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 Schmidt 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 58 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.

To date:

  • 57% of all Iowa counties impacted by carbon pipeline proposals have submitted formal objections.
  • 75% of the Iowa counties impacted by both Summit and Navigator have submitted formal objections.
  • 76% of the Iowa counties impacted by Summit have submitted formal objections.
  • 41% of the 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 social justice organizations, will speak on behalf of Del. Vaughn Stewart’s HB 11, which aims to cut polluting carbon-intensive fuel sources out of Maryland’s renewable portfolio standard.

Definitional flaws in Maryland’s signature clean energy program — the Renewable Portfolio Standard, which decides what energy sources count towards Maryland’s renewable energy goals — threaten to undermine any well-intentioned climate legislation the Maryland legislature is prioritizing this session. A recent report by PEER highlighted that 25% of the state’s “clean” money financed polluters in 2020. In advance of today’s hearing, Reclaim REC advocates urge the passage of HB 11, to ensure that any policies directing government action or public ratepayer dollars to renewable energy, is actually going to clean emissions-free sources.

In a report chronicling state RPS, Food & Water Watch gave Maryland an “F” for its system, which allows numerous polluting energy sources from factory farm biogas to trash incineration to count as clean. Current state subsidies pass the costs of propping up these polluting false solutions on to Maryland ratepayers. Food & Water Watch Maryland Organizer Lily Hawkins said:

“By cleaning up Maryland’s renewable portfolio standard, we can redirect consumer dollars to funding the just transition we need, doubling down on investment in truly renewable energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal. But time is of the essence. With less than a decade left to significantly lower our greenhouse gas emissions before reaching an unstoppable climate tipping point, our legislative leaders must act now. The Maryland legislature must pass HB 11 and ensure no more public money goes towards polluting false solutions.”

“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. “Maryland needs to double down on real renewables, not force ratepayers to subsidize the very polluting facilities we’re trying to fight.”

“Low-income communities and communities of color will no longer allow ourselves to be targeted for industrial pollution. The public needs to have a say in who their industrial neighbors will be, and we need to ensure that communities are not targeted continually by polluters,” said Monica Brooks with NAACP Wicomico County and Concerned Citizens Against Industrial CAFOS. “Factory farm biogas will bring excess traffic concerns, odors and flies to communities like mine. These are all things that are harmful to quality of life and health — not hallmarks of clean energy. We need to clean up the RPS and stop it from being a catch all for polluters to count as renewable at the expense of the public.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NY Advocates Demand President Biden Commit to Fossil Fuel Phaseout In First State of the Union

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

This morning, hours before President Biden gives his first State of the Union address, New York advocates from the nationwide Build Back Fossil Free Coalition rallied in Albany to demand bolder climate leadership from President Biden. After two years of broken climate promises, advocates in New York and across the country are pressuring President Biden in advance of his first State of the Union address to quickly deliver on his campaign promises by declaring a climate emergency and stopping the federal approval of new fossil fuel projects.

Advocates called on President Biden to tackle the climate crisis with the urgency it demands, meaning a stop to new oil and gas project approvals, the declaration of a climate emergency, and the use of executive authority to move the nation off fossil fuels (see ClimatePresident.org). Last week, over 1,100 climate, Indigenous, social justice, and progressive groups with members in every state, including more than 100 New York groups, issued a letter to President Biden laying out these demands.

Today’s event comes the day after the IPCC released a new report warning that the dangers of climate change are mounting so rapidly that they could soon overwhelm the ability of both nature and humanity to adapt unless greenhouse gas emissions are quickly reduced. Food & Water Watch Senior New York Organizer Eric Weltman said:

“President Biden is failing our climate, communities and future generations on climate. With a simple stroke of the pen, he could end our reliance on fossil fuels, declare a climate emergency and stop new oil and gas project approvals. So far, he has abdicated that executive authority in favor of failing Congressional politicking. But climate can’t wait — Biden must commit to building back fossil free in his State of the Union address tonight.”

