New York Legislature Votes to Establish Public Water in Nassau County

Categories

Clean Water

For Immediate Release

Albany, NY — Last night, the New York state legislature voted to establish two new public water authorities on Long Island. The bills now head to Governor Cuomo’s desk for signature. In the face of massive rate hikes by American Water, communities on Long Island demanded a public water system, opposing the sale of the company’s assets to another corporation, Canada-based Liberty Utilities.

The establishment of the new public water authorities on Long Island will mean lower water bills for residents, and a more accountable, locally-controlled system. In New York, private water systems like American Water were found to charge almost twice the amount of their public counterparts. The passage of this legislation signals a major victory for water affordability on Long Island and for the grassroots activists who fought for years for public control of their water systems. This is a necessary first step in the process for Long Island residents to secure public ownership of this essential service.

“Long Islanders saw their opportunity to establish a better, more affordable and more responsive water utility system. With this vote, we have won a victory for public water,” said Food & Water Watch volunteer Margaret Maher, a Merrick resident. 

“This is a start. Obviously, there is a long way to go. I promise that none of us are going to stop until we cross the finish line: clean, affordable public water for all,” said Dave Denenberg, Co-Director of Long Island Clean Air Water & Soil.

“We are absolutely thrilled with the passage of the North Shore Water Authority! We are so very thankful and grateful to our State Legislators, Senator Gaughran, Assemblymen Lavine, Montesano, and Ra, for using their leadership and power to accomplish this for the community. It sends a very strong message that water privatization has no place on Long Island,” said Agatha Nadel, Director of North Shore Concerned Citizens.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

New York State Legislative Session Ends Without Progress on Climate

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Albany, NY — Tonight, the New York State Legislative session will end without having made progress on climate change and state commitments under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). The CLCPA requires New York to achieve a carbon free electricity grid by 2040 — a mandate growing farther out of reach as legislative sessions expire without establishing the bold policies necessary to meet the emissions target.

Legislative inaction occurred despite bold climate legislation put forward including A6761A/S5939A (the Clean Futures Act), A1466A/S6453 (the New York State Build Public Renewables Act), and A07389/S6486B (on cryptocurrency mining), none of which passed to Governor Cuomo’s desk for his signature.

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

“The Legislature’s failure to act on climate this session is a crime against our future. With a supermajority in both the Senate and Assembly, Democrats failed to take action on the most dangerous threat facing humanity. Given the opportunity, our legislators failed to ban fossil fuel power plants, curb cryptocurrency mining, and build public renewables. The window is closing on the opportunity for policies to move New York off fossil fuels and help prevent climate catastrophe. The only good news for New Yorkers is that legislative primaries are only a year away.”

Environmental Groups Sound the Alarm on Delmarva Factory Farm Biogas Threat

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Dover, DE — This afternoon, advocates, experts and impacted residents representing Food & Water Watch, Concerned Citizens Against Industrial CAFOs, the Socially Responsible Agriculture Project and the Sussex Health & Environmental Network held a virtual press conference to sound the alarm on Delmarva’s factory farm biogas threat. Today’s press conference marked the anniversary of the first factory farm biogas project in the region’s contract with Chesapeake Utilities to provide the “renewable natural gas” to the regional energy grid — a project advocates see as a harbinger of what is to come.

Factory farm biogas, termed “renewable natural gas” by the natural gas and industrial agriculture industries, is a false climate solution seeing increasing investment from industries posturing toward “greener” revenue sources. Approved by the Sussex County Council last month, Bioenergy DevCo’s facility in Delaware is set to be the first poultry factory farm biogas project in the region, should the state environmental agency issue the slew of pollution permits the facility would require. Recent investments and the market potential indicate that this project is only the start of a regional buildout threat on the densely concentrated poultry-producing peninsula.

