Will The Manchin Climate Bill Reduce Climate Pollution?

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Climate and Energy

by Jim Walsh and Peter Hart

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) takes aim at a lot of things over the next decade — everything from prescription drug prices to corporate tax rates. For climate advocates, the headlining claim is this: the IRA would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 42%.

But that target isn’t actually in the bill. In fact, there are no emissions targets in the bill at all. Instead, this legislation relies on carrots (money to nudge private markets in the right direction) over sticks (actual mandates to reduce pollution).

So where does that 42% number come from? And is that reduction actually likely?

Several models claim to predict the IRA’s outcomes, but the one getting the most attention is from Princeton University’s REPEAT Project. Its model estimates that, without any new legislation, emissions will fall about 27% from 2005 highs. With the IRA, according to the model, emissions could fall about 42%.

But the model relies on some suspect reductions. For example, that 42% would need an astonishing turnaround for so-called carbon capture technologies. And it forecasts a massive increase in the deployment of clean energy — as well as tax credits for purchasing electric vehicles with requirements that no maker can meet yet.

The Analysis Makes A Bad Bet On Carbon Capture

The REPEAT analysis acknowledges that carbon capture is currently responsible for almost no emissions reductions. However, it projects that emissions reductions from carbon capture will reach 50 megatons of carbon by 2024 — mostly from coal plants -– and 200 million tons per year by 2030. 

There’s no explanation for this miraculous growth, but the analysis nonetheless suggests there will be “6 gigawatts of carbon capture retrofits at existing coal-fired power plants and 18 gigawatts of gas power plants with carbon capture installed by 2030.” These assumptions would require $17 billion in carbon capture tax credits in 2030 alone. That is far more than the $3.2 billion total 2022-2031 expenditure the Congressional Budget Office estimates.

Overall, the analysis assumes that carbon capture would deliver “roughly one-sixth to one-fifth” of total emissions cuts. This is an unfathomable improvement for an industry that has failed to deliver emissions reductions after decades of research and billions in funding. 

The analysis also leaves its assumptions unclear on the actual emissions reductions of carbon capture technology. While the industry claims it can capture 90% of emissions, real-world analyses of full lifecycle emissions put that figure closer to 39%, at best. And captured CO2 is almost entirely used for more oil drilling, eliminating any supposed climate benefits.

Counting On Cars That Might Not Exist

The analysis also pins emissions reductions on changes to existing tax credits for electric vehicles. But there are serious questions about this policy. Several reports have already noted that there are currently no EVs that will meet the IRA’s requirements. The bill mandates that tax credits can only go to EVs with battery and mineral components sourced from the U.S. or favored trading partners. 

The supply chains to make these cars don’t even exist yet, but the model assumes they will. It seems logical to think a more generous tax credit would increase EV purchases. However, real-world limitations could significantly limit projected emissions reductions. 

The Model Misses Fossil Fuels And Frontline Communities 

The REPEAT analysis also assumes continued growth in fossil fuels; gas-fired power and coal stay strong in the energy mix. This is particularly concerning for communities near fossil fuel infrastructure. They’ll see more pollution from facilities receiving subsidies under the IRA. This is more than just wasting money on dirty infrastructure — it could increase pollution under the guise of climate action.

The fossil fuel industry is also pushing for a massive expansion of fossil fuel exports, which the REPEAT modeling acknowledges. Yet, it doesn’t account for those greenhouse gas emissions in its 42% claims. 

The model also doesn’t account for the “side deal” that secured the support of West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, which calls for fast-tracking major new energy projects. Right now, we can’t calculate how that agreement might work, but it explicitly aims to build new sources of pollution more quickly. 

All of this — as well as the IRA’s unconscionable provisions on new drilling on public lands — will take a serious toll on communities near polluting facilities, and will lock us into continued climate emissions.

It Doesn’t Capture Leaking Methane

The IRA’s only provision that directly addresses oil and gas industry emissions is a fee on methane leaks. Under the bill, the fee would rise to $1,500 per ton in 2026. But negotiations with Senator Manchin substantially weakened this provision. Now, it won’t apply to the majority of the industry. 

While that is not part of the REPEAT analysis, we note that they rely on a 100-year timeframe to calculate the CO2 equivalence of methane (instead of 20 years). This is misleading because so much of methane’s climate impact comes in the near-term. 

Moreover, the analysis uses outdated assumptions from the EPA that significantly underestimate methane leakage and the impacts of gas on warming in general.

There’s A Difference Between Models And Reality

There are also fundamental questions about the type of forecasting used in the REPEAT analysis. How well do these models predict the future? What assumptions do they make?

On that count, the report includes caveats that readers might miss. “Optimization modeling used in this work assumes rational economic behavior from all actors,” the authors write. They add that “these results indicate what decisions make good economic sense for consumers and businesses to make … whether or not actors make such decisions in the real world depends on many factors we are unable to model.”

Energy industry actors don’t make rational decisions based on costs, consumer benefits or the public good. For instance, clean renewable power is cheap and abundant, yet utilities embrace fossil fuels. That’s in part because they profit from existing infrastructure that poisons communities and the climate. 

Additionally, the REPEAT modeling doesn’t calculate increases in water and air pollution that will come from carbon capture, hydrogen and other fossil fuel infrastructure likely under the IRA. Increases in harmful emissions other than carbon dioxide and methane will inevitably result from more fracking, pipelines and fossil fuel power plants, too. The burden will fall on disadvantaged communities. Models don’t show these impacts, but they’re real nonetheless.

42% isn’t even close — people need to know about the IRA’s real climate impact.

Dems’ IRA Falls Short on Climate Action

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Climate and Energy

Today the Senate voted to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, which proponents claim includes monumental action to address the climate crisis.

In response, Food & Water Watch Managing Director of Policy Mitch Jones issued the following statement: 


“It’s no surprise that climate policy tailored to meet the demands of a coal baron would fall well short of what’s needed to adequately address the severity of the climate crisis we face. The bill devotes billions to industry schemes like carbon capture, which exist solely to extend the life of the fossil fuel industry. Models touting the emissions reductions this legislation would provide rely heavily on carbon capture despite decades of evidence that the technology can’t be implemented effectively.

“There is already abundant evidence that investing in clean, renewable energy does not, in and of itself, displace fossil fuels. Over the past decade, both have grown side-by-side, as fossil fuel interests have pushed to create profitable export markets for oil and gas. There is nothing in this legislation that would stop this march towards the climate cliff. 

“We know that any adequate climate policy must directly confront fossil fuels. The fact that oil and gas executives seem pleased with this legislation speaks volumes about its glaring shortcomings. Activists and frontline communities will continue fighting to stop fossil fuel corporations that threaten our air, our water and a livable planet.”

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

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Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Residents Rally Against Fracked Gas Compressor Project in North Jersey

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Climate and Energy

Dozens of North Jersey residents and activists held a rally this afternoon in Sparta just ahead of the NJDEP hearing on the proposal to expand and build new fracked gas compressor stations along a North Jersey gas pipeline. This hearing was on the Air Quality permit for the project which is the last pending permit for this project before Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company (TGP) can start building this project.

Compressor stations are industrial facilities situated along pipeline routes that pressurize gas to push it through the pipeline and release gas to regulate pressure within the pipeline system. These accident-prone facilities are dangerous, loud, and major sources of harmful air pollution.

This so-called “East 300 Upgrade” project includes a massive expansion of an existing gas-fired compressor station in Wantage, and a new gas compressor station in West Milford right next to the Monksville Reservoir, which provides clean drinking water to millions. The expansion project would allow TGP to pipe higher volumes of fracked gas through this 65-year-old pipeline en route to Westchester, NY.

“In a worsening climate crisis, we must do all we can to lower emissions, and that must start with a halt to new fossil fuel projects in our state. Governor Murphy’s own climate goals would be undermined by a dangerous and unnecessary fossil fuel expansion project that is only being built to serve the profits of the fossil fuel industry and a private utility in New York,” said Sam DiFalco, an organizer with Food & Water Watch. “If Governor Murphy means what he says about battling climate change and protecting public safety and our environment, he must reject this unsafe and unnecessary fracked gas expansion project.” 

“Our government is supposed to protect the people and the common good, not major corporations like the oil and gas industry,” said Renee Allessio, a 45-year resident of West Milford and board member of Sustainable West Milford. “Fossil fuel extraction, transportation, and combustion pollute the air communities breathe, the water they drink, the land they walk on, and the food they eat. The release of these pollutants is also a major cause of climate change.”

Compressors regularly release methane gas containing volatile compounds including formaldehyde, benzene, and other harmful compounds directly into the air surrounding the compressor. This gas can engulf the surrounding area in a toxic cloud for hours and travel for miles before the gas dissipates. A major incident like this happened on New Year’s Day of this year when a computer malfunction caused the unstaffed facility to shut down and release gas for almost two hours before a worker could arrive on-site and fix the problem.

“My family moved to Wantage to build our forever home not knowing the major risks this facility would pose to our growing family. We already deal with the awful smells from the facility and noises 24×7. On January 1 of this year, a blowdown as loud as a jet engine released a toxic plume that engulfed the local community and could be smelt, for miles,” said Kelly Kessler, a Wantage resident who lives less than a mile from the existing facility. “These facilities release benzene a known source of childhood leukemia. An even bigger facility three times this size is not safe to raise children around.”

“NJDEP must protect our health and environment and reject this unnecessary project which will have damaging impacts on the air, water, and land. These compressor facilities release harmful air pollutants such as benzene, GHGs, NOx, that can cause asthma, headaches, and worsen symptoms for people with respiratory problems.,”  said Taylor McFarland, New Jersey Chapter Conservation Program Manager for Sierra Club. “This is a dangerous and polluting project that will only cause more climate and health impacts. It’s critical that NJDEP consider the disastrous impacts this project will have and reject it.” 

Many remember the significant damage TGP caused to North Jersey communities a decade ago when they laid additional pipes in the ground to expand the capacity of their original 65-year-old line. During construction, they caused a sinkhole, mudslides that flowed into decimated Lake Lookover in West Milford and impacted drinking water wells, and petrochemical spills. What’s more, TGP failed to successfully replant the mature forest they decimated during construction across North Jersey. NJ communities are not alone in dealing with the impacts of TGP’s risky operations.

“According to Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration failure reports, from 2006-2017, TGP had 111 significant incidents with their pipelines resulting in $89,815,380 in property damage and 19 federal enforcement actions,” said Jill Aquino, RN a 19-year resident of Sussex County who worked as a school nurse in the county for 16.5 years. “Just last month a portion of this very same pipeline exploded in PA and started a forest fire which burned through 5 acres before it could be contained, reminding us of the increased risks of forcing higher volumes of gas through this aging pipeline system. With this track record, it’s unfathomable that the agencies responsible for protecting our environment would permit TGP to construct another expansion in our communities.”

“We seem to lose focus on the fact that none of this gas is intended for use by residents of New Jersey — it’s all going to New York to serve potential new users in the future. It’s not needed, yet the damage will be borne in the Highlands by our residents,” said Julia Somers, Executive Director of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition. “It’s an outrageous, irresponsible situation! The DEP must deny the permit.”

In an undeniable climate, ecological, and public health crisis, Governor Murphy has to make a choice to live up to his climate commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower harmful pollution or cave to the corporate interests of out-of-state polluters. 

“Anushiik kéeshxung is ‘Thank You Wind’ in the Munsee language, the original language of these lands. We have a choice between Good Air and Bad Energy right now. If we choose Bad Energy then we will have Bad Air, Bad Health, and Death,” said OWL of the Ramapough Munsee Lunaaape Nation. “Let’s not sacrifice Good Air for Bad Energy.” 

Manchin ‘Side Deal’ is a Climate Disaster

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Climate and Energy

Bloomberg published a copy of draft language for the ‘permitting reform’ bill that Senator Joe Manchin demanded in order to support the Inflation Reduction Act.

The proposal aims to fast track a variety of environmental and public safety reviews for major infrastructure projects, and requires the President to create a list of at least 25 projects deemed to be of “strategic national importance” that would be subject to the review. The list would be updated every six months.

The draft requires that at least five of the priority items “shall be projects to produce, process, transport, or store fossil fuel products, or biofuels, including projects to export or import those products.” Two of the priority projects should be devoted to the “capture, transport, or store carbon dioxide, which may include the utilization of captured or displaced carbon dioxide emissions.” This fossil fuel prioritization continues well past 2030, requiring at least three projects to be fossil fuel oriented while allowing greater discretion to add more to the priority list.

Bloomberg reports that that the document includes a “Draft-API” watermark, which could be a reference to the oil and gas lobbying group that had discussions with Manchin’s staff at the time it was drafted.

In response, Food & Water Watch Policy Director Jim Walsh released the following statement:


“This should no longer be considered a ‘side deal,’ it is the main event for fossil fuel polluters that have pushed to weaken environmental reviews. The draft requires a constantly updated list of projects that will be placed on the fast track, limiting public input and necessary environmental review. Any future White House that seeks to do special favors for the fossil fuel industry would have broad executive authority to force the construction of new fracking pipelines, power plants and methane export facilities. It would also hamstring the White House in efforts to curtail new fossil fuel infrastructure development sufficient to meet agreed upon climate goals.

“Creating new wind and solar tax credits while giving fossil fuel polluters a green light is the ultimate devil’s bargain. Lawmakers must speak up strongly and swiftly against this massive rollback of public health and environmental protections that will fast track fossil fuel projects.”

What to Make of Joe Manchin’s Climate Deal

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Climate and Energy

by Peter Hart

After months of near-misses and false starts, Senate Democratic leaders have announced a compromise spending package. If passed, the package would become the most significant investment in climate and energy spending in decades — totaling $369 billion over ten years. 

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was tailored to the liking of West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, a coal millionaire who has made no secret of his preference for propping up the fossil fuel industry. The deal — which still has several legislative hurdles — is essentially a slimmed-down version of the Build Back Better Act. That version called for $555 billion in climate and energy spending when it was passed in the House. This bill provides much-needed support for clean energy, that much is true. But it comes with many concessions that advance fossil fuel interests and lock in a dangerous climate future.

The IRA Is A Mixed Deal For The Climate

When it comes to climate action, much of the IRA is geared towards wind and solar credits. These credits would bolster private investment in renewables and clean energy manufacturing. The IRA would also increase the tax rebates associated with purchasing an electric vehicle. On the flip side, there are serious questions about whether the credits would actually apply to most car purchases. There are also funds for home energy improvements and environmental justice spending. However, advocates have criticized those provisions for falling well short of the White House’s own goals. 

There are also some highly unappealing provisions — including billions dedicated to carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). CCS is the dirty energy industry’s favorite false climate “solution.” There are also substantial investments in fossil-based hydrogen, though studies show little to no climate benefit over fossil fuels. Such policies would subsidize ineffective technologies that prolong the life of the fossil fuel industry.

The legislation also devotes billions to a “methane fee.” This fee would penalize companies that leak the potent greenhouse gas into the atmosphere from wells, pipelines and other infrastructure. These leaks are not even currently measured or adequately monitored, so it remains unclear how this approach would work. As written, it amounts to a subsidy for fossil fuel companies, in hopes that the penalty would lessen pollution. 

Several Dirty Energy Devils Lurking in the IRA’s Details

This legislation will increase fossil fuel development in several ways. It bizarrely requires the federal government to reinstate a massive oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico. That sale was blocked by a federal judge in January. 

The deal also features a dirty-for-clean public lands tradeoff. If the federal government wants to approve any new wind or solar projects on public lands or waters, it would first have to offer millions of acres of public land for oil and gas leases. 

The IRA reinforces the deluded idea that we can secure real climate victories by both ramping up clean energy and continuing to approve new fossil fuel projects. The last decade of energy development in the United States shows that clean energy doesn’t displace fossil fuels on its own. In fact, we have grown both at the same time. Continuing this dual-track is dangerous — it fools people that progress is happening when fossil fuels are still endangering our future. 

What’s worse, to secure Manchin’s IRA support, the Senate must consider a separate measure to expedite energy infrastructure permitting. While this could help build badly needed transmission infrastructure for renewables, we can expect Manchin and Republican lawmakers to craft something primarily benefiting fossil fuel facilities and projects. Additionally, Manchin has strong-armed cooperation from Senate Democratic leaders and the White House to finish the disastrous Mountain Valley Pipeline. 

This kind of so-called ‘permitting reform’ has been a priority for the fossil fuel industry. That could explain why some dirty energy CEOs appear mostly pleased with the overall package.

Will The Inflation Reduction Act’s Climate Provisions Work?

Obviously, the goal of any climate plan is to reduce climate pollution. IRA proponents argue it will work, citing models that predict a 40% reduction in carbon emissions by the year 2030. However, there are several massive caveats. First, it’s not a 40% reduction in climate pollution; it’s from the emissions recorded at a high point in 2005. And according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s calculations, net emissions have already declined 21% between 2005 and 2020.