“With Congress immobilized by partisan gridlock, it has been clear from day one of the Biden administration that Executive Action by the President was the most realistic path to enable our country to respond to the looming climate collapse which threatens the future of humanity,” said Mark Dunlea, coordinator of PAUSE (People of Albany United for Safe Energy), the 350.org affiliate from the Capital District. “Biden’s first term has some promising rhetoric but actual climate action has fallen woefully short of what is needed. More than a year ago, climate groups produced ClimatePresident.org laying out dozens of Executive Orders that Biden should issue to stem climate warning, starting with halting the burning of fossil fuels. His first State of the Union gives him a wonderful opportunity to reboot his effort to become the climate champion that America and the world desperately needs.”

“GreenFaith is here today because the earth is a sacred gift and fossil fuels are absolutely destroying it,” said Michael Richardson, co-founder, Rivers & Mountains GreenFaith Circle. “I stand in solidarity with the younger people, people of color, indigenous peoples, and all those afflicted with poverty, violence, and other unbearable conditions — all of whom will disproportionately be harmed in this unfolding climate catastrophe. We have to stop the harm. It is indisputable that the primary cause for climate disruption is economic growth dependent on fossil fuels. For our economy to continue to be based on fossil fuels is life-destroying and immoral. We need President Biden to declare a ‘climate emergency’ to stop federal approval of all new fossil fuel excavation and use executive authority to invest in regenerative clean energy solutions. This is your moment, President Biden, to be the man of faith that you are!”

“In his own words, President Biden says climate change is an ‘existential threat to human existence as we know it’. This was at COP 26 last year and since then the key indicators for exacerbating climate change have accelerated even faster than was previously expected. Harmful greenhouse gas emissions are going up, Arctic land ice melt is unprecedented. Our children are terrified. President Biden, we need you to show leadership and integrity. Take executive action on climate change. Doing nothing is not an option,” said Pippa Bartolotti, Upper Hudson Green Party.

“Unions in the United States are taking united actions to solve the climate crisis,” said Doug Bullock, First Vice President, Albany County Central Federation of Labor. “Many Labor Councils and unions have adopted resolutions for fossil fuel divestment in pension funds and after significant pressure, the New York State Retirement system has divested billions of dollars in its fund for 2021 with a planned goal of $20 billion of sustainable investments. Further,this fund just announced the best return rate in its 100-year history in 2021 — a 33% return rate. Joe Biden must continue this trend by declaring a climate emergency and taking executive action to help solve this crisis.”

“President Biden, today we demand you take bold steps to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Investing in affordable, accessible, reliable and energy efficient mass transit must be a top priority. Many disabled people rely on public transit and many of our caregivers, who make less than $15 an hour, are also public transit reliant,” said Julie Cee Farrar, Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley. “As a society, we must boldly address climate change now. Not provide hollow promises with vague solutions as we continue to poison our planet and sabotage our children’s future.”

Photos of the event will be available here.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Advocates Request Meeting with Broward County Commissioners on FL LNG Transport, Citing New Research

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, the national advocacy group Food & Water Watch issued a letter to the Broward County Commissioners to request a meeting on dangerous liquified fracked gas (LNG) transport and the nascent “bomb train” experiment occurring along Florida’s East Coast. The meeting request followed initial communications with the Broward County Commissioners and the Port Everglades Director urging a halt to transport of hazardous LNG through the county for Port export.

New research, Playing With Fire: Fracked Gas Transport in Florida, released today by Food & Water Watch underscores the dangers of regional LNG transportation. The fact sheet also includes the first map ever shown to the public about the potential routes LNG is traveling through the County by both truck and rail.

Advocates are requesting a meeting with the Broward County Commissioners to discuss the specific manner of LNG transport through the county, the specific routes by which LNG travels through Broward County, and the necessity of an adequate risk assessment by public safety authorities. 

