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Blog Posts: Common Resources

May 26th, 2015

Fast Track Update: Senate Bill Limps Across Finish Line and on to the House

By Patrick Woodall

Fast Track, LaborThe Senate ultimately passed Fast Track after a surprisingly contentious and difficult week of trade debate late last Friday night. The big business-Republican leadership-Obama administration alliance had hoped to generate momentum for Fast Track by scoring a swift and easy victory in the Senate.

Although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised a “robust” amendment process, debate over amendments was cut off and only a few amendments were even considered. The Senate defeated important amendments to increase funding for assistance to workers who lost their jobs because of trade (offered by Senator Brown, D-Ohio), to prevent other countries from manipulating their currency and artificially increasing their exports (Senators Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio) and to prevent the corporate lawsuits against consumer and environmental protections (Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota, and Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts).

But the Fast Track juggernaut fizzled in the Senate as stalwart proponents of a fairer global trade system highlighted the flaws for workers, the environment and consumers in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Fast Track limped across the Senate finish line after bitter debate between staunch opposition and shameless apologists for the corporate trade agenda.

Ultimately Fast Track passed 62-37, with fourteen Democratic Senators voting yes (Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) joined the bakers dozen corporate trade backers that joined the Republican leadership to begin the debate) and five Republican Senators voting against Fast Track with the majority of Democrats (Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) and Richard Shelby (R-Alabama)).

It was never in doubt that Fast Track would pass the Senate. The Fast Track proponents hoped an easy victory in the Senate would build a sense of inevitability as the measure moved to the House of Representatives. Instead, Fast Track garnered fewer votes than 2002 or 1991 and the anemic victory further deflated the hoped for momentum. In June, the legislation heads to the House where the Senate legislative hiccups will run headlong into stiff and bipartisan opposition that will derail Fast Track.

But only grassroots pressure can ensure our congressional representatives stand up to the pressure from corporate lobbyists and Washington insiders and vote no on Fast Track.

Contact your Representative right now and tell them to vote NO on Fast Track!

 

 

 

May 18th, 2015

UPDATE: Senate Begins Trade Debate

BlogThumb_WoodallPatrickBy Patrick Woodall

Yesterday, the Senate voted 65-33 to begin debating Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority, a few days after Senate Democrats prevented Republican leadership from bringing up the controversial trade legislation. Thirteen Democrats joined the Republicans in voting to start consideration of the Fast Track legislation that will be used to accelerate the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. No Republicans voted against it.

The bakers dozen corporate trade backers included: Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colorado), Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), Thomas Carper (D-Delaware), Chris Coons (D-Delaware), Diane Feinstein (D-California), Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota), Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), Patty Murray (D-Washington), Bill Nelson (D-Florida), Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire), Mark Warner (D-Virginia) and, the co-sponsor, Ron Wyden (D-Oregon).

This vote was never really in doubt; the legislative setback earlier in the week sent a strong message that the corporate-Republican-White House trade juggernaut could not even ram Fast Track through the pro-trade Senate. Now the Senate will debate the bill and even consider some amendments, and that process will take more than a few days. Ultimately, next week or the week afterwards, the Senate will pass Fast Track. Then the legislation moves on to the House, where the considerable public opposition to the corporate trade agenda can derail Fast Track once and for all.

Contact your Representatives and Senators right now and tell them to vote NO on Fast Track!

May 13th, 2015

Corporate-Republican-Obama Trade Alliance Fails to Clear First Legislative Hurdle

BlogThumb_WoodallPatrickBy Patrick Woodall

Yesterday, Senate Democrats gave a stinging rebuke to White House efforts to push its corporate trade agenda. The Senate Republicans refused to offer a comprehensive package of trade measures and nearly all the Democrats voted to prevent the Senate from even debating the Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority bill that will be used to cram the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) through Congress.

