in the Hudson Valley.”

“It’s been one year since our victory against Danskammer. Although this win was significant in the Hudson Valley, our fight against fossil fuels and push for an environmentally safe future continues throughout the state. We must continue to demand that green and climate Justice legislation be prioritized. The All-Electric Building Act, which will ban fossil fuel hookups in new buildings, is going to promote the healthy and safe environment we all deserve to live in. I am proud to support it,” said Giselle Martinez, Newburgh city council member

“Today, we celebrate the anniversary of an important victory for our region. We sent a message to the fossil fuel companies that the Hudson Valley is not for sale, that Environmental Justice communities would not tolerate reducing their quality of life by leaving such a devastating legacy. Today, we stand to further that fight for our environment, as we seek to ensure that we protect future developments in our region and take bold steps to win a sustainable future for all of our communities. We do not have to choose between our environment and economic growth and prosperity. We encourage all of our state lawmakers and our community to stand with us,” said Kevindaryan Lujan, Orange County Legislator.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Navigator CO2 Ventures Files for Iowa State Permits for Controversial Carbon Pipeline Project

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Yesterday, amidst mounting opposition to carbon pipelines proposed for Iowa and the Midwest, Texas-based Navigator CO2 Ventures filed for Iowa state permits through the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB).

The company’s IUB filing is the first hurdle to beginning construction in Iowa, where the project is proposed to cover 900 miles in state, crossing more than a third of Iowa’s counties. While the pipeline is planned to cross five states, Iowa is the second where Navigator has applied for permits.

Iowans are opposed to carbon pipelines, concerned with property rights, safety, farmland degradation and climate change. An overwhelming 80% of registered voters oppose the use of eminent domain for the projects, and over half of the counties impacted by Navigator’s pipeline proposal oppose the project. Constituents and elected officials alike are making their opposition clear: the project’s Iowa Utilities Board docket already contains more than 1000 comments and objections

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

“Hazardous carbon pipelines like Navigator’s are dangerous scams that stand to make a few out-of-staters wealthy at the expense of a whole lot of Iowans — we are having none of it. But as billions of our tax dollars fund these unproven, unwanted projects, Iowa’s legislative leaders have proven unwilling to stand up to private donors and stand up for their constituents. Last session, our legislature failed to pass critical bills to protect Iowa communities, land and climate from these dangerous projects — it can’t happen again.

“Navigator’s scheme is unwelcome in Iowa. Governor Reynolds must put aside her vested interest in this corporate money making scam, support legislation to protect Iowans from unwanted hazardous carbon pipelines and direct her IUB to deny Navigator its permits. We cannot allow carbon capture and its hundreds of miles of destructive, dangerous pipeline to take root in Iowa.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

“Harm In Many Ways”: DE Activists Highlight Local Opposition, Outline Shortcomings in Controversial Gas Plant Permit Applications

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Today, hours before a scheduled state public hearing on the Bioenergy Devco gas plant in Sussex County, Delaware, activists held a press conference on the controversial proposal. A public hearing on the project is scheduled for 6 p.m. this evening. In recent weeks, activists canvassed more than 200 homes near the proposed Bioenergy Devco site. Many residents had not heard about the project from either Bioenergy Devco or the state. Residents expressed repeated concerns about the project’s harms.

“I don’t like the idea of bringing the chicken waste near me and my kids. This gas could bring us harm in many ways,” said M.C., an impacted resident. “I don’t like the idea of so many trucks transporting this gas that could possibly explode close to any of the many kids that walk these roads. And there are many, many kids.”

Activists outlined the glaring shortcomings in the corporation’s environmental assessment, included as part of their necessary permit application materials. The proposed digester is slated to produce 521 million cubic feet of renewable natural gas (RNG) per year — if all of it were combusted, this amount would be comparable to over 31 million pounds of coal being burned, or 71 million miles driven by an average passenger car. Despite this significant climate impact, Bioenergy Devco’s environmental assessment included no mention of the greenhouse gas emissions of the project or its end product.

Bioenergy Devco’s gas plant would provide a market for hundreds of thousands of tons of poultry industry waste. Following the gas extraction process, this nitrate-laden waste is highly water soluble, presenting a serious threat to Delaware’s waterways. A 2022 study found Delaware to have the nation’s most polluted waterways, thanks in large part to runoff from the over-application of poultry industry waste to agricultural fields. Bioenergy Devco’s waste will only exacerbate this water pollution crisis, yet the company’s environmental assessment claims no impact to water.

Greg Layton, Food & Water Watch Delaware Organizer said:

“Factory farms and their waste are a serious threat to our climate and water. So called ‘biogas’ refineries are not a solution here or anywhere. For two years, we have been mobilizing against Bioenergy Devco’s dirty project, which threatens to entrench factory farms and dirty energy in Delaware. The company’s failure to provide a bare minimum environmental analysis of their project’s climate and water pollution are glaring shortcomings. Governor Carney must stop Bioenergy Devco and put an end to this polluting scam in Delaware once and for all.”

“It’s disgraceful that the two closest communities to the proposed Bioenergy Devco project are primarily low-income, minority communities,” said Maria Payan, Sussex Health & Environmental Network and Socially Responsible Agriculture Project. “The Biden administration’s commitment to environmental justice requires fence line communities to have a seat at the table—and that’s not happening in Delaware, the president’s home state.” 

“As the nation’s lowest-lying state, Delaware is uniquely at risk to the increasingly challenging climate crisis,” said Dustyn Thompson, Sierra Club Delaware Chapter Director. “Bioenergy Devco’s proposed plant will generate the exact greenhouse gas emissions that we need to be reducing, with an annual climate impact equivalent to driving a typical car 71 million miles. Bioenergy Devco’s proposed plant is not a small operation — it is an industrial methane production facility and it should not be permitted in this community. We call on DNREC and Governor Carney to oppose the Bioenergy Devco permits.”

“Residents nearest the proposed Bioenergy Devco site are regular working class people who are just trying to survive and secure a safe and healthy future for their children. To place a dirty gas plant in the middle of these communities, overwhelmingly populated with immigrants and people of color, is environmentally racist,” said community advocate Victor Urquiza. “For the safety of all the residents of this community, I urge Governor Carney to stop Bioenergy Devco’s biogas project and say no to biogas — here and everywhere.”

Press conference recording available here.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

As Home Heating Costs Soar, NY Legislators and Advocates Urge Governor Hochul to Pass the All-Electric Building Act

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Press Conference Recording Available Here

Today, a coalition of nearly two dozen state lawmakers and consumer and climate advocates launched a new effort to save New York households money on home heating bills by urging passage of the All-Electric Building Act, which a new analysis shows could save an average of nearly $1,000 per year in heating costs for families living in new homes. The move comes as New York power utilities warn  rate increases for winter energy costs far exceeding those of the national average (28%) — Con Edison has warned of a 32% rate increase and National Grid predicts a 39% spike in heating bills this winter.

A new analysis commissioned by Spring Street Climate Fund finds that under the All-Electric Building Act, New York residents of new homes could save an average of $904 each year on home energy bills. As many as 50,000 new homes are constructed every year in the state — the legislation would apply to new buildings under seven stories starting in 2024 and larger buildings by 2027. 

Legislators and advocates, including Food & Water Watch, New York Communities for Change, NYPIRG, and Rewiring America called for Governor Hochul to include the All-Electric Building Act (S6843C/A8431B), which has 80 co-sponsors in the New York State Senate and Assembly, in her state budget, due in January.

Senator Brian Kavanagh, chair of the Senate Housing Committee and bill sponsor said: “Enacting the All-Electric Building Act is one of several major steps we need to take as soon as possible to meet our climate action goals, to rein in the cost of heating and powering our homes, and to usher in a cleaner, more secure future. The study released today illustrates the cost savings New Yorkers will benefit from, and fossil-fuel free buildings will also eliminate dangerous air contaminants that are emitted by indoor gas appliances, which have been linked to higher rates of respiratory illness in children. We have a chance to take decisive action to stop constructing buildings that make both people and the planet sick. This bill will bring us one step closer to a future of healthy and sustainable homes.”

Assemblymember Emily Gallagher said, “Fossil fuel heating is dirty, polluting and crushingly expensive, fueling international conflict abroad and poor health at home. We can save New Yorkers money and help meet our legally-mandated climate goals by passing the All-Electric Building Act. It’s past time to reject gas industry misinformation and chart a cleaner, greener and more affordable course for our great state.” 

Alex Beauchamp, Northeast Region Director of Food & Water Watch said:

“Nowhere is our crippling addiction to fossil fuels more obvious than in the skyrocketing heating bills New Yorkers are bracing for this winter. Every new building constructed with fossil fuels deepens our reliance on the dirty energy infrastructure raising our rates. With all electric buildings, New Yorkers won’t have to struggle to keep the heat on this winter. Governor Hochul must include the All-Electric Building Act in her state budget to move off fossil fuels, save ratepayers money and boldly tackle the climate crisis.”

Max Shron, one of the authors of the analysis and a part of the Win Climate team, said, “When you run the numbers, the data is clear: the All-Electric Building Act would save money for New York households. The reality is, building new homes with all-electric heat pumps would save money on average for households across the state, and the largest savings would be in rural areas where many homes are still built with expensive propane heating systems, which lock homeowners into high energy costs for decades. Building all-electric is a win-win for homeowners looking to save money and for everyone who cares about climate change.”

State Senator Brad Hoylman said, “Climate change is the biggest battle of our lifetime, and we must take action now by passing the All Electric Building Act. Ensuring new buildings are fully electrified will significantly reduce their climate impact and provide further greenhouse gas reductions as the electrical grid is made greener. I am proud to be a co-sponsor of Senator Kavanagh’s important legislation.”

Assemblymember Chris Burdick said, “The All-Electric Building act will not only cut greenhouse gas emissions but will also save New York families money on their heating bills. This is commonsense legislation that not only supports the goals of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act but also helps our families keep their costs down. It’s a win-win and I hope we can get this over the finish line.”

Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright said, “Last year, New York City banned use of fossil fuels in new building construction to decrease climate pollution in the decades to come. Extending the New York City action statewide will save an additional 4 million metric tons of CO2 beyond the 2 million metric tons estimated to be saved by NYC’s law. If we are serious about climate change, we must take steps now to reduce the use of fossil fuels.”

Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes said,With the cost of living skyrocketing – rents, food and utilities – we must use the tools we have to make sure we are making cost-effective energy options available to our constituents. As private utilities warn about increasing costs and impending rate-hikes, legislators should support making cost savings available to households while addressing our climate crisis. It’s urgent that we pass the All-Electric Building Act.”

Senator Liz Krueger said, “Once again we’re heading into another winter with New Yorkers facing skyrocketing costs for gas and oil heating. But instead of blaming the real culprits — price gouging by fossil fuel companies and price fixing by petro-state dictators — the polluters’ lobby is spending millions on their decades-old tactics of deny, deflect, and delay. We no longer have time to play their games — our climate can’t take it, and New Yorkers can’t afford it. The All-Electric Building Act is just plain common sense. It will allow us to stop digging ourselves deeper into a fossil-fueled hole and start the process of building a livable and affordable future for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren.”

Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick said, “New York City has led the way in prohibiting the installation of dirty infrastructure in new construction, and now the State must do so as well. As we move to meet the ambitious goals set forth in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act by using renewable sources to generate our electricity, we must also reject the installation of fossil fuel burning furnaces, stoves, and other appliances in new construction that pollute the air we breathe in our homes and add greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere. When this bill is signed into law, we will be much closer to ensuring a greener, brighter future for a clean environment.”

“The All-Electric Building Act will help New York break its dependence on the polluting fossil fuel industry and help households access more affordable home heating options. With the climate crisis before us and New York’s private utility companies once again warning of rate increases, we cannot delay any longer. I stand with Assemblymember Gallagher, my colleagues, and advocates in urging the Governor to include this critical initiative in the upcoming state budget,” said Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon.

“We are well past the question of ‘whether’ to reduce the use of fossil fuels. Now we’re at the ‘how’ and one answer is the All Electric Building Act,” said Assemblyman Thomas J. Abinanti.

Assemblymember Robert Carroll said, “To meet the goals of the CLCPA the State must take aggressive action and pass the All Electric Building Act. With the vast majority of NYC’s greenhouse gas emissions coming from buildings, the AEBA requires the aggressive timeline necessary to eliminate fossil fuels in new buildings. We don’t have time to wait. To avert a climate catastrophe we need to act now and pass the All Electric Building Act.”

“The climate crisis continues to pose an existential threat to New Yorkers across our city and state. Utility costs are skyrocketing, and New Yorkers already struggling to make ends meet are wondering if they will be able to afford to heat their homes in the coming months. Communities of color and low-income communities like the ones I represent in Queens suffer the most from our inaction. It’s time for New York to break its addiction to fossil fuels. I’m proud to co-sponsor the All-Electric Building Act in the Assembly and stand with the #GasFreeNY coalition in calling on Governor Hochul to include the bill in her upcoming state budget,” said Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas.

Assemblymember Anna Kelles said, “I am incredibly proud to represent a district where heat pumps in new buildings are basically the norm — we have proven that these high-performing energy-efficient buildings are cost effective, comfortable, healthy and safe. It is critical that we pass the All Electric Building Act and make sure that new buildings are not contributing to the climate crisis. Not only is going all-electric good for the planet, but it will also save New York households hundreds of dollars each year.”

Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani said, “Making sure that new buildings across the state are all-electric is the first step towards transitioning to a fully renewable future. Governor Hochul must include the All-Electric Building Act in her state budget to help our state transition off of fossil fuels, and ensure that we are on track to meet the ambitious goals we’ve set for ourselves here in New York State with the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.” 

Pete Sikora, Climate & Inequality Campaigns Director for New York Communities for Change said, “It’s time for Governor Hochul to end gas in new construction to save New Yorkers money, create jobs and fight climate change. It’s time to match up the big political rhetoric with action and results.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

DE Activists Boycott DNREC Informational Meeting on Dirty Bioenergy Devco Gas Project

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Activists are boycotting a state informational meeting for the dirty Bioenergy Devco gas project happening this evening. The meeting precedes the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) October 26 public hearing on the draft permits for the proposed project near Seaford.

Bioenergy Devco’s proposal would truck factory farm waste from three states into a residential neighborhood in Sussex County to refine it into a gas indistinguishable from fracked gas. Emissions from burning the so-called “biogas” would have the same annual climate impact of a typical car driving almost 100 million miles. The local community would face serious public health and quality of life concerns from increased truck traffic, foul odors, and local air and water pollution.