Advocates highlighted the criticality of proactive state policy in preventing biogas, fossil fuel and factory farm entrenchment in the region, citing public health, environmental justice and climate concerns with the dirty practice. Greg Layton, Delaware Organizer with Food & Water Watch said:

“By creating a market for waste and monetizing its production, factory farm biogas incentivizes the buildout of more factory farms and processing plants, deepening our economic reliance on the destructive and deadly form of agriculture that is daily spurring on the climate crisis. The project moving forward in Delaware is a canary in the coal mine for what is to come should biogas buildout continue unchecked in Delmarva — Governor Carney must pursue proactive state policy to check the buildout of this dirty industry before it’s too late.”

“Where does it stop? When will the voices of a community be heard? Residents are saying no to diseases, hydrogen sulfide and the potential for explosions in their community,” said Monica Brooks, an organizer and local leader with Concerned Citizens Against Industrial CAFOs. “This is not about green energy — it is about justifying the overproduction of poultry on the peninsula. This is about forcing residents to endure and pay for the consequences of a choice that they never made. The voices of frontline, disenfranchised communities of color matter.”

“Factory farm biogas is just another assault on the public health of Black and brown communities and the right to breathe clean air and drink pure water,” said Maria Payan, Senior Regional Representative for Socially Responsible Agriculture Project and co-founder of Sussex Health and Environmental Network. “To bring other states’ factory farm processing waste into Sussex County’s poor minority communities is reprehensible. This isn’t ‘clean energy’ — it’s an ugly scheme to benefit industrial poultry polluters despite opposition from hundreds of local residents.”

A press packet to accompany the event, including relevant research is available at the following link. For a recording of the event, please reach out to Phoebe Galt.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NY Residents Demand Legislative Action on Public Water for Long Island

Categories

Clean Water

For Immediate Release

Today, community  and environmental groups issued a letter to the Long Island legislative delegation demanding action to establish a public water authority for Nassau County. With one week remaining in New York State’s legislative session, signatories urged the Senate and Assembly to unify behind a bill to enable the transfer of water utility ownership from American Water to the public.

“It’s time to return Long Island’s water system to the people,” said Food & Water Watch Senior New York Organizer Eric Weltman. “Water is a human right, not a commodity to be traded for private profit. With one week left in the New York state legislative session, residents are clear that the Long Island legislative delegation must get serious about creating a public water utility for Nassau County.”

“Failure to act to provide public water for all Nassau residents is legislative malpractice,” said Dave Denenberg, Co-Director of Long Island Clean Air Water & Soil. “Water is our most precious resource that should be a clean, affordable, tax free public service for all.”

“This private water mess has gone on for way too long! The proposed sale to Liberty must be stopped,” said Agatha Nadel, Director of North Shore Concerned Citizens. “We must be on a path to affordable public water this Legislative session. Doing nothing is not an option.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Maryland’s First Community Choice Energy Legislation Becomes Law

Categories

Climate and Energy

Late Friday, Maryland’s landmark community choice energy (CCE) legislation passed into law. The bill will establish a CCE pilot program in Montgomery County, shortly after state-level rules are written to govern all CCE programs, including any future programs in other communities.

The bill, HB 768, championed by Delegate Charkoudian (D-20) and Senator Feldman (D-15), affords localities in Maryland the right to purchase and generate electricity for their residents and businesses. With the bill’s passage into law, Maryland is now the ninth state in the nation to allow CCE programs.

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

“Community choice energy in Maryland is a victory for energy democracy. The norm for utility relationships has become one of communities beholden to investor-backed private companies. With CCE, communities will be in the drivers’ seat, potentially electing officials in and out of office based on how satisfied they are with their utility bills. We’re proud to have led the effort to bring CCE to Maryland, alongside grassroots partners and bold legislators ready to make good on Montgomery County’s commitment to addressing the climate emergency.”

Groups Invite EPA Admin. Regan Back to Iowa for Community Tour

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Des Moines, IA — Today, Food & Water Watch and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) sent a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan demanding that he return to Iowa to participate in a tour of factory farm-impacted communities and to meet with people who have been harmed by the buildout of industrial agriculture across the state. The letter is in response to Administrator Regan’s visit to the state earlier this month, which he spent cozying up to industrial agricultural interests rather than meeting with people harmed by Iowa’s 13,000 factory farms.

