Drilling Report Reveals Biden’s Fracking Deception

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Climate and Energy

Today, the Interior Department released its long-awaited report on oil and gas drilling on public lands, which recommends raising the royalty rates that polluters pay to extract fossil fuels from public lands. The report offers little on the climate impacts of drilling, and bluntly contradicts Biden’s repeated vows to end drilling on public lands. 

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

“Releasing this completely inadequate report over a long holiday weekend is a shameful attempt to hide the fact that President Biden has no intention of fulfilling his promise to stop oil and gas drilling on our public lands. A minor increase in the royalties paid by climate polluters will have zero impact on combating the climate crisis, and will in effect make the federal government more dependent on fossil fuels as a source of revenue. 

“This shocking capitulation to the needs of corporate polluters is a clear sign that, when it comes to climate action, the White House does not actually mean what it says.”

Passaic County Commissioners Fail to Take a Stance on TN Gas Pipeline Proposal

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Climate and Energy

After months of resident-led advocacy against a proposal for a pipeline expansion project in North Jersey, involving the construction of new fracked gas compressor stations in West Milford and Wantage, the Passaic County Commissioners voted down a resolution opposing the project last night, lacking the two-thirds majority needed to pass it. 

“The proposed compressor station is a dangerous and unnecessary risk to our community,” said West Milford resident Eileen Curran. “Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company already has a track record of destruction in our backyards. We cannot trust them to operate a fracked gas compressor station that will release volatile compounds in our protected highlands region close to homes, and the water supply of millions. The Passaic County Commissioners have failed to stand up for their constituents, so we need Governor Murphy to be a leader and reject the proposal for new compressors in North Jersey.”

“New Jersey is the fastest-warming state in the nation, and Passaic County is already facing drastic impacts from climate change. Two summers ago, Greenwood Lake was shut down due to harmful algae blooms affecting communities and recreation, and just a few months ago Hurricane Ida caused major flooding and damage in Paterson and Passaic and killed 3 people,” said Renee Allessio, a West Milford resident and leader of Sustainable West Milford. “By voting down the resolution, the Passaic County commissioners have failed to stand up for the health and safety of their constituents in the face of a deepening climate crisis. Though the Passaic County Commissioners do not have the authority to approve or deny the project, by passing a resolution they could have sent a strong signal to Governor Murphy that permitting new fossil fuel infrastructure in an escalating climate crisis is unacceptable.” 

The majority of the commissioners were set to pass this resolution at their meeting on October 26th. But at the last minute Commissioner Director Pat Lepore made the unilateral decision to pull the resolution off the agenda to give “stakeholders” the opportunity to make their case. At their next meeting, they gave close to an hour of the agenda to a representative from TGP, a subsidiary of the multi-billion dollar oil and gas corporation Kinder Morgan, for a presentation in favor of the project.

“The presentation from pipeline behemoth Kinder Morgan was riddled with misinformation and unanswered questions. Local residents and advocates requested the same opportunity for a presentation by accredited public health, pipeline safety, and environmental experts and Director Lepore denied this request,” said Sam DiFalco, an organizer with Food & Water Watch. “By failing to meaningfully engage with residents and pass the resolution, the Passaic Commissioners have chosen to acquiesce to the profits of a multi-billion dollar corporation over the health and local environment of their own constituents. Regardless, we will continue to organize and call on Governor Murphy to stop this disastrous proposal.”

Taya Dennis

Taya Dennis

Salesforce System Administrator

San Francisco, CA

Fracking, Power Plants & Exports: Three Steps for Meaningful Climate Action

REPORT - November 2021

Maple Shade Votes to Oppose Gibbstown Fracked Gas Terminal

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Climate and Energy

The Town Council of Maple Shade passed a resolution on November 18 opposing a plan by New Fortress Energy to build a massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in Gibbstown, Gloucester County.

The Maple Shade resolution calls on Governor Phil Murphy to reject permits needed to load highly explosive and polluting LNG onto ships for export out of Gibbstown, and calls on the Army Corps of Engineers to complete an environmental impact statement on the project. 