A Food & Water Watch analysis found that the community surrounding the proposed gas refinery is home to people of color and people living in poverty at nearly twice the rate of Sussex County as a whole. Advocate outreach has demonstrated a consistent lack of DNREC communication over the past two years with these people, many of whom are Spanish or Haitian Creole speakers, about the details and dangers of the proposed facility. At a meeting with DNREC in July, the agency refused all advocate requests to better perform outreach to these communities. As a result, draft facility permits are currently only provided in English, and the only accommodation for non-English speakers during the public workshop and hearing appears to be the availability of Spanish captioning.

Activists are boycotting today’s DNREC meeting, citing the agency’s failure to sufficiently inform environmental justice, Haitian Creole- and Spanish-speaking communities about the proposal; refusal to require truthfulness from Bioenergy Devco representatives; and refusal to offer the community a seat at the table. Groups opposed to the project will not be turning out members to the DNREC meeting. Food & Water Watch Delaware Organizer Greg Layton said:

“DNREC’s informational session is nothing more than a one-sided dog and pony show for the developer to spin its polluting gas project as a win-win-win. Governor Carney’s agency has ignored repeated requests from advocates to reach across language barriers to ensure the communities living next to the dirty proposal understand the significant climate, public health, safety and quality of life issues at stake; and the community has been refused a seat at the table. This proposal has been an environmental injustice from the outset — Governor Carney must direct DNREC to deny permits for Bioenergy Devco’s biogas facility.”

“In having conversations within neighboring Spanish-speaking communities, none were aware of the scope and scale of this project. Few were aware of the project at all, despite being those who will be most impacted by it,” said Reji Gregoire, Green Campaign Manager with Delaware Working Families Party.

“This is hurting people,” said Charito Calvachi-Mateyko, Delaware Civil Rights Coalition Coordinator. “Can you imagine having thousands of truck loads bringing chicken manure, chicken litter and dead chickens constantly, seven days a week in front of your neighborhood? This is outrageous.”

“According to US News & World Reports’ pollution rankings, Delaware ranks in the top 10 most polluted states in the US. The proposed methane refinery planned for Seaford would bring close to 20,000 heavy-duty truck trips per year, deteriorating the air. The byproduct created by the refinery would further pollute nearby waterways and drinking water, harming both people and wildlife, and exacerbating climate change, said Shweta Arya, Delaware Interfaith Power & Light Executive Director. “Allowing the construction of an industrial facility of this scale in a residential community predominantly occupied by the underserved migrant population is both a huge public health hazard and an environmental justice issue.”

“While the Sierra Club Delaware Chapter encourages opportunities for the public to engage in permitting decisions, this virtual workshop on the BioEnergy Devco permit fails to provide a meaningful opportunity for the local communities most impacted by this project to participate and seek truthful answers to the many unanswered questions about this project,” said Dustyn Thompson, Sierra Club Delaware Chapter Director. “DNREC has refused to conduct an in-person meeting in the community where the facility would be located, with interpreters for the Spanish- and Haitian Creole-speaking residents, so those who would most feel the effects of this polluting industrial facility can participate equally and equitably in the permitting process. This is not acceptable and as such we are not actively encouraging our members to participate in this virtual workshop.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

As U.S. Senate Vote Looms, NY Elected Officials Oppose Schumer/Manchin Oil & Gas Permitting Deal

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Hours before an expected U.S. Senate vote on must-pass federal budget legislation, 27 New York elected officials sent a letter urging Senators Schumer and Gillibrand to stop Senator Manchin’s oil and gas permitting deal. The deal would severely weaken environmental laws by requiring the fast tracked permitting of fossil fuel projects like oil and gas pipelines, liquefied natural gas (LNG) operations, drilling and fracking. Local elected officials urged Senator Schumer to shelve Senator Manchin’s bill, which is reportedly headed for a U.S. Senate vote this evening.

Senator Schumer’s decision to attach the dirty deal to must-pass government funding legislation is driving mounting opposition. More than 70 U.S. Representatives are standing against the bill, including 10 New York Representatives, and at least five Senators have voiced opposition.

“This noxious legislation would weaken bedrock environmental law, reducing public participation and environmental justice review of large, new fossil fuel projects nationwide, including in New York,” the letter said.

The letter’s signatories were gathered over just 24 hours by climate action groups during the Rosh Hashanah holiday. Food & Water Watch Senior New York Organizer Santosh Nandabalan said:

“Read the room, Schumer. It’s no surprise that his constituents and colleagues alike are deeply opposed to his dirty deal with coal baron Senator Manchin. New York is making real strides off fossil fuels — Senator Schumer’s deal will take us backwards. Schumer has the power and indeed imperative to drop this deal now and keep the fossil fuel payday out of our government budget.”

“As the International Energy Agency has stated, no new fossil fuel infrastructure is compatible with avoiding global catastrophe. Now is not the time to trample over environmental justice concerns and lock in decades of future emissions through new fossil fuel infrastructure. We urge [Senators Schumer, Gillibrand and Members of New York’s Congressional Delegation] to stop this deal to force through more fossil fuel infrastructure and drilling, weaken New York’s ability to protect our constituents, and outright approve the Mountain Valley Pipeline,” concluded the New York elected officials.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Court Strikes Down Iowa Recording Ban Ag-Gag Law

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Des Moines, IA — The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa ruled Iowa’s latest Ag-Gag law is unconstitutional, holding that the law — which created a new crime of trespassing to engage in video and audio recording — violates the First Amendment. The law gagged free speech by criminalizing undercover investigations at animal facilities, deterring the exposure of animal cruelty, unsafe working conditions, and food safety threats in such facilities.

Iowa’s Ag-Gag laws are designed to criminalize investigations at factory farms, slaughterhouses, and puppy mills. The first law, passed in 2012, was struck down by the district court in 2019; the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals later affirmed that parts of the law were unconstitutional. After Iowa passed a second Ag-Gag law, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and a coalition of animal protection and public interest organizations brought another constitutional challenge and struck that law down in the district court, as well. That law is currently under review at the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

While the previous two Ag-Gag laws in Iowa targeted the ways investigators gain access and employment at industrial agriculture facilities, the law challenged in this lawsuit created a unique crime to deter investigations and public advocacy. The law allowed for increased penalties for recording while trespassing, 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 frequent.

“It is past time for the animal agriculture industry to acknowledge that consumers do not want to support an industry that is cruel to animals — and Iowa cannot infringe on our constitutional rights in order to hide abuse,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “The state of Iowa continues to fail in its efforts to prohibit whistleblowers and undercover investigators from exposing the inhumane treatment of animals, worker safety concerns, and food-safety issues in factory farms and slaughterhouses.”

“The ability to investigate and document how our food is made is critical in ensuring a just and transparent food system that holds companies and government institutions accountable,” says Public Justice Food Project Litigation Director David Muraskin. “This victory is important for Iowa workers who are placed in dangerous and unsafe workplace conditions and are now protected under the First Amendment to record evidence of these practices.”

Food & Water Watch Attorney Tyler Lobdell said:

“Year after year, the Iowa legislature one-ups itself to trample our First Amendment rights at the behest of the factory farm industry and other animal abusers. And year after year, Iowa wastes taxpayers’ money defending these absurd and unconstitutional laws so that factory farms can operate with impunity. Advocacy for a more just and sustainable food system requires shedding light on the abuses that happen behind closed factory farm doors. We are proud to stop Iowa’s latest effort to hamstring regulation of this destructive industry.”

“On behalf of Bailing Out Benji and all of our supporters, we are elated over the decision that was handed down today, which is so important to our work to protect companion animals in Iowa,” says Bailing Out Benji Executive Director Mindi Callison. “Now more than ever it is important to give a voice to those that have none and make sure that commercial dog breeding facilities are complying with the laws. Passing these types of laws to protect agricultural facilities at all costs is irresponsible. We are honored to be standing on the right side of history in order to expose and educate the public about the atrocities that are happening behind closed doors at puppy mills in Iowa and other agricultural facilities. Bailing Out Benji will continue to be a voice for the puppy mill dogs here in Iowa and across the nation by challenging this type of unconstitutional legislation.”

“CCI members are fearless truth-tellers. We speak up and speak out for what’s right. We fight back against corporate bullies,” says CCI member Brenda Brink of Huxley, Iowa. “We go toe-to-toe with factory farms and the statehouse politicians who carry their water. Our members across the state are celebrating this big win, and re-committing ourselves to fighting for a food and farm system that’s good for family farmers, workers, eaters and our environment. People before profits, communities before corporations!”

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 was the ninth lawsuit challenging state Ag-Gag laws around the country, including from Iowa. In addition to the challenges to the three Iowa laws, earlier lawsuits have resulted in courts striking down similar laws in North Carolina, Kansas, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming. A challenge to the Arkansas Ag-Gag law is currently pending in the district court, and appeals of district court decisions striking down North Carolina’s and Iowa’s second laws are awaiting decisions by the Fourth and Eighth Circuit Courts of Appeals, respectively.

The coalition challenging Iowa’s most recent ag gag law 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, the Law Office of Matthew Strugar, Roxanne Conlin & Associates, and in-house counsel for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and Food & Water Watch.

10 New York Representatives Oppose Schumer’s Dirty Pipeline Deal

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

In a letter delivered to Speaker Nancy Pelosi today, more than 70 U.S. House members affirmed their opposition to a legislative deal crafted by Senators Schumer and Manchin that would fast-track fossil fuel infrastructure development. 10 New York Representatives were among the signatories: Bowman, Clarke, Espaillat, Jones, C. Maloney, Meng, Nadler, Ocasio-Cortez, Torres, and Velazquez. Representative Jeffries has been notably silent on this issue, as activists ramp up the pressure, protesting outside his Brooklyn office last week.

The deal, which Schumer apparently intends to attach to an upcoming budget continuing resolution, would fast-track fossil fuel projects, including the highly controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline. Yesterday, activists in New York traveled to Washington, D.C. to protest the deal alongside hundreds of activists from across the country.

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

“Today, the New York House delegation issued a strong rebuke of Senator Schumer and his spineless dirty pipeline deal. Backroom deals that sell out frontline communities, sidestep state permitting authority and double down on climate-killing fossil fuels are no way to lead.

“Schumer’s dirty pipeline deal is an affront to his own constituents’ fight for a livable future. For those that represent us, this is the time to choose — people or fossil fuels. Senator Schumer, stop the dirty deal.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

1.5K Baltimore Homes and Businesses Under Water Boil Advisory For Fourth Consecutive Day

Categories

Clean Water

For Immediate Release

Baltimore, MD — Today, 1,500 homes and businesses in Baltimore remained under a water boil advisory for the fourth day in a row, after water quality test results released Wednesday evening from the Department of Public Works confirmed ongoing E. coli contamination in one area in the city’s water supply. Because of improvements, the city lifted the precautionary boil advisory for much of the impacted area, but the mandatory water boil order remains in place for areas in West Baltimore. The boil order began Monday. A map of affected Baltimore communities is available here.

The presence of E. coli bacteria indicates fecal contamination, posing serious public health risks including diarrhea, cramps, nausea and headaches; the greatest health risk is to infants, young children, elderly and immunocompromised individuals. The Department of Public Works advises boiling water for one minute to kill bacteria. Most standard household faucet filters and refrigerator filters are not certified to address bacteria contamination. The only filters certified to kill bacteria are UV filters (NSF/ANSI 55- Class A) and microbiological filters (NSF P231). 

While the official cause has yet to be determined, Baltimore’s water crisis is compounded by the federal disinvestment in water and wastewater infrastructure, which has hamstrung the ability of communities nationwide to conduct preventive maintenance. Food & Water Watch research details the systematic gutting of federal funding for national water infrastructure by more than 77% since 1977. Federal relief in the 2021 federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Package provided a meager 7% of the identified need. Without federal support, cities like Baltimore are forced to rely on regressive water rate hikes. Baltimore water rates have increased 500% in the last two decades, leaving water bills unaffordable in more than half the city.

Baltimore’s public health emergency is not an isolated incident; residents of Jackson Mississippi were without water for more than a week and have been under a citywide boil order since July. As the growing threats from the climate crisis hit aging water and wastewater systems, with water and sewer pipes nationwide averaging 45 years old, incidents like those in Baltimore and Jackson are increasing, with harm concentrated in communities of color and low-income communities. 

Food & Water Watch Baltimore Organizer Rianna Eckel with the Baltimore Right to Water Coalition issued the following statement:

“The water crises we are seeing today in majority Black communities like Baltimore and Jackson are the direct result of decades of federal disinvestment and structural racism. We must hold all levels of government accountable for their role in restricting access to the most basic of human rights — water.

“In Baltimore, we demand answers from DPW about the cause of the contamination. Until our water is clean, the agency must ensure that everyone impacted by this water crisis has enough safe water to drink, clean, and prepare food until this is remedied. Mayor Scott must take accountability and enact proactive solutions to improve communications about public health crises and prevent this from occurring again. At the state level, we urge the Maryland Department of the Environment to allocate funding to Baltimore and to do all within their power to speed up the turnaround time on testing results, to keep our communities as informed as possible. 

“At the federal level, Congress must pass the WATER Act to fully fund our water and wastewater systems nationwide, and mitigate the burden on communities already struggling with unaffordable water bills. The federal government must restore its commitment to safe water and provide water justice to communities from Maryland to Mississippi. Every person needs and deserves water that is safe to drink, cook with and bathe in.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NYC Activists Opposing Schumer/Manchin Fossil Fuels “Side Deal” Rally at Rep. Jeffries’ Office, Demanding Opposition

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Ida, New York Assembly Members and activists representing Food & Water Watch, New York Communities for Change, Climate Families NYC, 350 Brooklyn, Sunrise NYC and Greenpeace USA rallied at the local office of Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, urging him and other House leaders to oppose a pro-fossil fuels deal negotiated by Senators Schumer and Manchin. The legislative “side deal,” conceived during negotiations around the recently-passed Inflation Reduction Act, would fast track the approval of fossil fuel infrastructure like pipelines and export facilities, reduce public input, and weaken bedrock environmental protection laws.

Activists are targeting Rep. Jeffries due to his powerful leadership position in the House. The rally comes two weeks after 12 activists were arrested outside Senator Schumer’s office protesting the dirty side deal.

With the House in recess until after Labor Day – and Schumer pushing for a vote in September on the deal – activists across New York and the nation are using this week to pressure representatives while they are home to oppose this dangerous proposal. Food & Water Watch Volunteer Ken Schles, a constituent of Rep. Jeffries said:

“Senator Schumer’s side deal is dirty and dangerous. New Yorkers have won critical victories to end the reign of polluting fossil fuels, and our own Senator’s backroom negotiations put us newly at risk. Fast tracked fossil fuel permitting cuts the public out of the processes built to protect us, and required completion of dirty fracked gas projects like the Mountain Valley Pipeline are unconscionable. Rep. Jeffries must stand up for New Yorkers and our climate and say no to the side deal.”