Indeed, the models that show a range of 31 to 44% reductions through the IRA also forecast that we would reduce emissions between 24 and 35% without passing any new climate policies. Moreover, the assumptions behind these models remain unclear. For instance, to what extent do they rely on carbon capture’s promised results despite decades of failures? Are they underestimating the impact on pollution from fracking on public lands? 

The IRA is the product of painful compromise. It does not mandate emissions reductions. And it fails to threaten corporate polluters with heavy fines for poisoning communities and threatening the stability of our climate.

If it passes, we will keep pushing for stronger measures to secure a livable future and protect our planet. The type of bold, robust climate action that we need at all levels of government must aim higher. We can — and must — do more.

Help your friends make sense of this issue.

Cryptocurrency Is A Catastrophe For The Climate

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Climate and Energy

by Kat Ruane

Cryptocurrency has taken the digital world by storm, with a single Bitcoin costing $68,000 at its peak last November. Despite recent price drops, many in the industry argue that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren’t going anywhere.

This promise does not bode well for the climate.

Cryptocurrency creates emissions and electronic waste at massive scales, all while paying fossil fuel corporations to continue drilling and revive dying coal plants. At Food & Water Watch, we know that cryptocurrency is not the solution to the world’s problems. We cannot “build a utopia” on an industry that worsens the climate crisis. 

Cryptocurrency Needs Huge Amounts of Energy To Continue Growing

Cryptocurrency refers to digital currency, the most influential of which is Bitcoin. While Bitcoin makes up 44% of the market, there are thousands of crypto options to choose from. 

Bitcoin rose as a decentralized currency out of the distrust toward government and banks following the 2008 financial crisis. This is where cryptocurrency’s climate problems begin. Because there are no banks or governments overseeing transactions, the industry developed methods to ensure the security and validity of exchanges. The most popular of these methods, used by Bitcoin and most other coins, is proof of work

In proof of work, coins are rewarded to the first and fastest computer to solve a complex math equation. Over the years, as competition has grown, cryptocurrency “miners” have needed more and more powerful computers to accomplish this task. Massive data mining centers have sprung up to meet this demand. But crypto mining is an extremely energy-hungry process. Mining a single Bitcoin requires the equivalent of a household’s electricity use over 9 years.

Proof Of Work Chugs Out Emissions Comparable To Whole Countries

With such high electricity use comes high emissions. Research has found that proof of work incentivizes crypto miners to use as much power as possible. For crypto miners to get returns on investments or turn major profits, computers need to run 24/7. This kind of power consumption overextends the grid and emits at scales comparable to mid-sized countries. 

Bitcoin uses an estimated 200 terawatt-hours of energy annually, equivalent to Thailand’s energy consumption. This translates to about 100 megatons of carbon emissions per year, comparable to that of the Czech Republic. U.S. Bitcoin mining in 2020 alone emitted 40 billion pounds of CO2.

Crypto Mining Is Creating A New Electronic Waste Market

Electronic waste, or e-waste, refers to electronics like computers or phones that have reached the end of their useful life. Globally, 50 million tons of e-waste is thrown away annually, and only 20% is recycled properly. The rest is tossed into landfills or dismantled by hand by workers in low-income countries, at extreme risk to their health. 

We are now beginning to understand how much crypto mining contributes to this. Annually, miners generate e-waste equivalent to that of mid-sized countries. This is because proof of work mining computers, known as application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), cannot be reprogrammed and serve no other purpose. Once they reach the end of their useful life, they become e-waste. 

Additionally, computing power required for proof of work doubles every year and a half. These computers become obsolete within two years. One study estimated that at that rate, Bitcoin mining would produce 10,948 metric tons of e-waste each year. This averages out to 134.5 grams of e-waste per transaction, compared to negligible amounts per VISA transaction. 

Crypto Miners Are Teaming Up With Big Oil To Prop Up The Industry

In their never-ending search for cheap energy, miners have started going straight to the source: drill sites and power plants. At drill sites, Big Oil is capitalizing on flaring sell-offs. By flaring, oil drillers burn off excess natural gas that surfaces. They’d rather absorb the $1 billion annual loss than pay transportation and conversion costs. 

But now, with eager crypto miners waiting nearby, they don’t have to lose out. Miners park mobile trailers filled with ASICs next to these sites, paying the drillers handsomely to use the excess gas to fuel their operations.

Corporations like Exxon and ConocoPhillips are cashing in on the sell-offs, arguing it prevents flaring and therefore eliminates methane emissions. In reality, it only pads the pockets of Big Oil and incentivizes more extraction. Transferring emissions from one source to another will never solve what we know to be the root cause of climate change: drilling. 

Crypto miners are also helping to prop up fossil fuel plants across the country. They partner with floundering, broke coal plants to direct the polluting energy toward mining. After one such partnership in Pennsylvania, a single coal plant’s emissions rose from 12,000 tons in 2020 to 495,000 tons in 2021. 

We Need To Shut Down Big Oil’s Collaborators And Support Local Fights Against Crypto Mining 

It’s now clear that crypto miners are playing an oversized role in worsening the climate crisis. They’re pursuing profits at the expense of our planet and our future. For these reasons, Food & Water Watch does not accept cryptocurrency donations. We’re also joining the fight against crypto in New York, where communities are rallying for a moratorium on crypto mining collaborations with fossil fuel plants.

From New York and beyond, we won’t let the cryptocurrency industry mine our future for profit. And we won’t let corporations cling to another scheme to keep us hooked on fossil fuels. 

More people need to know about crypto’s climate consequences.

Thirsty Fossil Fuels: Potential for Huge Water Savings by Switching to Renewables

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PDFClimate and EnergyClean Water

As water resources across the United States experience historic stress
thanks to perpetual megadroughts and other climate change impacts, the unsustainable relationship between water and fossil fuel electricity
generation is even more apparent. While all forms of energy production require water at some point in their life cycle, fossil fuels use an exorbitant amount compared to renewables such as wind and solar.

This underscores the need for a swift transition to a renewable electricity grid, which can cut lifecycle water use by up to 99 percent.

Food & Water Watch found:
  • If California replaced fossil fuel and nuclear electricity production with 100 percent renewable energy sources like solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind, the state could save 82 million cubic meters of water annually. This is a 98 percent reduction from current levels consumed for fossil fuel and nuclear electrical generation.
  • Similarly, California’s water withdrawals could be reduced by over 99 percent while producing the same amount of energy — amounting to nearly 6.3 billion cubic meters of water. That is equivalent to 2.5 million Olympic swimming pools of water.
  • Similar water savings are possible at the national level, with more than a 99 percent decrease in water consumption and withdrawal by replacing fossil fuels and nuclear with wind and solar PV.
  • Nationally, over two-thirds of water used in electrical generation for cooling comes from freshwater sources. Shifting to 100 percent renewable energy would free up enormous amounts of freshwater for truly beneficial purposes.

We’re Shipping Fracked Gas Abroad, Killing Our Wallets and Our Planet

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Climate and Energy

by Mia DiFelice

With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we are yet again reminded of the dangers posed by our dependence on fossil fuels. Companies and countries too easily manipulate the market for profit and political gain.

Following new European sanctions against Russia, American fracked gas companies were only too happy to take advantage of the crisis. They’re touting fracked gas as an alternative to Russian fossil fuels. But if allowed to continue, the industry will lock in huge profits — as well as a supercharged trans-Atlantic fossil fuel trade and continued U.S. and EU dependency on fossil fuels. 

To export fracked gas, companies liquefy it and ship it overseas — such gas is known as liquefied natural gas (LNG). America began exporting LNG thanks to the glut of gas brought by the fracking boom, starting about eight years ago. In that time, the U.S. has gone from importing gas to, this year, becoming the largest LNG exporter in the world. We cannot allow this growth to continue.

Fracked Gas Companies Plan To Profit While Prices Hurt Families

At the moment, global prices for LNG are nine times more than they were just two years ago. Those prices, in energy terms, are comparable to a $200 barrel of oil. (Even now, with oil prices in the news daily, a barrel of crude has hovered around $100.) The new demand from Europe disrupted fracked gas markets, and prices rose as more competitors vie for supplies. 

That includes prices here in the U.S. The growth of LNG exports caused the soaring home heating prices that slammed low-income families last winter. In June 2022, an explosion at a Texas LNG export facility took 20% of U.S. export capacity offline. The result: market prices for fracked gas dropped in just a few hours. The explosion stopped exports that would have gone abroad. That unexpected supply flooded U.S. markets, and U.S. prices fell. Exporting domestic supply to the highest bidder has clear impacts on our energy costs at home.

The growing export industry has allowed U.S. LNG companies to pull in millions of excess profits from these high prices. In 2022’s first quarter, four of the biggest gas companies reported growing sales, profits and stock buybacks. This year, Cheniere, America’s largest LNG company, reported double the revenues compared to last year.

At the same time, exporters are using the crisis in Europe as an opportunity to build out infrastructure on our shores. In February, Cheniere’s CEO said to investors, “…the fact that there’s a scarcity of LNG these days is driving more and more conversation on how to increase our infrastructure and secure monthly contracts for our European customers.” 

Yet, these new export terminals won’t help Europe much when there isn’t enough infrastructure there to move fracked gas. On top of that, a May report by E3G found that the EU’s energy sector can transition off Russian gas by 2025 without the need for any new LNG infrastructure. Renewables are the clear winner when it comes to securing energy security.

Fracked Gas Presents Terminal Health Risks To People And Planet

LNG isn’t nearly as climate-friendly as its proponents want us to believe. LNG exports require liquifying, regasifying and transporting processes, which are energy-intensive and create more pollution. Plus, LNG creates pressure in the tanks it’s stored in, making it necessary to vent some gas. The resulting leaks make LNG more damaging for the climate than coal. The emissions of all these processes nearly equal that of burning the gas itself — in other words, exported LNG has double the climate impact of fracked gas used domestically. 

Fracked gas infrastructure also comes with a host of health and safety risks for nearby communities. Every step of the supply chain, from drilling, to pipelines, to transport, comes with risks of explosion. Between 2010 and 2019, our government recorded 1,226 gas pipeline safety incidents, including fires and explosions. These incidents killed 25 people, injured 108 and caused $1.3 billion in damages. But only 5% of fracked gas pipelines must report incidents. The number of casualties is surely higher. 

One region threatened by proposed new LNG infrastructure is the Gulf coast. The projects there are set to decimate wildlife habitats, desecrate Indigenous historical sites and disproportionately impact marginalized communities with toxic pollution. This pollution can create smog, cause asthma and damage lungs. The risks are disproportionately borne by people of color. 

Fracked Gas Exports: No Quick Fixes, Only Long-Term Consequences

Anything corporations do to expand LNG today will not change prices or stop shortages in the months to come. In fact, pipelines and export facilities take years to come online.

The industry shows its hand as it pursues long-term contracts. This isn’t about helping other countries in a short-term crisis — it’s about locking in decades of business at the expense of marginalized communities and planetary wellbeing.

Any investment in expanding fossil fuels is wildly out of step with the current science on climate change. Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made clear that any such expansion “will rob us of our last chance to avert climate chaos.” 

And LNG infrastructure is no minor investment. A single export plant costs billions to build. If the industry has its way, the U.S. risks squandering enormous sums on a market that will likely dry up in a few years. The future of LNG is clear — billions wasted on stranded assets and ever more dependence on climate-wrecking fossil fuels. 

We already have the tools to face down climate change. The Future Generations Protections Act will stop fracked gas exports, among a host of other climate-saving measures. If we are to secure a brighter, greener future, we have to stop LNG exports now.

Tell Congress to support the Future Generations Protect Act.

Newsom Takes One Step Forward, Two Steps Back On Climate Action

Categories

Climate and Energy

 For Immediate Release

Sacramento, CA – In a letter to California Air Resource Board (CARB) Chair Liane Randolph Governor Gavin Newsom announced a $54 billion investment into initiatives to fight climate change. His policy announcements, however, fell flat among environmentalists who critiqued the governor’s emphasis on carbon capture technology and endorsement of a 2045 carbon neutrality goalpost. 

His announcements highlighted investments in offshore wind power, building electrification, and an explicit desire to see no new gas plants in CARB’s Scoping Plan, but fell short of what over 150 organizations called for in a letter to Newsom and CARB last month. Newsom also touted the need for industrial carbon capture — a move sharply criticized by environmental and climate justice advocates. 

In response, Food & Water Watch Acting California Director Mark Schlosberg released this statement:

“Governor Newsom takes one step forward and two steps back with this letter. Investments in clean energy and community resilience are absolutely critical to California’s future, but industrial carbon capture threatens any progress we make. Carbon capture is a favorite solution of the fossil fuel industry because it gives them license to keep business as usual. If Newsom really wants to ‘meet the moment’ of the climate crisis and exert California’s national climate leadership, he must instruct CARB to reject all false solutions like carbon capture and phase out fossil fuels by 2030. California and the nation need real climate leadership from Governor Newsom.”

###

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

Allegheny County Overrides Executive Veto and Bans Fracking in Parks

Categories

Climate and Energy

After a whirlwind month of meetings, hundreds of public comments and thousands of petition signatures, Allegheny County Council cast a historic vote tonight to ban new fracking leases in all county parks. The 12-3 vote overrode the county executive’s earlier veto of the bill (Bill No. 12162-22).

“This is a remarkable victory, as it represents the first county-wide anti-fracking action in Pennsylvania history. This common-sense law will help ensure that our county parks, encompassing 12,000 acres across 12 distinct watersheds, will be protected for generations to come,” said Food & Water Watch Senior Organizer Robin Lesko.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald signed the veto to the bill on July 6th, but chose to have his staff deliver the veto after the final County Council meeting on July 12th before summer recess, forcing a special meeting to be called to hold a veto override vote.

“Despite our County Executive trying to keep us beholden to the fossil fuel industry with his veto, we have voted in favor of clean air, water, and the safety of our community and environment,” said Councilmember Bethany Hallam. 

Bethany Hallam, County Council Member at Large, re-introduced the legislation in January 2022, and it was reassigned to the Committee on Green and Sustainability Initiatives, chaired by Council Member, Anita Prizio.

The law will prohibit all surface and subsurface leases in eight of the nine county parks. The ninth, Deer Lakes Park, was leased to fracking in 2014 over vocal public concern. In the years since, researchers at Duquesne have identified fracking-related pollution in the park’s water.

After gaining four co-sponsors (Olivia Bennett, Anita Prizio, Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis, and Jack Betkowski) Hallam worked with community groups to mobilize popular support for the bill.

“This is a hard-fought victory for Allegheny County’s parks and all of us who enjoy them,” said Zachary Barber, the clean air advocate with PennEnvironment. “Today’s vote is a testament to almost a decade of tireless work by Allegheny County parks lovers. Rather than give up after the fracking of Deer Lakes, local residents grabbed their clipboards, laced up their walking shoes, and organized.”

The discussion of banning fracking began in 2013 when grassroots organization Protect Our Parks collected 2,000 signatures in support of a moratorium on fracking in Allegheny County. County Council defeated that measure in 2014 and leased Deer Lakes Park to Range Resources. 

“Today we close a chapter on what was started so many years ago— we’ve gained so many friends and lost a few along the way, and today’s victory is in their memory,” said Dianne Peterson of Protect Our Parks.

Why Food & Water Watch Works: Victory for GasFreeNYC

Categories

Climate and Energy

by Mia DiFelice

In New York, buildings are the top emitters of greenhouse gasses. Real estate moguls and Big Oil and Gas have spent big to keep it that way. But in 2021, Food & Water Watch joined local organizations to fight for a ban on gas hookups in new construction. We had 10 months to pull it off.

Here’s how we did it.

Choosing The Right Target

Then-Mayor Bill DeBlasio supported the ban, which was helpful politically. But what really mattered was getting the City Council on board, because that’s where the ban would be passed. Food & Water Watch joined New York Communities for Change (NYCC), NYPIRG and WE ACT for Environmental Justice in the #GasFreeNYC coalition. Together, we went to work. 

GasFreeNYC’s strategy focused on key decision-makers who had the most power to get a gas ban on the books. In New York City, the City Council Speaker is crucial to introduce and move bills through the Council. At the time, that was Council Member Corey Johnson, who was coincidentally running for city-wide office as comptroller. The first step was getting the speaker to allow the bill to be introduced. The coalition gathered volunteers for a huge call-in campaign to his office, funneling more than 100 calls in one day. It worked — Johnson introduced the gas ban bill in City Council.

Next, as Johnson campaigned for comptroller, FWW and our allies began showing up at his events. For instance, we held a rally in front of the Rockefeller Center as the comptroller electoral debate took place inside. 

When we still didn’t have Johnson’s commitment on the bill, we turned to other council members. GasFreeNYC mobilized constituents to contact their council members again and again, racking up cosponsors on the bill. We held “street lobby” days, speaking with members on sidewalks as they headed into Council meetings. We even held a die-in outside City Hall to mourn those who died from flooding during Hurricane Ida — yet another storm supercharged by climate change. The result of all this organizing: more than 20 council members cosponsored the bill by mid-September. By the end of the month, Johnson stated publicly that he supported the bill. 