The Raccoon River, which provides drinking water to half a million Iowans, was recently named one of the ten most endangered rivers in the country, citing the grave threat that factory farms and other industrial agricultural pollution pose to drinking water. As Iowans face another summer of drought and water scarcity, algae blooms from this pollution are already threatening the remaining water supply. Iowa needs urgent action to address this growing water crisis, and Administrator Regan’s recent visit with the Farm Bureau sends a troubling message about his commitment to protecting the state’s water and holding polluters accountable under environmental laws.

“In his visit to the state earlier this month, Administrator Regan followed the well-trodden path of DC officials currying favor with industrial agriculture corporations and their legislative enablers. But with warnings about water quality, toxic algal blooms and drinking water shortages already issued for summer 2021, it’s time for our leaders to get serious about solving Iowa’s water and factory farm crises,” said Emma Schmit, Food & Water Watch Iowa Organizer. “That should start at the top — Regan must commit to returning to Iowa to hear from some of the thousands of people who have been harmed by the buildout of factory farms across Iowa.”

“Iowa’s well-documented water crisis is a result of years of deregulation and failed voluntary efforts to reign in the impacts of industrialized ag across the state. We know that like the back of our hand,” said Adam Mason, State Policy Director at Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. “If the Biden Administration is truly interested in ‘building back better,’ it will start with Administrator Regan hearing from folks on the ground, across the state, who know what it will take to clean up our water and reset our food and farm system, as opposed from those profiting off the current industrialized model.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Over 50 NY Activists Rally in Manhattan to Protest Fossil Fuel Power Plants

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

New York, NY — Today, more than fifty New Yorkers rallied at Governor Cuomo’s Manhattan office in support of executive and legislative action to move New York off fossil fuels.

One week after the New York state panel recommended a moratorium on fossil fuel plants, advocates urged the passage of A6761A/S5939A, which would codify the panel’s recommendation in state law. If passed, the legislation would prohibit the development of any new major electric generating facility that would be powered in whole or part by any fossil fuel. Advocates also urged Governor Cuomo to heed the advice of his Climate Advisory Council and take immediate executive action to halt the permitting processes of current fossil fuel plants seeking expansion permits, including the Gowanus and Astoria plants in New York City and the Danskammer plant in Newburgh.

Assembly Member Mamdani, the sponsor of the bill in the State Assembly to end fossil fuel generated power plants in New York, joined activists in rallying against dirty and dangerous fossil fuel power plants.

“Everyday I see my neighbors in Astoria suffer from some of the worst air quality in the city and we have the asthma rates to show for it. We are sick and tired of investment in dirty fossil fuels when we can build clean energy today. That’s why I’m proud to introduce the Clean Futures Act, legislation that prevents new fossil fuel plants and puts us on the path to meet our climate goals — a first step towards a future with clean air,” said Assembly Member Zohran K. Mamdani.

New York activists spoke at a rally in front of Governor Cuomo’s Manhattan office on the mounting evidence of the urgent public health and environmental crises that a reliance on fossil fuels feeds. Speakers also called attention to the environmental injustices core to the community organizing that has evolved around fossil fuel power plant fights to date, including the growing evidence of the public health crises in communities that live near fracking wells across the border in Pennsylvania and that live near fracked gas power plants from Brooklyn to Queens, and upstate in the Hudson Valley. Laura Shindell, New York Organizer with Food & Water Watch, said:

“Fossil fuel power plants pollute our air and water, clog our lungs, and lock New York into a dirty energy future that spurs on the climate crisis. We stand with the communities that have been fighting the Danskammer, Gowanus and Astoria fracked gas plants for years, and urge immediate passage of A6761A/S5939A to end New York’s reliance on fossil fuels.”

“It’s time for all of New York — including labor and the energy companies — to embrace the fact that our future is in technologies like offshore wind and battery storage,” said Georgi Page, Organizer with 350Brooklyn. “So many lives will be lost and opportunities missed if we persist in this dangerous lie that fossil fuels are the only way, when numerous reports and studies have shown that they are not.”

