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.

Miho Suzuki-Robinson

Miho Suzuki-Robinson

Donor Communications Manager

Ann Arbor, MI

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]

New Research Details Skyrocketing Emissions and Water Use of Oregon’s 11 Mega-Dairies

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Salem, OR – New research from national advocacy group Food & Water Watch tracks the emissions of Oregon’s 11 dairy CAFOs, or mega-dairies, and reveals their profound impact on climate change and public health. According to Food & Water Watch’s findings, the yearly methane emissions of Oregon’s mega-dairies produce the equivalent CO2 emissions of 318,000 cars — more than all of Marion County’s registered passenger vehicles

Like the rest of the Western U.S., Oregon is experiencing the worst drought the region has seen in 1,200 years and is increasingly vulnerable to year-round wildfires. Morrow County holds the highest concentrations of Oregon’s mega-dairies despite the region’s dry, arid landscape, and is home to a large Hispanic/Latinx population, who are disproportionately impacted by the harms from mega-dairies. The research highlights the area as a key example of a population already overburdened from decades of industrial agricultural pollution. As weather trends reflect a warming planet and wildfires and drought become regular occurrences, the vulnerability of communities across Oregon to the health and environmental hazards of these facilities will grow. The report likewise refers to the expanding dairy digesters and resulting factory farm gas pipelines as dangerous for surrounding communities.

“Oregon needs an immediate moratorium on new and expanding mega-dairies,” said Mackenzie Aime, Oregon Organizer with Food & Water Watch. “For years we have known that with mega-dairy expansion comes pollution and water scarcity. This new research makes clear that the emissions and water use of these industrial facilities will soon be felt by Oregonians all over the state. We need to reevaluate this flawed system instead of expanding or propping it up with scams like factory farm gas that will only entrench mega-dairies and dirty energy. ”

The report also flags the heavy emissions produced by the anaerobic digesters frequently used by industrial mega-dairies to capture methane. Burning the gas produced by the anaerobic digestion process releases carbon dioxide and other pollutants like smog-forming nitrogen oxides, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, creating hazards for surrounding communities.

Other key statistics highlighted by the report:

  • Oregon’s 11 mega-dairies consume 8.2 million gallons of water a day just for drinking water and washing cows and buildings, enough to meet the average indoor daily water needs of over 124,000 Oregonians.
  • The yearly methane emissions of Oregon’s mega-dairies produce the equivalent CO2 emissions of 318,000 cars — more than all of Marion County’s registered passenger vehicles. 
  • Those emissions fuel mega-fires, which also fuel climate change. Oregon’s wildfires during the summer of 2021 produced 17 million tons of carbon dioxide — the warming equivalent of driving 3.7 million passenger cars for one year.

For years, the Stand Up to Factory Farms Coalition, of which Food & Water Watch is a member, has called for a moratorium on new and expanding mega-dairies and bold action to curtail the emissions and health hazards of unsustainable factory farming.

READ THE FULL REPORT HERE.

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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.

SCROLL SIDEWAYS TO NAVIGATE

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]

Mia DiFelice

Mia DiFelice

Digital Copywriter

Pittsburgh, PA

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.

Tester, Booker, Merkley, Warren Introduce Food & Agribusiness Merger Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Today, Senators John Tester (D-MT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced federal legislation to combat rampant consolidation and monopolistic practices in the food and agribusiness industries. The Federal Food & Agribusiness Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act would pause all industry mergers and establish a commission to study how to strengthen antitrust oversight of the farm and food sectors. The bill’s introduction comes as American consumers struggle with rising grocery prices and crucial product shortages.

A recent Food & Water Watch report, “The Economic Cost of Food Monopolies: The Hog Bosses”, laid out the agribusiness consolidation crisis’ effects on Iowa farm country, finding that as industry efficiencies squeeze more hogs than ever out of Iowa factory farms, farmers and communities are left behind. Key findings include:

  • Iowa lost nearly 90 percent of its hog farms from 1982 to 2017, as rapid factory hog farm expansion drove out smaller, independent farms.
  • Since 1982, Iowa counties with the most hog factory farm development suffered declines across several economic indicators, including real median household income and total jobs. These counties also experienced significant population decline — twice the rate of Iowa’s rural counties overall.
  • Overproduction — and growing corporate consolidation — have pushed down the real price of hogs. Adjusting for inflation, today’s farmers earn $2 less per pound of pork produced compared to 1982, while the retail price fell only $1; slaughterhouses, processors and retailers capture the other $1.
  • Between 2004 and 2011, the top four firms slaughtered 9 out of 10 Iowa hogs thanks to corporate consolidation within the meat slaughtering and processing industry.

Food & Water Watch Senior Iowa Organizer John Aspray issued the following statement:

“For too long, a handful of agribusinesses have stood between our nation’s two million farmers and 330 million consumers. Iowans are seeing the effects of these decades of unchecked corporate consolidation in the grocery aisle and on struggling family farms. In order to create a food system that works for consumers, farmers, and our communities, we must rein in the corporate profiteers that stand in the way. Passing the Federal Food & Agribusiness Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act is a critical first step.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

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]

Baltimore Advocates Demand Answers on Shoddy Implementation of Water Accountability & Equity Act

Categories

Clean Water

For Immediate Release

Baltimore, MD —  Today, advocates and councilmembers showed up in droves to an informational Rules and Legislative Oversight Committee hearing on the implementation of the “Water4All” Affordability Program and the Water Accountability & Equity Act. Today’s hearing marks roughly two months since the landmark “Water4All” affordability program was launched, but advocates and councilmembers warn that the program’s implementation is already flawed with deadlines missed and programmatic concerns.

In accordance with the Water Accountability & Equity Act modifications bill passed in 2020 to extend the implementation of the legislation, the Act should have been fully implemented by July 1st, 2021. The Department of Public Works launched the first half of the legislation, the Water4All affordability program, earlier this year and have yet to make notable progress on the second half of the legislation by establishing the Water Customer Advocate’s office for a more transparent billing dispute resolution process. 