Getting The Ban On The Books

Now, GasFreeNYC had to fight for a public hearing. Without a public hearing, the bill would fade, but with a hearing, it would almost surely pass. We needed to convince the Council’s Environmental Committee Chair to schedule the hearing. Chair Jim Gennaro’s election to City Council was supported by significant contributions from the real estate industry, which opposed the bill. Needless to say, Gennaro was a hard sell.

After two months of pressing the council member, though, a flip switched. While we can’t know for certain why he changed his mind, it’s clear that the bill would not have passed without the support of the Mayor, the Speaker and thousands of mobilized constituents.

Getting to the public hearing was one of the most important steps in the fight, and GasFreeNYC didn’t hold back. Before the hearing, over 100 supporters and elected officials gathered at a virtual rally. Then, five-hours-worth of testimony from GasFreeNYC activists, industry professionals and everyday residents brought the bill to final negotiations. 

Finally, all parties met at the negotiating table. 

Staying The Course In The Homestretch

FWW has a long history of pushing political boundaries and steadfastly sticking to its positions. It’s a bold strategy that few other national environmental organizations have used, but it’s won us vital victories — perhaps most notably, New York’s fracking ban. 

On the gas ban campaign, that strategy worked once again. We stopped eleventh-hour loopholes pushed by opponents. All the months of organizing proved to council members that GasFreeNYC’s line had public attention and power. They knew that if GasFreeNYC wasn’t happy with the final bill, it wouldn’t pass. 

At the council’s final meeting of the session, Food & Water Watch and the GasFreeNYC coalition won a gas-hookup ban for all new construction and retrofits. That ban means 2,000 new buildings per year will be fossil fuel free. 

Why We Won

The GasFreeNYC campaign worked because it represented the communities at stake. Local activists and residents of color were integral to the fight. We also centered housing and justice issues in the conversation. The arguments and members of the Coalition showed that this was a movement of everyday New Yorkers, not elites or outsiders.

Additionally, activists and residents were committed to people power. They showed up at rallies, protests and events. That showed council members how important this issue was to voters, and it garnered media attention that propelled the movement further. 

As a large organization with its own base in different states, FWW prioritizes organizations on the ground. It leverages its national donor base and its resources, while centering the voices of those closest to the issue. In NYC, this meant contributing organizers and a large group of activists with long histories of fighting fossil fuel interests in New York, through pipeline and power plant projects, all the way back to the original ban on fracking. 

GasFreeNYC showed the power of real grassroots organizing — Food & Water Watch’s bread and butter. No amount of behind-the-scenes lobbying or dark money donations could win against constituents demanding change, en masse, from the representatives they elected. 

We win with help from supporters like you.

After Today’s Inadequate Actions, Biden Must Declare Climate Emergency, Ban Crude Oil Exports and Halt New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure

Categories

Climate and Energy

Washington, D.C. – Today President Biden is expected to announce a slate of modest climate measures, including awarding new weather resiliency funds through FEMA and issuing new guidance for a home energy assistance program. Under federal law, the declaration of a climate emergency would give Biden immediate authority to take numerous larger measures, including reinstating a ban on crude oil exports and suspending offshore oil and gas drilling.

In response, Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter issued the following statement:

“In the midst of shocking and unprecedented heat waves, wildfires and drought in America, Europe and across the globe, President Biden has failed to meaningfully act on climate. Evidence from the last decade clearly shows that promoting cleaner energy while still advancing new fossil fuel projects will not reduce climate pollution.

The science is clear: To maintain reasonable hope of achieving a livable planet for future generations, we must halt new fossil fuel development now. Biden must declare a climate emergency, ban crude oil exports and halt new fossil fuel infrastructure, including pipelines and export terminals. The clock is rapidly ticking towards inevitable, irreversible climate catastrophe. There is no more time to lose.”

Contact: Seth Gladstone – [email protected]

After Manchin Kills Climate Deal, Biden Must Declare Climate Emergency and Halt New Fossil Fuel Development

Categories

Climate and Energy

News broke last night that Senator Joe Manchin has effectively terminated the possibility of Congress passing a budget reconciliation bill that includes any action on climate and clean energy.

In response, Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter issued the following statement:

“With coal baron Joe Manchin’s despicable but unsurprising decision to prevent even meager action from Congress on climate and clean energy, the urgent need for President Biden to step up and act decisively has risen to a crisis pitch. Since the Senate won’t act, Biden must take matters into his own hands by declaring a climate emergency and immediately moving to halt new drilling and fracking on federal lands and waters, and denying the approval of new fossil fuel pipelines and infrastructure projects. Biden has the power to do all this now, and for the sake of a livable future, he must.

“If there is a silver lining to the death of any climate deal in the budget reconciliation package, it’s that the billions of dollars in proposed spending on harmful false solutions like carbon capture and storage will not come to fruition – at least for now. These sorts of schemes, perpetuated by the fossil fuel industry and unsurprisingly supported by Senator Manchin, serve only to extend a taxpayer-funded lifeline to polluting, climate-killing coal, oil and gas operations.”

Contact: Seth Gladstone – [email protected]

After WV v. EPA: 5 Ways We Keep Fighting For The Climate

Categories

Climate and Energy

by Mark Schlosberg and Tarah Heinzen

Last week, the Supreme Court rounded out a term full of extremist rulings with West Virginia v. EPA. The court ruled that the EPA can’t mandate an energy sector transition from coal power to less polluting energy sources. This gift to the fossil fuel industry is a major blow to federal efforts to address the climate crisis. But we can’t let the corporatist Supreme Court push us over the climate cliff. Instead, we need to redouble our efforts. There is still so much we can do — at the federal level, in the courts and in states and municipalities across the country.  

Here are five ways we can fight for and win a livable planet: 
1. Pressure Our Other Branches Of Government Toward Climate Action

WV v. EPA pulled one tool from the EPA’s toolbox, but President Biden and his agencies still have plenty of options. Biden could declare a climate emergency, allowing him to, among other things, halt fossil fuel exports. He and his agencies could also stop approving new fossil fuel projects and new drilling on federal lands. They could stop advocating for industry scams like carbon capture, which will prolong our fossil fuel dependence. And Biden could use his bully pulpit to rally governors, state and local officials and heads of state toward bold climate action. 

Even after the Supreme Court’s decision, the EPA can still take meaningful action. It can adopt rules that will ratchet down climate pollution at fossil fuel plants. It can target other dangerous co-pollutants, leading to reduced climate pollution as well. And, while WV v. EPA focused on Section 111 of the Clean Air Act, the EPA can use Section 112 to classify carbon emissions as hazardous. This would open doors to further regulation. Food & Water Watch filed a petition calling on the EPA to do just this in 2019. 

Meanwhile, Congress still has the power to act decisively. We need to continue to work with and cultivate climate champions within Congress. Those champions can pass legislation that will confront the fossil fuel industry, stop fracking, ban fossil fuel exports and advance our transition to renewable energy.

2. Continue Taking The Fossil Fuel Industry To Court

Despite WV v. EPA, we have other options for holding our government and fossil fuel interests accountable in court. By law, agencies like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission must consider the environmental impacts of projects like pipelines before approving them. These impacts cover climate change, air pollution and environmental justice. If FERC fails to fully consider them, courts can — and do — strike down approvals as unlawful. This can delay and sometimes kill projects altogether. 

Litigation is also key to adopting and protecting a wide range of Biden administration rules, including rules to strengthen these environmental reviews. Proposed rules could restore states’ rights to block infrastructure projects that will harm their environment. They could also require climate change disclosures and stop oil and gas leasing. 

With our allies, Food & Water Watch is on the front lines of these legal fights. We’re holding fossil fuel companies accountable in court for violating existing laws. We’re also pushing the federal government to finally start accounting for climate change and stop greenlighting polluting projects. All of this work helps to stop fossil fuel companies from locking us into decades more climate emissions. 

3. Organize For Aggressive Action At The State And Local Level

Beyond federal action, we have many options for action at the state and local level. For example, California is currently considering its near-term climate plans. As the fifth-largest economy in the world, the Golden State has a huge influence on the future of our climate. 

Food & Water Watch and over 150 of our allies recently submitted comments calling on Governor Newsom and the California Air Resources Board to chart a bold path. That includes a rapid transition off oil and onto 100% renewables, as well as a ban on all new oil drilling and gas infrastructure.

From Pennsylvania to Iowa, Oregon to Florida, we’re working with communities against fracking and factory farms, pipelines and power plants. We know firsthand that when communities organize and come together, we can win real change. 

4. Expose The Illegitimacy Of Today’s Reactionary Supreme Court And Fight For Court Reform 

The rightwing supermajority on the Supreme Court is the result of years of organizing by the Federalist Society and rightwing activists. The Court is now executing its reactionary agenda in a way that undermines environmental protections, civil liberties and ultimately, our democracy.

It’s no coincidence that five members of this majority were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote in their elections. This majority has advanced deregulatory and dangerous agendas, while straying further from public opinion. On top of that, this fall, the Court will hear a case that could take away the people’s power to decide elections. Instead, it could place that power in the hands of state legislatures. Election protections and accountability have never been more important.

Our elected leaders cannot just accept this rightwing hijacking of the judiciary. Instead, they must fight back with every tool at their disposal. This means publicly attacking the legitimacy of these decisions. It means pushing to restore balance by expanding the number of justices on the Court. Food & Water Watch has joined coalition efforts to reform the Court. This must be a priority if we are to preserve our democracy.

5. Vote Like We Live Here

Finally, we need more people engaged in elections at the local, state and federal level. People need to register to vote and engage their friends, family, and neighbors — especially those who haven’t voted before. We need to generate a massive turnout at the ballot this November and at every ballot moving forward. 

To beat back the avalanche of corporate money shaping the courts and controlling legislatures, we need an overwhelming show of people power. We can’t win alone. It’s going to take all of us fighting like we live here to win the livable climate and just society we all want and need. 

The fight is far from over. Help us spread the word!

Biden Mustn’t Cave to Bad Actor Manchin on Dangerous Fossil Fuel Projects

Categories

Climate and Energy

Reporting indicates that the Biden administration, in the hopes of winning over Senator Joe Manchin on support for a budget reconciliation spending bill, is considering approving several highly controversial fossil fuel projects, including the Mountain Valley Pipeline, new LNG export facilities, and new drilling/fracking projects in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico and other federal lands and waters.

In response, Food & Water Watch Managing Director of Policy Mitch Jones issued the following statement: 

“The fact that President Biden, who came to office with a pledge to halt new fossil fuel development on public lands and waters, would even consider approving dangerous new drilling, fracking and pipeline construction at this perilous time for our climate future is alarming. The science is clear: To maintain reasonable hope of achieving a livable planet for future generations, we must halt new fossil fuel development now. Modest tax breaks for cleaner energy technologies simply won’t do the job by themselves.

“There is abundant evidence that incentivizing cleaner energy technology while also advancing new dirty energy projects does not reduce climate pollution. This has been the strategy over the past decade, and it has been an abysmal failure. 

“The fact that Biden is considering a preemptive give-away to Sen. Manchin is even more alarming. Manchin has proven time and time again to be a bad actor at the negotiating table. There is no reason to believe he has any intention of making any sort of deal on clean energy – even the very modest one the administration is proposing. 

“Years ago the Obama administration foolishly encouraged the lifting of a ban on crude oil exports, causing a spike in drilling, fracking and climate pollution for a temporary extension of modest clean energy tax credits. Biden must not make the same dangerous mistake.”

Contact: Seth Gladstone – [email protected]

Big Oil’s Bet On Plastic Is Gambling With Our Future

Categories

Climate and Energy

CC BY 2.0, Dying Regime / Flickr
by Mia DiFelice
Editor’s Note: A version of this article originally appeared on Food & Water Action’s website (our affiliated organization) at an earlier date.

Although we have a long fight ahead of us to transition off fossil fuels, the tide is turning. Consumers around the world are demanding greener power and more action on climate change. 

Big Oil has read the writing on the wall and has added a new tool to its arsenal — plastics. While public opinion turns against dirty energy, corporations are pushing petrochemicals to keep us hooked on fossil fuels.

Big Oil Is Betting Billions On Plastic

In the 2010s, the fracking boom created such a glut of natural gas that the industry scrambled to find new markets for it. Petrochemical companies were happy to step in. Ethane, a main raw material in many plastics, has doubled production in the U.S. from 2013 to 2021. Desperate to offload the surplus, U.S. companies send it around the world, often at bargain-bin prices. Ethane exported from the U.S. has gone from nonexistent to 300,000 barrels a day. The result — an explosion of plastic. Now, experts expect plastic production and consumption to triple by 2060.

The construction planned to expand the industry needs to stay in the blueprints. From cracker plants to pipelines, this infrastructure is expensive and dangerous. If all the planned projects are completed, emissions from plastics will double by 2050. These projects include 350 chemical plants that would introduce health risks to nearby communities. But since 2010, petrochemical companies have already spent $200 billion to expand plastics manufacturing infrastructure. 

At the same time, public opinion is getting hip to our plastic problem. Cities and states across America are banning certain kinds of single-use plastic. On a global level, Canada, India, France, and many other countries have placed their own bans just this year. Such measures predict shifting prices and future failure. Big Oil’s bet on the industry will entrench billions of dollars into infrastructure that will likely become unprofitable in a few years. 

Plastic Pose Growing Public Health Problems

If allowed to grow, the plastics industry stands to harm our families and communities in so many ways. For one, plastics release toxic chemicals all throughout their life cycle. From volatile organic compounds emitted during fracking, to heavy metals released during recycling, we absorb these toxins by breathing, eating or simply touching them.

Then, there are the pipelines. To make plastics, companies first extract ethane from natural gas liquids. Moving those NGLs requires miles of new pipelines. But NGLs are volatile and flammable, meaning pipelines have a host of health, safety and environmental risks. Yet, most of these lines aren’t regulated, sited or permitted by the federal government. Many states don’t step in, so miles and miles of hazardous pipelines have no oversight at all.

On top of that, the petrochemical industry has a long history of environmental racism. Companies have often cited polluting plants near low-income communities and communities of color. In Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley,” dozens of petrochemical plants dapple the shores of the Mississippi for 80 miles. The emissions from those plants rain yellow droplets of pollution and kill birds mid-flight. The mostly black and brown residents in the region have some of the greatest risks for cancer in the country.

Despite What Big Oil Tells Us, Recycling Doesn’t Work

For decades, petrochemical companies — often owned by the same oil and gas giants — touted ad campaigns (to the tune of $50 million a year) to keep us buying more plastic. They funded projects and created regulations, signaling that we could solve our plastic problem with some blue bins. But most of what we throw in those blue bins will never see a recycling facility. Only 1 in 10 plastics made from 1950 to 2015 have been recycled. In 2021, that number dropped to 1 in 20. 

Even the plastics that make it to a recycling center can’t be properly recycled. Instead, they’re downcycled, or turned into a lower-quality plastic. After that, they can only be downcycled once or twice more before they have to be tossed into a landfill. 

The newest flavor of the recycling myth goes by “advanced recycling,” which uses chemicals and high heat to break down plastics. The process, which is expensive and emissions-intensive, usually just results in a low-grade fossil fuel. Advanced recycling actually creates more greenhouse gasses than sending the plastic to a landfill or incinerating it. 

Yet, the plastics industry has pushed several states to loosen advanced recycling regulations, or even subsidize them. Taxpayers are funding Big Oil’s schemes to make plastic socially acceptable — when in fact, they’ll just create more problems and worsen climate change. 

We Can’t Let Big Oil Get Away With Plastics

Plastics are a danger to human health and climate. While they have a few important uses, Big Oil is pushing way more plastic than we need. The lie of consumer demand needs to be unraveled. In reality, packaging makes up 40% of produced plastics — which consumers have little say in.

The more Big Oil builds out its infrastructure and floods the market with plastics, the bigger the problem becomes. 

We can stop them in their tracks, starting with:

  1. Banning single-use plastics. These include water bottles, packaging and utensils, and they make up most of plastic waste. They end up in landfills, incinerators and our waterways. Like all plastics, they break down into microplastics, where they move much more easily and stealthily. Now, we find plastic in our sea salt, seafood, beer, honey, sugar and so much more.
  2. Banning fracking and new petrochemical facilities. We’ve known for years that fracking does irreparable damage to our environment and our communities. Petrochemical facilities are just as harmful. They’re also feeding the plastic problem, and stand to make it much, much worse. 

We need all hands on deck to stop Big Oil’s Plan B.

Fitzgerald’s Fracking Ban Veto: Disappointing but Not Surprising

Categories

Climate and Energy

As expected, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald vetoed Bill No. 12162-22, a measure that would prohibit all surface and subsurface leases in eight of the nine county parks. 

“Rich Fitzgerald’s veto was not a surprise, but it is still disappointing,” said Food & Water Watch organizer Robin Martin. “Fitzgerald’s explanation for his veto is confusing, but what it tells us is that he is committed to standing in the way of those of us who want to protect our county from the dangers of fracking. Thankfully, the community leaders who worked so hard to build support for this ban, and the lawmakers who championed it alongside us, are not backing down.” 