Food & Water Watch Southern Region Deputy Director Michelle Allen released the following statement:

“Our recent communications with Port Everglades have raised more questions than answers. Not only is liquefied fracked gas (LNG) a danger to our climate, it is also a danger to our communities. In attempting to assuage our concerns about the hazardous transport of LNG through Broward County for export at the Port, the Director’s letter made clear that those tasked with keeping Floridians safe are not fully aware of the threat LNG poses to the county.

“Citizens should not have to rely on public records requests to uncover the truth about these projects. We request a meeting with the Broward County Commissioners to discuss the dangers of LNG transport in the county. Ultimately, we urge the Commissioners to launch a public investigation into this issue and halt all transport of LNG at Port Everglades.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Landowners Protest at IA State Capitol Demanding Senate President Give Eminent Domain Bill A Fair Shot

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Despite a subcommittee vote on Tuesday to advance SF 2160, legislation to adjust Iowa eminent domain laws, the bill was pulled Wednesday from its scheduled committee hearing. This afternoon, landowners whose property could be seized under eminent domain for the proposed carbon pipelines rallied with advocates from the Iowa Carbon Pipeline Resistance Coalition at the State Capitol, demanding Senate President Jake Chapman reassign the bill to the Ways & Means Committee to give it a fair shot.

The group marched from the West Capitol Terrace to Governor Reynolds office demanding SF 2160 receive a committee hearing this week. Photos and video are available here. Food & Water Watch Senior Iowa Organizer Emma Schmit said:

“Iowa’s elected officials have copped out of protecting Iowans, our land and our communities from eminent domain abuse. It’s outrageous that Gov. Reynolds and our legislature would let private corporations steal land from Iowa’s landowners and farmers for their own private gain. Senate President Jake Chapman must stand up to this nonsense and give this bill a fair shot for a vote. We demand Sen. Chapman reassign SF 2160 to the Senate Ways & Means committee before the week is out.”

“I’ve worked my whole life to steward my land and property, and am not about to let that go without a fight,” said Dan Wahl, Landowner and Farmer from Dickinson County. “What Summit, Navigator and Wolf want to do is nothing short of property theft, and our legislators need to stand up to that nonsense. Landowners and farmers are constituents and voters — our needs cannot be silenced. SF 2160 deserves a fair shot.”

“Corruption is the abuse of power for private gain. Corruption is precisely what we have when government officials — whether the governor or legislators — abuse their power by handing their cronies the right of eminent domain for private gain,” said Carolyn Raffensperger, Science and Environmental Health Network Executive Director. “The only people who gain from blocking eminent domain reform legislation are pipeline companies and the politicians who will get big campaign donations. We stand with the landowners and farmers whose land will be hijacked through eminent domain for a false climate solution unless SF 2160 is passed.

“It’s time for Governor Reynolds to make a decision: will she stand with Iowa’s landowners and everyday folks in opposition to the carbon pipelines, or will she side with the corporate, political elite?” said Tom Mohan, president of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Linn Co. resident. “She needs to use her power to protect Iowans and the land we love, not sell us out.”

“What we see before us is a mad rush to push these carbon pipelines on the people of Iowa,” said Mahmud Fitil, Great Plains Action Society. “Pipeline companies and their corrupt state sponsors are engaged in a green-washed scheme to funnel hazardous waste around the region; in effect, trading Iowa’s environment for state & federal tax incentives which drive profits of corporations like Summit and line pockets of people like Bruce Rastetter. We know that when the Earth becomes objectified and commodified then so do we.”

“There is no excuse for the legislature to ignore this looming threat to thousands of everyday Iowans. These carbon pipeline projects are profiting off the exploitation of Iowans, our land, and our communities,” said Jess Mazour, Sierra Club Iowa Chapter. “We expect Governor Reynolds, Senator Chapman, Senator Whitver, and Representative Grassley to put Iowa before these greedy companies and pass the bill.”