This week’s vote is the eleventh resolution to pass opposing the project.

“It is incredibly important to me to have my town, Maple Shade, show its support for the opposition to the proposed LNG transport through New Jersey,” said Emily Salaazar, a mother, teacher and resident of Maple Shade. “This dangerous project would impact the lives and health of all of the residents of South Jersey, including my own town, friends, and family. I’m very proud that Maple Shade is now a part of the growing number of towns that have formally voted in resolutions to oppose these hazardous LNG exports.” 

The proposed export terminal would be part of a massive new fracked gas infrastructure buildout in the region. The full scope of the project would involve supercooling gas extracted in Pennsylvania into liquefied natural gas (LNG), a highly volatile substance, and shipping it by truck and train nearly 200 miles to Gibbstown for export.

While the planned transport routes have not been disclosed to the public, truck routes would pass by I-95, which is less than a mile from Maple Shade, as well as densely-populated urban areas in North Philadelphia and Camden. LNG is exceptionally dangerous: if ignited, it can burn into a fire too hot to extinguish. An LNG explosion at a Washington plant in 2014 led to emergency evacuation of a two-mile radius.

“This decision was made possible due to the hard work of Maple Shade volunteers like Emily,” said Food & Water Watch Organizer Noa Gordon-Guterman. “Residents and Maple Shade elected officials sent a clear message to Governor Murphy, President Biden and the Army Corps: We do not want the Gibbstown terminal or any new fossil fuel infrastructure in our communities. Maple Shade’s unanimous vote against the Gibbstown LNG terminal is part of a growing effort throughout New Jersey to stop this dangerous project in its tracks. This project would expose thousands of South Jersey residents to the serious risks of explosive liquified natural gas, and exacerbate already worsening effects of climate change.”

So far, resolutions against the project have passed in Princeton, Pennsauken, Runnemede, Haddon Township, Riverton, Hazlet, Burlington City, Merchantville, National Park, Palmyra and Maple Shade. 

Petitions to Create Renewable Energy Program Accepted in Cherry Hill

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Climate and Energy

Cherry Hill residents who support the creation of a new Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program for the town were notified by the municipal clerk that they have submitted enough petition signatures to trigger a public hearing on the proposal. 

A CCA would authorize the town to bulk purchase electricity from clean renewable sources and offer it to residents at discounted rates. The environmental group Food & Water Watch is working with residents of municipalities across the state to create these programs, which will help reduce air pollution and our reliance on fossil fuels.  

Under the Faulkner Act, Cherry Hill residents have the right to initiative and referendum, meaning that any ordinance can be introduced by a petition with signatures from 10 percent of the number of residents who voted in the most recent state assembly election.

Now that the petitions have been approved, the Township Council will have an opportunity to vote on the matter. If they vote yes, the ordinance will become law; if they vote no or decline to hold a vote, the matter would be decided by voters in a referendum.

“This is a great opportunity for Cherry Hill to become leaders in sustainability for the state of New Jersey,” said Cherry Hill resident David Stahl. “Our air will be cleaner and our energy costs will be lower. Hopefully our Councilmembers will do the right thing and put Cherry Hill on a more sustainable trajectory.” 

“This is a win-win for Cherry Hill and the planet,” says Cherry Hill resident Susan Druckenbrød. “We’re hopeful that Cherry Hill town council will agree with the more than 2,000 Cherry Hill residents who are ready to make the switch to renewable energy and will vote yay to adopt Community Choice Aggregation.”

Food & Water Watch has worked with residents to win similar 100% clean energy programs in Edison, New Brunswick, Collingswood, Asbury Park, Piscataway, East Brunswick, South Brunswick and Red Bank, and has a goal of putting more than one million New Jersey residents on a path to achieve 100 percent clean renewable energy by 2030.