“Allegheny County Council did the right thing in listening to their constituents and casting a historic vote to protect county parks.  We’ve come too far, and the stakes are too high, to stop now,” said PennEnvironment Clean Air Advocate Zachary Barber. “It’s time for Council to do to cement this bill into law.”

The measure passed in a lopsided 11-4 County Council vote on July 5, which is one vote more than the minimum needed to override the veto, and lawmakers have vowed to vote to override the veto during a special meeting held sometime this summer.

“Rich Fitzgerald has shown once again that he is on the side of industry, rather than the community. Not one person who has contacted me from any district has asked that we frack our parks– all have told me to ban fracking any way possible. All we keep hearing are excuses to have profits remain the priority over people’s health, safety, and welfare. My colleagues and I are dedicated to returning any special meetings called by President Catena for a veto override vote, and to vote yes (again) for this bill,” said Allegheny County Councilmember Bethany Hallam.  

Hallam added: “I didn’t introduce this bill because I thought it would be easy; I introduced it because this is the right thing to do. We knew all along that the only way to protect our parks would be to overcome the executive’s veto, and fortunately the overwhelming support of Allegheny County residents has put us in position to do just that. I intend to do whatever it takes to preserve our beloved parks.” 

Drilling Won’t Lower Gas Prices. Here’s What Will.

Categories

Climate and Energy

by Mia DiFelice
Editor’s Note: A version of this content originally appeared on Food & Water Action’s website (our affiliated organization) at an earlier date.

It’s the hallmark experience of summer 2022. You’re rolling down your local street, heat waves shimmering off the asphalt, breeze blowing through open car windows. But when you stop at the light, an impossible number catches your eye. Huge and stark, the sign proclaims “REGULAR: $4.95.” It was $4.70 just last week!

Gas prices have been rising for months. Experts first pointed to an unexpected, rapid demand as global COVID lockdowns lifted. Oil and gas corporations saw bankruptcies and negative gas prices in the worst months of the pandemic. But rather than respond to returned demand, industry titans doubled down on profits.

When Russia invaded Ukraine, countries around the world began sanctioning Russian oil. Eye-watering gas prices have piled onto a seemingly endless list of crises and pain points for consumers. 

So of course, gas has become a political tool that Republicans use to condemn the climate policies of the Biden administration. Pointing at the president is a convenient pretense as they defend the interests of fossil fuel corporations.

But media coverage of gas prices swings between incomplete, misleading and downright false. The truth is, gas prices have little to do with White House decisions, and there are few quick fixes.

Consumers — especially the most vulnerable — need relief. But that won’t come from more drilling, as many politicians are demanding. In fact, more drilling would keep us at the mercy of future oil shocks. And it would attach our economic and environmental health to an industry with a long history of volatility and corporate greed.

Let’s break it down. 

White hand pumps gas into a white car.

More Drilling Is Not A Quick Fix For Gas Prices

Citing economic principles of supply and demand, political pundits call for Biden to increase the U.S. oil supply — that is, to drill more. We need more gas than we’ve got, the logic goes. Prices have risen. If supply grows to meet demand, prices will drop.

This argument misses key facts. First, Biden is not blocking the flow of American oil. In fact, he’s opened the tap more than Trump. The current administration issued more than 3,500 drilling permits in 2020 alone; that’s a third more than during Trump’s first year. And under Biden, U.S. oil production has grown from 9.7 million barrels a day to 11.6 million.

Yet oil and gas corporations are staying away from new drilling projects. Currently, 4,400 approved and drilled wells have yet to produce oil. Oil and gas executives show no sign of ramping up production. 

High Gas Prices Are A Boon For Investors

Oil executives themselves have revealed the reason for their inaction — profits. The oil and gas industry is seeing record cash flow. In the first quarter of 2022, the five biggest fossil fuel companies made their highest profits in more than a decade. Last year, four major companies (Shell, BP, Chevron and Exxon) made $75 billion. 

Their investors are demanding more of that windfall. So, instead of investing record profits in more drilling infrastructure, oil corporations are sending money back to investors through stock buybacks and payouts. In a March poll, 59% of oil executives admitted that investor pressure for profit, not government regulation, is the real reason they’re not drilling.

But blabber about drilling misses the mark. And it’s not like we usually use lots of Russian oil that we’re now missing. Of all the petroleum products used in the U.S. in the last decade, only 2% were Russian imports. So how do Russian sanctions affect U.S. gas prices?

The Oil Market Is A Complex Rollercoaster

Oil is a global market, which means prices are set by global supply and demand. The market could be rocked by tons of factors outside of U.S. control. Factors like natural disasters near production centers, the whims of oil-producing states and war. Such events create uncertainty about the future of supply and demand, which leads to more volatile prices. On top of that, speculators and their fleet of AI routinely bet on the future of the oil market. When prices go up, investors see dollar signs — and the more money they put down, the higher prices fly. 

In 2021, the U.S. exported more oil than it imported for the first time. Our crude oil production is soaring to record highs. Yet the price we pay for oil has still fluctuated wildly over the past few years. We are still vulnerable to oil price shocks.

The additional drilling pundits have proposed are a drop in the bucket of global supply. Far more influential are international disasters that clog supply chains, worry investors and prevent new development. Domestic production won’t insulate the U.S. from the global oil market. In fact, if more of our economy ran on fossil fuels, it would make us even more vulnerable to turbulent markets.

Price Controls and Renewables Are Real Solutions to Rising Gas Prices 

In the short-term, our government can help consumers with two tools. First, price controls would keep gas prices low, especially for those who need it most. Our country’s dirty oil addiction should not hurt workers and families. Second, we need an export ban on gasoline and other fuels. Despite the current crisis, U.S. exports on gasoline and diesel are nearing record-highs. With such exports, corporations send our domestic supply to the highest bidder. This ramps up market prices for everyone — including those of us who depend on gas for daily life and work.

Looking ahead, we need long-term solutions that will get us off the oil market rollercoaster. That means ramping up renewable energy. Renewables will insulate us from global oil shocks much more than domestic drilling ever could. But we have to pick up the pace of development while stopping new oil and gas. Our infrastructure and investment decisions today will have ripple effects for decades. More drilling won’t help struggling Americans tomorrow or even this year — but it will lock us into a future of dangerous emissions, climate disasters and high prices. 

Help us fight misinformation on gas prices.

This Climate Case Confirms: The Supreme Court Is On A Dark Path

Categories

Climate and Energy

by Mia DiFelice and Angie Aker

Since the 1970s, the Clean Air Act has protected us from a host of environmental pollutants. Does the Clean Air Act allow the EPA to create rules that reduce carbon emissions from power plants? It’s an easy “Yes!” for most of us, which is why the EPA announced the Clean Power Plan to transition away from dirty power plants in 2015. But it’s a resounding “No” from an industry that prefers to run unchecked. That’s why a group of attorneys general sued over it, and the Supreme Court shelved the Plan before it could even go into effect. 

This June, the Supreme Court issued a decision in West Virginia v. EPA. The case took on the never implemented and now irrelevant Clean Power Plan. The Court ruled that the EPA cannot use the Clean Air Act to regulate power plants’ climate emissions by mandating an industry transition to cleaner energy. In its ruling, the conservative supermajority on the bench has yet again shown their hand. These activist justices are using their position to push corporate interests, while eliminating a vital tool against climate change.

The Court’s Decision Is A Threat to Climate Action

Laws like the Clean Air Act are intentionally broad to allow expert agency regulators to adapt to new issues and tackle new problems. This is especially important for issues like pollution and, of course, climate change. Our recent history has made it clear — climate action is now too urgent to wait on action from a gridlocked Congress. 

The fight for sweeping climate action is far from over, but WV v. EPA will make such action all the harder. The ruling endangers the Biden administration’s goal to decarbonize U.S. electricity by 2035. This is especially concerning because power plants are our second largest source of climate pollution. On top of that, our largest emitter, transportation, can only decarbonize if we have the clean electricity to power it. This decision makes emissions regulations — as well as other, future environmental regulations — all the more vulnerable to judicial overreach.

“The court appoints itself — instead of Congress or the expert agency — the decision maker on climate policy.

I cannot think of many things more frightening.” 

— Justice Elena Kagan in her dissenting opinion.

We Have Major Questions About The Court’s Logic

The Court justified its decision by relying on the so-called “major questions doctrine.” This doctrine suggests that regulations are invalid if they address “major” political and economic issues and Congress has not explicitly told agencies how to act. By relying on this doctrine, the Court’s decision in WV v. EPA signals that future EPA rules — and actions from any other agency — are at risk.

But the major questions doctrine has a murky history and a supreme lack of logic. It flies in the face of so-called “textualism,” which conservative judges have relied on for decades to justify strict readings of statutes. This framework for interpreting law focuses on the text of the law itself. But as Justice Elena Kagan wrote in her dissenting opinion on WV v. EPA, “The current court is textualist only when being so suits it. When that method would frustrate broader goals, special canons like the ‘major questions doctrine’ magically appear as get-out-of-text-free cards.”

The doctrine also lacks any kind of test or threshold. And since the Court has not agreed on what counts as a “major question,” legal scholars point out that anything can be a major question if the justices on the bench deem it so. In short, the doctrine is a judicial power grab, encroaching on both Congress and the Executive branch. It threatens agencies’ ability to do their jobs — that is, implementing our most important laws.

Conservatives Captured The Court, And They Won’t Let Go Anytime Soon

For decades, conservative groups and funders — many backed by fossil fuel money — have worked to transform our judicial landscape. The same groups and funders supported the attorney generals suing in WV v. EPA; the campaigns that helped nominate and confirm five of SCOTUS’s current conservative supermajority; and dozens of other federal cases against climate policies. 

One such group is the Federalist Society, a national radical rightwing legal organization. All of the Republican-nominated justices on the bench have been either members of the Federalist Society or endorsed by it. The Society is funded by the likes of Chevron, Koch Industries and an array of conservative billionaires. Likewise, WV v. EPA was supported by the Republican Attorneys General Association, which is funded by our country’s biggest fossil fuel companies and coal executives.

WV v. EPA is the latest in a string of Supreme Court decisions from the Republican-nominated majority on the bench. These decisions quash Constitutional rights, public health and safety measures and decades-old precedents. WV v. EPA is part of the same antidemocratic judicial movement that has devastated our fundamental rights to bodily autonomy, our Fifth amendment rights, states’ ability to enact gun violence protections and more. 

And it likely will not be the last; legal experts expect that WV v. EPA will affect regulations on everything from consumer protection, to workers’ safety, to public health. When the Court returns to session in October, it will decide a slate of environmental cases through the same lens — further jeopardizing our right to a livable planet.

Our Fight For The Climate Is Far From Over

WV v. EPA underscores our urgent need for climate policies and federal action. The decision, while distressing, does not eliminate the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The Biden Administration must issue the strongest rule possible to regulate climate pollution. Congress must also step up to the plate to stop oil and gas exports and new fossil fuel development. At the same time, states must pursue the strong climate policies that we need.

Food & Water Watch has been in this fight for 17 years. We will continue pressuring agencies and elected officials at all levels of government for climate action. We cannot afford to do anything else.

Everyone needs to know what’s at stake.

Iowans: Is Your County Taking a Stand Against Pipelines?

Categories

Climate and Energy

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

The Midwest has become a new frontier in a battle against carbon pipelines. Corporations are moving fast to cash in on the fossil fuel industry’s latest bogus climate solution. Central to pipeline developers plans: Iowa. With these projects, Iowa could see 1,930 new miles of hazardous pipeline laid across 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.

As of July 5:

  • 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!

California’s Climate Mirage: How Newsom’s Blueprint Falls Short

Categories

Climate and Energy

by Mark Schlosberg and Jessica Gable

While struggling through a historic drought, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is drafting its plan for addressing climate change. The Board took comments on the plan in June and thousands of Californians submitted comments calling for aggressive action. But the draft plan dodges any real action on climate change. Instead, it opts for a “carbon neutrality” deadline of 2045 while relying on industry schemes like carbon capture to get there.

Governor Gavin Newsom likes to characterize California’s climate leadership as bold and aggressive, but this plan is neither. To really lead, Newsom must tell CARB to go back to the drawing board. The governor appoints most of the board’s members. That means he can show leadership by demanding real solutions and a quick timeline in line with science. 

California must move off fossil fuels by 2035; 2045 falls far short

Climate scientists are clear that we need to immediately stop expanding fossil fuel production and infrastructure. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent report warns that with any delay, we risk missing “a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.” 

In response to the CARB plan, we’ve partnered with the Indigenous Environmental Network and Center for Biological Diversity to organize a letter to Newsom and CARB calling for bolder action. Signed by more than 150 organizations, the letter calls for California to reach near zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. It also calls for a completely green electric grid by 2030. Finally, it demands faster timelines in transportation and buildings and a rejection of industry schemes like carbon capture.

Climate Leadership Means Rapid Action on Transportation and Infrastructure

Any serious plan to address the climate crisis needs to aggressively address transportation and infrastructure. This means big investments in public transportation and requirements for all new car sales to be electric by 2030. At the same time, we need goals for trucks and faster electrification of trains and ports. These will make sure that we reach 100% electric by 2035. 

A meaningful climate plan must also take on gas infrastructure in buildings. Many California cities have already passed bans on gas in new buildings. Now, we need state mandates to immediately end the use of fossil fuels in new construction and require electric appliances for all new buildings by 2025. These requirements must come with support for low- and moderate-income households in the transition. 

Climate Leadership Means Rejecting Industry Scams like Carbon Capture

Most glaringly, the proposed plans rely on industry schemes like carbon capture. Yet carbon capture is expensive and unproven. It’s a boondoggle that will only serve to lock in fossil fuel use for years to come. Other scams like offsets, factory farm gas and hydrogen power are packaged in ways that sound good. But they won’t do a thing to help the climate or communities. 

“Governor Newsom has an opportunity to change [California’s] destructive legacy by revising the 2022 draft Scoping Plan to stop the release of fossil fuel emissions at the source and end carbon neutrality mechanisms that prop up industry scams like carbon capture techno-fixes, carbon trading and offsets, hydrogen and bioenergy. These are not real solutions that will halt the devastation of fires and extreme water shortage. The time is now for the California Air Resources Board to put our communities first; before the polluting corporations.”

Thomas Joseph, Hoopa Valley Tribal member, organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, and co-author of our coalition letter

Current plans fall far short of what we need to address the climate crisis, but Governor Newsom still has time to act. He should urge CARB to return to the drawing board and come back with a plan that rises to the challenge. He could make a real and rapid transition off fossil fuels the centerpiece of his administration’s agenda. And, he could use the power of his office and bully pulpit to move a bold agenda. This would show real climate leadership — leadership that could move other states, the country, and other nations. 

In the coming months, we’ll see whether Newsom and CARB are serious about the climate crisis, or if all their climate talk is just a mirage in the drought. 

Spread the word: California deserves better climate action!

CA Environmental Advocates Demand Climate Action From Newsom After West Virginia vs. EPA 

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Sacramento, CA – After the Supreme Court issued a decision stripping the Environmental Protection Agency of its ability to regulate greenhouse gasses, environmental advocates in California are turning to Governor Gavin Newsom to fill the void of climate leadership.

In response to the ruling, Food & Water Watch Founder and Executive Director Wenonah Hauter issued the following statement:

“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court makes it abundantly clear that action to phase out fossil fuels and regulate greenhouse gasses must come from our elected leaders, if not our court system. Governor Newsom has strengthened California’s abortion protections in response to the Court’s attack on women’s rights. He must take action now to ensure California slashes its greenhouse gas emissions and transitions to clean energy. The California Air Resources Board’s plan for carbon neutrality by 2045 is far too late, particularly in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling today. Newsom must stop accepting fossil fuel permits immediately and urge CARB to come up with a plan that not only meets this moment, but also secures a livable future for California.”

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

Supreme Court’s Failure in WV v. EPA Decision Means Congress Must Act Now to Save the Planet

Categories

Climate and Energy

Washington, D.C. – Today the Supreme Court issued a decision in the case of West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency that will substantially hamper federal agencies from regulating climate pollution under the Clean Air Act without action from Congress. The case concerns an Obama administration rule, the Clean Power Plan, that never took effect.

In response, Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter issued the following statement:

“The Supreme Court’s disastrous term continues to threaten the health and safety of people across the country. This decision is the latest in a string of recklessly ideological decisions that destroy long-established precedent and decades of jurisprudence.

“Since this Supreme Court has failed society and the planet, action from Congress to meaningfully address the climate crisis becomes even more urgent. Congress must tackle poisoning climate emissions at their source by curtailing new fossil fuel development before it starts. This includes halting oil and gas exports, which drive demand for expanded drilling and fracking, while raising fuel and energy costs for consumers here at home.

“Today’s decision is part of a broad-based assault on the ability of regulators to protect our air, water and climate. Long-sought by corporate polluters, industry-backed think tanks and politicians who serve monied fossil fuel interests, this decision strikes at the heart of federal experts’ ability to do their jobs.