“Five years ago 350Brooklyn joined with other organizations across the city to stop an expensive, unnecessary, and destructive fracked gas pipeline from being built in our waterway and threatening our shores including Coney Island, a New York City landmark,” said Lynn Tondrick of 350Brooklyn. “And we won. If Manchin’s bill becomes law, similar projects will be rammed down the throats of local communities with no recourse. In opposing this bill, we stand with people all over this country working to protect their land, their health, and the planet’s future.”

“Right now, Members of Congress are at odds over a dirty deal that would sacrifice lives at the altar of Big Oil profits. The architect of this dirty deal, Senator Joe Manchin, is the top recipient of oil and gas money in Congress and now he wants to pay back his fossil fuel buddies by fast tracking coal, gas, and oil projects at the cost of our health and a livable future,” said Seth Laxman, climate campaigner at Greenpeace USA. “Human lives are not bargaining chips. Representative Hakeem Jeffries must prevent this deal from going any further.”

Photos and videos of the event are available here; a recorded live stream is available here.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

8 Seattle Activists Arrested Occupying Sen. Murray’s Office To Protest Manchin Pipeline “Side Deal”

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

See photos and video from the sit-in and rally in this folder

Seattle, WA – Eight activists were arrested after staging a sit-in at the Seattle office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray to demand she oppose the fossil fuel expansion deal proposed by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin in exchange for his support of the Inflation Reduction Act. According to a leaked draft, the proposal would fast-track fossil fuel projects like the Mountain Valley Pipeline, undercut basic environmental protections and reduce the ability of state agencies, tribes and community groups to review dangerous fossil fuel projects. 

Activists delivered a letter to Sen. Murray’s staff and asked that Murray commit to opposing Marchin’s proposal. When they didn’t get that commitment, eight activists with the People vs Fossil Fuels coalition staged a peaceful sit-in at the office and held a banner reading “Senator Murray: stop fossil fuels! No fast track deal for pipelines.” 

Police were called in and arrested all eight activists, who were later cited and released. 

Senator Murray serves as the assistant Democratic leader in the Senate, ranking just below Majority Leader Schumer and Majority Whip Durbin. This makes her an especially important voice within the Democratic caucus.

Meanwhile, dozens of activists and coalition members rallied outside the Federal Building, chanting and holding signs reading “No fast track deal for pipelines,” “No permit deal for Big Oil,” and “Don’t sacrifice communities to Big Oil”. 

Coalition members released the following statements after the actions:

“The proposal from Senator Manchin is nothing more than a wish list from Big Oil, whose only goal is more profit at the expense of people and the planet,” said Thomas Meyer, National Organizing Manager with Food & Water Watch. “Washingtonians expect our representatives to fight for real climate action and deliver for working families, not make deals with Big Oil. Senator Murray and the rest of our Congressional delegation must speak up strongly and swiftly against this massive rollback of public health and environmental protections that will fast track fossil fuel projects.”

“As a scientist and researcher, it is impossible to ignore the reports of our trajectory towards catastrophic climate breakdown,” said Will Livernois, a materials scientist and member of the climate activist group Scientist Rebellion. “The climate crisis is here and it is deadly. We are desperate for the government to listen to science so that we can avoid the worst effects of the climate and ecological crises, and transition towards a safe livable future. Fossil fuel expansion is not compatible with this future. Senator Murray must oppose this deal with Big Oil and any policies that allow for fossil fuel expansion.” 

“Senator Manchin held climate action hostage to make deals for his buddies in the fossil fuel industry,” said Emily Johnston, a local writer and longtime climate activist. “Now Senator Murray has to stand up and make it clear that she won’t make deals with hostage takers and that she’ll defend critical environmental protections like NEPA. We can’t let Big Oil gut our bedrock environmental laws and bulldoze over communities; we need to stop this dirty deal.”

“Over 400 people died in Washington state last year from a heat dome — deaths linked to burning fossil fuels,” said Annemarie Dooley MD, a doctor and member of Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility. “What Senator Manchin calls ‘permitting reform’ is really a health and safety sidestep, allowing fossil fuel projects to go ahead without careful review. We ask Senator Murray to oppose this deal with the fossil fuel industry, a giveaway that will result in many more heat deaths in the years ahead.”

“Anyone with their eyes open can see that the climate is changing disastrously for human health and wellbeing,” said Dr. Bill Daniell, environmental health physician and retired faculty at UW Public Health. “New long-term commitments to fossil fuel infrastructure make no sense and only serve corporate greed. Congress must stand up against false narratives and squash any legislation making it easier to continue oil and gas exploration or build new pipelines.”

Contact: Jessica Gable, [email protected]

“Stop The Dirty Pipeline Deal”: NYC Activists Arrested In Blockade of Senator Schumer’s Office

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Photos and videos of the event are available here; a recorded livestream is available here.

This morning, 100 climate activists blockaded Senate Majority Leader Schumer’s Manhattan office, demanding an end to the side deal negotiated behind closed doors last month. Senator Schumer negotiated the side deal with Senator Manchin to buy the West Virginia Senator’s support for the Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law Tuesday. 12 activists, represented by civil rights lawyer Ron Kuby, were arrested conducting a peaceful sit-in at Senator Schumer’s office. Police handcuffed protesters holding signs saying “Schumer: Stop The Dirty Pipeline Deal” and “Off Fossil Fuels”. 

According to a leaked one-pager, the side deal proposes to fast track dangerous fossil fuel projects, gut decades-old environmental review processes for infrastructure projects, and silence the public’s voice in decision making. The side deal also proposes to rubber stamp the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a failing fracked gas project that neighboring communities in Appalachia have been fighting for five years. A vote is expected on the side deal in September. Food & Water Watch Senior New York Organizer Laura Shindell, who was arrested Thursday morning said:

“Senator Schumer is sacrificing frontline communities and our clean energy future, all to placate a coal baron. Schumer’s dirty side deal is a lose-lose-lose for our frontline communities and our climate, shortcutting the federal agencies and public processes meant to protect us and fast-tracking dangerous fossil fuel projects. Senator Schumer must reverse course on the dirty pipeline deal and recommit to preserving a livable future.”

“The Inflation Reduction Act is a strong first step toward addressing the climate crisis, but the deal that Schumer struck with Manchin could seriously undermine it,” said Livvie Mann, organizer with Rise and Resist. “The ‘deal’ would allow fast tracking of fossil fuel infrastructure like pipelines, taking us in a completely wrong direction. Schumer must stop the dirty pipeline deal.” 

“We refuse to accept the so-called ‘Permitting Reform Bill’. This back-room side deal made with Manchin that would expand fossil fuel permitting is indefensible. We cannot allow the passage of a bill that would stifle the powers of frontline communities to fight back against ecological harm in their hometowns,” said Jonathan Salazar with Sunrise NYC. “We will keep fighting for a just transition until we’ve achieved a Green New Deal –– that’s why we are here.”

“It is vital that everyone step up to do their part in fighting the climate crisis,” said civil rights lawyer Ron Kuby. “While I am a bit old to be sitting in the streets (who knows if I could make it up?) I am proud to stand up for the climate warriors in court!”

“The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act carries a headline ‘42% GHG reduction by 2040’. This is debatable, given questionable methane accounting. What is not debatable is that even this 42% does not account for the side deal struck between Senators Manchin and Schumer to fast-track pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure in a separate bill,” said Shayok Mukhopadhyay, organizer with 350NYC. “Rep. Grijalva of Arizona has expressed concern that this bill may be tied together with other must-pass legislation to incentivize legislators to vote in its favor. This kind of backroom dealing that sacrifices the health of frontline communities and the stability of our climate must stop.”

“We see death, starvation, flooding, droughts, and wildfires from climate change. We should not be walking on eggshells with West Virginia’s Senator Joe Manchin, who is the largest recipient of fossil fuel money in the entire United States Congress,” said Kim Fraczek, Director of Sane Energy Project. “Our allies fighting the Mountain Valley Pipeline in his state have been protecting the land and water for nearly a decade against this heinous fracked gas project. It is unconscionable that we are fighting for our lives in the 21st century so politicians can profit off obsolete technology. We need Senator Schumer and the rest of Congress to use their power to defend communities, not pipelines.”

“As a survivor of Hurricane Sandy, I know the impact of climate change first-hand. Every time it rains, my daughter wonders if our home will once again be destroyed and we will be rendered homeless,” said Rachel Rivera with New York Communities for Change. “As long as Senator Chuck Schumer continues to acquiesce to Senator Joe Manchin’s dirty side deals that destroy bedrock climate protections, families like mine will continue to suffer.  It’s time for Senator Schumer to block this “permitting reform” proposal and protect our climate and communities, not Exxon Mobil.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Under Inflation Reduction Act, Midwest Carbon Pipelines Could Cost Taxpayers $40 Billion

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, President Biden is scheduled to sign the Inflation Reduction Act. Touted by supporters as historic climate legislation, the bill holds renewable energy development hostage to continued pollution. One such concession to polluters is an expansion of the federal tax credit known as Section 45Q. Under the current law, companies can rake in up to $50 per ton of carbon dioxide captured and geologically stored; the Inflation Reduction Act increases those numbers to $85 a ton.

Three carbon pipelines proposed for the Midwest are poised to cash in on these lucrative credits. The Inflation Reduction Act could raise the value of the 45Q credit for Summit, Navigator and ADM/Wolf carbon pipelines by 70%, totaling $40 billion in taxpayer dollars for the projects over the next 12 years ($3.4 billion a year). The related side deal leaked last month would fast track federal permitting for select carbon capture projects — all three hazardous carbon pipeline proposals are eligible.

Assured of substantial federal funding, Summit Carbon Solutions began filing requests for eminent domain this month. Thanks to staunch opposition from Iowans refusing to allow the private corporation access to their land, Summit is seeking eminent domain to access 60% of the land parcels required for their proposed route in Iowa. April Food & Water Action polling conducted by Change Research found that 80% of Iowa voters oppose the use of eminent domain for carbon pipelines.

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

“Carbon capture and the hazardous pipelines that support it are a distraction from the real work of tackling the climate crisis. The Inflation Reduction Act masquerades as monumental climate action, while hiding corporate giveaways like increased Section 45Q tax credits in plain sight.

“Carbon capture is a waste of taxpayer money with real world consequences that will impact people across Iowa — Summit has already filed to seize and condemn private property across multiple counties to build its pipeline. Regardless of action in Washington, Governor Reynolds has the responsibility to protect Iowans at home from carbon pipeline developers’ corporate greed. She must tell her Iowa Utilities Board to deny eminent domain for private gain and stop these pipelines.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Summit Plans to File For Eminent Domain Against Landowners on 60% of IA Carbon Pipeline Route

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, Summit Carbon Solutions announced plans to begin filing for eminent domain against landowners. The pipeline corporation claims it has obtained “voluntary” easements from only 40% of landowners, meaning 60% of the route would require land condemnation through the use of eminent domain for the project to break ground. Until Summit files Exhibit H with the Iowa Utilities Board, these numbers remain estimates.

After more than a year of harassment to secure voluntary easements with Iowa landowners, Summit has failed to leverage substantial political contributions and funds spent on lobbying to their benefit. Iowans remain steadfastly opposed to the use of eminent domain for carbon pipelines, with April Food & Water Action polling finding that 80% of Iowans oppose eminent domain for the projects.

The Sierra Club’s attorney Wally Taylor has filed multiple requests regarding Exhibit H and transparency, available here.

“This is going to do very little in the way of addressing climate change or saving the ethanol industry. It’s going to do a lot of huge damage but the pipeline companies will make a lot of money in the process. I don’t care what the dollar amount is — I’m not signing an easement,” said Jean Granger, Floyd County impacted landowner. “I will stand with thousands of landowners across the midwest who are refusing to sign easements. Why should they have the right to steamroll Iowa’s farmers to enrich their pockets?” 

“Summit showed their true colors today,” said Food & Water Watch Senior Iowa Organizer Emma Schmit. “For more than a year, landowners and activists have joined together to stand up to corporate greed and stand up for the will of the people. We fight because we believe in a better Iowa and a better future that supports people, not corporations. Summit may seek eminent domain but is our public institutions, accountable to the people, that will be responsible for the final decision. And we won’t stop fighting. Governor Reynolds, listen to your constituents — stop Summit’s land grab. The IUB must say no to carbon pipelines.”

“Summit has had nearly a year to harass Iowans and buy support from influential politicians, yet they are doing poorly. It shows that this is not a viable project. The Iowa Utilities Board is allowing Summit to continue by giving them the time and means necessary to bully people into signing. The IUB needs to put us before the pipeline companies,” said Jess Mazour, Sierra Club Iowa Chapter, Conservation Program Coordinator.

Summit’s allegations of only having 40% of the route it wants to build its experimental hazardous pipeline is a shockingly low number after the tens of millions of dollars it has spent and after the lobbying efforts and backroom deals compromising Iowa politicians. Their announcement is underwhelming and shows where the vast majority of Iowans are on this taxpayer funded land grab — solidly opposed. Eminent domain for this foreign owned proposed hazardous pipeline must not be allowed,” said Brian Jorde, Lawyer representing landowners in Iowa and other carbon pipeline impacted states.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Carbon Pipeline Companies Spent $92,600 on Lobbying in Iowa This Year

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Carbon pipeline companies Summit, Navigator and Wolf spent a collective $92,600 on lobbying in Iowa’s 2022 state legislative session, according to the state lobbying declaration records released this week. Specifically, since January 10, 2022, Summit Carbon Solutions spent $36,000, Navigator CO2 Ventures spent $16,600, and Wolf Carbon Solutions spent $40,000.

In the 2022 state legislative session, multiple bills to prohibit eminent domain for carbon pipelines failed to make it out of committee, despite 80% of registered Iowa voters opposing eminent domain for carbon pipelines.

These carbon pipeline lobbying expenditures far outpace the lobbying expenditures from the Dakota Access Pipeline fight, where Energy Transfer spent between $25-23.1K on state lobbying each year starting in 2015. Additionally, Summit Carbon Solutions is employing the same lobbyists who worked on that controversial pipeline.

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

“The halls of the Iowa legislature are teeming with cushy corporate cronies and their well-heeled Wall Street investors. While Iowans stand in fields and march in streets to hold our public institutions accountable to we the people, pipeline profiteers are greasing the wheels with dirty money.