This was supposed to be the easy legislative lift because the Senate is generally more supportive of the corporate free trade agenda than the House of Representatives. The President and Senate Republicans, along with their army of corporate lobbyists, hoped to swiftly pass Fast Track in the Senate to create the illusion of legislative momentum and inevitability. Seamless passage in the Senate would be a Fast Track Jedi mind trick that would encourage the House to follow suit and pass Fast Track.

Fortunately, the corporate-trade proponents ran headlong into broad-based public opposition to their trade agenda, helped along by some suboptimal political maneuvering. The Republican leadership refused to include some bipartisan trade enforcement measures and this strong-arm tactic turned even pro-trade Democrats against the White House’s trade priorities. And President Obama did not help himself by demeaning thoughtful progressive Democrats like Senator Elizabeth Warren that are legitimately skeptical of trade deals that benefit big business but damage workers, consumer protections and the environment.

So, yesterday’s vote took the wind out of the sails of the Fast Track proponents and prevented them from celebrating illusory momentum. But they will be back to take another run at the Senate. Last night, President Obama huddled with the pro-trade Senate Democrats while Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) started talking about how to move forwards on Fast Track. The effort to force Fast Track through the Congress over the will of the American people won’t be as easy as they had hoped.

Even with yesterday’s setback, they won’t stop trying, Fast Track will return soon to the Senate. But the real battle remains in the House where we need keep up the pressure to beat back Fast Track.

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

May 5th, 2015

How One Photographer Is Protecting Colorado from Fracking

John-credit-Gary-Soles-WEBBy Sandra Lupien

Colorado is a headwaters state: the Colorado, Platte, Rio Grande and Arkansas Rivers all start here and wiggle and weave their sparkling ways through the Rocky Mountain State before reaching their far-flung mouths at far lower elevations. John Fielder was just a teenager when he visited Colorado on a school science trip in the 1960s, but he knew it would one day be his home. He could not have known that as a renowned nature photographer, Colorado’s expansive public lands would become his muse – one he would be compelled to protect from threats like fracking. I recently spoke to Fielder about his art, his love of Colorado and what moved him to join Food & Water Watch’s “Don’t Frack Denver” campaign to keep fracking out of the Mile High City and the public lands that form its watershed.

Sandra Lupien: How did your strong connection to nature develop?
John Fielder: I had an inspiring middle school science teacher who, each summer, would pack seven kids in a station wagon and take us on trips across the United States. We visited public lands like national parks, and learned hands-on about geology and biology. That experience planted the seeds for an appreciation of science and nature. In college, I had a chance to explore Colorado working for my uncle in the geology department of his industrial company.

SL: How did you find your way to photography?
JF: In high school I was inspired by an art teacher who helped me be creative with paintbrushes. Then, in 1973, I first saw the work of Eliot Porter, a contemporary of Ansel Adams, but he shot in color. Like Adams, Porter was both an artist and an advocate for the preservation of the landscapes he captured so sublimely. The very next day I rented a 35mm camera and started taking pictures with Kodachrome.

SL: Did you study art or science in college?
JF: I studied accounting! And after college I had a well-paying career in department store management in Colorado, but I quit after eight years to pursue a career as a nature photographer.

South-Park,-Colorado-4-WEB

SL: What’s your favorite spot in Colorado?
JF: I’m a nature egalitarian. It’s all good, especially in the right light. But, at heart, I’m a mountain guy. Colorado has 28 mountain ranges, and as far as I’m concerned this is the most beautiful place on Earth. Right now, I’m sitting in my second floor home office in Summit County looking at the Gore Range. I see, at 13,560 feet, the peak of Mount Powell climbed first by John Wesley Powell in 1869. It’s got to be my favorite place in Colorado – the Eagles Nest Wilderness.

SL: What has changed about the Colorado landscape since you started shooting it?
JF: Let’s go from high to low. Up high – between 10,000 and 14,000 feet elevation – not a lot has changed. The hard rock mining industry effectively went out of business in 1893 when the price of silver crashed, and many of these places are now protected American wilderness. But lower, from 10,000 feet down to 3,300 feet [the lowest elevation in Colorado] there’s been a lot of impact from oil and gas, and human development. When I moved here in 1972, Colorado had 2.3 million residents; now there are 5.4 million. In addition to the homes, we see oil and gas infrastructure in those very backyards, as well as on America’s public lands.