Even the launch of the Water4All program has raised serious concerns, as DPW currently plans for the affordability credit for tenants in multifamily units to count as taxable income, despite available ARPA funds which have been designated non taxable. The Baltimore Right to Water Coalition has repeatedly raised these concerns and others with the Scott Administration and the Department of Public Works and have not been able to get a clear response. 

At the hearing, advocates from the Baltimore Right to Water Coalition and councilmembers demanded answers to critical questions from representatives from the Department of Public Works, the Department of Finance, and the Office of the Baltimore City Administrator. Rianna Eckel, Baltimore Water Organizer with Food & Water Watch said:

“You don’t get brownie points for passing landmark water equity legislation if you never implement it. Baltimoreans are struggling with water access and water affordability right now — any delay in implementation of Water4All and the Water Accountability & Equity Act will spell disaster for the very people it’s designed to help. Mayor Scott must get serious about Baltimore’s water equity crisis and take concrete steps to implement this legislation faithfully.”

“It is incredibly disappointing to see DPW violating the law by denying renters access to their water bills two and a half years after the Water Accountability & Equity Act passed,” said Molly Amster, Maryland Policy Director & Baltimore Director for Jews United for Justice. “Renters make up more than 50% of Baltimore residents and shouldn’t be treated like second class citizens.”

“It’s frustrating that so few customers learned about possible back-dated credits after the significant delays launching the credit. Not only that, but because the customer advocate position has yet to be filled, customers often still need lawyers to resolve their water woes,” said Amy Hennen, Director of Advocacy and Financial Stabilization at the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service. “These delays only hurt the citizens of Baltimore.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Hochul Admin. Presses for Immediate Action on All-Electric New Construction at Hearing

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, the Assembly hearing on the All-Electric Building Act is demonstrating the consensus that ending gas in new construction fights climate change, creates jobs and cuts air pollution. Experts, including NYSERDA President Doreen Harris speaking for the Hochul Administration, testified favorably to the bill’s feasibility, timing and affordability, and pointed to the real-world experience of all electric fossil-free buildings already built across the state. 

The Hochul Administration effectively endorsed the timeline proposed by the Climate Action Council: a 2024 start to ending gas in new construction, which matches the All-Electric Building Act, prime-sponsored by Senator Kavanagh and Assemblyperson Gallagher. Harris also made clear the Hochul administration’s position that all-electric technology is feasible and affordable in new buildings, rebutting the oil and gas industry’s lies and exaggerations about the cost of ending fossil fuels in new construction.

The hearing comes on the heels of an Albany rally Tuesday, where legislative co-sponsors and local government allies urged prompt passage of the important bill which would prevent four million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, slash deadly air pollution and create thousands of clean energy jobs.

The All-Electric Building Act has 65 co-sponsors and is politically popular. As of January polling, 62% of New Yorkers support going all electric. Previously, the State Senate pushed for passage of the bill in the state budget and Governor Hochul proposed a weak version of the legislation in her budget, but it was not included in the final deal as the Assembly refused to negotiate its incorporation. The Climate Action Council draft plan also recommends a phaseout of fossil fuels in new construction starting in 2024, as critical to meeting the state’s emissions reduction targets.

The Senate has previously supported this legislation and advocates urged passage in the Senate as well.

The #GasFreeNY Campaign called on Speaker Heastie and the Assembly to enact the bill in the wake of the hearing’s demonstration of the feasibility and timing of all-electric building construction, which was the hearing’s stated subject. Food & Water Watch Senior Organizer Eric Weltman said:

“Speaker Heastie should take heed of the Hochul administration’s testimony that all-electric technology is affordable, reliable, and available. The science is equally clear: we must move off fossil fuels to prevent climate catastrophe. The All-Electric Building Act is a win-win-win for New York, cutting deadly air pollution, reducing greenhouse gasses, and creating thousands of good jobs. Speaker Heastie must strike a blow against fracking by passing this important climate bill. Speaker Heastie and the Assembly must stand up to the fossil fuel industry and pass this legislation.”

“This bill is a common-sense first-step strategy for decarbonizing buildings to address the climate crisis. We can implement it today: heat pumps perform well in cold climates, including successful tests in the Arctic. The State has adequate electricity supply to handle the increased demand from new buildings relying on electric power through 2031 according to the NY Independent Operators System; and a new Buildings Institute report finds that all-electric, single-family homes are less expensive than new gas-fueled homes,” said Anne Rabe, NYPIRG Environmental Policy Director.

Studies have found that air pollution from buildings burning fossil fuels causes nearly 2,000 premature deaths each year across New York State, and we also know that communities of color are exposed to the highest amounts of air pollution. Even the indoor air pollution from cooking with gas has an adverse health impact, with studies showing that children living in homes with gas stoves are up to 42 percent more likely to develop a respiratory illness,” said Sonal Jessel, MPH, Director of Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “It’s time we stopped enabling the deadly fossil fuel industry, and pretending that their profits are worth harming the health and well-being of people of color. New York State cannot afford to wait any longer. To protect our most vulnerable communities, we must pass the All-Electric Building Act now.”

“It’s time for Speaker Heastie and the Assembly to fight climate change, create jobs and cut deadly air pollution. My family lost everything to Sandy and my family in Puerto Rico lost everything to Maria, including a close family friend we found after the flooding. I’m one of the many New Yorkers they say they care about. Now it’s time to show it by passing this bill,” said Rachel Rivera, a member of New York Communities for Change.

“The science could not be clearer — the time for fossil fuels is over, and the time to electrify everything is now,” said Liz Moran, New York Policy Advocate for Earthjustice. “The All-Electric Building Act is common sense policy that follows recommendations from global scientists and New York’s own Climate Action Council. The fossil fuel industry has spent billions over the course of decades lying about their role in causing the climate crisis — New York’s legislature can’t afford to fall victim to their lies regarding this legislation. We urge the Assembly to pass the All-Electric Buildings Act as soon as possible.”