“The Capitol in Des Moines is the People’s House. The vast majority of the people in Iowa want, and are entitled to, clear air, clean water and a livable future, and are opposed to the CCS pipelines. The landowners/farmers of Iowa are entitled to have their land protected from eminent domain for private gain. Carbon Capture and Sequestration is a greenwashing scam, designed to perpetuate CAFOs, ethanol production, fossil fuel extraction and to put more money into the hands of those who have already profited mightily from exploiting our natural resources, family farmers, and Iowans,” said Miriam Kashia, 100 Grannies for a Livable Future. “It is time to stop the exploitation and the profiteering and give the power back to the people where it belongs, not the corporations.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Advocates Rally at NY Dems’ State Nominating Convention, Urging Passage of Immediate Gas Ban in New Buildings

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

On Thursday, while Democratic Party leaders gathered for their New York State Nominating Convention, climate advocates from the Gas Free NY Coalition rallied outside the venue urging Governor Hochul to speed up the timeline for implementing a nation-leading statewide ban on gas hookups in new construction.

Upon taking office, Governor Hochul won initial praise for her Department of Environmental Conservation’s opposition to new gas infrastructure, stopping both the Danskammer and Astoria NRG fracked gas plants from expanding. Of late, Governor Hochul has come under criticism for her weak statewide gas ban proposal, which entails delaying ban on gas hookups in new construction until 2027, as well as creating an unnecessary rule-making process under the purview of an obscure state board dominated by the real estate industry. Advocates are pushing for a ban to begin in 2023.

Advocates representing Food & Water Watch, New York Communities for Change, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, 350Brooklyn, and Sane Energy Project assert that her timeline is too slow and are urging Governor Hochul to support an immediate ban on gas hookups in new construction via the state budget, which is due April 1. The coalition is backing the All Electric Building Act (S6843A/A8431), sponsored by Senator Brian Kavanagh and Assembly Member Emily Gallagher, and urging that it be incorporated into the budget. Food & Water Watch Senior New York Organizer Eric Weltman said:

“New York can lead the way, with Governor Hochul at the helm, as the first state in the nation with a ban on fossil fuels in new construction. But we have to do so now. Politicians may want to delay, but the climate crisis rolls on — we have the solutions we need right in front of us to make a serious dent in the emissions driving this catastrophe. Governor Hochul must waste no time supporting an immediate gas ban on fossil fuels in new construction through the New York state budget.”

“New York State must continue to lead on climate by becoming the first in the nation to end fossil fuel infrastructure in new construction,” said Annie Carforo, Climate Justice Organizer at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “Burning gas in our homes and buildings not only contributes to climate change but also produces harmful indoor air pollution. We urge Governor Hochul to immediately pass the All Electric Buildings Act and begin New York’s transition off of fossil fuels. With studies showing that this air pollution leads to nearly 2,000 premature deaths annually in New York State, we cannot afford to wait.”

“Governor Hochul needs to stop the garbage climate policies that put PR over people. We need better policies that will help our planet and we need it done sooner than later,” said Rachel Rivera, a Sandy Survivor and member of New York Communities for Change. “We have an incredible opportunity to lead this nation’s clean energy revolution but first we need a policy that shows urgency. Governor Hochul must implement the state gas ban by 2024.”

Photos and a video of the event are available here.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Rep. Staed Joins Picket Line at IA State Capitol; Announces Independent Hearing on Factory Farm Moratorium

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

DES MOINES, IA — This afternoon, dozens of advocates from the Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture picketed the State Capitol, demanding a legislative moratorium on factory farms. Representative Art Staed (D-Cedar Rapids), the prime bill sponsor of HF 2305, the 2022 factory farm moratorium bill, joined the picket line to announce a peoples’ hearing for the legislation.