“While this ruling intends to hamstring the federal government’s ability to regulate dangerous emissions, it does not signal the end of climate action. The climate movement must and will continue to pressure agencies and elected officials at the local, state and federal levels to enact policies that ensure a swift reduction in climate pollution and an end to the fossil fuel era. The Supreme Court will not stand in the way of the fight for a livable planet.

“This case, however broadly it might be interpreted, is irrelevant to concrete action that protects communities and this planet at the local and state levels. The climate and anti-fracking movements have won substantial victories, and will continue to do so despite the decrees from a reckless, far-right Supreme Court.”

Contact: Seth Gladstone – [email protected]

Legislature To Hear Bill That Risks Slashing Regulations And Community Voices In Process of Renewable Energy Approval

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Sacramento, CA –  45 organizations signed onto a letter demanding lawmakers amend the “Streamlined Review” Sections of the 2022 Energy Reliability Resilience and Clean Energy Investments Trailer Bill, a piece of legislation designed to streamline the production of renewable energy infrastructure. Groups say while the bill is right to expedite the buildout of clean energy infrastructure, it is fatally flawed in its failure to include meaningful input from impacted communities. The bill also allows infrastructure projects to proceed with limited environmental review.  

“The trailer bill as currently written risks stripping community voices and environmental review from the renewable energy process,” said Food & Water Watch Senior Organizer Jasmin Vargas. “Community engagement is critical in California’s renewable energy infrastructure buildout. And based on the hundreds of people who gave public comments at last week’s CARB hearing, it’s clear that Californians want to be a part of this dialogue. Governor Newsom is right to expedite the buildout of renewable energy, but we can’t do it without the voices of our communities or the regulations designed to keep them safe.”

Read the full letter here.

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

Pandemic Profiteering: How Corporations Are Capitalizing on the Crisis

Categories

Food SystemClimate and Energy

by Peter Hart and Mia DiFelice
Editor’s Note: This content originally appeared on Food & Water Action’s website (our affiliated organization) at an earlier date.

From the beginning of the COVID crisis, corporate oligarchs manipulated markets to maximize profits. The giants that control the meat industry stoked bogus fears of a shortage to jack up prices on consumers — with lies so egregious that we filed suit against one of the worst offenders, pork giant Smithfield.

Of course, the problems mounted. Inflation spiked across the economy. Shops swung between long waits and huge shortages. Big companies blamed supply chain shocks and increasing production costs, which were certainly part of it.

But when a handful of corporations control markets, they can essentially name their price — and shovel obscene profits to CEOs and Wall Street speculators.

Oil Companies Are Winning

The squeeze on working families intensified with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Suddenly, global dependence on fossil fuels reached a breaking point. U.S. gasoline prices soared while gas supplies to Europe plunged into chaos. 

In response, politicians and their media enablers demanded a dramatic increase in fracking. But energy giants quietly rebuffed these drilling demands. Not for any new concern for the environment — but rather because they are pulling in billions in record profits. Twisted market logic meant that limiting supply would pay off for their Wall Street investors.

From January to March this year, CEOs of eight fossil fuel corporations saw their share values grow by nearly $100 million. Windfall profits have not resulted in lower prices or better conditions for workers. Instead, these CEOs sold their shares for millions of personal profit.

The horror in Ukraine has created a new global energy crisis. Unfortunately, too many political leaders are clinging to the wrong solution. They want to “fix” a fossil fuel crisis by pushing more fossil fuels. That political support has given frackers a license to spring for long-term gas export terminals. American company EQT even called their mega-polluting gas export scheme “the Largest Green Initiative On the Planet.”

As a result, 25 new LNG projects are currently underway in our country. Fossil fuel companies are not only profiteering from today’s misery — they’re locking us into decades of pollution and emissions. We can’t let this continue. The International Energy Agency warned just last year that fossil fuel production must stop growing immediately if we’re to avoid the worst effects of climate change. 

Cornering the Market at The Supermarket

At the start of the pandemic, broadcasts and news feeds were fixated on one recurring image: empty grocery store shelves. Periodic shortages kept some consumers on our toes, while many were simply forced to go without.

As with oil and gas, we face giant corporations that would rather gobble profits than prioritize the needs of families. Over the course of the pandemic, we’ve seen the cost of meat rise while small farmers’ and ranchers’ profits fell. While COVID ran rampant, we saw corporations limit hazard pay for workers, while investing in stock buybacks to line the pockets of executives.

The meat industry is one of the core players in this problem. A mere four corporations process 85% of all beef and 70% of pork in the U.S. This extreme concentration gives these companies the power to control supply chains, prices and wages. Experts suspect they’re using inflation and supply chain problems as a cover to boost profits. In fact, net profit margins for those top four companies are up over 300%.

Plus, lean supply chains in any industry are dangerous for crises. With one disaster, a few broken links send huge ripples throughout a system without the backups and resilience to recover. For example, a COVID outbreak in a single Smithfield hog plant took out 5 percent of the nation’s hog processing capacity. 

Corporations Are Selling Us Misery

It’s never been clearer: When the essentials for life itself are controlled by corporate cartels, the future of our communities, our families and our planet are at their mercy. For decades, corporate America has told us that bigger is better, that consolidation would lower prices and eliminate inefficiencies. 

We know this is a lie. 

The latest heartbreaking example: the wealthiest nation on Earth is running out of baby formula because of problems at a single factory, thanks to a market controlled by four corporations.

At Food & Water Watch, we know that these problems have solutions. That’s why we’re fighting to break up the grocery cartels and stop corporate water profiteers. It’s why we’re demanding an end to the polluting factory farms that harm communities and farmers. Why we fight on the ground across the country to stop the fossil fuel projects driving the climate emergency. In an era of compounding crises, we must fight to transform the present and protect the future.

We can’t fight Corporate America without you.

Big Oil’s Lies Are Killing Our Planet — And Us

Categories

Climate and Energy

by Mia DiFelice

For decades, the fossil fuel industry has lied to us and covered up their climate impacts. Thankfully, Big Oil is finally facing consequences. Several cities and states have sued fossil fuel corporations for their lies. For instance, Massachusetts’ attorney general alleges Exxon broke consumer protection laws and lied to investors about the risks climate change poses to their business. 

But as the industry faces new heat, it’s turning to new lies to keep us hooked. Here are five myths Big Oil is pushing on us, and the reality they don’t want us to know.

Lie #1: Good Food Needs Gas

The best cooking is done on an open flame. This line has been pushed by the natural gas industry for decades. Gas stoves have become symbols of food and family, hearth and home. But whatever merits gas has for cooking, they don’t outweigh its dangerous health and climate impacts. 

Just an hour of running a gas stove and oven creates unsafe pollutant levels in the whole house, not just the kitchen. Nitrogen oxides, a family of such stove-emitting pollutants, are linked to heart and respiratory problems. In fact, children in homes with gas stoves are 42% more likely to have asthma than those in homes that use electric. And a whopping 10% of all U.S. emissions come just from burning gas in commercial and residential buildings. 

Despite these hazards, new single-family homes built with gas hookups increased by 20% from the 1970s to 2019. That’s because the gas industry has flooded our airwaves, our magazines and even our social media feeds with ads. For example, the American Gas Association’s #cookingwithgas campaign pulled chefs from around the country to drum up support. It’s also paid influencers to “gush” about gas stoves on Instagram. 

The fossil fuel industry has a vested interest in keeping gas in our homes. But the fact is electric stoves are way more efficient, less polluting and kinder to the planet.

Lie #2: “Natural” Gas Is Our Bridge To Clean Energy

When the fracking boom arrived in the 2010s, the industry claimed that gas would be a bridge to clean energy. By replacing dirty coal, the story went, gas could get our emissions in check while renewable technology grew cheaper and scalable. 

But fracked gas has barely tipped the scale on emissions. In the past ten years, emissions from coal and gas fell by only 10%. Methane leaks from fracking infrastructure counteracts any claim of a benefit. In 2020, we did the math and found that if gas remains our dominant source of electricity, emissions will actually rise in the coming decades. Meanwhile, we know that renewables are ready to scale, affordable and critical to eliminating fossil fuels in the electricity, building and transportation sectors. We just need the political will to build them as quickly as possible.

As fossil fuel companies build out new fracking infrastructure, they’re locking us into gas for another generation at least. The average lifespan of a gas power plant is 4 to 5 decades. By investing in new gas plants, we’re either dooming the Earth to runaway climate change or wasting billions (often subsidized with public money) on facilities that must be decommissioned in just a few years. 

Lie #3: More Fossil Fuels = More Jobs

Opponents to decarbonization love to say that slashing fossil fuels will slash jobs. In 2021, the American Petroleum Institute claimed 2.5 million people work directly in oil and gas. But we checked their work and found that their report double-counted and overcounted by over 2 million jobs. 

Moreover, fossil fuel companies are not genuinely concerned with preserving employment. Even as production and profits increased in the U.S. over the years, the industry has hemorrhaged jobs. This is because oil and gas companies eagerly pursue automation to cut costs.

On the other hand, growing green industries like efficiency, ecosystem restoration and renewables will create more jobs than doubling down on fossil fuels. Fossil-fuel reliant communities shouldn’t be tied to dying industries that’ll leave pollution for decades to come. Rather, they need — and demand — a just transition that creates good jobs in clean energy. 

Lie #4: Carbon Capture Will Solve The Climate Crisis

The new darling of the fossil fuel industry is carbon capture and storage, which pulls carbon out of power plant emissions. Proponents say this will change the game on lowering emissions, as it prevents emitted CO2 from ever reaching the atmosphere. CCS has received a lot of press recently — and a lot of cash. The Biden administration has dedicated more than $10 billion of taxpayer funds through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to build out CCS infrastructure. 

But CCS demonstration projects have already received $6.9 billion of our money. And these projects actually proved that carbon capture is not a viable climate solution. Plagued with budget overshoots and underperformance, by 2016 only 4% of planned CCS capacity saw operations.

We’ve seen plenty of proof that these projects require new, expensive infrastructure and way too much energy to justify ever building them. Carbon capture systems essentially need a whole new power plant to fuel them. As a result, CCS projects in the U.S. have been net emitters, rather than reducers. And, in an outrageous turn of events, much of the carbon captured in CCS is used for enhanced oil recovery. This practice injects carbon into wells to help extract even more fossil fuels.

Ultimately, the best and fastest solution to decarbonize is to transition to 100% renewable energy. This, plus energy efficiency and rolling back demand, are our best bets to soften the blow of climate change. Oil companies saying otherwise are trying to distract us from the solutions that threaten their bottom line.

Lie #5: Oil & Gas Wants To Help Us Get Green

Since the Paris Climate agreement was signed in 2015, Big Oil has spent hundreds of millions of dollars rebranding itself. They’ve touted algae biofuels, recycling programs, clean energy investments and more to portray themselves as partners in a green transition. But while they loudly talk the talk, they, unsurprisingly, have failed to walk the walk. 

This year, researchers dug into the financial statements and annual reports of four major oil companies. Even though the companies sprinkled reports with phrases like “low-carbon energy” and “clean-energy transition,” they’ve actually increased fossil fuel production and barely dipped their toes in clean energy investments. 

Instead, as another report found, the five biggest oil and gas companies spent $200 million a year lobbying against climate legislation in the five years after Paris.

To make matters worse, the 12 largest oil and gas companies have committed to pouring $387 million a day on oil and gas extraction through 2030. Their planned projects (60% of which have broken ground) total 646 billion tons of emissions. That doesn’t sound like a “clean-energy transition” to us.

Big Oil’s Lies Are Ugly, And The Consequences If We Believe Them Will Be Uglier

Big Oil is trying to paint itself as part of a new, green future. But the industry has not substantially pivoted to clean energy, halted development or meaningfully reduced emissions. Instead, it’s doubling down on fossil fuels while pushing false narratives and pretending to develop “solutions.” 

We have to make it clear that Big Oil can no longer get away with misleading us. Our planet don’t need expensive technology or feel-good stories. It needs us to abandon fossil fuels now.

Knowledge is power.
Take it back from Big Oil.

Climate Justice Advocates March on Trenton

Categories

Climate and Energy

Hundreds of community and climate activists joined environmental justice leaders in a march and rally demanding that Governor Murphy deny permits for major new fossil fuel projects.

The March and Rally for Clean Air and Climate Justice, convened by the EMPOWER NJ coalition, brought together residents and community groups fighting on the frontlines of fossil fuel pollution with environmental groups and climate activists from every part of the state. 

The event sought to highlight several major fossil fuel expansion projects, four of which are approaching permit deadlines with the Murphy administration. The Empower NJ coalition is working closely with local communities to stop these projects. According to the coalition’s estimates, if all seven are approved, the state’s overall greenhouse gas emissions could increase by up to 38 percent.

Attendees gathered at the stops of the Patriots Theater at the War Memorial before marching  to the Statehouse Annex, where speakers from frontline communities talked about the threats they are facing from new dirty energy projects. 

The march was focused on environmental justice and the unequal burdens faced by communities that must live with fossil fuel pollution. While the state’s environmental justice law is an important step, it is not being applied to the current proposals, including a new fracked gas power plant at the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission treatment plant in Newark. 

A growing coalition of community groups, elected officials and activists have mobilized against the project, which would dump even more air pollution in a community already suffering some of the worst environmental and public health impacts in the country.

“Environmental justice communities like Camden already suffer the dire consequences from dirty energy facilities that pollute our air and water, “ said Minister Roy Jones, Camden resident and executive director at the National Institute for Healthy Human Spaces. “By enacting a moratorium on fossil fuel projects, Governor Murphy can halt the proposal to ship explosive LNG by truck and train through Camden for overseas export and fulfill his promise of a healthy environment for all New Jerseyans, regardless of their skin color or zip code.”

“Sometimes our courage is called upon to say no to something outdated and harmful.  The plan for another dirty gas power plant in Woodbridge, which will spew even more toxic pollution into the air we breathe in Perth Amboy, is exactly that,” said Julie Ann Ferreira, a Perth Amboy resident and Food & Water Watch volunteer. “We must make history of fossil fuels before they make history of us.”

“The proposed Williams pipeline expansion would introduce even more unnecessary and unhealthy pollution into our community and contribute to the ever-growing climate catastrophe. Our leaders cannot claim to take action on the climate crisis while allowing these dirty energy projects to continue. Our future is at stake, and it’s time to say enough is enough,” said Rey Watson (they/them), 17 year old climate justice organizer from Whitehouse Station.

“All of us here in Hudson County see it’s a trap that will create new congestion and dirty the air we breathe,” said Dr. James Lee, an organizer with Safe Streets Jersey City.  “The proposed turnpike widening is the equivalent of dumping a fossil-fuel power plant complete with billowing smokestacks in the middle of Jersey City next to our homes and schools.”

“The proposal by Tennessee Gas Pipeline to expand their pipeline operations in North Jersey with more dirty, dangerous fracked gas compressor stations sabotages New Jersey’s visionary goals to curb destabilizing fossil fuel emissions and toxic air pollution,” said Melissa Brown Blaeuer, a 20+ year homeowner in the Highlands watershed town of West Milford in Passaic County. Her house is surrounded by a vital greenway of protected land, and sits only a mile from the proposed compressor station. “If Governor Murphy is the climate leader we all truly need, he will reward companies investing in energy innovation and safe, sustainable solar and wind development. He will deflect and de-incentivize old technology profiteers undermining our moral obligations to ourselves and our children.  The Governor can and must stop the flow of money and talent into such ill-conceived and self-defeating fossil fuel projects.”

 “After over a year of activism and organizing against NJ Transit’s proposed gas plant, in 2020 at the direction of Governor Murphy they committed to finding a greener solution for their resiliency needs. Now after over a year of “re-envisioning the project” NJ Transit is yet again continuing to push for a dirty fossil fueled power plant in an environmental justice community in the Kearny Meadowlands,” said Liz Ndoye, Hoboken Resident and member of the Don’t Gas the Meadowland Coalition. “I say shame on NJ Transit and Governor Murphy for allowing this plan to pollute the air of Essex and Hudson County residents during this time of extreme climate crisis.”

 “We call on Governor Murphy to stop PVSC’s proposal for a new gas power plant in Newark,” said Wynnie-Fred Victor Hinds, Co-Chair of the Newark Environmental Commission. “Newark has long been disproportionately overburdened with pollution from both stationary and mobile sources. We cannot get to zero emissions unless we switch to clean, renewable energy and shift away from harmful fossil fuels. This type of power plant would already be a relic. No more fossil fuel projects in Newark and no more fossil fuel projects in New Jersey!”

TONIGHT – Online Film Premier and Conversation: “Dear President Biden: Our Climate Can’t Wait”

Categories

Climate and Energy

Tonight the national advocacy organization Food & Water Watch, along with the People vs. Fossil Fuels coalition, will host an online national premier of the new short film Dear President Biden: Our Climate Can’t Wait, from acclaimed director Jon Bowermaster. Following the film screening there will be a discussion with Bowermaster and a number of activists featured in the film who are on the front lines of numerous grassroots fights against new fossil fuel export projects and false-solution carbon capture schemes around the country.