“Let’s get one thing straight — Iowa belongs to the people. Our land belongs to us, and our public institutions must be accountable to us. Carbon pipelines are dangerous and unnecessary, and we don’t want them. They’ve also been massive conflicts of interest for our elected officials from the start. Governor Reynolds must listen to the people, not the money, as we demand she stop carbon pipelines, and prevent eminent domain for private gain.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

One Year In, Landowners and Activists Protest Eminent Domain for Carbon Pipelines at Iowa Utilities Board Meeting

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

This morning, more than 50 impacted landowners and activists from the Iowa Carbon Pipeline Resistance Coalition including Food & Water Watch, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, the Sierra Club Iowa Chapter, and the Science, Environment and Health Network attended the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) monthly meeting in Des Moines to raise concerns about three proposed carbon pipelines. Protesters demanded an end to the threat of eminent domain for carbon pipeline proposals before the Board, and requested a meeting with Governor Reynolds to discuss the projects further. Following the meeting, protestors caravanned to the Governor’s Mansion at Terrace Hill to amplify the demand for Governor Reynolds to put the interests of Iowans before the profits of pipeline companies.

Summit Carbon Solutions’ 2,000 mile hazardous pipeline is currently before the Iowa Utilities Board, drawing expansive opposition surpassing that of the Dakota Access Pipeline. To date, 76% of the Iowa counties impacted by Summit’s proposed pipeline route have submitted formal objections.

Tuesday’s rally marks just over one year since Summit announced their project. The company is seeing slow progress on securing voluntary easements, as impacted landowners resist handing over private property for the project which threatens public health, safety and farmland alike. In fact, Food & Water Action polling found that 80% of Iowa voters oppose eminent domain for the project.

Food & Water Watch Senior Iowa Organizer Emma Schmit said:

“It’s been one year since greedy corporations announced their plans to take our land for their gain. Iowans simply won’t accept eminent domain for private gain, and it’s time our Governor listened to us. We demand a meeting with Governor Reynolds to discuss these projects and make clear that Iowans will not allow carbon pipeline corporations to ram their dangerous schemes through our land, putting us at risk so someone on Wall Street can make a quick buck.”

“We are a year into the Summit project and it’s clear Iowans do not want CO2 pipelines. Land agents call us 20 times a week — worse than telemarketers or a presidential election. We do not want these pipelines destroying our land,” said Sherri Webb, a Summit-impacted owner of a Century Farm in Shelby County

“Navigator is telling landowners one thing, and the IUB and County Supervisors another. We have no way to know the truth,” said Richard McKean, a Navigator-impacted landowner. “It’s a living nightmare.”

“This process is a sham,” said Johnson County Supervisor Jon Green. “The outcome is preordained. I’m here to ensure the record reflects that these carbon pipelines are a greenwashing grift.”

“A year into this project, it’s clear that no one wants carbon pipelines except for those who stand to benefit,” said Sierra Club Iowa Chapter Conservation Program Coordinator Jess Mazour. “70% of landowners won’t sign easements, 34 county boards of supervisors are saying no — Iowa doesn’t want these pipelines. The IUB needs to say no to carbon pipelines now.”

IUB officials have indicated any action or public hearing on Summit’s permit application is not expected before February 2023. Photos from today’s event are available here.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Iowans: Is Your County Taking a Stand Against Pipelines?

Categories

Climate and Energy

Nevada, Iowa. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, Photolibrarian / Flickr
by Emma Schmit and Phoebe Galt

The Midwest has become a new frontier in a battle against carbon pipelines. Corporations are moving fast to cash in on the fossil fuel industry’s latest bogus climate solution. Central to pipeline developers plans: Iowa. With these projects, Iowa could see 1,930 new miles of hazardous pipeline laid across 57 counties. If these companies get their way, two proposals alone would almost double the length of CO2 pipelines in the U.S.

On top of that, they’re scheming to build through private lands under eminent domain, with no need for landowners’ permission. This would introduce explosive health risks to communities — for example, a ruptured pipeline can leak deadly amounts of odorless CO2 for miles. But across Iowa, local governments are taking a stand.

See how your county is fighting back.

What Power Do Local Governments Have?

Carbon pipelines are dangerously under-regulated. They rely on minor state-level approvals and limited federal permits to secure eminent domain authority and start construction. But local governments have an important role to play.

County Boards of Supervisors are charged with protecting the health and safety of their communities and their constituents. They have a crucial role to play in stopping carbon pipeline construction. From zoning restrictions to political leverage, inspector hiring to Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) docket intervention, they have plenty of tools at their disposal. 

Counties are also taking legal action against the carbon pipelines. For example, legally binding ordinances would place strict parameters on pipeline construction. Under the Model Ordinance drafted by Food & Water Watch put forward to Supervisors in all impacted counties, they can decide how far away from hospitals, schools and homes pipelines must be built. They can also require specific emergency response service capacity before pipelines can operate. With these decisions, local governments wield critical power to keep their constituents safe. 

More Than Half Of Impacted Iowa Counties Object to Carbon Pipelines

Summit Carbon Solutions is the first company to move through the IUB permitting process. The company is behind the proposal for the world’s largest carbon pipeline (2,000 miles), a third of which will pass through Iowa. Texas-based Navigator CO2 Ventures is behind the second pipeline, proposed to cover roughly 1,300 miles, two-thirds of which would pass through Iowa. ADM/Wolf are behind a third 350-mile pipeline.

The IUB docket for Summit’s project is already chock-full of formal objections from County Boards of Supervisors. Local governments are joining their constituents in submitting official opposition statements to the IUB, which will decide the projects’ fate. The message is clear — dangerous carbon pipelines are unwelcome in Iowa.

As of September 14:

  • 70% of all Iowa counties impacted by carbon pipeline proposals have submitted formal objections.
  • 60% of counties impacted by Wolf have submitted formal objections.
  • 80% of the Iowa counties impacted by Summit have submitted formal objections.
  • 52% of Iowa counties impacted by Navigator have submitted formal objections.

Will Pipelines Affect Your County?

A staggering swath of Iowa counties is going to be affected by the push for planned pipelines. Objections? They have more than a few.

We Need Everybody On Board: Add Your Voice 

We need to use every tool in our toolbox to fight these pipelines. Whether or not your county has yet submitted a formal objection, you can ask them to pass a Model Ordinance that will protect your community. Call on your county supervisors to do their part and stand up to these dangerous projects now:

Tell Your County Supervisors: No CO2 Pipelines in Iowa!

Experts Join IA Farmers, Advocates and Legislators For People’s Hearing on Need for Factory Farm Moratorium

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

AMES, IA — On Saturday, farmers, experts, advocates and legislators gathered at the Ames Public Library for a people’s hearing on the urgent need for a factory farm moratorium in Iowa. The event came on the heels of yet another legislative session without action in Des Moines on the state’s factory farm crisis, and one month after the release of a new Food & Water Watch report, “The Hog Bosses,” detailing the agricultural consolidation crisis in Iowa farm country.

Absent legislative action on the issue, advocates from the Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture, a coalition of more than 25 organizations united against factory farming in Iowa, hosted the two-hour people’s hearing to present constituent demands and expert perspectives on the necessity of a factory farm moratorium in Iowa. Hours of testimony reflected the diverse criticisms of the industrial factory farming model, and highlighted local impacts on the lives of Iowans from all corners of the state. Topics discussed included water quality, public health, market consolidation, and the impacts factory farms have on community members’ quality of life and on farmers’ ability to make a living.

A recent poll commissioned by Food & Water Action found that 95% of Iowa voters support rules that make it easier for small farmers to compete with large agricultural corporations, and a 2019 study found that 63% of Iowa voters support legislation to stop factory farm expansion and corporate monopolies in our food system.

Food & Water Watch Senior Iowa Organizer John Aspray, Chair of the Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture issued the following statement:

“The factory farm system is crushing Iowa. For decades, Iowans have seen independent family farms forced into bad contracts with corporate giants in order to survive, small businesses shutter their doors, and our waterways and drinking water devastated by this model of industrial agriculture.

“Today, community members, farmers, and experts from all across Iowa came together to bear witness to the tremendous suffering our people, state, and environment are undergoing at the hands of corporate agribusiness and their legislative enablers. Our hearing underlined the criticisms of a model that many of our legislators have been too weak to confront.

“Iowa legislators must listen to us, their constituents, as we state loud and clear that it is high time to put an end to factory farms’ relentless growth in our state. We must pass a factory farm moratorium in Iowa and our federal representatives must pass the Farm System Reform Act.”

A full quote list from event participants is here. A recording of the event is available here.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Baltimore Advocates Urge Full Implementation of Water Affordability Law as City Approves New Water Rate Hike

Categories

Clean Water

For Immediate Release

Baltimore, MD — Today, the Baltimore City Board of Estimates voted to approve a water rate hike, increasing rates by three percent a year for the next three years. The rate schedule would increase a typical household’s water, sewer and stormwater bill from $118.46 a month currently to $130.21 a month, beginning in July 2024. It would be the smallest water rate increase in two decades. 

Members of the long-standing Baltimore Right to Water Coalition testified at the Baltimore City Board of Estimates meeting to applaud the City’s efforts to minimize the rate impact on households, and demand the full implementation of the Water Accountability and Equity Act, legislation that makes any rate increase less burdensome for City residents. It has been nearly one year since the legislation’s legal deadline for implementation and still the City has yet to take critical mandatory actions. 

Ongoing delays are rampant in implementation of the City’s signature water equity law, which was legally required to be implemented nearly a year ago, July 1st, 2021. The Water4All affordability program launched in February of this year, over 7 months after the deadline, and still falls short of critical enrollment thresholds. In addition, the Department of Public Works (DPW) has yet to establish the Office of the Water Customer Advocate or the Committee for Office Oversight. The Coalition demanded that the DPW fulfill its legal obligations to fully implement the Water Accountability & Equity Act, in light of ongoing rate increases.

Rianna Eckel, Baltimore organizer with Food & Water Watch and convenor of the Baltimore Right to Water Coalition, a coalition of dozens of organizations that has been advocating for accountable, equitable, affordable water for all Baltimoreans since 2016, said:

“We applaud the efforts of the Mayor to minimize the rate burden on households in our City. But at the end of the day, a smaller rate increase is still a rate increase. Baltimore has a signature water affordability law on the books to protect low wealth residents from rate increases of any size — all that remains is action from DPW to expand enrollment in the Water4All program and implement the rest of the law. We urge the Mayor to fully implement the Water Accountability and Equity Act to ensure affordable and accountable service to all households in the City. Successful implementation will minimize future water rate increases by increasing payment rates for low income families, as well as restoring trust in billing accuracy with an expedient, transparent billing dispute process led by an independent Customer Advocate. Providing affordable water service is a win-win for households and for the city.” 

Jaime Lee, Director of the Community Development Clinic at the University of Baltimore School of Law and a member of the Baltimore Right to Water Coalition, stated, “The Advocate’s job is to listen to customers, help them resolve water issues, and craft policies that treat customers more fairly. Hiring a strong, independent Advocate would be proof that the City puts the interests of its constituents first.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

World’s Largest Ethanol Producer Joins Forces with Navigator On Controversial Carbon Pipeline Scheme

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Yesterday, Texas-based Navigator CO2 Ventures announced a letter of intent to partner with the world’s largest ethanol producer, POET, to add 18 new facilities to the company’s controversial carbon pipeline proposed for the Midwest. The pipeline is set to cross 36 Iowa counties and stretch into Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota and South Dakota.

Navigator’s pipeline proposal is one of many controversial carbon pipelines proposed for the Midwest. Hotly contested by scores of landowners, farmers, health professionals, experts and activists, the projects have drawn widespread opposition and brought together odd bedfellows. Recent Food & Water Action polling showed that 80% of Iowa voters, across party lines, objected to the use of eminent domain for the project. 

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

“The Midwest’s carbon capture pipeline battle is pitting the biggest industry players against the very farmers who supply them. The lines are being drawn, and it’s people vs polluters. Our elected officials need to stand up for the little guy and stop these carbon pipeline scams from taking root. Carbon capture is a false solution to our climate crisis, sucking up billions in public dollars to throw at private companies, while leaving farmers, landowners and communities like mine to foot the bill when things go wrong.

“Iowa and our farmers deserve better than irreparably damaged farmland and leaky and potentially lethal pipelines running through our communities — Governor Kim Reynolds must direct her Iowa Utilities Board to stop these carbon pipelines, and the legislature must ban the use of eminent domain for their construction.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

New Research Shows More Than Half a Million South Floridians At Risk from Liquefied Gas Transit

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

New research from Food & Water Watch released today, South Florida’s Bomb Trains, unveils the first-ever map of truck and train routes available to liquefied fracked gas transport vehicles through Miami-Dade and Broward counties. The report finds that 575,000 South Floridians, including 228 schools and 13 hospitals are located within the one-mile evacuation radius of a potentially catastrophic accident or rupture during transit.

The transport of fracked gas in its volatile liquid state (termed LNG or liquefied natural gas by the fossil fuel industry) from a Hialeah liquefaction facility owned by New Fortress Energy to Port Everglades for export is one of only three places where liquefied gas transit by rail has been permitted. The other locations are Alaska and New Jersey (where the special permit expired in November 2021 and is pending reapproval). Meanwhile in South Florida, exports are ramping up. New Fortress Energy exported triple the amount of liquefied gas from Port Everglades in the first quarter of 2022, compared to Q1 2021.

Liquefied fracked gas and its transit pose numerous serious risks to the climate and peoples’ health and safety. New research findings include:

  • Liquefied gas-toting railcars share tracks with Brightline, the deadliest train route in America. Trucks, meanwhile, travel alongside passenger vehicles on county roads and highways.
  • A container rupture, truck crash or train derailment could result in fireballs, flammable vapors, toxic fumes and devastating fires that burn so hot that they are exceedingly difficult to extinguish and nearly impossible to contain. First responders often lack training in responding to LNG releases.
  • An estimated 575,000 people live within the evacuation zone surrounding the gas transport routes. An additional 228 K-12 schools fall within the evacuation zone, as do 13 hospitals.
  • People of color are 1.5 times more likely to live within the evacuation zone compared to white residents, and Black residents are nearly twice as likely. People in poverty are 1.3 times more likely to live within the evacuation zone, compared to residents living above the poverty line. 
    • These disparities are even greater within the 0.4 mile “lethal zone” — the distance to which residents could receive second degree burns following a worst-case disaster.

Food & Water Watch is calling for action by the Broward County Commissioners to halt the transportation of LNG at Port Everglades. Michelle Allen, Food & Water Watch Southern Region Deputy Director said:

“South Floridians are unwilling volunteers in a dangerous bomb train experiment. We are in the midst of a mounting climate crisis; we cannot be piloting new ways to frack ourselves past a tipping point while putting people at daily risk. The Broward County Commission has the power to stop this risky business. We urge local leadership to stop the transport of LNG at Port Everglades before it’s too late.”