The advocates also expressed disappointment that several top experts and practitioners, including developers who build and operate fossil-free buildings, were not invited to testify verbally about the issue after the Assembly asked for expert testimony and many top, highly-respected and experienced practitioners volunteered their time to help explain the issue. 

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

New Investigation Documents Meatpackers’ Pandemic Deceptions

Categories

Food System

Today, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis released a report documenting how leading U.S. meatpacking companies stoked fears about a meat shortage in order to keep their plants open during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.


The report shows that corporate giants like Tyson and Smithfield worked closely with the Trump administration to keep their operations running despite the risks to workers. It also documents how pork companies were exporting record amounts of pork while stoking fears of a shortage. 

In June of last year, Food & Water Watch filed suit charging that Smithfield Foods repeatedly lied to consumers about a looming meat shortage in order to protect its profits. 

In response to today’s report, Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter released the following statement: 

“From the very beginning of the pandemic, consumer advocates and industry watchdogs warned that meat giants like Smithfield and Tyson were stoking fears of a shortage in order to keep their plants operating – putting public health and workers’ lives at risk. These fear mongering PR campaigns were nothing more than a coverup for corporate greed and pandemic profiteering.

“The unsafe conditions in meatpacking plants have raised alarms for decades. The devastating impacts of the COVID crisis on workers in these industries should push lawmakers and the Biden administration to crack down on the meatpacking giants. This is an urgent matter of public health, food safety and workers’ rights.”

Climate Changes Your Everyday Life — Here Are 5 Ways

Categories

Climate and Energy

by Yonit Friedman

Many of us are lucky to have never faced the climate crises that make the news, like hurricanes or wildfires. Even so, climate change changes all of our lives in both large and small ways. As we continue organizing for a livable future, everyday climate impacts can remind us what we’re working for.

Here are five ways climate change affects us every day:

Shifting Seasons Will Cause
Headaches For Allergy Sufferers

Ahhhh-choo! Have you noticed that you’ve been sneezing more? You’re not imagining things–allergy season has gotten longer, and many people are reporting worse symptoms. Climate change means that spring is starting earlier and that there’s more pollen in the air. For some people, this can go beyond an inconvenience and seriously threaten their health. For example, asthma rates are higher in neighborhoods with more pollution. The United States’ racist past and present means that historically redlined neighborhoods now have lower air quality

Changing Climate is Sending
Utility Bills Through the Roof

It seems pretty straightforward: hotter summers mean more people turning on the air conditioning, which raises utility bills alongside temperatures. It gets worse, though. When these prices plunge people into debt, companies can shut off customers’ utilities. Over the past few years, utilities have shut off heat during winter storms and water during the pandemic. Restricting warmth and access to hand washing during these times can have disastrous consequences, even more so for low-income Americans.

Climate Disruptions Are
Supply Chain Disruptions

Is shopping becoming more of a struggle? If you’re having a hard time finding products that used to be commonplace, climate change might be to blame. Transportation infrastructure is vulnerable to disruptions from fires, storms, and other extreme weather events traced back to climate change. This translates to emptier shelves and longer waits for delivery, even after the news moves on. For those who need necessities delivered (think medicines and baby formula), these delays can put their health at risk. Meanwhile, workers who keep the supply chain moving are forced to labor under dangerous conditions during climate crises. Worsening climate change threatens consumers and workers alike.

Higher Temperatures
Will Spark More Pandemics

We’ve entered into the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve been exhausting, stressful, infuriating, and grief-filled years, and we’re ready for COVID-19 to be over. Unfortunately, climate change is linked to a higher likelihood of new viral pandemics. What’s behind this connection? As temperatures rise, animals migrate, sometimes bringing them into closer proximity to people. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of a “viral jump,” when a pathogen moves from one species to another. Viral risks associated with places like wildlife markets could become more widespread, putting more people at risk. Fighting climate change is key to preventing more pandemic-induced misery.

Climate Change Will Lower Birth Rates

This one goes out to everyone who’s hoping for grandchildren one day. Lots of millennials and zoomers cite the climate crisis as one reason why they might have fewer or no children. To be clear, everyone should have the right to make their own choices whether or not to have children. It’s also true that everyone should have the right to raise their children in safe environments. Climate change directly violates that right. We must continue fighting climate change so current and future generations can live and thrive on this planet.

These everyday occurrences might be less noteworthy than massive hurricanes or wildfires. However, they all cause ongoing and corrosive damage to people’s lives. We all deserve the opportunity to build safe, fulfilling lives, without paying the price of fossil fuel corporations’ destructive practices.

Our loved ones need to know the stakes.

As Voluntary Conservation Fails, Advocates Call For Mandates And Action to Address Factory Farm Water Use

Categories

Clean Water

For Immediate Release

Sacramento, CA – Morning headlines in California today announced that domestic water use climbed by 19 percent in March, signaling the clear failure of Governor Gavin Newsom’s repeated pleas for voluntary reductions in household water consumption. Environmental advocates have long urged mandatory action to curb excessive urban water use and the need to rein in some of the biggest corporate water abusers, which Newsom has thus far ignored.

Research from the nonprofit environmental advocacy group Food & Water Watch lays out the enormous scale of corporate water abuse among fossil fuel interests and agribusiness in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Tulare County houses the most mega-dairies of any CA county, and half of its water supplies are predicted to go dry this year.

“It’s beyond clear that voluntary cutbacks on household water usage won’t make a dent in impacts of this climate change driven drought across the state,” said Mark Schlosberg, Managing Director of Research and Litigation for Food & Water Watch. “If Governor Newsom is serious about dealing with this water crisis, his laissez-faire attitude towards the drought must stop. It’s time to address water-intensive and polluting industries like out-of-control corporate agriculture and oil extraction, while enforcing mandates to curb excessive water use in households.”