SL: Why are you concerned about fracking in and around Denver?
JF: Most of the exploration is north of Denver in Weld County, but it’s all along the Front Range, and Denver’s in the middle of it. To me, the single greatest travesty of oil and gas exploration is having a well in your backyard. One’s sense of sight, smell and hearing is violated when you drive up and down the Front Range. To the north of me in Summit County, one of the West’s most beautiful mountain basins known as North Park has oil and gas infrastructure. I spent a week in that area photographing cattle ranches; all night I listened to the sound of a new well being drilled. Closer to Denver is South Park – the South Platte River Basin – comprising 280,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, which is being considered by BLM for oil and gas exploration. That watershed provides drinking water for Denver and its suburbs.

SL: What’s your big picture view of oil and gas extraction in Colorado?
JF: I don’t want the “extractive” to destroy the “attractive,” and by that I mean Colorado and most Western America states are beautiful, biologically diverse places. Oil and gas exploration and fracking do nothing but damage everything that we sense: sublime mountain views, the sound of gurgling creeks, the smell of clean air and the taste of clean water and the touch of powdery aspen tree bark. The problem is that two of our four public land management agencies, BLM and Forest Service, have a legal mandate to manage those lands for multiple uses. That means they are obligated by law to both protect the land, and to allow – if not promote – the leasing of public lands for mineral exploration. The latter is antithetical to the grand “picture,” which is that people are healthier, happier and more economically prosperous in societies that protect nature, not destroy it.

South-Park,-Colorado-WEB

SL: What’s your bottom line?
JF: My degree is in accounting and my background is in merchandising, and I’m an environmentalist! I believe that ecology and economy – with the same Greek root, “eco,” meaning “house” – are symbiotic. History shows that societies that protect their forests and their water sources last longer than those that destroy nature and biodiversity. My belief that the oil and gas industry has no place in Colorado is based as much on economic science as it is on ecological science. Oil and gas industry jobs are short-term jobs, lasting only as long as the oil remains. The death of hard rock mining in the West economically stranded millions of people for decades. Tourism and recreation saved the day, and those jobs can last as long as we preserve nature. I would like to think that people appreciate the morality of protecting four billion years of the evolution of life on Earth, but some don’t. I hope for everyone’s sake they will consider just the economics and realize that states like Colorado are far better off basing their economies on the “attractive” than the “extractive.”

You can help protect our most beautiful natural places from fracking. Check out our public lands map to view threatened spots in Colorado and beyond. Tell your members of Congress to ban fracking on public lands. 

April 24th, 2015

TPP Update: Fast Track Not on Track Despite Proponents’ Bluster

By Patrick Woodall

Patrick_WoodallThis week, both the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee approved Fast Track trade authority, designed to accelerate Congressional consideration of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But this is merely what the politics of Fast Track looks like on the surface. The dueling committee hearings were designed to give a false sense of momentum and inevitability to the Fast Track fight, but passage was practically guaranteed in these two committees largely stacked with corporate free trade apologists.

Just below the surface, underneath the spin and the lobbying, this week’s committee action shows the broad-based and passionate opposition to Fast Track. The House Ways and Means passed Fast Track, but it did so on an almost entirely party-line vote, with only two Democrats joining the Republicans (Reps. Earl Blumenauer from Oregon and Ron Kind from Wisconsin). The rest of the House Democrats voted no, and this solid opposition to Fast Track in the pro-trade committee suggests that Fast Track does not have an easy road forwards in the House. Republicans even refused to allow a vote on the Democratic trade authority alternative bill (offered by the dean of Democratic trade policy, Rep. Sander Levin). Stalwart critics of corporate-driven free trade like Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) put up a spirited attack on the Senate side, foreshadowing contentious debates to come.