“Now is the time for New York State legislators to stand up to polluters and their dangerous and unnecessary fossil fuel projects”, said Elaine O’Brien from Queens Climate Project. “The choice is clear: we end our dependence on fossil fuels and turn toward wind, solar and battery storage, or we do further damage to communities who have already suffered from gas burning plants and sink deeper into the climate crisis.”

“Astoria and other communities across the State with concentrations of power plants have long faced the health and environmental consequences of fossil fuel generation,” said Astoria resident and Sane Energy Project volunteer Nicolas Shearman. “New Yorkers work hard to protect and build their vibrant communities. We need 100% renewables and to pass climate laws like the Clean Futures Act, not build new plants that threaten our lungs and dump pollutants on the people and places we love and care for.”

Today’s events marked the conclusion of multiple days of community activism urging rapid passage of A6761A/S5939A in communities across the state.

For photos available for media use, please visit this Google Drive link.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NY Activists Rally in Newburgh to Protest Fossil Fuel Power Plants

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Newburgh, NY — Last night, forty activists and local residents rallied at the site of the Danskammer LLC fracked gas plant in Newburgh to protest fossil fuel powered plants statewide. One week after the New York state panel recommended a moratorium on fossil fuel plants, advocates urged the passage of A6761A/S5939A, which would codify the panel’s recommendation in state law. If passed, the legislation would prohibit the development of any new major electric generating facility that would be powered in whole or part by any fossil fuel.

In addition to legislative action, activists urged Governor Cuomo to heed the advice of his Climate Advisory Council, and take immediate executive action to halt the permitting processes of current fossil fuel plants seeking expansion permits including the Danskammer plant in Newburgh. Emily Skydel, Hudson Valley Organizer with Food & Water Watch, states:

“New Yorkers demand a fossil free future, and it needs to start right here in Newburgh with the closure of the Danskammer plant. Our Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act requires moving off fossil fuels, Governor Cuomo’s own Climate Advisory Council recommends it, and New Yorkers ourselves have been demanding it for years. Our legislature must take prompt action to pass A6761A/S5939A.”

“The Danskammer project is like tyrannosaurus rex — extinct but still dangerous,” said Amy Kletter of Ulster Activists. “Polluting fossil fuel energy production is a thing of the past. We need to stop these projects and move quickly to a future of renewable, sustainable projects and conservation!”

“The legislature hasn’t passed a major climate bill since 2019 with the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. With three weeks left of session they are on track to skip another year while the climate emergency continues to wreak havoc,” said Michaelangelo Pomarico, Co-Chair for Orange County of the Mid Hudson Valley DSA. “The Mid Hudson Valley DSA urges swift action from the state legislature to pass A6761A/S5939A to stop all future fossil fuel projects like Danskammer, and A1466A/S6453 to create over 50k jobs building the publicly owned renewable infrastructure we need to make good on the promise of a just transition.”

“New York’s legislature has a responsibility to pass A6761A/S5939A,” said Aura Lopez Zarate-Raiz, Organizer for Planned Parenthood of Greater New York Action Fund. “It is urgent and needed in order to stop harmful projects like Danskammer. Community members and recent events have made it clear that we do not need or want a fracked gas power plant in our backyards. Scientific evidence and people’s personal stories have also shown the danger of fossil fuels to the environment and the negative impacts it has on our health. People deserve to live healthy lives and raise their families in a safe environment without the effects of fossil fuels.”

“The construction of this plant violates the most basic values of the people of this state: it actively works against the public health of our communities, it damages the natural beauty of the Hudson Valley, and it violates New York’s State’s commitment to renewable energy. As such, Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson joins our neighbors to stand up to the construction of Danskammer,” said Rene Mejia Jr., Organizer with Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson. 

Activists will hold a second day of action in New York City today to urge action on A6761A/S5939A and the rapid transition off a fossil fuel power grid.

For photos of the event available for media use, please visit our Google Drive folder.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]