“This must be the last year my colleagues in the legislature debate Iowans’ fundamental right to a clean environment,” said Representative Art Staed (D-Cedar Rapids). “I call for an independent hearing this Spring to clearly debate in a public forum the necessity of a moratorium on factory farms in Iowa — it’s high time this issue received the attention it deserves.”

This year marks the fifth that Iowa legislators and advocates have collaborated to introduce legislation stemming the predatory growth of factory farms in Iowa. Despite the legislation’s popularity, backed by 63% of Iowa voters and boasting 20 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, this is expected to be the fifth year that the Republican-dominated legislature stops factory farm moratorium legislation from getting a hearing. In lieu of a legislative hearing to debate the merits of the bill, boasting expanded provisions to protect contract growers and the environment, Rep. Staed committed today to host an independent hearing on the bill, expected in April.

Picketers cheered the announcement, holding Valentine’s Day themed signage calling on the legislature to pass a factory farm moratorium, out of love for Iowa’s farmers, communities, environment, and future generations. John Aspray, Food & Water Watch Senior Iowa Organizer and Chair of the Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture said:

“For the love of all things we hold dear, from Iowa’s farmers and our communities to our drinking water and the climate, it is time to pass a moratorium on factory farms in Iowa. With each year that the legislature fails to address the issue, hundreds more factory farms take root in our state. It’s no wonder a vast majority of us want to stop this industry’s predatory growth. We look forward to a public hearing where Iowans can shed light on the truth about factory farms — and why they must be stopped.”

“Decades of market consolidation have displaced many of Iowa’s independent family livestock farms, replacing them with contract production, industrial-scale facilities, and out-of-state corporate ownership,” said Deborah Bunka, Iowa Farmers Union Representative to the Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture. “Iowa Farmers Union supports the creation of a plan for rural development that prioritizes the role of locally-owned family farms in stewarding our natural resources, promoting quality of life in rural communities, and serving as engines for the rural economy. We believe a CAFO moratorium must be part of that.”

“Not only do factory farms pose a threat to Iowa’s waterways, as reports from the Iowa DNR of more than 700 impairments in our rivers, streams, and lakes demonstrate, but they also create inhumane conditions for the livestock raised in them,” said Jan Corderman of the Des Moines Branch of the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom. “The cramped conditions inside these facilities prevent animals from engaging in natural behaviors and instead create high levels of stress and suffering that simply aren’t as common on independent farms.”

The independent hearing on the 2022 factory farm moratorium bill is expected to be held in April, offering legislators the opportunity to hear from Iowans about the urgent need for a factory farm moratorium in Iowa.

Photos of the event will be available here. Watch the livestream and event recording here.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

VA Chickahominy Fracked Gas Pipeline Suspended

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Over the weekend, Chickahominy Power LLC announced that it is “hitting pause” on its Chickahominy fracked gas pipeline, proposed to cross five Virginia counties. In a letter to officials this weekend, the company said that electricity grid organization PJM Interconnection LLC has de-prioritized the Chickahominy fracked gas plant, prompting a pause on the pipeline project.

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

“Fossil fuels are facing an uphill battle in Virginia — and it’s all thanks to organized opposition achieving victories like this one. From the very beginning, Charles City County residents and climate advocates have been steadfast in our opposition to the Chickahominy Pipeline and its associated fracked gas plant. For months, we have argued that this project is unnecessary — this weekend’s decision affirms that.

“We are calling on state and federal officials to officially pull all the permits for the Chickahominy fracked gas plant to permanently close the book on this project.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

DE Residents Demand County Commission Stop Proposal to Expand Pipeline Capacity

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

This afternoon, the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission will debate a proposal to expand pipeline capacity near the controversial planned Bioenergy DevCo factory farm biogas facility and the Phillis Wheatley Elementary School. In advance of the Commission meeting, more than a dozen Sussex County residents submitted comments demanding the Commission deny the proposal. Cited concerns include:

  • A rise in unsafe truck transport from an undisclosed number of potentially explosive “bomb trucks” laden with gas from an undisclosed source, traveling along unspecified County roads, into a residential area;
  • Air pollution from the processing of gas at the pipeline entry point into pipeline-grade gas close to an elementary school and peoples’ homes; and 
  • Expansion of infrastructure designed to facilitate an increase in climate-destroying gas in southern Delaware despite the scientific consensus on the need to move off fossil fuels to avert the worst of climate change.