Now, Fast Track proponents want to bring the bill to the full House and Senate and pretend that the Committee passage gives the controversial legislation momentum. Don’t believe the pro-corporate trade hype; there is widespread, bipartisan opposition to Fast Track in the Congress and right now is a great opportunity for engaged citizens to give our Representatives the backbone to stand up for working families and the environment.

The Fast Track hucksters hope to bring the bill to the floor in early May, so RIGHT NOW is the time to contact your Representatives and Senators today and urge them to oppose Fast Track (TPA-2015).

Only people power can defeat the corporate free-trade agenda. And, stay tuned; we will keep you up on the trade shenanigans in Washington.

April 16th, 2015

Same Old Hatch-et Job on Trade Agenda on Fast Track

By Patrick Woodall

DSC_2957

Today, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) introduced their Fast Track trade promotion legislation (The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, TPA-2015) to a flurry of adulation that this bill signals momentum on the Big Business-Republican leadership-Obama trade agenda. The free trade fanfare cannot overcome the broad-based public opposition to fast-tracking trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Far from an exciting new trade initiative, this is pretty much the exact same retrograde legislation that Hatch introduced last year. Fast Track is a parliamentary mechanism that prevents Congress from providing oversight to presidential trade negotiators and relegates the Congress to rubber stamp trade deals like the TPP on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.

The Hatch-Ryan Fast Track (they like to call it “trade promotion authority”) not only sets the rules for how Congress votes on trade deals but the Fast Track fine print prioritizes business interests ahead of consumer protections, food safety rules, public health safeguards and the environment.  Read the full article…

April 13th, 2015

The U.S. Water Alliance’s Water Prize Greenwashes Pollution Trading

By Scott Edwards

When is an award really greenwashing? When it recognizes a scheme that perpetuates pollution of our waterways as innovative.

Tonight, the U.S. Water Alliance, a Washington-based water policy organization, will hand the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) its 2015 United States Water Prize for its work promoting water pollution trading in the highly polluted Ohio River Basin.

In a press release, a former EPA official called the EPRI project impressive, noting that “…companies now have an opportunity to receive turn-key verified credits to meet their stewardship goals, address compliance needs, support farms, and protect ecosystems.”

Share this image and help us spread... the word to EPA that pollution trading just doesn't work!

Share this image and help us spread… the word to EPA that pollution trading just doesn’t work!

The problem is, water pollution trading is a market-based scheme that does none of that. But polluting industries, like coal-fired plants, and their front groups promote it as a way to avoid upgrading their facilities to protect our threatened waterways. For over 40 years, the Clean Water Act (CWA) has demanded that these industries implement increasingly advanced pollution reduction technologies towards the Act’s ultimate goal of eliminating discharges from our waterways. But companies don’t like to be regulated. So, with EPRI’s pay-to-pollute program, proven methods of regulating pollution under the CWA are being significantly eroded and our rivers, streams and bays will pay the price.

Water pollution trading is essentially a scam. The untested theory is that agriculture operations that discharge nitrogen- and phosphorus-rich manure into our nutrient-impaired waterways can cheaply reduce their discharges through the implementation of best management practices (BMPs) like grass buffers. These BMPs generate pollution “credits” that the agriculture operations sell to EPRI’s power plant Board members who want to avoid controlling their own nitrogen and phosphorus discharges. Trading proponents label this approach as a “win/win,” and they’re right. Power plants win because they get to keep on polluting and agricultural operations win because they can continue to avoid regulation while making money from the sale of the credits (and installing BMPs that are never subject to monitoring and discharge verification).

Industry wins and agriculture wins—but our rivers lose. In fact, the list of successful pilot trades EPRI and others trumpet in support of their approach are anything but.