Eighty percent of the state’s water goes to agriculture, including heavy water users like almonds. In 2019, more than 60 percent of almonds produced in California were exported, rerouting 910 billion gallons of water out of the state for corporate profit. It takes 142 millions of gallons of water every day to operate California’s mega-dairies, enough to supply every person in San Diego and San Jose with their needed daily water.

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

‘Lab Meat’ Industry is Big Ag in Disguise

Categories

Food System

The ‘lab meat’ industry is dominated by many of the same corporate powerhouses that exert substantial control over the processed foods and meat industries, according to new research from the national advocacy organization Food & Water Watch.

The group’s report (“Lab Meat Won’t End Factory Farms — But Could Entrench Them”) shows that the plant-based meat sector is dominated by just four companies, including Kellogg and  Conagra. Kellogg alone accounts for nearly half of all sales of plant-based meat alternatives, thanks to its acquisition of Morningstar Farms. 

The industry is also seeing substantial investments from meat giants such as JBS, Smithfield and Tyson. This is not surprising; U.S. sales of plant-based meat rose 37 percent between 2017 and 2019, and plant-based dairy has seen even more impressive growth.

As a whole, the lab meat industry (plant-based meat and so-called ‘cultured meat’) seeks to attract health conscious consumers by closely mimicking meat products while promising substantial environmental benefits. But on the whole, the marketing of plant-based meats deserves further scrutiny. Many products are ultra-processed and rely on additives like saturated fats to mimic the flavors and textures of meat. And government oversight can range from inconsistent to non-existent, and often relies on industry-supplied safety studies. And the ecological and climate benefits touted by the industry remain dubious, given the reliance on processed materials and inputs like corn and soy. 

The report finds that so far, lab meat seems to be complementing — not replacing — meat consumption, which raises questions about whether Americans can truly ‘shop their way’ to a more sustainable food system. This is all the more true when considering the array of federal policies and economic incentives that support the heavily polluting factory farm model. 

“Consumers may think they are ’voting with their dollar’ by choosing plant-based meats, but most of that dollar lines the pockets of agribusiness giants, including the largest meat companies,” says Amanda Starbuck, Food & Water Watch Research Director. “Plant-based meats are not true alternatives if they prop up the existing system that fuels climate change and ecological degradation.” 

The report calls for sweeping changes to U.S. farm policy, including banning factory farms and boosting support for organic, regenerative farming. This will only be achieved if we fight back against corporate power that currently holds a stranglehold on our food system. 

Navigator Walks Back Claims About Permanent Storage for Controversial IA Carbon Pipeline Gas

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Yesterday, Navigator CO2 Ventures announced a new letter of intent to work with Big River Resources and Big River United Energy on their carbon capture project proposed for the midwest. Among other services, they will partner to explore “key value optimization opportunities for captured CO2.” To date, Navigator has claimed their captured carbon will be used solely for permanent underground storage — yesterday’s announcement is the company’s first admission of additional aims for the hazardous gas.

Navigator is behind one of the three controversial carbon pipelines proposed for Iowa. The pipeline would run 1,300 miles from Illinois to South Dakota, including 900 miles in Iowa, reaching across 36 counties. The pipeline’s end destination in Illinois is close to multiple depleted oil fields, which has raised advocate concerns about use of the captured hazardous carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery — a dangerous process by which carbon gas is pumped underground to increase oil drilling. Coal bed methane extraction is another possible end use for the carbon pipelines, also posing dire environmental and climate repercussions. Navigator’s announcement Tuesday opened that previously shut door.

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

“From the start, we’ve warned that companies like Navigator are not to be trusted. They’ll say anything to mislead the public, but the facts are simple: Carbon capture is a scam, and these corporations are only in it for the money.

“Value optimization opportunities for captured carbon dioxide means one thing — more fossil fuels. Carbon capture and the carbon pipelines that feed it are the fossil fuel industry’s trojan horse to suck more dirty fuels from the ground while masquerading as a climate solution. And they’re using our tax dollars and our land to make it happen — it’s not right.

“Iowa’s legislature has failed to take any meaningful action to stop these projects. As time runs out, they must act now to stop eminent domain for private gain, stopping these pipelines before they start. Carbon capture and carbon pipelines are no solution for Iowa.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Lab Meat Won’t End Factory Farms — But Could Entrench Them

Categories

PDFFood System

Can next-generation alternatives like lab meat actually replace factory farms, as some supporters boldly claim?

Consumers would first need to accept these novel products. They must appeal to people who enjoy meat and be comparable in taste and cost. This is a tall order. Scaling up cultured meat requires expensive facilities and equipment and sterile environments — such as those used in the biopharmaceutical industry. Moreover, consumers are increasingly interested in not just sustainability but nutrition; they are seeking fresh, minimally processed foods with short
ingredient lists. Cultured and plant-based meats are
neither.

Second, even if lab meat gains widespread acceptance, there is no guarantee that it will replace consumption of farmed meat, which is deeply embedded in Western culture. One study found that even if price and taste were equal, most consumers would still choose a beef burger over a cultured or plant-based one. This might help explain why fast food sales of plant-based alternatives are flatlining and chains are dialing back their offerings; as the novelty wears off, customers are choosing the familiar. Meanwhile, U.S. per capita meat consumption
reached an all-time high in 2020. Lab meat seems
to be complementing — not replacing — meat in
people’s diets.

Finally, factory farms are baked into the U.S. food system through various federal policies and economic incentive. This dooms any market-based solution from the very start. For instance, U.S. meat production already outstrips domestic demand, and surpluses
are exported. So even if everyone in the United States switched to lab meat, Big Ag would continue to produce meat. Likewise, reducing or eliminating meat consumption will not affect incentives to stick with the current ecologically depleting farming systems that prop up factory farms, such as the overproduction of commodity crops on monocultures. Both cultured and plant-based meat rely on many of the same commodities used in livestock feed and may further entrench these systems.