These fights are taking on ever-increasing significance as the Biden administration seeks to expand oil and gas exports overseas, at the expense of frontline communities here at home. Similarly, the administration has recently allocated $ billions for unproven and unworkable “carbon capture and storage” schemes as a solution to the climate crisis.

Available for interview: film director Jon Bowermaster – the author of eleven books and director of over a dozen documentary films, all pertaining to the environment in which we live. Founder of Oceans 8 Films, he and his team have traveled the world and inspired action to help the environment through powerful storytelling.

What: Online film premier of Dear President Biden: Our Climate Can’t Wait, followed by discussion with the director and featured anti-fossil fuel activists

When: Tonight, Thurs. June 23, 7 – 8:30 pm ET

Where: Online – register to attend here: https://www.mobilize.us/fww/event/465116/

Who: Film director Jon Bowermaster and featured activists including: 

  • Fermin Morales lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Fermin is a part of Philly Boricuas, a grassroots organization of Puerto Ricans organizing the diasporic community in Philadelphia.
  • Joye Braun is the national pipelines organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network , an alliance of Indigenous Peoples whose shared mission is to Protect the Sacredness of Earth Mother from contamination & exploitation by respecting and adhering to Indigenous Knowledge and Natural Law.
  • Jean Su is the Energy Director of the Climate Law Institute at the Center for Biological Diversity. Jean focuses on transforming legal structures of the U.S. power sector to achieve rapid increases in renewable and clean energy, phase out fossil fuels, and electrify transportation. Jean also serves on the Board of Directors for SustainUS.
  • Jessica Wiskus is fighting  to stop a proposed carbon pipeline that could pass near her rural Linn County. This has led Jessica to become more active in local politics and community organizing. She’s a wife and mother and is not only running for office, but has taken the lead on organizing her community against the pipelines.
  • John Beard, from Port Arthur, Texas, is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of the Port Arthur Community Action Network, a community based, environmental justice non-profit. PACAN advocates for solutions that reduce or eliminate environmental and public health hazards, promotes community development and improvements to the quality of life in Port Arthur.
  • Kate Delany is the Head of South Jersey Progressive Democrats and Senior Organizer for Food & Water Watch. Kate is a lifelong South Jerseyan and mom of two. More about Kate.
  • Russell Chisholm serves as co-chair of the Protect Our Water, Heritage, and Rights Coalition in the campaign to stop Mountain Valley Pipeline and dangerous fossil fuel expansion through Virginia and West Virginia. He is coordinator of the pipeline construction monitoring Mountain Valley Watch project, documenting and reporting potential violations of environmental law and holding regulators accountable to impact
  • Sandra Steingraber is the senior scientist at the Science and Environmental Health Network. Its principal aim is to use law and best practices to combat cumulative impacts, especially in matters relating to public health and the environment. Steingraber taught at Ithaca College where, since 2003, she served as Distinguished Scholar in Residence.

Contact: Seth Gladstone – [email protected]

To Give Consumers Real Relief, Biden Must Stop Oil and Gas Exports

Categories

Climate and Energy

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is scheduled to meet behind closed doors with oil executives tomorrow to discuss out of control gasoline prices. Instead of cajoling private companies to offer a symbolic band-aid to hurting consumers, the White House should pursue a more direct strategy: Stopping the export of gasoline and other fuels.

In 2015, the decades-long ban on exporting crude oil was lifted. Oil shipments went from  400,000 barrels per day in 2015 to about 3.8 million barrels earlier this year. Exports of gasoline and diesel have also risen dramatically, reportedly to near-record highs. In addition to increasing carbon pollution, the shipments serve to lower domestic supplies, which raises prices for consumers at the pump here at home. 

The same is true of the liquified natural gas (LNG) export boom. While global supplies are tight, corporations are exporting fuels to buyers that can pay the most, raising the costs of home heating and electricity for American families. The effect on prices was evident when a fire shut down a major gas export facility in Texas. Natural gas futures dropped about 25 percent as a result, which analysts attributed to more gas being available for domestic consumption.

In advance of the meeting, Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter released the following statement:

“Exporting dirty energy is a climate disaster, but it also hurts consumers and working families here at home. While gasoline prices remain ridiculously high, energy corporations are shipping crude oil overseas. This is great business for Wall Street speculators and dirty energy CEOs, but it’s taking a terrible toll on everyone else. 

“Lifting the ban on oil exports was a terrible mistake, but the White House has the authority to do something to immediately ease the pain on consumers. By declaring a climate emergency, President Biden could curtail oil exports to help alleviate the supply crunch. The administration could take similar action to rein in LNG exports.

“We are also exporting near-record levels of gasoline and diesel, the products that are currently wiping consumers out at the pump. 

“Of course, the real solution is to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels altogether. In the last three years we have seen the destabilizing war in Ukraine, the supply chain shocks of a deadly pandemic, and the decision by domestic drillers to cut new supplies in order to maximize profits and please Wall Street. This is simply unsustainable in every sense. Instead of begging corporate profiteers to solve our problems, it’s time for the White House to take a direct step to alleviate the pain being felt by American families. It’s time to stop oil and gas exports.”

Climate Justice Groups Slam California Climate Plan Ahead of Hearing

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Sacramento, CA –  Over 150 organizations representing hundreds of thousands of members sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) slamming the agency’s proposed 2022 Draft Scoping Plan as wholly inadequate. The groups say the climate blueprint falls far short of the breadth and urgency needed to confront the climate and environmental justice crises. CARB will host a hearing to discuss the plan on June 23. The letter’s ambitious but achievable demands include:

Reach near-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035;

Phase out oil and gas production and transition to 100% clean, renewable electricity by 2030; 

Require all new car sales to be 100% electric vehicles by 2030 and scale up clean public transit;

Reject industry distractions like carbon capture, hydrogen, dirty bioenergy and carbon trading;

Prioritize direct emissions reductions that support immediate relief for overburdened communities of color and Indigenous Peoples and abandon carbon offset programs that lead to more pollution.

In its current form, the 2022 Draft Scoping Plan sets a vague and misleading target of ‘carbon neutrality’ by 2045, allowing the fossil fuel industry to keep polluting and failing to slash emissions at the scale and pace that the climate crisis demands. The plan relies heavily on carbon trading and offset programs like the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), criticized by grassroots and environmental justice organizations for its use of public funds to bankroll emissions-heavy bioenergy projects in low-income communities.

The letter also calls for the plan to prioritize the voices of those historically left out of California’s environmental decisions, including communities of color and Indigenous Peoples, whose homes have become sacrifice zones on the frontlines of fossil fuel extraction. By consulting with these communities, rapidly phasing out fossil fuels, and investing in clean, cost-effective energy solutions like solar, wind and battery storage, California can repair the drastic holes in CARB’s current plan.

The letter’s signatories released the following statements in response to the letter’s delivery:

“Indigenous Peoples of California have seen firsthand the desecration of our ancestral lands by the state of California and its extractive and polluting industries. Governor Newsom has an opportunity to change this destructive legacy by revising the 2022 draft Scoping Plan to stop the release of fossil fuel emissions at the source and end carbon neutrality mechanisms that prop up industry scams like carbon capture techno-fixes, carbon trading and offsets, hydrogen and bioenergy. These are not real solutions that will halt the devastation of fires and extreme water shortage,” said Thomas Joseph, Hoopa Valley Tribal member and organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network. “The time is now for the California Air Resources Board to put our communities first; before the polluting corporations. Governor Newsom, end this legacy of genocide against Indigenous Peoples and ecocide against Mother Earth and Father Sky. We need real solutions to end this climate crisis.”

“If Governor Newsom is serious about addressing the climate crisis, he and the California Air Resources Board must stop kicking the can down the road and stop entertaining fossil fuel industry schemes like carbon capture and hydrogen,” said Mark Schlosberg, Acting California Director of Food & Watch Watch. “California and the world are waiting for his leadership in moving us back from the climate cliff. This means setting aggressive goals for electrification of transit and buildings, stopping new fossil fuel drilling and infrastructure, and replacing dirty fuels with truly renewable energy by 2030.”

“Californians getting scorched by heat waves in June can’t wait for vague climate promises about 2045,” said Maya Golden-Krasner, deputy director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “Gov. Newsom needs to send CARB back to the drawing board for a blueprint that locks in climate protection, not decades of fossil fuel pollution. We have the technology to protect people and the planet. What we need now is the political will to make a clean, climate-safe California a reality.”

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

How Biogas Factories Could Put Our Lowest State Underwater

Categories

Climate and Energy

by Greg Layton

We know we’re running out of time on climate change. Without a rapid drawdown on fossil fuels, catastrophic effects of global warming will become unavoidable. But in Delaware, the poultry industry and its allies are going in the opposite direction. They’re promoting a new fuel: methane derived from poultry waste. Rather than reduce emissions, biogas will only worsen the climate effects, like sea-level rise, for our country’s lowest-lying state.

Biogas Will Lock in Climate-Warming Emissions

Plans to extract methane from poultry waste in Sussex County threaten to add to  greenhouse gas emissions for years to come.

Delaware currently faces two proposed projects, one by Bioenergy DevCo and one by CleanBay Renewables. These projects would release massive amounts of methane, the greenhouse gas 90 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Emissions from the Bioenergy DevCo project alone would have the same per-year climate impact of a typical car driving almost 100 million miles

Poultry waste itself doesn’t emit significant amounts of methane. However, the biogas projects planned for Delaware deliberately create new greenhouse gases to “capture” for profit. To do that, they need to haul in factory farm waste from around the tri-state area. All that means more emissions, to the tune of more than 20,000 diesel-powered truck trips per year. 

On top of that, it appears that the methane from Bioenergy DevCo would not be used instead of fracked gas; it would be used in addition to fracked gas. This will entrench fossil fuels in addition to factory farms, while allowing the industry to slap the “renewable” label on the same old climate-destroying gas system.

Without serious climate action, here’s what Delawareans can expect.

Hotter Weather

The average temperature in Delaware has risen about 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1895. Within 50 to 60 years, scientists expect the state’s average temperature to exceed its preindustrial average by more than 4 degrees. Extremely hot days will likely also increase. Currently, Delawareans experience an average of two days over 100 degrees each year, but scientists predict we’ll experience as many as 28 days above 100 degrees by 2100. Heat waves are already the leading weather-related cause of death in the United States, and climate change will only make them worse.

Sea-Level Rise

Melting polar ice sheets have caused the world’s oceans and bays to rise, and Delaware, already the lowest-lying state in the nation, is sinking at the same time. (In fact, sea level is rising at Bowers Beach, Del. faster than anywhere else on the East Coast.) Sea level along Delaware’s coasts has already risen more than one foot since 1900. With continued warming, Delaware’s coasts will likely disappear under anywhere from 16 to 48 inches in the next century.

Property Loss

If Delaware’s coastal sea levels rise even two feet, the state will lose about 8% of its land (a little over 110,000 acres) and nearly all of its protected wetlands.  Dozens — if not hundreds — of homes would be destroyed. Currently, about 22,000 Delawareans are at risk from coastal flooding, but that number could surpass 30,000 in just a few decades. Millions of dollars of damage are almost inevitable, and would be devastating to Delaware’s beachside tourism industry.

Pests and Disease 

Climate change will warm the state earlier in the year and bring more rain — and more puddles. This is like rolling out a welcome mat for mosquitos. Though already, researchers estimate that Delaware’s mosquito season has extended weeks beyond its historical average. And more mosquitoes means more opportunity for blood-borne diseases like Zika and West Nile Virus to spread. 

Ecological Mayhem

Finally, climate change will displace wildlife and their habitats. For instance, each spring, nearly a million migratory shorebirds feast on horseshoe crab eggs in tidal flats and beaches. But those tidal flats and beaches will likely disappear underwater. 

Additionally, rising sea levels will bring salt water further up rivers, eventually intruding into aquifers near the coast. Soils might become too salty for crops and trees that currently grow in low-lying areas. Upland, early warm weather could prompt many wildflowers and woodland plants to grow and blossom too soon for the migratory animals that feed on them. 

How You Can Fight Back

Ultimately, we must transition off of carbon-based fuels like methane as quickly as possible. Pursuing new sources is unconscionable. Delaware’s elected officials must instead urgently pursue real solutions to the climate crisis. Biogas has no part in that solution.

The companies behind the biogas scheme need state permits to go ahead with their dirty projects. Governor John Carney has the power to say NO to biogas. Use your voice to tell him that Delaware doesn’t need another source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Tell Governor Carney that Delaware is done with greenhouse gases.

What’s The Buzz On Pollinators?

Categories

PDFFood SystemClimate and Energy

Why are pollinators so important? Our food security is intrinsically tied to the lives of hundreds of thousands of insects and animals.

Spending $8 Million, Oil and Gas Industry Overturns Ventura County Environmental Regulations

Categories

Climate and Energy

Ventura, CA – Backed by an $8 million war chest, the oil and gas industry succeeded in defeating Measures A and B, two ordinances that would have closed a dangerous loophole allowing oil and gas drillers to avoid modern environmental review using antiquated permits with no expiration date. The vote overturns a decision by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors in 2020 requiring all new drilling operations to abide by modern environmental standards regardless of permit date.

The vote is the latest in a nearly two year battle between community members and environmental justice activists and fossil fuel giants like Aera Energy and Chevron. Only three days after the initial Ventura County Board of Supervisors’ decision in 2020, Aera Energy spent $1 million on signature gatherers to put the issue back on the ballot. Once that happened, oil and gas interests poured additional millions of dollars into the hyperlocal campaign, making this the most expensive ballot issue in Ventura County’s history despite the ordinances only applying to new drilling operations. They used dark money to overturn common sense regulations passed by Ventura’s elected representatives; not one individual donor is listed in their campaign finance reports. 

“Big Oil has set a terrifying precedent,” said Food & Water Watch Central Coast Organizing Manager and Yes on Measures A & B Campaign Lead Tomás Rebecchi. “Ventura County’s families know that our communities’ health is not for sale at any price. We are no one’s sacrifice zone. But it’s increasingly clear that fossil fuel companies not only threaten the safety of our communities and climate, they’re also unraveling our democratic processes. And if Big Oil can buy its way out of a democratic decision for $8 million in a tiny county in California, where will they go next? This may be Ventura County’s fight, but it’s a defeat for the whole country.”

Led by environmental justice and community activists, the grassroots Yes on Measures A & B campaign headed the effort to pass Measures A and B. Ventura-based clothing outfitter Patagonia added a donation of $450,000 to the primarily individual contributions.

“We’re deeply disappointed that Measures A & B failed,” said Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert. “I want to thank all the activists from the VC Safe campaign who knocked on doors, picked up the phone and rallied the community to push back against Big Oil’s lies and money. This is just one loss in an ongoing campaign to save the home planet. We’ll be back at it tomorrow.” 

Contact: Jessica Gable – [email protected]

Against All Odds: A Benefit to Protect Our Planet

Categories

Climate and Energy

On September 29, Food & Water Watch will host our first-ever hybrid annual benefit.

Corporations may have the money, but we have the power of people on our side. We’ve proven that against all odds, when we work together, we can win our fights for safe food, clean water and a livable climate for all!

Register today to join us for Against All Odds on September 29 to celebrate the progress we’ve made and mobilize for the future alongside hundreds of activists.

About the Event

Against All Odds is a hybrid event. You can choose to join us virtually for a live-streamed program, or you can join us in person in New York City for a reception with fellow activists. The event — whether virtual or in person — will feature stories of impact, calls to action, as well as a special recognition for our Honorees. Guest speakers will be announced soon! 

Virtual Program

Thursday, September 29, 2022 | 8-9 pm ET (5-6pm PT)
All registrants will receive an access link to join. 

New York City Reception

Thursday, September 29, 2022 | 7-9 pm ET
The Century Association – food, drinks and celebration on the terrace!
7 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036


The program will feature:

Elisa Gambino

Elisa Gambino is a journalist and filmmaker who spent her early career chronicling world events for CNN, including the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Gulf War, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the wars in Bosnia and conflict in Somalia. Her work in Somalia was recognized with a News and Documentary Emmy Award. Since founding One Production Place in 2001, Elisa has directed award-winning shorts that examine health equity, climate change, and racial justice. In 2020, Elisa was an executive producer for A Love Song for Latasha which was nominated for an Academy Award in the Documentary Short category. She also directed Welcome to Pine Lake in 2020 and Wasteland in 2022, which draws important links between factory farms, our waste and the human right to clean water and sanitation.

Bill Gee and Sue Crothers

Bill Gee and Sue Crothers are lifelong environmental activists. Together, they built one of the first sustainably designed homes in Illinois and founded the Manaaki Foundation, which supports environmental and social justice causes. Sue is a founding member of the One Earth Film Festival and Director of the One Earth Young Filmmakers Contest. Bill, as former co-owner of a commercial bakery (and a beekeeper!), is passionate about building a sustainable food system and is a member of Food & Water Watch’s Advisory Council.