Take, for example, the trading plan concocted for the Alpine Cheese factory in Ohio. Alpine Cheese has been a chronic violator of its CWA permit as it dumped excess amounts of nutrients into the impaired Sugar Creek. Back in 2006, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) crafted a trading plan that allowed Alpine Cheese to fund the implementation of BMPs of local dairy operations in lieu of forcing the factory to adhere to permit limits to meet Sugar Creek’s water quality standards. That five-year plan called for biannual inspections of all the participating dairy operations to “verify” that the BMPs were installed and effective. OEPA, the Agency charged with protecting waterways in the state, wasn’t even allowed to take part in this water quality inspection and verification plan because in a 2005 letter, Ohio Representative Bob Gibbs told the Agency to stay off the farms.

We have retrieved a number of public records related to the Alpine Cheese trading scheme, as well as several records related to the Pennsylvania trading program. What we’ve found is disturbing (perhaps it’s not too late for the Alliance to ask for its award back.)

The agreement called for biannual farm inspections for Alpine Cheese over the five-year period – a total of 10 inspection reports for each operation in the program. What we found, instead, was a small smattering of inspection checklists representing a fraction of these mandated reports. There was no monitoring done to verify farm nutrient reduction, and no confirmation of actual results. At the same time, Alpine Cheese continued to regularly violate even its relaxed nutrient permit standards while OEPA stood by. And the Sugar Creek that was supposed to be the beneficiary of this “innovative” new approach to water quality? That remains on Ohio’s nutrient impaired list without any evidence that overall water quality is improving.

The Ohio River Basin is also the “beneficiary” of the ongoing Pennsylvania trading program that we are also scrutinizing. There, third party manure brokers are making money by moving tons of poultry factory farm manure out of the southeast corner of the state where it poisons the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Transport manifests show that hundreds of tons of manure are being driven across the state to the southwest corner of Pennsylvania to be dumped. That’s the corner of the state that sits in the Ohio River Basin, where EPRI is operating its own manure-shifting program.

If innovation is moving piles of manure around the country from one impaired waterway to another, allowing a highly-polluting industrial agricultural operation to continue discharging into our waterways, and giving power plants a way out of complying with permits—and controlling their own discharges—then EPRI deserves even more awards. It’s a shame, though, that they would come at the expense of clean water and communities.

Call on the Environmental Protection Agency to PROTECT the Clean Water Act and REJECT water pollution trading schemes.

 

March 27th, 2015

Leaked Documents Underscore How TPP Will Provide Special Rights for Corporations

By Patrick Woodall

Patrick Woodall, Research Director and Senior Policy Advocate

Patrick Woodall, Research Director and Senior Policy Advocate

Are you working on state legislation to label genetically modified foods? Or are you working to pass a local ban on fracking? If you are, you’ll want to know what the TPP has in store for you, according to recently uncovered documents.

This week, Wikileaks released the long-secret investment provisions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that revealed the trade deal would give big business the ability to sue governments for protecting the public interest – confirming our worst fears about the trade deal being pushed by the business community, Republican leadership and the Obama administration.

Senator Elizabeth Warren highlighted the risks of these so-called investor-to-state suits in a Washington Post opinion piece last month, but the release of a current draft of the TPP investment chapter brings these legitimate concerns into sharper focus. These TPP investment provisions provide a new and powerful avenue for foreign corporations to attack commonsense public health, environmental and consumer safeguards as well as effectively rollback any local or state legislation or ordinances that threaten their bottom lines.

The TPP investment language allows foreign companies to challenge federal, state and local laws and regulations that the companies claim “indirectly expropriate” their “reasonable investment-backed expectations.” International investment rules were originally designed to prevent other countries from seizing private property without compensating the owner (by building a highway through a company’s land or nationalizing a factory). But the TPP’s indirect expropriation language expands that idea to allow corporations to sue (for financial damages) over rules and regulations that curb dangerous or abusive business practices (like pollution or financial fraud) or even require companies to provide sensible disclosure (like food labels).