Coalition To Truly Honor Chaco Delivers nearly 80K Comments to Bureau of Land Management

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Santa Fe, NM – A coalition of environmental justice advocates, Indigenous grassroots organizations, and tribal community leaders rallied and delivered nearly 80,000 comments to the Bureau of Land Management demanding greater protections for the Greater Chaco Landscape and surrounding communities from expanded oil and gas activities. 

The rally coincided with the deadline to submit comments on the Bureau of Land Management’s proposal to stop new oil and gas leasing for a 20-year period on roughly 350,000 acres of land within a 10-mile radius of Chaco Culture National Historical Park. While Interior Secretary Deb Haaland last year announced the “Honoring Chaco” initiative, a two-part process involving the withdrawal of federal minerals within 10 miles of Chaco Park and a new collaborative process to address the need for landscape-level management reforms, the program has yet to clearly define its goals and scope.

“There is a shrinking window of time for the President to cut off our dependence on fossil fuels and end oil and gas extraction,” said Jorge Aguilar, Southern Region Director, Food & Water Watch. “We can’t wait any longer for President Biden’s delays. We’re asking him to start keeping his promises to ban fracking and drilling on federal lands. We’re asking him to start by protecting Chaco Canyon.”

Today’s action underscores long-standing calls for landscape-level management outside of the 10-mile buffer that includes the cultural, social, economic and environmental concerns that have been raised and for the meaningful involvement of impacted communities and Tribal Nations to truly ‘Honor Chaco.’ If no further action is taken to protect the Greater Chaco Landscape from fossil fuel extraction and related development, the region will remain an “energy sacrifice zone.”

“The oil and gas industry has made a significant impact on our landscape, causing a lot of damage,” Samuel Sage, Community Services Coordinator for Counselor Chapter and Vice President of the Board of Diné C.A.R.E. “Just last week, I noticed a new pipeline project going in. It was kicking dust up everywhere and destroying the land. The companies and the Bureau of Land Management never come to our Chapter to notify or ask our community about these projects. We find out after the ground is already being broken. Over 91% of available federal lands in the Farmington Field Office alone have already been leased for extraction. When are they going to stop?” 

“As a Dine woman, I personally harvest local plants to this day. How much longer will this sustenance last if the land continues to be mistreated and poisoned?” Asked Kendra Pinto, Four Corners Indigenous Community Field Advocate, Earthworks. “Throughout my childhood I have roamed these lands without fear for my future. Now, I must consider the risk of water contamination and air pollution poisoning my homelands. The decisions we make now will echo throughout the rest of my People’s time.”

The oil and gas industry’s stranglehold is strong in New Mexico, with the state receiving $1.1 billion last year from mineral leasing on federal lands — more than any other US state, directly undermining efforts needed to halve greenhouse gas emissions this decade. New Mexico is the fastest-warming and most water-stressed state in the continental US, where wildfires have recently devoured over 120,000 acres.

“Here we are, yet again, delivering thousands of comments to the Bureau of Land Management calling for greater protections for the entire Greater Chaco Landscape,” Miya King-Flaherty, Organizing Representative, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter. “Those protections should include air and water quality, health and safety of surrounding communities, and analyzing, addressing and mitigating the cumulative impacts of oil and gas drilling. A mineral withdrawal is a step in the right direction, but more must be done to address the legacy impacts of more than 40,000 wells throughout the region that continue to harm communities, the environment and cultural integrity of the Greater Chaco Landscape.”

###

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

Senior Attorney II

Food & Water Watch is a leading national public interest organization that runs dynamic, cutting edge organizing campaigns to protect our essential resources—food, water and climate. Our mission is to stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment. In 2011, Food & Water Watch was the first national organization to call for a ban on fracking. We have won significant victories in the courts and in communities, including advancing the law around FERC’s review of fossil fuel projects’ indirect climate impacts, requiring EPA to include pollution monitoring in Clean Water Act permits for factory farms, banning fracking in states and communities across the country, and fighting water privatization in dozens of communities. Our legal work is focused on climate and energy issues, factory farming, and water privatization, all in pursuit of our organizational theory of change. Our work has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun and numerous other major media outlets.

We are seeking a Senior Staff Attorney to focus on legal advocacy related to climate and energy issues. The Senior Staff Attorney will be responsible for:

  1. Developing and implementing litigation strategies to reduce fossil fuel use and pollution, strengthen regulation, and promote a rapid and just transition to renewable energy.
  2. Engaging in federal and state regulatory proceedings related to climate and energy issues.
  3. Reviewing and drafting federal and state energy policies; and
  4. Working closely with other FWW staff, including on our organizing, communications, and development teams, to promote and implement our climate and energy priorities. 
  5. Manage FWW’s climate and energy Staff Attorney and climate and energy docket.

Office Location: Washington, DC preferred; will consider remote candidates.