“Transporting liquefied methane (LNG) by train or by truck carries the risk of catastrophic accidents into the heart of Florida communities,” said Barbara Gottlieb, Program Director for Environment & Health at Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR). “A truck or a train accident could result in a huge explosion and fireball, causing death and widespread destruction. And as we know, accidents do happen.”

A recording of the press conference where the research was announced is available here.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NY Community Members, Climate Activists Demand Assemblyman Benedetto Support All-Electric Building Act

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Bronx, NY — This afternoon, community members and climate activists rallied outside Assemblyman Michael Benedetto’s office in the Bronx, demanding passage of the All-Electric Building Act. The Act would ban the use of fossil fuels in all new construction, beginning with buildings under seven stories in 2024; larger buildings in 2027. The Act mirrors the near-identical law passed in New York City in December 2021, and brings the job-creating, health-protecting benefits to New Yorkers statewide. The Act has no effect on existing buildings.

Despite outreach from constituents and tremendous momentum around the legislation, including staunch support from the Hochul administration both during budget negotiations and at a recent Assembly hearing on the issue, Assemblyman Benedetto has failed to co-sponsor the bill. Activists demanded he champion the issue in advance of session’s close on June 2 and the midterm elections. Food & Water Watch Senior NY Organizer Eric Weltman said:

“With barely a week left in session, the New York state legislature is perilously close to concluding another year in Albany without any action on climate change. Assembly Member Benedetto knows this, and he is hearing from his constituents on this issue — his silence is deafening. It’s a no-brainer to keep fossil fuels out of new buildings, and it’s already a requirement in Benedetto’s home district. Assemblyman Benedetto must co-sponsor the All-Electric Buildings Act and fight for its immediate passage.”

“We desperately need our representatives to recognize the urgency of climate change and pass this imperative legislation. Time is running out and the All-Electric Building Act is a large step in ensuring a sustainable and livable future for all New Yorkers,“ said Atqiya Khan, Climate and Inequality Campaigns Associate at New York Communities for Change.

“Assembly Member Benedetto’s climate voting record tells us that his heart is in the right place. But his good intentions won’t help if vital climate legislation never even reaches a vote,” said Dorian Fulvo, 350NYC member and Benedetto constituent. “That’s why we need him to lend his voice now to demand immediate climate action by the Assembly leadership. We ask that he join us in supporting the All Electric Building Act and push to bring it to a vote in the Assembly.”

A recording of the rally is available here.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Tester, Booker, Merkley, Warren Introduce Food & Agribusiness Merger Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Today, Senators John Tester (D-MT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced federal legislation to combat rampant consolidation and monopolistic practices in the food and agribusiness industries. The Federal Food & Agribusiness Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act would pause all industry mergers and establish a commission to study how to strengthen antitrust oversight of the farm and food sectors. The bill’s introduction comes as American consumers struggle with rising grocery prices and crucial product shortages.

A recent Food & Water Watch report, “The Economic Cost of Food Monopolies: The Hog Bosses”, laid out the agribusiness consolidation crisis’ effects on Iowa farm country, finding that as industry efficiencies squeeze more hogs than ever out of Iowa factory farms, farmers and communities are left behind. Key findings include:

  • Iowa lost nearly 90 percent of its hog farms from 1982 to 2017, as rapid factory hog farm expansion drove out smaller, independent farms.
  • Since 1982, Iowa counties with the most hog factory farm development suffered declines across several economic indicators, including real median household income and total jobs. These counties also experienced significant population decline — twice the rate of Iowa’s rural counties overall.
  • Overproduction — and growing corporate consolidation — have pushed down the real price of hogs. Adjusting for inflation, today’s farmers earn $2 less per pound of pork produced compared to 1982, while the retail price fell only $1; slaughterhouses, processors and retailers capture the other $1.
  • Between 2004 and 2011, the top four firms slaughtered 9 out of 10 Iowa hogs thanks to corporate consolidation within the meat slaughtering and processing industry.

Food & Water Watch Senior Iowa Organizer John Aspray issued the following statement:

“For too long, a handful of agribusinesses have stood between our nation’s two million farmers and 330 million consumers. Iowans are seeing the effects of these decades of unchecked corporate consolidation in the grocery aisle and on struggling family farms. In order to create a food system that works for consumers, farmers, and our communities, we must rein in the corporate profiteers that stand in the way. Passing the Federal Food & Agribusiness Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act is a critical first step.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Baltimore Advocates Demand Answers on Shoddy Implementation of Water Accountability & Equity Act

Categories

Clean Water

For Immediate Release

Baltimore, MD —  Today, advocates and councilmembers showed up in droves to an informational Rules and Legislative Oversight Committee hearing on the implementation of the “Water4All” Affordability Program and the Water Accountability & Equity Act. Today’s hearing marks roughly two months since the landmark “Water4All” affordability program was launched, but advocates and councilmembers warn that the program’s implementation is already flawed with deadlines missed and programmatic concerns.

In accordance with the Water Accountability & Equity Act modifications bill passed in 2020 to extend the implementation of the legislation, the Act should have been fully implemented by July 1st, 2021. The Department of Public Works launched the first half of the legislation, the Water4All affordability program, earlier this year and have yet to make notable progress on the second half of the legislation by establishing the Water Customer Advocate’s office for a more transparent billing dispute resolution process. 

Even the launch of the Water4All program has raised serious concerns, as DPW currently plans for the affordability credit for tenants in multifamily units to count as taxable income, despite available ARPA funds which have been designated non taxable. The Baltimore Right to Water Coalition has repeatedly raised these concerns and others with the Scott Administration and the Department of Public Works and have not been able to get a clear response. 

At the hearing, advocates from the Baltimore Right to Water Coalition and councilmembers demanded answers to critical questions from representatives from the Department of Public Works, the Department of Finance, and the Office of the Baltimore City Administrator. Rianna Eckel, Baltimore Water Organizer with Food & Water Watch said:

“You don’t get brownie points for passing landmark water equity legislation if you never implement it. Baltimoreans are struggling with water access and water affordability right now — any delay in implementation of Water4All and the Water Accountability & Equity Act will spell disaster for the very people it’s designed to help. Mayor Scott must get serious about Baltimore’s water equity crisis and take concrete steps to implement this legislation faithfully.”

“It is incredibly disappointing to see DPW violating the law by denying renters access to their water bills two and a half years after the Water Accountability & Equity Act passed,” said Molly Amster, Maryland Policy Director & Baltimore Director for Jews United for Justice. “Renters make up more than 50% of Baltimore residents and shouldn’t be treated like second class citizens.”

“It’s frustrating that so few customers learned about possible back-dated credits after the significant delays launching the credit. Not only that, but because the customer advocate position has yet to be filled, customers often still need lawyers to resolve their water woes,” said Amy Hennen, Director of Advocacy and Financial Stabilization at the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service. “These delays only hurt the citizens of Baltimore.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Hochul Admin. Presses for Immediate Action on All-Electric New Construction at Hearing

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, the Assembly hearing on the All-Electric Building Act is demonstrating the consensus that ending gas in new construction fights climate change, creates jobs and cuts air pollution. Experts, including NYSERDA President Doreen Harris speaking for the Hochul Administration, testified favorably to the bill’s feasibility, timing and affordability, and pointed to the real-world experience of all electric fossil-free buildings already built across the state. 

The Hochul Administration effectively endorsed the timeline proposed by the Climate Action Council: a 2024 start to ending gas in new construction, which matches the All-Electric Building Act, prime-sponsored by Senator Kavanagh and Assemblyperson Gallagher. Harris also made clear the Hochul administration’s position that all-electric technology is feasible and affordable in new buildings, rebutting the oil and gas industry’s lies and exaggerations about the cost of ending fossil fuels in new construction.

The hearing comes on the heels of an Albany rally Tuesday, where legislative co-sponsors and local government allies urged prompt passage of the important bill which would prevent four million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, slash deadly air pollution and create thousands of clean energy jobs.

The All-Electric Building Act has 65 co-sponsors and is politically popular. As of January polling, 62% of New Yorkers support going all electric. Previously, the State Senate pushed for passage of the bill in the state budget and Governor Hochul proposed a weak version of the legislation in her budget, but it was not included in the final deal as the Assembly refused to negotiate its incorporation. The Climate Action Council draft plan also recommends a phaseout of fossil fuels in new construction starting in 2024, as critical to meeting the state’s emissions reduction targets.

The Senate has previously supported this legislation and advocates urged passage in the Senate as well.

The #GasFreeNY Campaign called on Speaker Heastie and the Assembly to enact the bill in the wake of the hearing’s demonstration of the feasibility and timing of all-electric building construction, which was the hearing’s stated subject. Food & Water Watch Senior Organizer Eric Weltman said:

“Speaker Heastie should take heed of the Hochul administration’s testimony that all-electric technology is affordable, reliable, and available. The science is equally clear: we must move off fossil fuels to prevent climate catastrophe. The All-Electric Building Act is a win-win-win for New York, cutting deadly air pollution, reducing greenhouse gasses, and creating thousands of good jobs. Speaker Heastie must strike a blow against fracking by passing this important climate bill. Speaker Heastie and the Assembly must stand up to the fossil fuel industry and pass this legislation.”

“This bill is a common-sense first-step strategy for decarbonizing buildings to address the climate crisis. We can implement it today: heat pumps perform well in cold climates, including successful tests in the Arctic. The State has adequate electricity supply to handle the increased demand from new buildings relying on electric power through 2031 according to the NY Independent Operators System; and a new Buildings Institute report finds that all-electric, single-family homes are less expensive than new gas-fueled homes,” said Anne Rabe, NYPIRG Environmental Policy Director.

Studies have found that air pollution from buildings burning fossil fuels causes nearly 2,000 premature deaths each year across New York State, and we also know that communities of color are exposed to the highest amounts of air pollution. Even the indoor air pollution from cooking with gas has an adverse health impact, with studies showing that children living in homes with gas stoves are up to 42 percent more likely to develop a respiratory illness,” said Sonal Jessel, MPH, Director of Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “It’s time we stopped enabling the deadly fossil fuel industry, and pretending that their profits are worth harming the health and well-being of people of color. New York State cannot afford to wait any longer. To protect our most vulnerable communities, we must pass the All-Electric Building Act now.”

“It’s time for Speaker Heastie and the Assembly to fight climate change, create jobs and cut deadly air pollution. My family lost everything to Sandy and my family in Puerto Rico lost everything to Maria, including a close family friend we found after the flooding. I’m one of the many New Yorkers they say they care about. Now it’s time to show it by passing this bill,” said Rachel Rivera, a member of New York Communities for Change.

“The science could not be clearer — the time for fossil fuels is over, and the time to electrify everything is now,” said Liz Moran, New York Policy Advocate for Earthjustice. “The All-Electric Building Act is common sense policy that follows recommendations from global scientists and New York’s own Climate Action Council. The fossil fuel industry has spent billions over the course of decades lying about their role in causing the climate crisis — New York’s legislature can’t afford to fall victim to their lies regarding this legislation. We urge the Assembly to pass the All-Electric Buildings Act as soon as possible.”

The advocates also expressed disappointment that several top experts and practitioners, including developers who build and operate fossil-free buildings, were not invited to testify verbally about the issue after the Assembly asked for expert testimony and many top, highly-respected and experienced practitioners volunteered their time to help explain the issue. 

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Navigator Walks Back Claims About Permanent Storage for Controversial IA Carbon Pipeline Gas

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Yesterday, Navigator CO2 Ventures announced a new letter of intent to work with Big River Resources and Big River United Energy on their carbon capture project proposed for the midwest. Among other services, they will partner to explore “key value optimization opportunities for captured CO2.” To date, Navigator has claimed their captured carbon will be used solely for permanent underground storage — yesterday’s announcement is the company’s first admission of additional aims for the hazardous gas.

Navigator is behind one of the three controversial carbon pipelines proposed for Iowa. The pipeline would run 1,300 miles from Illinois to South Dakota, including 900 miles in Iowa, reaching across 36 counties. The pipeline’s end destination in Illinois is close to multiple depleted oil fields, which has raised advocate concerns about use of the captured hazardous carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery — a dangerous process by which carbon gas is pumped underground to increase oil drilling. Coal bed methane extraction is another possible end use for the carbon pipelines, also posing dire environmental and climate repercussions. Navigator’s announcement Tuesday opened that previously shut door.

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

“From the start, we’ve warned that companies like Navigator are not to be trusted. They’ll say anything to mislead the public, but the facts are simple: Carbon capture is a scam, and these corporations are only in it for the money.

“Value optimization opportunities for captured carbon dioxide means one thing — more fossil fuels. Carbon capture and the carbon pipelines that feed it are the fossil fuel industry’s trojan horse to suck more dirty fuels from the ground while masquerading as a climate solution. And they’re using our tax dollars and our land to make it happen — it’s not right.

“Iowa’s legislature has failed to take any meaningful action to stop these projects. As time runs out, they must act now to stop eminent domain for private gain, stopping these pipelines before they start. Carbon capture and carbon pipelines are no solution for Iowa.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Amidst High Gas Prices, Tampa Activists Protest Big Oil Profits During Global Crisis

Categories

Climate and Energy

On Tuesday, activists from the University of South Florida, Food & Water Watch and other local youth-led organizations rallied at a local gas station near the University of South Florida campus to protest increasing gas prices that have been fueling oil and gas industry record profits. 

Activists called out the industry’s exploitation of the geo-political instability caused by the COVID pandemic and the Ukraine crisis. Activists protested skyrocketing gas prices, pointing out that right now Floridians are paying an average of $4/gallon, down only slightly from record-setting highs of $4.21/gallon last month. Oil and gas industry executives are profiting from this consumer price gouging, raking in millions.

Food & Water Watch Senior Florida Organizer Brooke Errett said:

“Fossil fuel companies like Exxon have been making record profits off of cascading crises that they are openly exploiting to gouge the public. Our federal elected officials must put an end to dangerous oil and gas industry profiting. Representative Kathy Castor must stand with Tampanians hurting at the pump by standing up to Big Oil & Gas and supporting a windfall profits tax in Congress.”

The groups urged Tampa Congresswoman Kathy Castor to co-sponsor and ensure passage of a windfall profits tax to stop Big Oil’s excessive profits at the expense of people and climate alike. Specifically, activists urged Representative Castor to support Representative Ro Khanna’s Big Oil Windfall Profits Tax Act (H.R. 7061) and Representative Peter DeFazio’s Stop Price Gouging Tax and Rebate Act (H.R. 7099). If passed, these bills would levy a tax on the oil and gas industry’s price gouging and return that money as rebate checks to consumers.