Annual Benefit: Against All Odds

Ticket Information

Join us virtually from the comfort of your home, or join us in New York City for a reception. Whichever you choose, we invite you to celebrate the progress we’ve made together for safe food, clean water and a livable climate for all. 

View ticket and sponsorship options for each below. Each level comes with unique perks!

| Join Us Virtually

Tickets


ALLY | $50 (fully tax-deductible)
Details
  • Link to join virtual event live on September 29, 2022
  • Membership in Food & Water Watch, includes newsletter.

DEFENDER | $150 ($125 tax-deductible)
Details
  • All Ally benefits, plus:
  • A special Food & Water Watch branded t-shirt 
  • Access to a special pre-event virtual reception to celebrate with fellow guests 
  • Listing on event materials.

ACTIVIST | $500 ($465 tax-deductible)
Details
  • All Defender benefits, plus:
  • A branded protest sign to customize for your next rally.

Sponsorships


COMMITTEE | $1,000 ($930 tax-deductible)
Details
  • Listing on event materials 
  • A hand-picked bottle of wine and a Food & Water Watch branded t-shirt shipped to you for the event
  • Access to a special pre-event virtual reception to celebrate with fellow guests 
  • Champions Circle Membership in Food & Water Watch, includes special updates and invites to events.
  • Helps fund organizing software tools.

CHAIR | $2,500 ($2,430 tax-deductible)
Details
  • All Committee benefits, plus: 
  • Special access link for you to share with family and friends
  • Leaders Circle Membership in Food & Water Watch, includes special updates, invites to events, access to leadership, and a copy of the Book of the Year 
  • Helps fund training for new Food & Water Volunteer Network volunteers.

BENEFACTOR | $5,000 ($4,930 tax-deductible)
Details
  • All Chair benefits, plus:
  • Special recognition during the event
  • Helps fund organizing materials for rallies, canvassing and trainings.

LEAD SPONSOR | $10,000 ($9,930 tax-deductible)
Details
  • All Benefactor benefits, plus:
  • Opportunity to introduce a guest speaker at the event
  • Helps fund cutting-edge research on food, water and climate issues. 

| Join Us in New York City

All tickets include food and drinks at the reception on the Century Association terrace.

Tickets


DEFENDER – 1 ticket to in-person event | $150 ($70 tax-deductible)
Details
  • Membership in Food & Water Watch, includes newsletter.

CAMPAIGNER – 1 ticket to in-person event | $250 ($170 tax-deductible)
Details
  • Membership in Food & Water Watch, includes newsletter.

ACTIVIST – 2 tickets to in-person event | $500 ($340 tax-deductible)
Details
  • Membership in Food & Water Watch, includes newsletter.

Sponsorships


COMMITTEE – 2 tickets to in-person event | $1,000 ($840 tax-deductible)
Details
  • Champions Membership in Food & Water Watch, includes special updates and invites to events
  • Listing on event materials 
  • Helps fund organizing software tools.

CHAIR – 2 tickets to in-person event | $2,500 ($2,340 tax-deductible)
Details
  • All Committee benefits, plus:
  • Leaders Circle Membership in Food & Water Watch, includes special updates, invites to events, access to leadership, and a copy of the Book of the Year 
  • Helps fund training for new Food & Water Volunteer Network volunteers.

BENEFACTOR – 4 tickets to in-person event | $5,000 ($4,680 tax-deductible)
Details
  • All Chair benefits, plus: 
  • Reserved high top table for reception and seating for formal program
  • Special recognition during the event
  • Helps fund organizing materials for rallies, canvassing and trainings.

LEAD SPONSOR – 6 tickets to in-person event | $10,000 ($9,480 tax-deductible)
Details
  • All Benefactor benefits, plus: 
  • Celebratory bottle of wine for you and your guests
  • Opportunity to introduce a guest speaker at the event or make welcome remarks to kick off the night! 
  • Helps fund cutting-edge research on food, water and climate issues.

Highlights from our 2021 Virtual Conference & Benefit

We enjoyed an incredible day of learning and community building with 12 sessions and hands-on trainings, incredible speakers like our keynote Amy Goodman and special guests like Mark Ruffalo, Ed Begley, Jr., members of Congress and more! Watch last year’s highlights, and register today to join us on September 29! 


Become a Sponsor

Food & Water Watch doesn’t take corporate donations, so all our work is made possible by the generous support of individuals like you. By sponsoring the event, you’re providing funding to enhance our organizers’ ability to mobilize at the local, state and national level to stop fossil fuel projects, keep water sources clean and accessible to the public, shut down factory farms — and fight for legislation that will protect our food, water and climate.

Fracking Exporters Post Huge First Quarter Profits

Categories

Climate and Energy

The companies exporting liquified natural gas (LNG) are posting huge gains as they plot strategies to massively expand their operations in order to capitalize on the shift away from Russian gas.

A Food & Water Watch analysis of first quarter financial records shows that four of the most high profile companies – Cheniere, EQT, Tellurian and Total – reported substantial increases in sales, profits, and stock buybacks. The company stock held by CEOs jumped in value as well. 

Cheniere, the country’s largest LNG company, exported a record amount of gas in the first quarter of this year, and posted revenues of $7.4 billion, more than doubling their haul from a year earlier. The vast majority of those revenues come from their LNG business. The value of stock held by CEO Jack Fusco jumped by $30 million in the first three months of the year, and the company bought back about a quarter million shares for $25 million. 

The Houston-based Tellurian generated about $146 million in total gas revenues, about $120 million of which came from its LNG business. This is a substantial increase from last year’s first quarter total of $8.7 million. The company has a direct tie to the White House: Amos Hochstein, a Senior Advisor for Energy Security at the State Department, was an executive vice president atTellurian just before joining the Biden administration. Hochstein, who still owns considerable stock in the company, is currently helping to lead the US-EU Energy Security Task Force, a secretive body that is playing a key role in promoting LNG exports. 

EQT, based in Pittsburgh, is pushing an aggressive public relations campaign called Unleash U.S. LNG, which it calls “the largest green initiative on the planet.” The company is calling for the quadrupling of the country’s LNG capacity over the next eight years.  Unlike other major players, EQT posted losses in the first quarter, some of which is attributable to its focus on reducing its debt. The company reports selling more gas at higher prices than last year.  In the first quarter of this year, CEO Toby Rice has seen the value of his EQT shares appreciate by nearly $9 million. The company spent about $200 million buying back shares.

The French-owned TotalEnergies, which is the second largest LNG company in the world, reported adjusted net income of $9 billion, a massive jump from last year’s $3 billion total for the same time period. The company’s gas sales increased about 34 percent from the previous year. The company spent $1 billion in the quarter buying back shares of company stock.

After Senate Appropriations Committee Guts Aliso Canyon Closure Bill, Senator Stern Urges “No” Vote

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Sacramento, CA – California Senator Henry Stern (D-LA) asked his colleagues to vote “no” on SB 1486 after the Appropriations Committee saddled the bill with amendments that stripped it of its key components: language defining a 2027 closure date for Aliso Canyon and establishing a moratorium on its use in the interim. SB 1486 failed in a 5 to 12 vote.

In response, Food & Water Watch Southern California Organizer Andrea Vega released this statement:

“Senator Stern’s courage in opposing his own bill after it was gutted by Sempra cannot be overstated. The fate of SB 1486 reminds us that fossil fuel interests wield dangerous power in our California legislature, and as long as their funds drive our climate policy our planet is doomed to burn. We applaud Senator Stern’s leadership in the fight to close Aliso Canyon and move California off fossil fuels, and hope Governor Newsom is watching. There is no reason for any more delays — Newsom must pave the way for a clean energy future for California by closing Aliso Canyon once and for all.”

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

Perth Amboy Votes to Oppose New Fracked Gas Plant in Woodbridge

Categories

Climate and Energy

The Perth Amboy City Council voted unanimously last night in support of a resolution opposing the construction of a massive new fracked gas power plant in the Keasbey section of Woodbrige.

Competitive Power Ventures is seeking to build a 630-megawatt plant amid a densely populated community already overburdened with fossil fuel pollution.  Perth Amboy neighborhoods are just over one mile from the site of the power plant, and all of the city’s public schools are located within three miles of it.

If approved, this new facility – which would be adjacent to an existing CPV plant – would emit more than 2.3 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses (GHG’s) each year, along with hundreds of tons of toxic air pollutants  – including carbon monoxide, ammonia, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, sulfuric acid, and lead, all of which will hurt the health of Central Jersey and Staten Island residents.

Combined with its existing power plant, the Woodbridge facility would be one of the largest single sources of climate-destroying carbon emissions in New Jersey, emitting over 4.6 million tons of GHG’s every year.

“I am proud that the City Council passed the resolution in opposition to the construction of CPV Keasbey Power Plant in Woodbridge,” said Perth Amboy Councilman Bienvenido “BJ” Torres. “The proposed power plant’s proximity to Perth Amboy will have a negative impact on the lives of all our residents. Our city is an environmental justice community that has suffered from past practices.  It is time to put the health of our residents first.”  

“This plant would go against environmental justice,” said Reverend Donna Stewart, President of the NAACP Perth Amboy Area Branch. “The NAACP is a civil rights organization, and environmental justice falls under civil rights of our people.” 

“Sometimes our courage will be called upon to say no to something outdated and harmful.  Today, we must say no,” said Julie Ann Ferreira, a Perth Amboy resident and Food & Water Watch volunteer. “We must make history of fossil fuels before they make history of us.”

Resolutions opposing the CPV plant have been passed by the Hoboken, Edison and Highland Park municipal councils, as well as the Highland Park Board of Education, a sign of the growing opposition to the plant across the region.

If you would like Food & Water Watch to present to your town government, contact us at 732-993-9697.

Emily Robinson Turns Our Plastic Garbage Into Stunning Visual Essays

Categories

Climate and EnergyClean Water

by Angie Aker

Many of us have spent time at the beach in recent years. If you have, it’s nearly impossible to miss a glaring symptom of humanity’s manufacturing problem — plastic. Plastic of every imaginable kind washes onto the shorelines of our world. It comes tangled in seaweed, punctuating the driftwood, and even hiding in the stomachs of decaying ocean life. Smooth or jagged, colorful or not, its presence has become an emblem of humanity’s war with the natural world. The species is pitted against nature’s innate sustainability, certain that man can triumph in the pursuit of capital and comfort. Those of us not so foolish see that folly in the plastic along the beaches. We also face our own feelings about the hugeness of the problem and our sense of powerlessness to fix it. 

This is something like what Emily Robinson was feeling during her daily beach strolls. She’s a Hollywood, Florida artist and mother with a background in journalism. She’s been a documentarian about difficult topics, including her beautiful work on loving family members with mental illnesses. That’s how I first met her many years ago. 

Recently, I noticed she was sharing fascinating beach finds almost daily. Over time, these beach finds started morphing into curations of beach plastic. Her local news even featured her in a compelling video interview. Since we at Food & Water Watch fight to disrupt the literal pipeline of fossil fuels to plastic, I was hooked. Emily kindly gave me a peek at her process for the series she calls “Peace of Plastic” and what she aims to say with it. Her observations are profound and essential.

“The joy of life is boiled down to having the most fundamental needs met. As we harm the planet, we harm ourselves. And as always, the most marginalized will always suffer first, and the most.”

Photo: Emily Robinson/ IG @plasticpresents.

Plastic Pollution At Her Feet, Social Commentary In Her Hands

I asked Emily how this journey began for her. 

She said that at first she was a casual beachcomber looking for little natural treasures — shells, seaglass, driftwood. But as her eyes scanned the sand for these, she couldn’t help but notice everything that was there. Suddenly she had an epiphany. As she bypassed a chip bag to scoop up a more desirable find, she got “grossed out.” Not at the trash — at herself. She thought about how she was taking all the beautiful things the Earth gave, and leaving behind all of the ugliness that humans had contributed. Her initial shame gave way to a new mission, and she was inspired. 

“I literally began bringing home my garbage finds, then laying them out carefully on my patio table by color. I did this compulsively as another way of telling a story.

…My process was really simple. I was thinking ‘Holy shit! LOOK at all this stuff!’”

Photo: Emily Robinson/ IG @plasticpresents.

The Big Problem That Plastic Pollution Signifies

Emily says trash, pollution, and climate change have always been upsetting to her. But she says recently she’s begun witnessing local, tangible changes that make it starker.  She notes the sargassum seaweed blooms, mainly in the summer months, becoming larger and larger. Tucked into the mounds of rotting seaweed are masses and masses of plastic debris. She says it’s like a giant floating landfill arrives. 

“Last year for many weeks the seaweed was filled with probably billions of tiny bits of shredded clear plastic. Once it’s in the water, it’s nearly invisible because its so tiny and clear. Like most people who become ‘woke’ to an issue suddenly, I think I felt really depressed, overwhelmed, angry, and a little hopeless and helpless, too. It’s like waking up to seeing the world being destroyed all around you, and looking around to find most people are still metaphorically ‘sleeping’ and you cannot wake them up to be in the same headspace as you are.”

MAKING STATEMENTS, PEACE BY PIECE

An Artist’s Compulsion To Create Order From Society’s Chaos

​​Emily Robinson didn’t set out to intentionally make art from her oceanfront scavenging. But the storyteller within her couldn’t be at peace until she took her finds and began composing them in order to say something about our society’s problem with plastic.

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Photo: Emily Robinson/ IG @plasticpresents
MAKING STATEMENTS, PEACE BY PIECE

“At my core, I am a storyteller. I’ve worked as a newspaper reporter, professional documentary-style birth and family photographer, and done a lot of other activism/advocacy projects in my life. This environmental tragedy unfolding at my feet at the shoreline feels too big and complicated to explain with words or videos or more traditional journalistic approaches.”

Photo: Emily Robinson/ IG @plasticpresents.
MAKING STATEMENTS, PEACE BY PIECE

“Once we visually examine our garbage in a more curated way, it becomes more inviting to look at and allows us to linger there longer, too. Looking at a pile of gross garbage on the sand is sad, but it’s not that interesting anymore, you know? But laying out every single bit of that pile into something that’s carefully arranged tells a better story, I think.”

Photo: Emily Robinson/ IG @plasticpresents.

Who Do We Hold Responsible For The Pollution Harming Our Planet?

When I ask her about who’s to blame for this pollution, her answer is both big picture and targeted. 

“We are trained to think material wealth is synonymous with success, and that idea is perpetuated by a system that thrives on selling stuff and making money as its primary function. That’s the Too Big answer. 

We all want and have too much stuff. 

We are all too afraid to NOT have a lot of stuff because then we are perceived as ‘not successful.’

Practically speaking though, the ones most responsible right now for making it all worse are giant corporations and political leaders who are corrupted by the intertwined greed and power of their relationships with those businesses. The more our leaders continue to allow giant pollution-causing corporations to destroy our planet, the more we can all expect to suffer as climate change disrupts our food, water, air quality, ability to afford to live, and expectations to live free of armed conflict.

How Do We Fix The Pressing Pollution And Climate Change Problems We Face?

Emily suggests we urgently need a hero — several, in fact — in order to fix this. 

“People are moved to action and change by brave and bold people who aren’t afraid to speak truth to power in big ways. We need people who can speak eloquently and passionately into microphones and megaphones and command rooms and bring people to tears and put them off their iPhones and into the streets. 

We need a handful of heroes and an actual revolution of sorts to shut this mess down immediately. It’s that urgent, I believe.”

Photo: Emily Robinson/ IG @plasticpresents.

What Emily Robinson Hopes Her Plastic Pollution Art Will Leave You With

Ultimately, what Emily impresses on me is that none of us can fix this alone. Community holds power, and community is what will lead us into a more sustainable paradigm. 

“Once I began to understand and have more compassion and forgiveness for my own ignorance and destructive behaviors, I also realized that I am a victim, too, of a system much larger than myself. 

I alone did not do all this, and I alone cannot undo all this. 

It’s important to begin with compassion first before justice will ever be possible. If we have not forgiven ourselves, we will continue to be obstinate and react emotionally or defensively to problems instead of heading into them with logic and determination. 

If we feel shame from within or hatred toward our fellow humans, how can we expect to care enough to make changes toward alleviating suffering? Ultimately, loving the planet and caring about nature and our environment is an act of compassion and love for ourselves. Right now, we all continue to suffer energetically, spiritually and tangibly, during this era of ‘planetary self-harm.’”

Photo: Emily Robinson/ IG @plasticpresents.

Emily Robinson punctuates this interview with the most important thing of all — hope. She hopes we will be able to make enough changes quickly enough to head toward an era of harmony and peacefulness instead. I share her hope, and ideally you do, too.

Share some hope with your friends.

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]

West Ventura Community Rallies for Yes On Measures A And B

Categories

Climate and EnergyClean Water

For Immediate Release

Ventura, CA – More than a hundred community members, climate activists and elected officials filled Kellogg Park to rally in support of the VC-SAFE Yes on Measures A and B campaign. The twin June 7 ballot measures would close a loophole in Ventura County allowing oil and gas companies to drill without environmental review using antiquated permits. In most cases, these permits were granted between 1930 and 1970.