Advocates will speak at the meeting to voice their dissension to the project, thought to be connected to the controversial proposed Bioenergy DevCo factory farm biogas facility nearby. In advance of the meeting, Food & Water Watch Delaware Organizer Greg Layton issued the following statement:

“Months ago, despite a massive outpouring of public dissent, the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission approved the controversial Bioenergy DevCo factory farm biogas project. Today, we have another chance to stop more dirty, polluting infrastructure from taking root in Sussex County. For the good of the climate, our health and our safety, our County leaders simply must not allow the expansion of climate-warming gas infrastructure in our communities. The Commission must say no to the pipeline capacity expansion proposal.”

This afternoon’s Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission meeting will be held at 5PM, and is available via livestream here:  https://sussexcountyde.gov/council-chamber-broadcast

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Virginia House of Delegates Committee Votes Down the New Virginia Economy Act

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Richmond, VA — Today, a Virginia House of Delegates committee voted against the New Virginia Economy Act, blocking the bill’s path to passage in this year’s short legislative session. Delegate Sam Rasoul’s New Virginia Economy Act, HB 469, would require that Virginia generate 100% of its electricity from clean renewables by 2035, and stop the approval of any large new fossil fuel projects next year.

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

“Virginia needs to wake up. We are well into the final decade remaining to act on the climate crisis before its worst impacts are locked in. In the face of impending disaster, Governor Youngkin is prioritizing environmental and climate rollbacks over real action. Today’s vote to stop HB 469, the New Virginia Economy Act, is a missed opportunity to advance bold climate legislation through the House of Delegates.

“As Governor Youngkin signals significant rollbacks of environmental protections and climate policies that have set Virginia on a path to addressing the climate crisis, the legislature must step up to the plate. While they have abdicated their responsibility to act seriously on climate this session, Virginians will continue to fight the fossil fuel projects coming online in our communities from the Chickahominy Pipeline and accompanying Chickahominy mega fracked gas plant to the massive 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Baltimore Water Advocates Applaud Water for All Program Launch

Categories

Clean Water

For Immediate Release

Today, Mayor Brandon Scott and the Department of Public Works (DPW) announced the launch of the Water for All program, the comprehensive water affordability program established in the Water Accountability and Equity Act (WAEA) that was passed in November 2019. 

With this launch, Baltimore has become the second city in the country after Philadelphia to establish a percentage-of-income water affordability program. Baltimore’s program will cap water and sewer bills for low-income households at three percent of household income – the international standard for water affordability. The program will be available to all households with an annual income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Rianna Eckel, Baltimore water organizer with Food & Water Watch and convener of the Baltimore Right to Water Coalition, which has been organizing for affordable and accountable water billing since 2016 said:

“The launch of the Water for All program is a major step toward water justice for our city and will help many Baltimoreans achieve truly affordable water service. It’s been a long journey to get to this point, and we applaud the work of Mayor Brandon Scott and the Department of Public works to get us here.”

In a critical change, the Water for All program is the first water affordability program in the city that is accessible to renters, who make up 53% of Baltimore residents. The Baltimore Right to Water Coalition hopes to work with Mayor Scott’s administration to address a lingering issue involving the tax treatment of assistance for tenants in multifamily, master-metered units. One potential solution involves use of federal aid dollars. The City has $641 million in ARPA funding and advocates estimate that 0.5 percent of this funding could seed a fund to provide affordability assistance for these tenants for several years, without taxing the benefit as the current program could.