Compensation: Competitive salary, depending upon experience.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities
  • Research, develop, and implement various legal strategies, including a combination of leading and supporting all stages and aspects of litigation, to reduce fossil fuel use and pollution, strengthen federal and state oversight of relevant industries, oppose false climate solutions like carbon capture and sequestration, and delay and stop new fossil fuel infrastructure across the country.
  • Effectively coordinate with co-counsel and outside counsel and act as FWW plaintiff contact in coalition litigation.
  • Engage in both state and federal regulatory proceedings, including rulemaking, through drafting legal comments to pressure decision makers, strategically build administrative records, and preserve arguments for litigation.
  • Provide guidance and support for FWW’s climate and energy Staff Attorney.
  • Provide legal support for our in-house organizing staff advancing climate and energy campaigns across the country, as well as our key partners on climate and energy issues, by engaging in campaign strategy meetings, providing targeted legal research and analysis, and advancing specific legal tactics. 
  • Work in coalition with a wide range of partner organizations on climate and energy litigation, legal comments, and policy advocacy, and represent FWW in relevant coalition spaces.
  • Support FWW’s policy advocacy, including by analyzing and drafting local, state, and federal legislation and participating in meetings with policymakers, to deter fossil fuel reliance and promote a rapid and just transition to 100 percent renewable energy.
  • Act as a public spokesperson for FWW’s climate and energy work, including in media and at public forums, seminars and public hearings.
  • Help develop and review educational and development materials such as factsheets, action alerts, website content, newsletter articles, and grant proposals and reports related to our climate and energy work.
  • Other duties as assigned.
Qualifications
  • Education: JD from an accredited law school with bar admission in good standing.
  • Experience: At least seven years of relevant litigation experience, ideally related to climate and energy work. Relevant management experience.
  • Knowledge: Legal advocacy, case development, and litigation; strong understanding of environmental issues and relevant environmental law, particularly around climate and energy; working with the media.
  • Skills: Excellent written and oral communication skills, including legal writing and oral advocacy; strong interpersonal and planning; excellent organizational and docket management skills.
  • Capabilities: Ability to work independently and in teams to develop and implement a wide range of creative legal strategies; ability to think creatively and quickly to respond to rapidly changing events and circumstances; ability to work well with a wide variety of people and to coordinate diverse tasks; comfortable presenting aggressive viewpoints to a mix of audiences; ability to present technical concepts to a mass audience; can-do attitude and commitment to public interest work; work well under pressure, handle multiple tasks at once; high level of independent judgment.             
  • Conditions: Strong interest in and commitment to advancing Food & Water Watch’s mission and campaigns.     
  • Applicant must be legally eligible to work in the United States.                          

Click here to apply. Please include your resume, cover letter and three professional references to be considered.

We will review your application and if we feel that your knowledge, skills and abilities are potentially a good match for our organization, we will be in contact with you. Please include a Cover Letter with your submission. Position open until filled. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Food & Water Watch (FWW) strives for a diverse work environment and encourages women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and individuals with disabilities to apply.

Food & Water Watch (FWW) is committed to the health and safety of its staff members. Moreover, FWW, as an organization, promotes science-based policy. Science clearly shows that unvaccinated populations drive the spread of the coronavirus and the emergence of new variants, and that unvaccinated people are more likely to contract COVID and experience severe symptoms. Effective immediately, prospective new staff members are required to provide proof of vaccination or request a waiver as a condition of their offer of employment.

Contact Email: [email protected]

Post Date: 05.06.22

Job Type: Full Time

Office Location: Washington DC

Department: Legal

Florida’s Manatees Are Starving to Death. Big Ag and Big Oil Are Behind It.

Categories

Climate and Energy

by Kat Ruane

Florida’s manatees have swum into the spotlight since wildlife officials launched a program to feed them almost 200,000 pounds of lettuce. The manatees have eaten “every scrap” they’ve been given, one official remarked, since the program kicked off in January. 

But the feeding program has a darker side, too. Its purpose is to address record levels of manatee deaths, primarily from starvation. And what may seem like the natural, albeit heartbreaking, cycle of life is actually an “unusual mortality event.” Such events are defined by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration as a sudden, significant die-off demanding quick response. And we can trace the sudden deaths of Florida manatees to agricultural pollution and climate change. The crisis underscores the urgent need to take action against Big Ag and Big Oil.

A Record-Breaking 1,100 Manatees Died in 2021, and There’s No End in Sight

Florida manatees have rebounded from the numbers that put them on the endangered species list in the 1990s. However, scientists and wildlife advocates continue to raise the alarm about the sea creatures’ lingering vulnerability. In 2021, that alarm came to a panicked roar. Manatee deaths nearly doubled from the previous year and blew past the previous record by over 200 deaths

In the first few months of 2022, 488 deaths have already been recorded. This pace is unsustainable. Manatees’ natural lifespan is over 60 years. Yet, only half of those who reach maturity are expected to reach their twenties due to current high mortality rates. If we continue along our path of increased pollution and warming, the threat of extinction will rise.

Big Ag Is Killing Off Manatee Food Sources and Worsening Deadly Red Tide Outbreaks 

Manatees need a lot of food to survive. In the wild, they consume 10 to 15 percent of their body weight daily. Predominantly herbivores, their food sources are different types of aquatic vegetation, largely seagrasses. These grasses are sensitive, requiring light and clean water to flourish. 

Big Ag is disrupting this delicate balance, as agricultural runoff flows into waterways and pollutes them. Fertilizers contain high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen, contributing to massive algal blooms on the water’s surface. This process, known as eutrophication, blocks the needed sunlight from reaching seagrasses and depletes oxygen, creating dead zones.

Florida’s Manatees Are Starving to Death. Big Ag and Big Oil are Behind It.

Since 2009, over half of the seagrass in Florida’s Indian River Lagoon has vanished. Some areas have seen losses up to 95 percent. The lagoon is a historic gathering place for manatees fleeing cold weather. In recent years, though, the loss of seagrass is starving them out. 

Not only are manatees losing their food source, but polluted water adds another layer of danger. Red tides, a type of algae bloom, can be deadly for manatees. Since they must surface to breathe, manatee constantly inhale red tide toxins, which can cause neurological and respiratory damage. Sometimes, a single inhale is enough to kill a manatee. While red tides can occur naturally, high nutrient counts exacerbate the size, concentration, and duration of these outbreaks. The outbreaks, compounded by pesticide-filled waters, are deteriorating manatee immune systems.

Big Oil-Induced Climate Change Exacerbates the Crisis

It isn’t only Big Ag posing threats. The oil industry’s crusade to entrench fossil fuels will have a catastrophic effect on manatee populations. With 2°C of warming, the Everglades will be submerged by the sea, and the saltwater will further decimate seagrass growth. 

As waters warm, manatees are moving further and further north, introducing unfamiliar boats and people as new threats. The expanding range draws them away from safe breeding grounds, leaving them stranded when temperatures drop. Warmer waters will also encourage even more red tide blooms. 