“Out of control income inequality is already here, and an unmitigated climate catastrophe is on its way,” said Tampa DSA EcoSocialist Working Group Co-Chair Monica Petrella. “Representative Castor can choose to stand up against Big Oil and Gas to protect families, communities, and everyone who is lucky enough to call earth home by supporting a windfall profit tax. The time for incremental change is behind us. It is now time for bold, progressive policies that put the working class first.”

Chanting “Keep It In the Ground,” protesters sent a clear message that ending fossil fuel use is necessary to combat the climate crisis. “A windfall profit tax addresses immediate needs of the community, but ultimately students and young people need our members of congress to stand strong in fighting back against the Fossil Fuel Industry and end our unsustainable reliance on fossil fuels,” said Florida Student Power Network Climate and Environmental Justice Organizer Mary-Elizabeth Estrada. “Members of Congress, it is time to show the people and especially young constituents that you are truly willing to take immediate action for climate change.”

“As we continue to extract oil and gas, big gas companies will continue to profit and cause more severe negative impacts of climate change. Florida is on the frontlines of the climate crisis with sea-levels rising, increasing amounts of storms, more flooding events, raising temperatures, and so on,” said Kate Koenig, USF Campus Organizer for GenCleo. “GenCleo is a youth advocacy program that is dedicated to educating and empowering the youth, high-school aged and college-aged students when it comes to ways to fight against the Climate Crisis.”

“In order to ensure a clean, safe, and equitable future for current and future generations, one of the largest challenges to tackle is the continued use of fossil fuels. And while the complete phasing out of these substances as a fuel source is the ultimate goal, it is still important that everyone has access to affordable and equitable transportation in the present, regardless of how that transportation is powered,” said Bobby Vose, 100% Renewable Energy Campaign Coordinator, Florida PIRG Students at USF. “This is why reducing the price of gas through cutting the exorbitant profits made by oil companies is so essential. Allowing everyone the means to affordably conduct their daily lives is an important first step to creating a better future for all, which is why it is so pivotal that the windfall profits tax passes in Congress.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

1,000 NY Activists March In Albany, Call for Immediate Climate Action on Earth Day

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

ALBANY, NY — Today, 1,000 activists from the Climate Can’t Wait coalition came from all corners of the state to Albany for an Earth Day protest of the state legislature’s climate inaction. Activists, who had traveled to Albany by bus and bike, with some having departed almost a week prior to the event, demanded prompt passage of 12 critical legislative and advocacy proposals to address the urgency of the incoming crisis.

The Earth Day protest comes on the heels of a “now or never” United Nations IPCC report, which lays out the urgent need to move off fossil fuels as quickly as possible to avert climate catastrophe. Climate Can’t Wait groups, representing hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, cite two years of climate inaction from state leaders, and a failure for legislative leaders to come to the table on a critical statewide off from fossil fuels in new construction in the NYS Budget earlier this month, as clear indications that New York is not moving fast enough on the incoming climate crisis.

In the meantime, the climate emergency has only accelerated in New York, with increased extreme heat, fires, storms and floods, including Hurricane Ida which took the lives of 42 New Yorkers last year. Food & Water Watch Senior New York Organizer Laura Shindell said:

“Our legislative leaders are failing us on climate, and New Yorkers won’t take inaction as an answer. Climate can’t wait and neither can we. Governor Hochul, Speaker Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins must move as fast as the climate crisis is moving towards us. It’s time to pass the nation-leading All-Electric Buildings Act now, and with it a full suite of climate policies to fully enforce the CLCPA.”

“I biked to Albany because I believe in the power of regular people to change the world through courageous choices, and the change we need is a healthy and abundant future for all of us New Yorkers. I’m joining the trek to do my part to blaze the trail toward that future, and I’m excited to meet hundreds of other trailblazers along the way,” said Veekas Ashoka, Sunrise NYC, who cycled from Manhattan to Albany for the protest. “New York has the unique opportunity to lead the nation in creating a healthy and abundant future in which all of us—not just the powerful billionaires and corporations—can thrive. The Climate Can’t Wait bill package has given the Governor and Legislature that opportunity to create that hopeful future for us all. It’s our job to demand that they take it.”

“In addition to passing the Climate Can’t Wait bills, we need Governor Hochul and state agencies to ensure that industry complies with the landmark climate law,” said Rosemary Rivera, Co-Executive Director of Citizen Action of New York and an Albany resident. “The CLCPA Scoping Plan should recommend legally enforceable timelines for greenhouse gas reductions, ensure that 40% of energy funds be directly invested in disadvantaged communities, and avoid false solutions like waste incineration and renewable natural gas that harm communities of color. The state must also provide billions of dollars each year to jumpstart the transition to a green energy economy.”

“The United Nations says it is now or never to prevent climate collapse. There is no time left for incremental changes. New York lawmakers are not doing anywhere enough to save life on our planet for future generations. We need our state leaders to act like it is a climate emergency and enact the full Climate Can’t Wait agenda this Earth Day,” said Mark Dunlea, convenor of PAUSE (People of Albany United for Safe Energy), the 350.org affiliate in the Capital District. Among other critical environmental justice issues, PAUSE supports converting the state capitol complex with 100% clean renewable energy.

“Our climate is in crisis. New York must stop funding climate destruction; must mandate and enforce greenhouse gas reductions; and must fund a just and equitable transition to renewable energy. The Climate Cant Wait policy package does exactly what is needed. We are proud to be part of this diverse coalition all working together to demand urgent, bold and comprehensive climate action,” said Ruth Foster, Divest NY.

“We’re here in Albany at this time of crisis because we have solutions,” said Sara Gronim of 350Brooklyn. “The passage of these bills would mean that New York State has returned to the kind of leadership it showed when it passed the landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act in 2019.  Governor Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Leader Heastie must stand up to fossil fuel interests trying to slow our transformation to a renewable economy and take bold, effective action now.” 

“Let’s be honest—the legislature’s failure to pass climate legislation last year and so far this year comes down to leadership,” said Jordan Dale, 350NJ-Rockland. “There is plenty of support in both the Senate and Assembly for climate action, but bills aren’t moving, and that falls squarely on the shoulders of Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Carl Heastie. It is time for them to make climate a priority.”

“New Yorkers have spoken,” said Elaine O’Brien, co-founder and core group member of Queens Climate Project. “We need our legislators to pass meaningful climate legislation, and to protect the frontline communities that suffer the most from the climate crisis. Queens residents have endured the devastating effects of floods and poor air quality resulting from decades of fossil fuel burning power plants on our waterfront. We organized and beat back the proposed repowering of the NRG facility in Astoria, but now we need Governor Hochul and state leaders to do their part and pass the 12 bills in the Climate Can’t Wait package. Our future depends on their immediate actions. Inaction or delay would be catastrophic.”

“We are running out of chances to prevent climate chaos and the New York State legislature is failing to address this crisis. It’s time for our leaders to live up to their promises and take substantial climate action by enacting the Climate Can’t Wait agenda, cutting ties with the fossil fuel industry, and taking steps to ensure that our generation, and generations to come, will have a healthy, sustainable, and equitable future,” said Sophie Campbell, Executive Director of the New York Youth Climate Leaders.

“It’s been three years since NY lawmakers passed truly significant legislation (the CLCPA) to address the climate crisis we’re in. It’s been a privilege to work with over 40 organizations statewide to compile a package of significant bills and proposals which does just that. Nothing is more important for ensuring environmental justice than ending our dependence on fossil fuels and moving to 100% clean, renewable energy. Our message to legislators is that inaction results in deep and lasting harm. Act immediately and do the right thing by passing the Climate Can’t Wait 2022 agenda,” said Natalie Polvere and Iris Hiskey Arno, Co-Chairs, NYCD16 Indivisible Environment Committee.

“NYSUT, representing 600,000 educators and health care workers across the state, unanimously endorsed the Build Public Renewables Act at its Representative Assembly on April 2. We want an economy fueled by renewable energy that is safe, clean, publicly-owned and operated for the common good, a system that has strict and strong labor and environmental standards and builds a better world for future generations,” said Nancy Romer, Chair, Environmental Justice Working Group, Professional Staff Congress of CUNY, AFT #2334, delegate to NYSUT.

“Since 2009, we’ve known that both the climate and health impacts of fracking are wildly unacceptable. But New York State continues to heat buildings with oil and with fracked gas — it’s immoral and insane,” said Iris Marie Bloom, Executive Director of Protecting Our Waters, a member of the New Paltz Climate Action Coalition. “We need to forbid fossil fuel use in new construction now, and that’s just one of the dozen aspects of Climate Can’t Wait legislation which we must pass this session. Let’s do this now! It will only be harder, less effective, and more expensive if we wait. Morally and economically, climate can’t wait.”

“New York State can no longer wait to take bold climate action. While special interests encourage our leaders to cling to their dying fossil fuel economy, communities of color are being sickened by their pollution and facing the harsh impacts of climate change, such as extreme heat waves and flooding.” said Sonal Jessel, Director of Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “We need immediate action to move our state off of these deadly fossil fuels and towards a healthier, renewable energy economy – and the green jobs this transition will create.”

“On Seneca Lake, the Greenidge Generation Bitcoin mining plant is burning fracked gas and emitting greenhouse gases 24/7/365. It is destroying our natural resources, kneecapping local businesses, and keeping us from meeting the crucial climate goals outlined by the CLCPA, just to make fake money in the middle of a climate crisis,” said Abi Buddington, Town of Torrey Property Owner and member of Seneca Lake Guardian. “We need Governor Hochul to protect New Yorkers and enact sane energy policy. I urge her to deny Greenidge’s air permit renewal and put a moratorium on climate-killing cryptomining.”

Contact: Seth Gladstone, [email protected]

FERC Issues Approval for North Jersey Compressor Expansion Project

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

At their monthly board meeting, on Thursday, April 21 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a “Certification of Public Convenience and Necessity” to Tennessee Gas Pipeline LLC (TGP) for their proposal for new fracked gas compressor stations in North Jersey. This “certification” is the final federal approval TGP needs for their project. State permits remain pending.

Tennessee Gas Pipelines’  “East 300 Upgrade” expansion project involves the construction of two new gas compressor stations — one in Wantage Township that would more than triple the size of the existing facility there, and one in West Milford at the site of a former quarry less than 1200 feet from the Monksville Reservoir which connects to the water supply of 3.5 million NJ residents. Compressor stations maintain or increase pressure in natural gas transmission lines, and operators regularly “blowdown” the facility releasing gas when too much pressure has built up. These new compressors would allow the company to pipe higher volumes of gas – fracked in Pennsylvania – at greater pressure through an aging pipeline system to Westchester County NY. This project serves no benefit to NJ residents but brings increased danger, air pollution, and noise to NJ communities.

Adam Carlesco, Staff Attarney, Food & Water Watch said:

“In approving this project, FERC disregarded relevant state climate law, neglected environmental review requirements, and failed to demonstrate that this project is required by the public interest. Despite recent losses in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the Commission has continued to ignore the long-term climate consequences of its permitting and has betrayed the principles of scrutinous oversight it sought to embody with its proposed certification policy.”

“Knowing Climate Change is a real threat, FERC shouldn’t be permitting new Fossil fuel infrastructure at all. They should be improving the electric grid,” said Renee Allessio, Board Member of Sustainable West Milford. “As a long time resident of West Milford, it’s insane that FERC would allow a new compressor station to be built near 2 major reservoirs that supply the drinking water for millions of New Jerseyans.”

FERC is well known for “rubber-stamping” fossil fuel projects in the United States.  Out of hundreds of applications, FERC has approved permits 99% of the time for pipelines, compressor stations, and gas-fired energy plants. FERC has only denied 2 permits for natural gas pipelines and compressor stations out of 500 applications received since 1999.

Activists and environmentalists were hopeful that recent changes at FERC would start to change FERC’s approach towards approving fossil fuel infrastructure and evaluating climate impacts, and result in FERC rejecting TGP’s unnecessary expansion. In February of this year the commission issued new guidance for natural gas project approval, which included for the first time, a climate change impacts evaluation threshold.

“Sadly, and predictably, FERC continues to act as the industry’s agent instead of safeguarding the public’s interests. They rubber-stamped this project without requiring the rigorous proofs of safety that should be mandated,” said Julia Somers, Executive Director of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition. “We are not well served by this decision and will continue to work with our partners to oppose the project in every way possible.” 

In addition to climate concerns, residents and activists are concerned about the threat to air quality and public health posed by these compressors.

“I continue to stand firmly against TGP’s expansion, as it threatens my home and my health, clean air and water, as well as the native plant and wildlife. We cannot allow a company, that has already shown itself to be unethical and irresponsible, to spew toxins into the air, water, and ground, all within reach of our town’s elementary and secondary schools, and peoples’ homes,” said Allison Orsi, MA, LPC, Resident of Wantage Township, NJ. “The bottom line is, we don’t need natural gas, in fact it is killing us: we need to keep fossil fuels in the earth, so they don’t exacerbate climate change. We need to stop this expansion.”

The health implications of compressor stations are real, including hearing impairments and sleep disturbance, to say nothing of potential toxic impacts associated with inhalation of the colorless and odorless methane gas from leaks that can lead to such things as slurred speech, vision problems, memory loss, nausea, vomiting, facial flushing and headaches, at elevated concentrations, said “Dr. Judy Zelikoff, Professor, Dept. of Environmental Medicine, NYU Grossman School of Medicine.

Despite this approval, residents and activists will continue to organize against this project and call on Governor Murphy to live up to our states climate commitments and stop this project by directing the NJ DEP to reject the state permits needed for it’s approval. The DEP plans to hold a public hearing on the Title V Air Permit required for the project in the coming months.

“These compressor stations put people and the environment at risk. These facilities create air pollution and water pollution by releasing toxic chemicals such as methane, ethane, MTBEs and other chemicals. An explosion or leak could threaten communities, impact critical drinking water for over 3 million people, and destroy sensitive ecosystems in the Highlands Preservation Area,” said Taylor McFarland, Conservation Program Manager, Sierra Club, NJ. “Even though FERC has given the green light for TGP, New Jersey can still stand up and deny this disastrous project.” 

Contact: Sam DiFalco, [email protected]

Iowa Legislative Session Set to End Without Action to Stop Eminent Domain for Private Gain

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Today, the Iowa 2022 legislative session is set to conclude without any action on the state’s controversial carbon pipeline issue. More than 1,700 constituents contacted state legislators with demands to stop eminent domain for private gain this session, and recent Food & Water Action polling found that 80% of registered Iowa voters oppose the use of eminent domain for the hazardous carbon pipelines. Despite staunch constituent demand and the introduction and movement of two bills to stop eminent domain for the carbon pipelines, SF 2160 and HF 2565, no legislation was passed this session to address the politically popular issue.