 More than 60 percent of oil wells in Ventura County are next to Latinx homes. In West Ventura, the percentage is even higher. Oil and gas industry giants like Aera Energy spent millions of dollars to fight the loophole closures initially passed by the Board of Supervisors two years ago. The industry has collectively poured more than $8 million into the campaign against Measures A and B. 

“It’s corporate greed in its worst form,” said Tomás Rebecchi, a West Ventura resident and Central Coast Organizing Manager for Food & Water Watch. “They’re using record prices from price gouging us at the pump and they’re using that money to flood our county with $8 million of lies. We have some of the highest levels of pollution here in the Westside out of all of California. Study after study has shown living next to oil wells is bad for cancer, asthma, preterm birth, and we have hundreds of oil wells right next to our homes and schools here on the Westside.”

Ventura County Supervisor Carmen Ramirez said, “We are fighting not just for ourselves but for our children and our grandchildren, all the future generations. Some day in the future, our descendants are going to say ‘what did our ancestors do? Did they do something to help us live a better life or did they condemn us to the hell on earth that we’re starting to see in India and other places where the temperatures are so hot that people cannot survive?’”

At a “toxics tour” after the rally, members of the media traveled to three locations that viscerally illustrate West Ventura’s long history as a sacrifice zone for fossil fuel interests: a gas compressor station across the street from an elementary school; an oil derrick on a community member’s property; and a decades-old petrochemical site with a history of explosions.

Across the street from the E.P. Foster Elementary School, community activist and local resident Liz Campos pulled her wheelchair up to the SoCalGas compressor site. Campos has Stage 4 lung cancer, which her doctors attribute to her living within a quarter of a mile from the SoCalGas compressor station. She has no prior history of lung cancer in her family. 

“I won’t be defeated,” said Campos, chair of the Westside Neighborhood Council and member of the Westside Clean Air Coalition.  “I will go to my death fighting for people who need to be able to breathe.”

Jan Dietrick owns a business with her husband, Ron, on a property that has been in her family for generations. Amid the family’s lush greenery and homegrown plants, an oil derrick bobs up and down. The permit originated in the 1940s, long before environmental review was required. Just outside her house, a sign lists the dangerous health impacts of proximity to the oil derrick — including cancer. The smell of oil is thick in the air.

“We don’t know what might be happening in the groundwater right now,” said Dietrick. “And groundwater is precious to this community. I would rather be growing my business than having to be out explaining to everybody in my neighborhood what’s the truth.”

Along Crooked Palm Road in West Ventura the remains of the USA PetroChem oil refinery still scar the landscape. The site was responsible for 23 fires and several explosions, releasing toxic emissions which caused adverse health impacts in the community. In 1978, a 19 year old man was fatally burned at one of the fires. 

“The toxic legacy in this community follows a dangerous pattern,” said John Brooks, an environmental activist who lives in Ojai. “There are spills, accidents, environmental damage and failure to obey regulations. In so many cases the taxpayers are charged for the cleanup. It’s such a pattern of bringing environmental damage and then saying goodbye, we’re leaving. It happens all the time.” 

The oil wells using these antiquated permits have no expiration date and no requirement for environmental review. If the ballot measures do not pass and the loopholes for the oil industry remain open, future oil drilling with these permits would not be subject to any other legislation limiting or regulating drilling (such as a ban on fracking or the institution of 3,200 foot buffer zones between community sites like schools and well operations).

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

Bill to Close Aliso Canyon Gutted in Senate Appropriations Committee

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Sacramento, CA – In an eleventh hour reversal, the California Senate Appropriations Committee passed SB 1486, the bill to close SoCalGas’ Aliso Canyon storage facility, after they saddled it with numerous amendments gutting the bill’s efficacy. Among the bill’s casualties are the 2027 shutdown timeline and any language creating a moratorium on Aliso Canyon’s use as anything other than a last resort. Climate activists immediately slammed the amendments.

“The Appropriation Committee’s amendments to SB 1486 are shameful,” said Andrea Vega, Southern California Organizer with Food & Water Watch. “But even worse than the Senate leadership’s duplicity in gutting this bill is Governor Newsom’s complete failure to speak out on behalf of closing Aliso Canyon. Sempra is a powerful lobby group and we knew going into this fight that we faced a corporate interest with money to burn and no concern for the people sacrificed to its bottom line. We need Governor Newsom to take up this fight for the sake of justice and his climate agenda — we can’t have either as long as Aliso Canyon is still operating. SB 1486 is no longer the bold legislation Senator Stern championed, and Newsom is the only hope for the courageous climate action we need.”

In the first three months of this year alone, Sempra Energy, the parent company of SoCalGas, spent nearly $2 million lobbying the California legislature. Among the Appropriations Committee, recipients of Sempra money include Senator Portantino (D-25) ($22,250), Senator Bradford (D-35) ($34,300), Senator Jones (R-38) ($35,000). Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-39) has received $37,000.

While Governor Newsom has mandated a fast-track for the site’s closure, he declined to publicly support SB 1486 or any effort to solidify a closure timeline. The Public Utilities Commission voted to increase the site’s storage capacity in November 2021 despite strong community opposition. The 2015 gas blowout that made Aliso Canyon’s name synonymous with disaster sickened thousands of residents, many of whom are still suffering health effects like cancer and asthma today.

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

Oregon’s Mega-Dairies, Mega-Pollution and Mega-Climate Consequences

Categories

PDFFood SystemClimate and Energy

The numerous problems that mega-dairies create and the incalculable damage that they inflict on Oregon are not going away without strong action from the state’s leaders. Touting factory farm gas as a solution is only entrenching pollution among frontline communities. Oregon’s legislature must take strong action to protect our air, water and health, beginning with a moratorium on new and expanding mega-dairies.

Food & Water Watch recommends that Oregon:
• Enact an immediate moratorium on new mega-dairies, and on the expansion of existing ones;
• Adopt regulations requiring mega-dairies to reduce their emissions of methane and other harmful air pollutants; and
• Reject the incentivizing of air pollution through factory farm gas and focus on real solutions to climate change like wind and solar.

LA City Council Passes Hydrogen Hub Motion Amid Environmental Concerns

Categories

Climate and EnergyClean Water

For Immediate Release

Los Angeles, CA – Amid the vocal opposition of community and environmental advocates, the L.A. City Council unanimously voted in favor of a motion that will initiate an application process for federal funding from the Department of Energy that would create a “green” hydrogen hub in L.A. 

“L.A. doesn’t need a hydrogen hub to advance our clean energy goals,” said Food & Water Watch Senior L.A. Organizer Jasmin Vargas. “Cheaper, safer, less water intensive options exist right now and we should be looking to those before hydrogen enters the conversation. This process has been rushed, community voices have been left out, and there are many questions remaining. Even green hydrogen produced by electrolysis has the potential to be misused — particularly if it is blended with fossil gas at a power plant and piped into people’s homes. A hydrogen hub has the potential to be dangerous for our communities and disastrous for our drought. Today’s vote was made in haste, and we will continue to urge the L.A. City Councilmembers to heed the voices of their constituents and turn to safer, more sustainable power other than hydrogen for L.A.’s clean energy future.”

Chief among concerns raised by environmental justice leaders and climate groups: 

  • LADWP is considering plans to burn hydrogen at existing natural gas power plants, which can increase harmful NOx emissions sixfold. This is prompting concerns that even a “green” hydrogen hub could exacerbate issues of environmental injustice in communities already overburdened with pollution. 
  • The Hub will also likely require pipelines and storage facilities, creating concerns this highly volatile element can lead to potentially deadly explosions like those just seen in Bradford County, PA. 

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

Big Water Abusers Ignored As California Drought Persists

Categories

Climate and EnergyClean Water

by Mark Schlosberg

California’s crushing drought continues and urban water usage increased 19% in March compared to 2021. Yet, Governor Newsom has only done more of the same. He called for increased voluntary conservation by residents and pledged an ad campaign to encourage conservation. But hoping voluntary measures will avoid the impacts of this climate change-induced drought is just wishful thinking. And it gives a pass to the largest corporate water abusers in the state. 

Most Water Use is by Big Agribusiness

Eighty percent of California water goes to agriculture, with most going to big agribusiness. For example, almonds and other tree nuts use 20% of that agricultural water. Most almonds are exported by large corporate interests overseas for massive profits. The Wonderful Company is one such corporation, and its billionaire owners contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Newsom’s campaigns. The acreage of these thirsty crops have only grown since our last drought. 

Mega-dairies, which help drive climate change and water pollution, are also big water abusers. California mega-dairies suck up 142 million gallons of water every day to operate. That’s the same amount needed to supply every person in San Diego and San Jose with their needed daily water.

During droughts, these big interests draw massive amounts of groundwater, which is still largely unregulated in the state. Over-withdrawal of groundwater causes the land to sink, leading to a litany of problems. For example, people who rely on well water for drinking will find it harder to reach and use, and some of their wells will go dry. 

Meanwhile, over a million Californians lack access to clean water. Tulare County houses the most mega-dairies of any CA county. Half of its water supplies are predicted to go dry this year. Governor Newsom could show leadership by working to fast track ground water regulation and stopping the expansion of these industries. 

The Oil and Gas Industry is Also a Big Water Consumer and Polluter

From January 2018 to March 2021, oil and gas companies used more than 3 billion gallons of freshwater for drilling operations. This same amount of water could sustain everyone in the city of Ventura, for example, for 16 months. At the same time, oil and gas development pollutes and threatens California’s finite freshwater resources. Some corporations have routinely injected oil wastewater directly into the state’s aquifers.This toxic wastewater contains fracking fluids, contaminants, brines and radioactive materials. Newsom should stop new drilling permits and aggressively accelerate our transition off oil and gas. 

In response to the drought, Governor Newsom has largely ignored these large corporate water sources. Instead, he has taken small measures aimed at the most wasteful of urban water uses, asked for voluntary conservation and championed climate-intensive and destructive desalination projects (thankfully, the Coastal Commission has the good sense to reject this proposal). This is a mistake that will end up costing Californians. It’s up to us to make sure he hears loud and clear that the time for voluntary measures is over. For our water future and current needs, Newsom must take on Big Ag and Big Oil, while mandating reductions for urban water use as well. 

Demand that Newsom hold big water abusers accountable.

Capitalists, Cronies And Crooked Deals: Iowa’s Carbon Pipeline Scam

Categories

Climate and Energy

by Emma Schmit and Phoebe Galt

Three corporations have proposed nearly 2,000 miles of hazardous carbon pipelines across Iowa. Summit Carbon Solutions, Navigator CO2 Ventures and Archer-Daniels Midland/Wolf Carbon Solutions hope to cash in on carbon capture. And they’ll use public money to do it — at the expense of Iowans, our land and our futures.

In order to build the pipelines, the three corporations will claim eminent domain. This will allow them to seize private lands for “public use”; in this case, for the pipelines. We won’t let this happen — 80% of Iowans oppose the use of eminent domain for carbon pipelines. But Iowa’s 2022 legislative session has been a glaring disappointment. Across every corner of the state, constituent concerns have been ignored in favor of corporate interests. Despite overwhelming public pressure, the legislature failed to address carbon pipelines this session. The biggest reason? Money.

Federal Taxpayer Dollars are Funding the Carbon Pipeline Boom

The catalyst behind the recent surge in CCS development is government funding. Our tax dollars have become a cash cow for Wall Street, guaranteeing investors massive profits. FWW analysis found that more than 20 billion of our tax dollars could finance Iowa’s three proposed carbon pipelines. A single federal tax credit, Section 45Q, could funnel almost $2 billion a year to Summit, Navigator and ADM/Wolf. Over the 12 years that the projects are eligible for the Section 45Q credit, the companies would make $23 billion.

And the federal money doesn’t stop there. The 2021 infrastructure bill included billions of public dollars for a massive CCS infrastructure buildout. This adds to the nearly $10 billion already invested in demo-projects and research over the past decade. Our government directed over $12 billion last year alone to prove something we already know. CCS does not work.

Archer Daniels-Midland already knows this. In 2017, the company began capturing carbon from its Illinois ethanol plant. The facility consistently captures just half of its yearly CO2 target. Biofuels still emit CO2 when combusted, and the captured CO2 accounts for only 3% of ADM’s total CO2 emissions. This same story has played out everywhere CCS has been tried at scale. But now, thanks to our tax dollars, Summit, Navigator and ADM/Wolf are guaranteed to profit from these ventures. 

Risk for Iowans, Reward for Private Interests

Carbon pipelines will take private land from Iowans, while posing serious safety risks. For example, if a pipeline ruptures, odorless, colorless CO2 could spread in lethal amounts up to four and a half miles away. CO2 exposure can cause respiratory arrest, cardiac arrhythmia, long-term brain damage and other fatal conditions. 

But none of Summit, Navigator and ADM/Wolf’s private investors will face these risks. Instead, they’ll be sitting back, feet up, watching their profits skyrocket. 

Pursuing Profits, Shady Private Sector Investors are Hopping on the CSS Bandwagon

Summit, Navigator and ADM/Wolf have a roster of investors pockmarked with problematic corporations. These investors include John Deere, Continental Resources and Valero. They’ll also rake in a neat sum from the carbon pipelines proposed for Iowa.

Last year, more than 10,000 unionized workers at John Deere went on strike. They know John Deer cannot be trusted — this company does not work for the little guy. Meanwhile, fossil fuel companies Continental Resources and Valero are fracking and drilling our planet past a livable tipping point. These shady bedfellows behind the Iowa CCS projects speak volumes. They’re focused on profits, not public good, and they should not be trusted with our land, lives and futures.

Private Money is Rigging Our Politics

In early 2022, the Iowa legislature scrambled to address constituents’ overwhelming opposition to the pipelines. Numerous bills were introduced in both chambers. These bills responded directly to constituent demands and effectively proposed a halt to the projects. 

An amendment for an 11-month moratorium on eminent domain claims for the pipelines even passed the House. But in the end, these efforts failed. Thanks to the sway of private money, no legislation to stop carbon pipelines passed this session.

Meanwhile, nearly every top Republican politician in Iowa has cashed hefty checks from Bruce Rastetter, CEO of Summit Carbon Solutions. The same can be said for executives at Navigator CO2 Ventures. They donated thousands to House Majority Leader Pat Grassley, Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver and Governor Kim Reynolds right before the 2022 legislative session.

Now, the pipeline corporations have to seek permits for the CCS scheme. In Iowa, that means approval from the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB), a three-person board appointed by the Governor. That process, too, is wrought with private monied interests. Governor Reynolds accepted $163,902 in campaign contributions from Summit’s Rastetter. 

Iowans Won’t Be Sold Out

The people we elected to serve us are selling us out. But it’s not too late to stop them. Ultimately, Iowans across the state are deeply opposed to the carbon capture scams and we will not back down.

The campaign to stop carbon pipelines from crisscrossing Iowa is far from over. The permit approval process will stretch into 2023 and 2024. We will continue fighting for the land, communities and future of Iowa every step of the way.

Demand that the Iowa Utilities Board deny all permits for the proposed carbon pipelines.

Newsom’s Budget Champions Climate Scams

Categories

Climate and EnergyClean Water

For Immediate Release

Sacramento, CA — Governor Gavin Newsom released his proposed revisions to his 2022-23 budget in the midst of an unprecedented $97.5 billion surplus. Despite this windfall, the governor allocated no funding for his stated priority of phasing out oil and gas in California. Instead, Newsom dedicated $100 million for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), acknowledging environmental justice concerns but insisting on the necessity of the technology. Newsom also allocated $8 billion for investments in renewable energy, which includes green hydrogen, a notoriously water and energy intensive fuel frequently championed by utilities to maintain natural gas plants amid a renewable energy transition.

In response, Food & Water Watch Central Coast Organizing Manager Tomás Morales Rebecchi issued the following statement:

“Newsom’s budget revisions support some of the worst climate scams available — unabated green hydrogen and carbon capture,” said Food & Water Watch Central Coast Organizing Manager Tomás Morales Rebecchi. “CCS is a fossil fuel industry fantasy that allows business as usual when we can least afford it. And investing in a water-intensive fuel like green hydrogen during the worst drought California has seen in 1,200 years is dangerous and irresponsible. Newsom needs to stop funding these industry smokescreens that distract from real action like ending new permits for oil and gas development and holding corporate water abusers accountable. California has the means to get off fossil fuels and transition to clean energy right now without sacrificing community health or safety.”

Newsom also hailed desalination as a necessary tool to combat the drought, despite the Coastal Commission denying a large proposed desalination plant in Huntington Beach in the wake of massive public outcry and environmental concerns. 

“Desalination is an expensive exercise in water inequity, driving up water costs and providing lucrative opportunities for fossil fuel expansion,” continued Rebecchi. “Newsom is touting a scam that will pad the wallets of private companies but won’t solve the drought crisis. It’s time for Newsom to learn what environmental advocates and scientists already know: we must invest in water conservation while cutting back on the corporate water abuses of Big Ag and Big Oil to secure safe and clean water for all Californians.”

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

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