So far, the United States has been sued but not faced a penalty under these investment cases, but that is because our trade deals have been primarily with countries in the developing world with few investments in the United States. The TPP would empower major companies from New Zealand, Australia and Japan with new rights to attack federal and local laws. If the companies prevail in these suits, the government defendants (either national or local) could be forced to pay damages for harming expected earnings. Already international trade tribunals have already awarded $3.6 billion to foreign investors that brought successful investor-to-state corporate lawsuits under NAFTA and other U.S. trade deals, according to Public Citizen.

A measure to prevent pollution (like a local fracking ban) would indirectly expropriate the anticipated future profits from fracking, so a foreign drilling firm could sue for damages. One natural gas company has already challenged a fracking moratorium in the Canadian province of Quebec under NAFTA’s investment provisions. These corporate lawsuits have an especially chilling effect on communities that want to protect their citizenry but lack the resources to defend against a colossal corporate lawsuit, including the more than 250 localities (including New York state) that have banned or imposed moratoriums on fracking.

The leaked investment text highlights the total lack of transparency in the TPP negotiations. It even includes a provision that keeps the investment chapter confidential until four years after the TPP goes into effect. If these special rights for corporate interests are so beneficial, why keep it classified?

March 20th, 2015

Ten Ways to Protect the Human Right to Water on World Water Day

By Katherine Cirullo and Ryanne Waters

“Water is a commons, a public trust, and a human right.” — Maude Barlow

“No water, no life. No blue, no green.” – Sylvia Earle

Water is an essential common resource that nobody, and no thing, can live without. But around the world, even here in the United States, the human right to safe, clean, affordable water is under great threat; a global water crisis is looming, and in some places, has already begun.

Here are ten ways you can protect the human right to water and promote sustainable water management on World Water Day. Let’s dive in.

1. Join Tap-a-palooza! Mobilize your college campus to kick the bottled water habit and take back the tap.

The commodification of water by the beverage industry is a huge con. Research shows that in the United States, bottled water is not safer than tap water and it only serves to perpetuate our planet’s plastic bottle waste problem. When corporations like Nestlé commoditize what many consider to be a human right, communities lose out and executives fatten their wallets. If you’re a student, encourage reusable water bottle use by pledging to ban the sale of plastic water bottles on your college campus.

TBTT

2. Say “no” to international water privatization schemes; oppose fast track of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

The United States and the European Union are secretly negotiating a deal that would make it easier for the world’s biggest corporations to privatize our public water systems. And when private companies buy out public water systems, community members often experience degraded service at a higher price. Opposing fast track would make it harder for Congress to pass terrible trade deals like the TTIP.  Tell your member of Congress to oppose fast track today.

Fast Track

3. Support the campaign to stop water privatization in Lagos, Nigeria on twitter.

The city of Lagos, Nigeria is in great need of water supply and infrastructure improvements. But research shows that private ownership of municipal water systems does not benefit the community and often results in poor service at an unjust rate. 180 cities in 35 countries have fought hard to “re-municipalize” their water systems because of these failures. Lagos should not have to go down the same path. Tweet your support Tweet: I stand with Lagos, Nigeria. NO to water privatization! #OurWaterOurRight #Right2Water @followlasg @tundefashola for public water to the Lagos state government (@followlasg) and the governor (@tundefashola) by using the hashtag #OurWaterOurRight and #Right2Water.

LagosShareFB_we

4. Write to your member of Congress asking them to cosponsor the bill to ban fracking on public lands.

Did you know that our national forests and land surrounding our national parks are being fracked? Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and associated activities such as wastewater injection can contaminate nearby rivers and streams that feed these treasured places – their vegetation and wildlife. Stopping fracking on public lands will bring us one step closer to stopping fracking, and protecting water, everywhere. Ask your member of Congress to cosponsor the bill.

PublicLands

5. Sign this emergency petition to immediately stop fracking in California.

According to NASA, California has only one year of water left. But did you hear that oil and gas industry regulators in California recently admitted that they’ve failed to protect the state’s precious water supply from toxic contamination? Regulatory systems like these are unacceptable. Join us in calling on Governor Brown to issue an immediate emergency moratorium on fracking in California.