“For years, Baltimore renters have largely been denied affordability assistance, account access, and the ability to appeal water bills, despite the fact that many were responsible for paying them,” said Molly Amster, Maryland Policy Director & Baltimore Director for Jews United for Justice (JUFJ). “That lack of support and due process led some renters to be evicted for non-payment of water bills. The implementation of the Water for All program will put an end to that injustice.”

Research from utility affordability expert Roger Colton has shown that percentage-of-income affordability programs work for both people and the utility. These programs have been used in the gas and electricity sectors for decades. Based on research from these sectors and Philadelphia, the program will support the fiscal health of DPW. With affordable bills, a higher percentage of people will consistently pay their bills, overall covering the cost of the program and potentially generating more revenue for the utility.

“This program is a win-win for residents of Baltimore City and the Department. Affordable bills means more people can pay their bills when they are struggling,” said Amy P. Hennen, Director of Advocacy and Financial Stabilization at the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS). “MVLS works with clients everyday who face hard choices about what bills to pay and this program is an important step to ensuring the health and stability of our communities.”.

As Council President, Mayor Scott led the City Council to unanimously pass the WAEA, and the legislation was signed into law in January 2020. The program was slated to go into effect originally in July 2020, but it has suffered several delays. In a major setback, former Mayor Jack Young issued an executive order in July 2020 to delay the legislation’s implementation during the COVID-19 state of emergency. Residents have been unable to enroll in any water assistance since July 2021, when BH2O Assists stopped accepting new applicants. The coalition hopes that the Department will provide backdated assistance to households who expressed interest in the Water for All program over the past seven months.

The Water for All affordability program is one half of the WAEA law, and the other half is a new independent Office of the Customer Advocate. The Baltimore Right to Water Coalition eagerly awaits the hiring of the Customer Advocate, whose job is to promote fairness for water customers, to improve the dispute resolution process, and to provide greater accountability to the public.

“An independent Customer Advocate is a crucial piece of the puzzle,” said Jaime Alison Lee, Associate Professor and Director of the Community Development Clinic at the University of Baltimore School of Law.  “Achieving water justice in Baltimore continues to be a journey, and we are hopeful that with every next step of the rollout of this law, we will get a little bit closer.”  

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Iowa Legislator Introduces Expanded Factory Farm Moratorium Legislation

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Des Moines, IA — Today, Iowa state legislator Representative Art Staed (D-Cedar Rapids) announced the introduction of new legislation to establish an immediate moratorium on the expansion of factory farming in the state. This year marks the fifth that Iowa legislators and advocates have collaborated to introduce legislation stemming the predatory growth of factory farms in Iowa. As the factory farm moratorium movement grows, this legislation continues to be a rallying cry for the 63% of Iowa voters and counting who support a legislative moratorium on factory farms.

Iowa’s rural landscapes are pockmarked with more than 10,000 factory farms, with anywhere from 300-500 new facilities added to the state each year. As factory farm numbers have increased, so too has the number of hogs confined in Iowa and the amount of waste produced in the state. As of 2017, hogs on Iowa’s factory farms annually produce 72 billion pounds of manure — two and a half times the weight in human sewage produced by the New York City metropolitan area.

Thanks to factory farms and their unabated expansion, Iowa’s water crisis has deepened over the past year. In 2021, the Raccoon River, a drinking water source to more than half a million Iowans, ranked as one of the nation’s most endangered rivers, thanks to the factory farms that pollute its watershed.

The 2022 CAFO Moratorium Bill includes provisions to expand the reach of the bill, expanding the Department of Natural Resources’ authority to regulate factory farm water pollution, while holding corporate integrators jointly responsible for this pollution. This new provision takes the burden off the shoulders of contract growers trapped in the current system.

“I will not see our state sacrificed so corporations can make a quick buck,” said Representative Art Staed (D-Cedar Rapids). “My 2022 CAFO moratorium bill will stymie corporate ag’s predatory growth in Iowa, confront our water quality crisis, and rectify the unfair treatment of contract growers — all by stopping the new construction of factory farms. My colleagues in the state legislature need to stand up to Big Ag, and hold these corporate players accountable for their environmental degradation. It’s time for a moratorium on factory farms in Iowa.”