Frontline Communities March in Sacramento to Demand Newsom Stop SoCalGas Expansion

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Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Sacramento, CA – Two years after Governor Gavin Newsom urged his Public Utilities to Commission to expedite the closure of SoCalGas’ storage facility at Aliso Canyon, environmental advocates joined frontline community members for a march and sit-in at the governor’s Sacramento office protesting the facility’s expansion and urged Newsom to close Aliso Canyon with an Executive Order. At issue are other SoCalGas infrastructure projects steadily allowed to expand into neighborhoods by the Public Utilities Commission with Newsom’s tacit approval, including Playa Del Rey and Ventura. 

In the nearly three years since Newsom’s election, Sempra, parent company of SoCalGas, has already spent $115,823 lobbying the Public Utilities Commission — nearly 20 percent of what it spent over the eight years of Governor Brown’s tenure to influence the PUC. This year alone, the company spent more than $1 million lobbying legislators and agencies. Protestors marched from the Capitol to the Public Utilities Commission offices, where they symbolically “cleaned” the building, freeing it from undue influence from SoCalGas.

“Governor Newsom and his Public Utilities Commission have allowed SoCalGas free rein over frontline communities for far too long,” said Food & Water Watch California Director Alexandra Nagy. “No neighborhood is a sacrifice zone. And yet Porter Ranch, Playa Del Rey and Ventura have paid the price of fossil fuel development with their health and safety. Unless Governor Newsom directs the PUC to reverse course and halt the rampant expansion of this toxic infrastructure beginning with Aliso Canyon, California will never live up to its climate or environmental justice ambitions. Governor Newsom needs to use his authority and direct the immediate shut down of Aliso Canyon with an Executive Order.”

In Ventura, the PUC has all but greenlighted SoCalGas’ proposal to expand a compressor station 500 feet away from the E.P. Foster Elementary School and a Boys & Girls Club. Ventura residents have sent more than 280 emails and held three rallies in opposition to the project. Yet no Environmental Impact Report has been commissioned to ascertain the true impact of this facility’s expansion on the surrounding community which has suffered from decades of environmental racism.

“The Public Utilities Commission has let the West Ventura community down,” said Tomás Morales Rebecchi, Ventura resident and Central Coast Senior Organizer for Food & Water Watch. “But the ultimate responsibility to protect the health and safety of Californians is Governor Newsom’s. We’re asking him to hold SoCalGas accountable for the sickness their infrastructure has caused and the danger it poses to our children every day. As Governor Newsom himself has said, fossil fuels have no place in our future. Neither does environmental racism. It’s time for Newsom to stop the expansion of gas infrastructure in neighborhoods like Ventura, Porter Ranch and Playa Del Rey.”

Faith Myhra spoke on behalf of Protect Playa Now: “SoCalGas has had 68 years to do right by our communities and they have proven they are not capable of being good neighbors. Since 2003, we have experienced toxic oily “mist,” a vent stack explosion and an oil well blowing open. It is time for Governor Newsom to act like a real climate leader and close these dangerous facilities down, stop any expansions, and hold the CPUC accountable to Californians whom they are supposed to protect.”

Jane Fowler with Aliso Moms Alliance survived the 2015 gas blowout and suffered health impacts like hair loss, brain fog, nausea, fatigue, etc. “Our health is still being impacted with these leaks that continue to this day,” she said. “I urge everyone to fight like hell to not let SoCalGas expand anywhere. Because once it’s here we’re stuck with it for years. Left to their own devices, SoCalGas will be the voice that is heard by our representatives. Our voices will not be heard unless we all stand up and fight.”

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Contact: Jessica Gable, (202) 683-2478, [email protected]

Ventura Residents Demand Newsom and EPA Stop SoCalGas

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Ventura, CA – Ventura residents are appealing to Governor Gavin Newsom and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan to prevent SoCalGas from expanding a natural gas compressor that’s footsteps away from an elementary school and Boys & Girls Club.