Impacted landowners and members of the Carbon Pipelines Resistance Coalition held a press conference today to reprimand the legislature’s failure to stop eminent domain for private gain. Food & Water Watch Senior Iowa Organizer Emma Schmit said:

“The legislature’s inaction this session is shameful. But the anti-pipeline movement is only growing. Iowans stand united against the threat of eminent domain for these hazardous carbon pipelines. And we refuse to give up our taxpayer dollars, our land and our safety to build them. This is only the beginning.”

“Eminent domain is not just an issue for those of us affected by the Summit pipeline; it should be an issue of concern for all landowners in Iowa,” said Cynthia Hansen, owner of Century Farm in Shelby County, affected by the proposed Summit pipeline. “Our legislators need to stand with us, the landowners, their constituents, who elected them to serve. If these dangerous pipelines are allowed to use eminent domain, no landowner will be safe from its use by other private companies in the future. This will be a dangerous precedent to set.”

“CCS only serves the monied interests and the fossil fuel industry while never truly addressing the climate emergency affecting all of us,” said Mahmud Fitil, Great Plains Action Society. “Amidst this climate emergency we must demand a reduction and phasing out of fossil fuels as a wider part of a just transition. Additionally, the same concerns present with other pipeline projects in the area regarding safety, degradation of the water and land as well as disturbance of sacred Indigenous ceremonial and burial sites. CCS is greenwashing rather than a solution to the climate emergency that Iowans deserve, and as Indigenous people we remain committed to the water, the land and the future generations of Iowans. Great Plains Action Society is firmly opposed to the carbon pipelines.”

“The Iowa legislature has failed to take action on one of the most important issues facing Iowa — the carbon pipelines,” said Conservation Program Coordinator Jess Mazour with the Sierra Club Iowa Chapter. “There is nothing good about these carbon pipelines. It is all risk for us and all rewards for them. We need the Iowa legislature to make meaningful changes to Iowa’s law to protect Iowa, our landowners and our resources. We need to ban eminent domain for carbon pipelines.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Iowa Senate Remains Silent on Eminent Domain Despite Outreach From 1,700+ Constituents

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Over the course of this legislative session, more than 1,700 constituents have reached out to state legislative offices by phone and email to demand action on eminent domain for the controversial pipelines proposed for Iowa. In addition, almost 250 people attended a public hearing on the issue last month in person in the Capitol Rotunda or virtually. It’s been more than two weeks since the Iowa House passed legislation to pause eminent domain for carbon pipelines, yet the Senate remains silent on the critical legislation.

The silence comes despite new Food & Water Action polling that shows that 80% of registered Iowa voters oppose the use of eminent domain for the hazardous carbon pipelines.

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

“As opposition mounts to the hazardous carbon pipelines proposed for our state, and the threat of eminent domain to build them, the Senate’s silence is deafening.

“Iowans see these projects for what they are — greenwashed hazardous pipelines that will make a few very rich at the expense of the many. Senator Whitver and his chamber must heed constituent demands and stop eminent domain for private gain.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Gas Ban Activists Picket Speaker Heastie’s Office to Demand Passage of All-Electric Buildings Act

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Amidst breaking news that New York’s landmark statewide gas ban is dead in the Executive Budget deal, activists rallied outside Speaker Heastie’s Bronx office to demand legislative action on this issue. As the state budget takes shape, the Speaker Heastie has balked at the inclusion of a landmark statewide ban on fossil fuels in new buildings, single handedly holding up passage of the ban via the state budget, despite gas ban support from Governor Hochul and Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins.

News of Speaker Heastie’s budget failure on climate comes as the United Nations IPCC report issues the ultimatum that it’s now or never to act for a livable future, including immediate building electrification. New York emits more building pollution than any other state, with buildings accounting for fully one third of New York’s climate-warming greenhouse gas pollution, and the indoor air pollution fossil fuels in New York buildings cause leads to an estimated 1,940 premature deaths every year.

Members of the #GasFreeNY campaign, climate advocacy groups, and concerned New Yorkers demanded legislative passage of the All-Electric Buildings Act (S6843B/A8431A, Kavanagh/Gallagher). The legislation has 56 co-sponsors, and widespread support from New Yorkers. As of a January Siena poll, 62% of New Yorkers support the All-Electric Buildings Act (only 23% oppose), and New York City already enacted a gas ban in December 2021. Food & Water Watch Senior New York Organizer Eric Weltman said:

“The ink is barely dry on the latest IPCC report warning world leaders that it’s now or never to act on climate, and still, Speaker Heastie and a Democratic majority in the Assembly failed to come to the table on negotiating a necessary, landmark gas ban for New York — it’s shameful. Speaker Heastie and Governor Hochul must commit to passing the All-Electric Buildings Act. If they don’t, Assembly incumbents deserve to lose every single primary this summer.”

“We are here to urge New York State to pass a law ending gas and oil in new buildings so that all new buildings would be built clean and green,” said Ángel Flores, member of New York Communities for Change. “The world’s scientists tell us we must stop using oil and gas because of climate change — we saw Hurricanes Sandy and Ida. Those are climate disasters and we can’t let the future get much worse. Carl Heastie stopped this legislation from passing as part of the state budget. He should stop listening to oil and gas lobbyists and real estate companies, and listen to the people. Carl Heastie must support a gas ban in new construction.”

Photos are available here, and a recording of the protest is available here.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NY Legislators, Groups Demand Gas Ban Passage in Budget as UN IPCC Warns “Now or Never”

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

As Monday’s United Nations IPCC report warns it is “now or never” for climate action to avoid worldwide catastrophe, advocates and sponsors of the All-Electric Building Act hosted a press conference during ongoing budget negotiations to urge inclusion of the Act in the final Executive Budget. The State Senate is pushing for a gas ban starting in 2024 for new buildings and the Governor also proposes a gas ban, but the State Assembly led by Assembly Speaker Heastie is currently balking at enacting the landmark move through the budget. The bill, A8431A/S6843B, has the support of 56 Senators and Assembly Members from across NYS.

As the budget remains in active debate, gas ban co-sponsors and advocates called for the bill to pass in order to combat climate change, cut air pollution, reduce utility bills and create jobs. Groups from the #GasFreeNY Coalition and the Renewable Heat Now Campaign called on the Governor and Legislature to pass the All-Electric Building Act via the budget, instead of deferring to the oil, gas and real estate lobbies, as the UN pleads for action in Monday’s terrifying report. Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director Alex Beauchamp said:

“The latest IPCC report is yet another wake up call that it is ‘now or never’ for climate action. Yet Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is flirting with single handedly killing progress on climate change, holding up inclusion of a landmark fossil fuel ban via the state budget. We don’t have time to wait, and we don’t need to. Buildings account for almost a third of New York’s greenhouse gas emissions, and we have the technology and know-how right now to build fossil-free. Speaker Heastie must listen to New Yorkers demanding a gas ban now rather than cave to the fossil fuel industry’s army of corporate lobbyists.”

“Fossil fuel companies are pouring lies into our representatives’ ears in order to keep us making the same poor decisions we’ve made in the past,” said Assemblymember Emily Gallagher. “But we can’t let the decisions of our past dictate our future. Fossil fuels and their money must become unwelcome in New York. What’s at stake is enormous and will impact all of us — I urge leadership to put the All-Electric Building Act in the budget.”

Assemblymember Chris Burdick said: “In my town of Bedford where I was Town Supervisor, we passed a Stretch Energy Code, pushed to have all-electric municipal buildings, and remade our community house to be all-electric. It’s super efficient from a cost and energy-consumption standpoint. We need to explain to people this makes the greatest sense from the standpoint of saving our planet, as well as for the pocketbook. I am going to be asking the Speaker to make this a priority, to get it through, and to get it enacted.”

“The All-Electric Building Act is exactly the kind of legislation the IPCC report calls for, phasing out fossil fuels and electrifying our buildings, the primary source of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change,” explained Annie Carforo, WE ACT for Environmental Justice’s Climate Justice Organizer. “People of color have been disproportionately harmed by the fossil fuel economy, from the air pollution it produces to the impacts of climate change it causes, which is why we must pass this legislation to provide climate justice for all New Yorkers!”

Liz Moran, New York Policy Advocate for Earthjustice, said, “The message from the latest IPCC report couldn’t be clearer — the time to move off fossil fuels and electrify everything is now — and nothing could be more simple than stopping fossil fuels in new construction. The question is, will the Governor and the Legislature heed this urgent call from scientists, or will they succumb to the same old fossil fuel industry tactics? If New York is truly committed to meeting its climate mandates, the All-Electric Building Act will be included in the final state budget.”

“It has been a failure of leadership that New York has waffled on the necessary transition off fossil fuels, and not electrified sooner. But the Governor and Legislature can turn that ship around this session,” said Maraki Russell, Project Coordinator with NYPIRG at Nassau Community College. “With the new IPCC report being so dire, I must ask: ‘What is the hold up?’ The state cannot wait any longer to enact the All-Electric Building Act. Students are depending on it for our future.”

“New construction is the ideal spot to start weaning away from the fossil fuel industry. It sets a precedent moving forward,” said Kevin Moravec, President and owner of Van Hee Heating and Barney Moravec Incorporated. “Here in Western New York, we’re already going as hard as we can, engaging with developers and showing them that the technology is often cheaper than installing gas. We ask for the support of the speaker and the governor to make this a reality. The time is now.”  

“We support the All-Electric Building Act because this law will make sure that our new buildings meet a modern standard that protects our health and the environment,” said Avni Pravin, Deputy Policy Director at AGREE. “We need to stop delaying on common sense solutions because that is just going to rack up the bill for ourselves and future generations.”

“New York cannot afford to continue 19th century technology with fossil fuels,” said Kim Fraczek, Director of Sane Energy Project. “Despite the bribes and misinformation that corporate utilities like National Grid and others peddle to keep a fossil fuel economy in place, it is clear that New York can lead the nation into the 21st century with the All-Electric Building Act. Renewable energy is already happening. We must ensure it is available, equitably and swiftly, to all New Yorkers to alleviate illness, debt, and climate threats.”

“I have a message for the legislature and the governor: New York is ready to electrify our buildings,” said Lisa Marshall, Director of HeatSmart Tompkins. “We emphasize the cost, the comfort, the convenience, and the climate benefits of heat pumps. The IPCC report is telling us that building electrification is one of the main pathways, and what a wonderful pathway it is that provides all of these benefits right now while providing a more livable planet for our future. New York is ready, we are ready to go. Let’s do this.”  

A recording of the press conference is available here.

Analysis Finds Midwest Carbon Pipelines Could Cost Taxpayers in Excess of $20 Billion

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Today, the national advocacy group Food & Water Watch released a new analysis on the true cost of the three carbon pipelines proposed for the Midwest, finding that federal taxpayers could waste in excess of $20 billion dollars on these projects over the next 12 years. Summit Carbon Solutions’ proposal alone could cost taxpayers more than $7 billion — almost twice the amount the company claims its project will invest in the region.

Carbon capture schemes and the dangerous pipelines that feed them are propped up by public funding. A single federal tax credit called Section 45Q could funnel almost $2 billion a year to Summit, Navigator and Wolf/ADM to capture carbon from ethanol facilities to feed their pipeline projects. Over the 12 years that the projects are eligible to profit from the Section 45Q credit, the companies could make $23 billion.

Meanwhile, despite a failing track record, the federal government is only doubling down on carbon capture funding. Since 2010, the federal government has poured more than $8 billion into carbon capture projects via direct funding and tax credits, yet most federally-funded projects failed. Despite this, in the past year alone, legislators approved a record $12.2 billion in federal appropriations to finance carbon capture projects. 

While federal funding props up these projects, it leaves local communities to foot the bill should anything go wrong. Landowners whose property is affected by carbon pipeline construction can expect hefty costs from the aftereffects of pipeline damage. In the case of the Dakota Access Pipeline, some landowners reported farmland repairs upwards of $100,000 for a single property.

To date, hundreds of Iowans have submitted public comments against the costly and dangerous Summit carbon pipeline, the first proposed for the state and first in line to go through Iowa Utilities Board permitting. As of a March 8 review, 98.9 percent of comments filed are in opposition.

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

“Carbon capture and its associated pipelines are designed to funnel wealth from communities to corporations. But Iowans see these schemes for what they are — greenwashing and corporate profiteering at our expense — and we are uniting to stop these projects from taking root.

“Regular people have already paid through the nose for carbon capture, only to watch the flawed technology fail time and time again. We refuse to also offer up our land, communities, health and safety so that corporations like Summit can make a quick buck. Governor Reynolds must ensure companies cannot use eminent domain to steal Iowans’ land for these projects, and she must direct her Iowa Utilities Board to put an end to carbon pipelines in Iowa for good.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Public Hearing on Use of Eminent Domain for Carbon Pipelines Draws Widespread Opposition

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

On Tuesday, legislators, landowners, advocates and experts from the mounting anti-pipeline movement staged a public hearing on the use of eminent domain for the controversial carbon pipelines proposed for Iowa. More than 150 people attended the hearing in person, with more than 90 additional viewers online, including impacted landowners, County Supervisors, State Senators and Representatives, and activists representing bipartisan opposition.

Citing widespread opposition from all corners of the state, speakers urged rapid legislative action to ban the use of eminent domain takings for the carbon pipeline projects. As the Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline moves into Iowa Utilities Board permitting, the threat of private land takings only increases: Recent news revealed that Summit Carbon Solutions has less than 2% of their proposed route secured via voluntary easements.

The event came on the heels of the House’s passage of House File 2565, with amendments from Rep. Kaufmann (R-Cedar) to establish a 12-month moratorium on eminent domain takings for the dangerous carbon pipeline projects. Legislators, landowners, advocates and experts are calling for additional amendments to make the ban on eminent domain takings permanent. Food & Water Watch Senior Iowa Organizer Emma Schmit said:

“Carbon capture is a costly false solution to our climate crisis, and the pipelines that support it spell danger for our communities. Until our legislature removes the legal ability for corporations to capture private land for dangerous carbon pipeline projects, Iowans will continue to live under threat of eminent domain takings for these unwanted projects. Governor Reynolds and legislative leadership must commit to passing legislation this session that permanently removes the threat of eminent domain takings for carbon pipelines. With less than a month remaining in session, it’s time to put this issue to bed.”

“A one-year delay on CO2 pipelines might sound like a good idea on the surface, but HF 2565 looks more like a political game to protect politicians during an election year,” said Julie Duhn of Eldora and member of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. “Lawmakers need to get serious about this. They need to stand up for farmers and against this destruction of our land for private gain. We don’t need a bait and switch, we need actual leadership from our legislators and more than just lip service to our agricultural tradition.”