John Aspray, Food & Water Watch Senior Iowa Organizer and Chair of the Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture said:

“Factory farms are expanding unchecked in Iowa, and with it our water pollution is reaching crisis levels. For too long, the weight of that pollution burden has fallen on the contract farmers trapped within our industrialized agricultural system. The 2022 CAFO Moratorium Bill will put an end to factory farm expansion and to this glaring inequity, making sure the companies from JBS to Tyson, whose profit-hoarding creates this pollution, can be held responsible for its clean-up.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Iowa’s Senator Taylor Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Stop Carbon Pipelines

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Des Moines, IA — Today, Senator Taylor (R-2) introduced S.F. 2160, legislation which, if passed, would stop the carbon pipeline projects proposed for Iowa. To date, three carbon pipelines have been proposed, covering hundreds of miles of the state. If built, the carbon pipeline network would be the world’s largest.

S.F. 2160 would adjust the definition of public use as it relates to eminent domain, a legal tool that pipeline developers are relying on to force landowners to allow these dangerous projects on their property. S.F. 2160 curbs the ability of private corporations to forcibly take Iowans’ land. 

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

“Carbon capture is a false climate solution and a waste of public money. Where Wall Street sees profit, Iowans see a home worth fighting for. People of all stripes are coming together to protect our land for future generations. We are proud to stand with allies on both sides of the aisle in supporting legislation to keep Iowans safe, and stop dangerous carbon pipelines from taking root in our communities.

“Private pipeline companies are abusing eminent domain laws that were created long before projects like this were on the consciousness of lawmakers. It is critical that the Iowa legislature act now to update the laws and prevent private CO2 pipeline companies from abusing Iowa’s outdated eminent domain laws for nothing other than private profit. We call on the Iowa state legislature to pass S.F. 2160 with haste, and put the needs of Iowans before the profits of private corporations.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Summit Carbon Solutions Files for IA Permits for World’s Largest Carbon Pipeline Scam

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

On January 28, Summit Carbon Solutions officially filed for a permit with the Iowa Utilities Board to construct a Hazardous Liquid Pipeline stretching across 681 miles in Iowa. The petition to the Utilities Board is the requisite next step for the company to advance its $4.5 billion carbon capture and storage (CCS) project. It is anticipated that the Board will take 12 to 18 months to issue a ruling.

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

“Despite immense resistance from every corner of the state, Summit is moving forward with their dangerous carbon pipeline scam. The opposition to this project has united Iowans from all backgrounds – Republican and Democrat, rural and urban, young and old. It could not be made any clearer that Iowans do not support Summit’s reckless land-grabbing scheme. We are not willing to risk our lives or our land for Summit to rake in millions of dollars on a false climate solution.

“The fight to stop the construction of hazardous carbon pipelines is only beginning. The people of Iowa will continue to stand against Summit’s greedy maneuvering to protect our communities, our land, and our futures. From the halls of Congress to the courtroom floor, we will use our collective power to ensure the needs and interests of Iowans are placed before that of a destructive, opportunistic corporation.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

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

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Virginia Delegate Introduces Fossil Fuel Moratorium Legislation

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

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

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

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

Categories

Food System

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

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

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

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

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

How California Is Driving National Biogas Growth

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

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

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

How Taxpayers’ Clean Energy Money Goes to Polluters

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

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

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

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

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

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Third Carbon Capture Pipeline Scam Proposed For Iowa

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

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

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

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

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

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

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

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

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

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

Categories

Climate and Energy

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

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

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

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

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

Categories

Climate and Energy

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

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

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

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

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

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

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

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Company Behind Gowanus Fracked Gas Plant Repowering in NY Discontinues Project

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

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

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]