Climate change also threatens all marine wildlife with increased extreme weather events, new diseases, ocean acidification, and more. The list goes on and on, but none of it bodes well for the manatees.

We Need Large-Scale Shifts Away From Factory Farming and Fossil Fuels Before It’s Too Late

Temporary feedings are only a stopgap. Regrowing aquatic vegetation is an essential start, but that progress won’t matter if pollution and climate change continue unabated. As Florida’s official state marine mammal, manatees are deeply loved by locals and tourists alike. Their plight is a reminder that Big Ag and Big Oil threatens everyone, on land and in the sea.

Knowing is half the battle. Will you share this with your friends?

LA City Council Committee Approves Hydrogen Hub Motion For Full Council Vote Against Blistering Public Opposition

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Los Angeles, CA – Today, the Energy, Climate Change, Environmental Justice and Rivers Committee (ECCJR) voted unanimously to send the Los Angeles “Hydrogen Hub” motion to a vote at the broader L.A. City Council. The motion that would kick-start the application process for federal funding from the Department of Energy that would create a “green” hydrogen hub in LA has met with fierce community and climate justice opposition. Only a few people were able to register their opposition during this special meeting, citing a lack of community involvement in the motion’s approval process and numerous environmental concerns.

Chief among the concerns flagged by environmental advocates is the potential for hydrogen blending, a process that mixes hydrogen with fossil pipeline gas, which increases harmful emissions when the mixture is burned at power plants or in people’s homes when used for cooking, heating and hot water.  Even “green” hydrogen produced by electrolysis used in this way would exacerbate issues of environmental injustice in hyper-polluted communities. Further concerns were raised about the production of green hydrogen, which requires 9 kg of water per every 1 kg of hydrogen produced, raising alarms in the middle of the worst drought the region has seen in 1,200 years.

“We hope L.A. City Councilmembers will heed the warnings of their constituents when this motion is voted on,” said Food & Water Watch Senior L.A. Organizer Jasmin Vargas. “Allowing LADWP to combine hydrogen with fossil gas at a sprawling Hydrogen Hub will increase harmful emissions and worsen the climate crisis, no matter what color you call the hydrogen. 

“The City Council is rushing through this proposal under the guise of clean energy, despite significant impacts it will have on disadvantaged communities. Most notably, this proposal will likely exacerbate the water crisis facing Southern California, where officials are already asking residents to ration water, as well as the potential to stall plans to shut down L.A.’s existing fleet of power plants. We already have proven energy solutions like solar, wind and battery storage to get L.A. to 100 percent clean energy by 2035. We can’t poison our communities and give up our scarce water resources for a scheme that could keep L.A. stuck on fossil fuels for decades to come.”

The motion will next go before the L.A. City Council for a full vote. 

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

New Report Outlines Deepening Crisis in Iowa Hog Industry

Categories

Food System

A new report released today from the national environmental advocacy group Food & Water Watch details the growing crisis in Iowa farm country caused by the increasingly consolidated hog industry. The report is the second in a series outlining the harsh economic costs to consumers, rural communities and farmers of corporate monopolies throughout the American food system.

In the report — “The Economic Cost of Food Monopolies: The Hog Bosses” — Food & Water Watch analyzed the economic welfare of counties in Iowa, ground zero for the nation’s consolidated hog industry. Through an analysis of 35 years of data from the USDA Census of Agriculture, the report examines the impacts of a hyper-consolidated agriculture industry on Iowa’s local economies, consumer prices and climate change. The report also highlights how federal policies and lax antitrust oversight enabled and encouraged these impacts.

The report finds that Iowa is producing more hogs than ever, on fewer farms than ever, to the detriment of local economies. Specifically:

  • Iowa lost nearly 90 percent of its hog farms from 1982 to 2017, as rapid factory hog expansion drove out smaller, family-scale farms. Continued farm loss is a steady trend, with fully one third of Iowa’s remaining hog farms disappearing from 2007-2017.
  • Since 1982, Iowa counties with the most hog factory farm development suffered declines across several economic indicators, including real median household income and total jobs. These counties also experienced significant population decline — twice the rate of Iowa’s rural counties overall.
  • Overproduction — and growing corporate consolidation — have pushed down the real price of hogs. Adjusting for inflation, today’s farmers earn $2 less per pound of pork produced compared to 1982, while the retail price fell only $1; slaughterhouses, processors and retailers capture the other $1.

A March poll commissioned by Food & Water Action found that 95% of Iowa voters support rules that make it easier for small farmers to compete with large agricultural corporations, and a 2019 study found that 63% of Iowa voters support legislation to ban factory farm expansion and corporate monopolies in our food system.

“Our centralized, corporate-controlled food system was built to funnel local resources into Wall Street hands, at the expense of local economies, independent family farms, consumer prices and our environment. Nowhere is this more obvious than with Iowa’s hog bosses,” said Food & Water Watch Research Director Amanda Starbuck. “Factory farming, dismantling federal supply management, and a consistent willingness to shirk antitrust oversight and enforcement for the industrial agriculture industry are hollowing out Iowa farm country. To fix this, Iowa legislators must enact a moratorium on new and expanding factory farms. And President Biden must ban new and expanding factory farms through passage of the Farm System Reform Act, restore supply management in the 2023 Farm Bill and improve antitrust oversight and enforcement.”

“I run a factory farm because I have to; I run a regenerative hemp farm because I want to,” said farmer Ethan Vorhes of Floyd County, Iowa. “Over my daughter’s lifetime, Iowa lost one third of our farms. While I’m one of the few remaining, I’m struggling to make ends meet. Our policies, tax dollars and elected officials should support methods of farming that help farmers like me and families like mine — not industrial factory farming that lines Wall Street pockets at our expense.”

“It started with needing to take on a second job to make ends meet — farming just doesn’t pay the bills like it used to,” said farmer Nick Schutt of Hardin County, Iowa. “Jobs are evaporating and my community along with it. Today, I work three jobs. Farming, hauling trash for the dump, and fighting against the very policies that created this mess. We have to give power back to the little guy, by banning factory farms and halting the corporate consolidation ruining Iowa.”