A coalition of community members, nonprofit organizations, and businesses — known collectively as the Westside Clean Air Coalition — are concerned about the environmental impacts of SoCalGas’ proposal to expand the Ventura Compressor Station, a natural gas compressor station at 1555 N. Olive St. in Ventura, CA. The site is directly across from the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Ventura’s Robert Addison Center and the E.P. Foster Elementary School, and less than a block away from the West Ventura neighborhood — home to approximately 13,000 people.  

The proposed gas expansion project raises significant environmental justice issues for the residents of Ventura. The smell of fumes is a regular occurrence in the West Ventura neighborhood. Compressors and pipelines are prone to ruptures, leaks and explosions. This site is a prime example of why oil and gas infrastructure should be included in Governor Newsom’s draft 3,200-foot setback rule which currently only applies to oil and gas drill sites. 

Ventura residents have sent more than 280 emails and held three rallies in opposition to the project. Yet the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District has thus far refused to review the environmental impacts on the surrounding community under the California Environmental Quality Act.

In a letter sent to the Governor’s office, the coalition urges Newsom to remind the Air District as well as the California Public Utilities Commission of their responsibility and authority to intervene, requiring an Environmental Impact Report before any further work can be performed on the compressor expansion.

In a similar letter, the coalition is asking EPA Administrator Regan to demand relevant permitting agencies conduct robust health and environmental assessments.

“Governor Newsom has taken promising steps to protect communities on the frontlines of fossil fuel drilling, but he must break his silence on the equally catastrophic impacts of fossil fuel infrastructure on nearby neighborhoods,” said Tomás Rebecchi, Food & Water Watch Senior Central Coast Organizer. “We appeal to him now to follow through on his commitment to protect communities facing environmental racism and injustice. The Public Utilities Commission allowed the unnecessary expansion of SoCalGas’ Aliso Canyon facility. We cannot allow the unnecessary expansion of its Ventura Compressor.”

“Science draws a clear connection between the planet’s warming and fossil fuel industry activity,” said Shannon Simpson, Climate First: Replacing Oil & Gas Executive Director. “Governor Newsom and the Environmental Protection Agency must consider the facts and demand that SoCalGas’ proposed expansion of their Ventura facility be properly reviewed to fully understand its effects on our environment and the densely populated Westside neighborhood. Earth and the frontline community cannot risk experiencing further harm from the greenhouse gas super emitter station.”

“Having this infrastructure here is an environmental injustice to the people who live nearby,” said Ryan Gellert, CEO of Patagonia, the Ventura-based outdoor clothing company that is part of the Westside Clean Air Coalition. “Not only is expanding a gas compressor across from an elementary school to pump more fuel through the region dangerous, it’s unnecessary and counter to California’s efforts to find solutions to the environmental crisis.”

Read the letter to Gov Newsom here.

Read the letter to the EPA here.

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Contact: Jessica Gable, (202) 683-2478, [email protected]

Biden’s Offshore Lease Sale Makes Mockery of Climate Rhetoric

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Climate and Energy

Today, the Biden administration will conduct the largest offshore oil and gas lease sale in the nation’s history — a massive giveaway of 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico. While Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and President Biden alike have stressed their climate credentials over the years, this action speaks louder than all of the words coming from the administration. 

Earlier this month, hundreds of organizations signed this letter to President Biden urging his administration to cancel the lease sale. 

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

“President Biden’s decision to carry forward with these new offshore drilling leases is a clear demonstration of where his priorities lie when it comes to climate policy. The president tells voters that he will stop fracking on our public lands — and then continue handing out drilling permits by the hundreds. He calls the climate crisis an existential threat, and then takes actions that only enhance the threat to people and our planet for generations to come.”

“The administration claims that a court loss requires them to sell these parcels. But that is not true; the White House has always had several other legal avenues it could pursue if it chose to do so. Not only has the White House refused to do so, it has gone so far as to argue that the decades of new drilling unleashed by this move would have no effect on the climate crisis.

“We came to expect climate denial from the Trump administration. With Biden, tragedy has turned to farce, as administration officials speak about confronting the climate crisis, while carrying on the deadly and dirty fossil fuel status quo.”

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

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

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

Contact: Seth Gladstone, [email protected]