“Legislation to postpone eminent domain takings until next year kicks the can down the road. Pressure is already increasing on reluctant landowners to voluntarily sign carbon pipeline easements, with eminent domain framed to us as ‘inevitable,’” said George Cummins, of Vinton, retired agronomist and former director of the Floyd County Iowa State University Extension Office. “As voters, it is our responsibility to hold our elected officials accountable — and we will, both now and at the ballot box, demanding that eminent domain never be used for these unwanted carbon pipelines.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Iowa House Passes Amendment to Delay Carbon Pipeline Eminent Domain Proceedings

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Late Thursday evening, the Iowa House of Representatives passed legislation that would impede the approval process of proposed carbon pipelines in Iowa, as an amendment to an appropriations bill, House File 2565. The amendment would enact a moratorium on Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) hearings for carbon capture & storage (CCS) pipelines until February 1, 2023. This legislation would temporarily stop carbon sequestration companies from using eminent domain proceedings to condemn land along the pipeline routes for the length of the moratorium.

Carbon capture & storage is the process of liquefying carbon dioxide for transport and storage underground, though the carbon dioxide can also be used by the fossil fuel industry for enhanced oil recovery or the extraction of coalbed methane. The science behind this fairly new technology is unsound, and CCS pipelines have proved disastrous for communities where problems occur, such as the February 2020 rupture in Satartia, Mississippi. The thousands of miles of carbon pipelines proposed for construction in Iowa by Summit, Navigator, and Wolf/ADM have raised widespread opposition from a broad range of Iowa residents, landowners and organizations opposed to the use of eminent domain for the controversial projects.

The amendment, introduced by Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (R-Cedar), was met with bipartisan support, and passed via a voice vote. HF 2565 subsequently passed by a 60-30 chamber vote.

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

“While the House of Representatives was right in taking action to address the proposed carbon pipelines, we know the credit largely goes to the tireless efforts of Iowans who have been relentlessly demanding legislative action on this issue.

“Rep. Kaufmann’s amendment opened the door, and we are now looking to the Senate to strengthen this language to enact permanent measures that protect Iowans from the harms these pipelines cause and the manipulative tactics being employed by pipeline companies. Our rights, our land, and our lives are not for sale.” 

Sussex County Council Overrides DE Public Opposition, Approves Pipeline Expansion

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

This afternoon, despite more than 30 public comments filed in opposition to the project, the Sussex County Council voted 4-1 to approve the proposal to expand Eastern Shore Natural Gas’ pipeline capacity at a site near Bridgeville, Delaware. The proposal will require federal approval via the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to continue.

The pipeline expansion proposal is a part of an agreement with Bioenergy DevCo to accept factory farm biogas from their proposed methane refinery a few miles away near Seaford. The proposal has come under attack by community members and environmental advocates due to the dangers the pipeline and accompanying “bomb trucks” pose to the nearby elementary school, homes and community.

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

“The Sussex County Council’s vote today to approve a dangerous gas pipeline expansion next door to an elementary school is shameful. This project will endanger Sussex County residents and our climate, all so that polluting fossil fuel and factory farm interests can profit at our expense. Simply put, we need less dirty fuels in Sussex County, not more.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NY Crypto Mining Moratorium Passes Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

ALBANY, NY — Today, the New York State Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee voted to pass legislation (A7389C) to establish a moratorium on cryptocurrency mining. The vote comes after the Department of Environmental Conservation cast doubt on the ability of the Greenidge Generation bitcoin mining facility – seeking permits in the Finger Lakes – to operate without endangering the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reductions goals stipulated in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA).

Now, companion legislation in the senate, S6486D, awaits movement through the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee. Action is urgently needed, as the Bitcoin industry moves into the state. New York now hosts at least 20 percent of the Bitcoin mining in the United States, resulting in detrimental impacts on small businesses, local economies, the environment, and the climate.

Activists are calling on the Senate and Assembly to swiftly move this bill through both houses, and are demanding commitment from Governor Hochul to stop Bitcoin mining permits this session. A recent white paper from the Sabin Center at Columbia University laid out a clear legal case for Governor Hochul’s action on the issue. Eric Weltman, Senior New York Organizer with Food & Water Watch said:

“New York needs less fracked gas burned in our communities, not more. Bitcoin mining threatens to re-power the very fracked gas plants New Yorkers fought so hard to shut down. Every moment we delay, another company eyes another shuttered gas plant upstate. We can’t let Bitcoin take root in New York — we must pass a Bitcoin mining moratorium now.”

“New York State must take a step back from permitting further cryptocurrency facilities due to their massive carbon footprint, stemming from the computing power required to carry out the buying and selling of crypto coins,” said Richard Schrader, New York Legislative and Policy Director for NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “Our state has taken concrete steps to address the climate crisis with the CLCPA and crypto can’t get us sidelined. It’s time to deliver on the CLCPA’s greenhouse gas and climate justice goals, and accelerate the transition to a healthy, equitable carbon-free New York.”

“We are thankful that a moratorium bill is moving in the Assembly, but we need the Senate’s support in order to protect communities like mine,” said Yvonne Taylor, Vice President of Seneca Lake Guardian. “This relatively new, little understood industry is catching many small NY towns off guard, doesn’t provide many jobs, and derails our state’s bold climate law.  We’re counting on our representatives to enact legislation that would take a pause to study crypto mining’s impact on our air, water, climate, crops, and jobs, and we need them to do it now.”

“Having passed New York’s landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, it is the responsibility of the Governor and the Legislature to ensure energy-hogging industries, like proof-of-work crypto mining, don’t jeopardize our crucial climate goals,” said Liz Moran, New York Policy Advocate with Earthjustice. “We applaud the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee for passing this bill through committee and urge the Senate to swiftly follow suit. Time is of the essence — the Legislature has the opportunity to demonstrate climate leadership and prioritize the protection of communities by passing this moratorium this session.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Chickahominy Announces Termination of Controversial VA Fracked Gas Plant and Pipeline

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Yesterday, Chickahominy Power LLC announced the termination of its controversial fracked gas power plant and accompanying pipeline. The fracked gas plant was proposed for Charles City County, and the pipeline would have crossed five Virginia counties. 

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

“The Chickahominy pipeline and fracked gas plant were completely unnecessary and totally unwelcome from the start. We celebrate the years of efforts by grassroots activists in Charles City County and across the state in achieving this momentous victory.

“The writing was on the wall for the Chickahominy fracked gas plant. Fossil fuels have no place in our energy future, both here in Virginia and across the country.

“As we continue the fight to defeat the 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline and additional proposed pipeline modification proposals in Virginia, we gain strength and momentum from the termination of this controversial dirty fossil fuel project.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

American Petroleum Institute Launches Misleading Ad Campaign Against Grassroots-Led NY Gas Ban

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

One week ago, the American Petroleum Institute (API) front group, Energy Citizens, launched an ad campaign against the effort to pass a statewide ban on gas in new construction in New York. Today, despite their national reach, 43% of the group’s current active Facebook ads are targeting New Yorkers with misleading claims on the affordability of fracked gas.

Food & Water Watch research has shown that renewable energy from wind and solar are far cheaper than energy from fossil fuels, across their lifetime. API’s online misinformation campaign follows a similar effort last year to stop New York City from passing a gas ban.

Activists are pressuring Governor Hochul to include an immediate gas ban in her state budget, due April 1. The Governor’s current budget proposal includes a ban beginning in 2027. New research from RMI demonstrates that an immediate ban, starting in 2024, would save an additional 4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2040 beyond the reductions already expected from NYC’s ban — the equivalent of keeping 870,000 cars off the road for one year.

The grassroots-led campaign for a statewide ban on fossil fuels in new construction is led by the #GasFreeNY coalition, made up of Food & Water Watch, New York Communities for Change, NYPIRG, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and Earthjustice. Groups won a critical legislative victory last year with the passage of a gas ban at the New York City level. With the recent endorsement of an immediate gas ban by Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins in her budget, released last Sunday, the campaign for a statewide ban is picking up critical momentum.

Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director Alex Beauchamp said:

“New Yorkers and the legislators that represent us are rallying beyond a statewide gas ban because we know that addressing climate change must include keeping fossil fuels out of the buildings where we live, work and play. Fracked gas in buildings is unhealthy for people and destructive to our climate, while all-electric buildings are cheaper, cleaner, and more energy efficient. Governor Hochul must side with people, and tune out industry’s well-funded front groups. It’s time to pass a statewide gas ban in New York via the state budget, and it’s up to Governor Hochul to make it happen.”

“Governor Hochul should stand up to the oil and gas companies by enacting an immediate gas ban, which would create jobs, save people money on their bills, cut air pollution, and help defund Putin’s war machine. New York City is moving forward, which will end gas in about 2,000 new buildings per year. Now it’s time for the state: Governor Hochul should take on the likes of Exxon by enacting an immediate gas ban,” said Pete Sikora, Climate & Inequality Campaigns Director for New York Communities for Change.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Activists Rally Around Bill to Clean Up Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

On Tuesday, activists from the Reclaim Renewable Energy Coalition (REC), a group of over 20 environmental and social justice organizations, testified in the Senate Finance committee hearing in favor of SB0616 and strengthening it with amendments. The bill would remove dirty energy derived from polluting incineration from Maryland’s signature clean energy program, the Renewable Portfolio Standard. Reclaim REC members from around the state are united in the call for critical amendments to ensure that the bill would remove all carbon-intensive dirty fuel sources from the program.

As it stands, definitional flaws in Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard allow dirty energy sources including trash incineration, factory farm biogas, and burning wood products to count towards the state’s renewable energy goals. A recent report by PEER found that as of 2020, about 25% of the state’s “clean” energy money financed polluters. Absent action to clean up the Renewable Portfolio Standard, any climate legislation passed in 2022 threatens to double down on expanding dirty energy, rather than facilitate a transition to truly clean renewable energy sources like wind and solar. Food & Water Watch Maryland Organizer Lily Hawkins said:

“At this critical moment for bold climate action, Maryland’s signature clean energy program is rife with loopholes that prop up polluters, undermining the very purpose of the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. Climate action in the state legislature must include passage of SB0616 with amendments to clear out all polluting energy sources from our Renewable Portfolio Standard. It’s time Maryland ratepayers stopped financing the polluters supercharging the climate crisis.”

“Community leaders in Frederick County, Carroll County, and Baltimore City had to fight for almost a decade to prevent new trash incinerators from being built — incinerators that were falsely greenwashed as environmental solutions and would have received ‘renewable energy’ subsidies through the RPS. And now, communities on the Eastern Shore are facing the same fight against new factory farm biogas,” said Jennifer Kunze, Maryland Coordinator at Clean Water Action. “It’s time to take trash incineration and other pollutants out of our RPS. Maryland needs to double down on real renewables, not force ratepayers to subsidize the very polluting facilities we’re trying to fight.”

“We fully support taking incineration out of the RPS,” said Assateague Coastkeeper Gabby Ross with the Assateague Coastal Trust. “We have a long way to go as far as getting other dirty energy sources out of the RPS. Taxpayer dollars should not be invested in energy sources that are polluting our most vulnerable communities. We have to act now.”

A recording of yesterday’s rally is available here.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Sussex County Zoning Commission Unanimously Approves Dangerous DE Pipeline Expansion

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Yesterday evening, the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission voted unanimously to approve the proposal to expand Eastern Shore Natural Gas’ pipeline capacity at a site near Bridgeville, Delaware. The proposal has come under attack by community members and environmental advocates due to the dangers the pipeline and accompanying “bomb trucks” pose to the nearby elementary school, homes and community.

The pipeline expansion proposal is a part of an agreement with Bioenergy DevCo to accept factory farm biogas from their proposed methane refinery a few miles away near Seaford. Advocates assert that the pipeline expansion would entrench both polluting fossil fuels and factory farms in the region for decades to come.

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

“The decision to unanimously approve a dangerous gas pipeline expansion next door to a school and residential community is unconscionable. Not only will this project put Sussex County residents at risk, but it will also deepen our reliance on the dirty fossil fuels locking us into climate disaster.

“Luckily, this project isn’t a done deal. We look forward to a public debate on this pipeline proposal before the Sussex County Council, where our elected representatives will have the clear choice to side with their constituents over dirty energy interests.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

100 Upstate NY Groups Call on Gov. Hochul to Support Immediate Gas Ban In New Buildings Via State Budget

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, days before One-House budgets are expected to be announced, 100 organizations from upstate New York issued letters to Governor Hochul urging her support for an immediate gas ban in new buildings via her state budget. Together, these groups represent members across the Albany, Rochester, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Central Region and Western Region of the state.

These groups join a mounting movement of organizations and New Yorkers statewide pushing for more rapid action from Albany to ban the use of fossil fuels in new buildings, beginning in 2024. Governor Hochul’s current proposal to begin such a ban in 2027, moves slower than the citywide gas ban passed in New York City last year. Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director Alex Beauchamp said:

“New York City was only the beginning. Governor Hochul has the groundswell of support from all corners of the state to make New York the first state in the nation with an immediate ban on gas in new buildings — she must commit to making it happen.”

The All-Electric Buildings Act introduced by Senator Brian Kavanagh and Assemblymember Emily Gallagher (S6843B/A8431), would institute a ban on fossil fuel use in new buildings by the end of 2023. An immediate gas ban in new construction would promote good green jobs and reduce local air pollution while reducing the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change. In light of the worsening climate crisis driving extreme weather events across the state, groups are urging incorporation of the more rapid timeline in the state budget.

“In the Capital District, local groups have developed a sustainable roadmap for local officials which includes decarbonizing buildings as quickly as possible and moving to air and ground heat pumps. A critical measure is to amend state and local building codes to require an immediate ban on gas in new buildings, something that the state’s draft Climate Action Plan recognizes. The IPPC has once again sounded the alarm that governments are moving far too slow to halt emissions, making passage of this law essential in the struggle to provide a livable future,” said Mark Dunlea, coordinator of PAUSE (People of Albany United for Safe Energy), the 350.org affiliate in the Capital District.

“We cannot expect our utilities to stop expanding fracked gas infrastructure of their own free will. Their bottom line is profits, not affordability, health, and safety for ratepayers,” said Courtney Williams of Westchester County-based Safe Energy Rights Group. “Westchester has already seen the panic poor planning causes when Con Edison issued their moratorium on new gas hookups in 2019. Despite the chaos it caused, the moratorium did nothing to slow construction because renewable heating and cooling was ready for the job. Let’s make it official and stop leaving our future in the hands of utilities focused on profits. Pass the All-Electric Buildings Act and we can take renewable heating and cooling statewide.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Hearing Underlines Necessity of Bill to Clean Up Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Annapolis, MD — Today’s Economic Matters committee hearing underlines the urgent need to clean up Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. With committee members scheduled to debate a variety of climate legislation this afternoon, speakers representing the Reclaim Renewable Energy Coalition (REC), a group of over 20 environmental and soc