California

6. Urge the Ohio Legislature to protect the Great Lakes from toxic algae blooms.

Industrial agriculture is threatening Lake Erie. Last summer, a huge algae bloom left half a million people in Toledo, Ohio without water. The state legislature is trying to address the problem, but their bill falls short of real, meaningful agricultural reform. Tell them to toughen up and protect the Great Lakes from factory farms!

Toledo Algae

7. Demand that authorities in Detroit restore affordable water service.

Detroit’s water is simply unaffordable, and thousands of residents have had theirs shut off as a result. The United Nations recently visited Detroit to investigate the water shut offs and found that they violate the human right to water. Protect public health and the human right to water by urging officials in Detroit to restore water service under a water affordability plan.

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8. Educate yourself and your friends on the global water crisis by reading Blue Future: Protecting Water for People and the Planet Forever, by internationally best-selling author and Food & Water Watch Board Chair, Maude Barlow.

Maude Barlow is a water justice warrior. The latest in her best-selling series, Blue Future exposes the handful of corporate players whose greed is impeding the human right to water. It lays out the obstacles ahead in this looming water crisis and details the many victories that have been won by communities in the fight to protect their right to water.

Maude_Barlow

 

9. Keep an eye out for a pre-screening of the film Dear President Obama, Americans Against Fracking In One Voice from Jon Bowermaster.

In this film, Bowermaster takes a national look at the issue of fracking and the threats it poses to water quality and public health. The film profiles the victims of fracking across the U.S., checks in with experts on the topic, and takes a look at alternative energy sources gaining traction around the globe.

DearPresidentObama

10. Stay up to date on global water issues and learn how you can get involved by signing up here.

Whether by banning fracking, stopping terrible trade deals, promoting public ownership of water systems or protecting waterways from agricultural pollution, Food & Water Watch is working with communities to hold the industries that threaten the right to safe, clean, affordable water accountable.

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Update, March 22: Check out Maude Barlow’s World Water Day post about how to address the world water crisis.

March 10th, 2015

Nobel Laureate Joins Food & Water Watch Opposing Fast Tracking TPP

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Food & Water Watch New York Organizer Eric Weltman speaks out against the TPP at a press conference in Manhattan.

By Eric Weltman

If there were ever a rock star among economists, Joseph Stiglitz would get my vote. On February 25, the Nobel Prize winner headlined a community forum in Queens on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The event was part of Food & Water Watch’s national campaign to stop the Fast Tracking of this dangerous trade agreement.

Three hundred people jammed the auditorium of PS 69, the neighborhood elementary school, to hear Stiglitz along with local community leaders. Our focus that evening was Congressman Joseph Crowley, the local representative and a member of the House Ways & Means Committee, whose opposition to Fast Track could be crucial. We were partnering with some great allies, including the Communication Workers of America, the Working Families Party and the Sierra Club.

Stiglitz’s credentials are a mile long. He was the chief economist for the World Bank and Chairman of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors. And he effortlessly and absolutely shredded the TPP and the entire process of negotiating and trying to win Congressional approval for the agreement.

Stiglitz targeted the Obama administration for its secrecy, asking, “What are they trying to hide?” He blasted them on Fast Track, calling the move “an end-run around Congress.” He discussed how previous trade agreements had destroyed jobs and increased income inequality. He noted that the TPP would limit access to generic medicines. And he declared that the bottom line is “moneyed interests, special interests trying to get what’s good for them.” You can watch for yourself here.

He was awesome. But it’s going to take more than rock star economists to defeat the corporate giants behind the TPP. This event was just part of the hard work that Food & Water Watch, along with our allies in New York and across the country, are engaged in to defend what’s most important: our jobs, our health, our communities, our environment. Take action now by asking your member of Congress to oppose Fast Track and the TPP.

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