“After 25 years out-of-state, I returned to Iowa for retirement. It felt like a completely different place,” said Linda Luhring of Calhoun County, Iowa. “The businesses I’d frequented in my hometown had shuttered, and everywhere I looked, I found nothing but hogs and corn. Iowa is so much more than Big Ag’s playground. We need to reign in corporate power, stop the unsustainable proliferation of factory farms and reinvest in our rural communities.” 

“Decades ago, the federal government told farmers to “get big or get out,” so they did. We’re paying with the consequences now,” said Julie Duhn of Hardin County, Iowa. “People are leaving town to find jobs, and factory farms are polluting our air and water without regulation. It’s up to our elected officials to turn this ship around. The government needs to reinvest in farmers doing the right thing, not the destructive factory farming system carving out our communities.”

For more on The Economic Cost of Food Monopolies report series from Food & Water Watch, see Grocery Cartels, detailing exploitative retailer monopolies and their impacts on consumers.

Contact: Seth Gladstone – [email protected]

The Economic Cost of Food Monopolies: The Hog Bosses

REPORT - May 2022

What You’ll Learn From This Report

  • 1: Introduction
  • 2: The Rise of The Hog Bosses
    • Iowa becomes ground zero for factory hog farms
  • 3: Hog Farms Did Not Bring Prosperity to Rural Iowa
    • Counties with the most factory farm development score lower on numerous economic indicators
  • 4: The Factory Farm Industry Is Driving Climate Change
    • We need to support diverse family-scale farms
  • 5: Conclusion and Recommendations
    • We cannot solve this crisis without combating corporate power
  • 6: Methodology

Part 1:

Introduction

In December 2019, U.S. hog slaughterhouses were operating at nearly 100 percent capacity. The system was functioning as designed; corporations profit by maximizing output and contracting with large operations to ensure a steady stream of hogs.1 But the system buckled just a few months later as the United States entered pandemic lockdown. Plummeting foodservice demand and shuttered slaughterhouses created backlogs of hogs that depressed prices and forced some farmers to euthanize their animals. Meanwhile, meat disappeared from store shelves, while processors used their reserves to export record amounts of meat abroad.

We can place some blame on the pandemic for a bad year in farm country. But the reality is that the current centralized, corporate-controlled food system was not built for resiliency, or even to support family-scale farms. Nowhere is this more evident than in Iowa’s factory hog industry. This second issue brief in our ongoing series on the Economic Cost of Food Monopolies explores how massive growth in hog production has failed to bring economic prosperity to Iowa’s rural communities.

Food & Water Watch analyzed the economic welfare of Iowa counties with the most hogs sold and the largest hog farms, from 1982 to 2017. We found that:

  • Iowa lost nearly 90 percent of its hog farms from 1982 to 2017, as rapid factory hog expansion drove out smaller, family-scale farms.
  • Overproduction — and growing corporate consolidation — pushed down the real price of hogs. Today’s farmers earn $2 less per pound of hog produced compared to 1982, while the retail price fell only $1; slaughterhouses, processors and retailers are capturing the other $1.
  • Counties that sold the most hogs and those with the largest farms suffered declines across several economic indicators — including real median household income and total wage jobs — over roughly the same time period. These counties also experienced significant population decline — twice the rate of Iowa’s more rural counties.
  • The factory farm industry depends on the overproduction of feed grain like corn and soybeans. Yet grain farmers also experienced significant real price drops between 1982 and 2017 — 52 and 39 percent per bushel, respectively, for corn and soybeans. Iowa also lost more than 40 percent of its corn and soybean farms as production shifted to the largest operations.

As we continue to manage the pandemic, we need to fundamentally transform the way we produce and process food, especially in animal agriculture. Fortunately, the path forward is clear. It starts by banning new and expanding factory farms.a We must also restore supply management in upcoming Farm Bills and improve antitrust oversight and enforcement. Only then can we build a food system that achieves both economic and climate stability.

aWe define “factory farms” as operations meeting the following size categories: 500 or more beef cattle (on feed), 500 or more dairy cows, 1,000 or more hogs, 500,000 or more broiler chickens sold annually, and 100,000 or more egg-laying hens. These are based off of inventory categories used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Census of Agriculture and roughly align with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s definition of a medium-sized concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO). 

Part 2:

The Rise of The Hog Bosses

Iowa becomes ground zero for factory hog farms

Pig farm. Photo credit: CC-BY-2.0 / Farm Watch, Flickr

Up until the late 20th century, most hogs were raised on smaller, diversified operations. It was often cheaper to grow feed onsite, thereby limiting the number of hogs that a single farm could raise.2 But significant changes in U.S. farm policy and corporate power transformed the way we grow crops and raise livestock.

The U.S. government once had a robust food supply management system that prevented overproduction, a key contributor to low crop prices. New Deal farm policies encouraged farmers to voluntarily cut back production in exchange for price supports. These programs provided living wages to farmers of certain commodities and backgrounds, for much of the 20th century.3

But as U.S. antitrust enforcement eroded and agribusinesses amassed power, corporations lobbied to dismantle these systems to expand global commodity trading. The U.S. government embraced free trade, aiming to increase domestic production and to use expanding export markets to soak up excess commodities. In the 1970s, the agriculture secretary famously directed farmers to “plant fencerow to fencerow.” Many took heed, taking out loans to expand their operations.4

Harvesting crops in the 1970s.

But this all came crashing down in the 1980s. The export market proved volatile and grain prices crashed, leaving farmers with huge debt that they could not repay. Thousands of farms were foreclosed. Those that remained looked to new production models, including contract hog production, to save the farm.5

The death of supply management created a glut of low-priced grain, which agribusinesses purchased and processed into cheap livestock feed. It was now cheaper for farmers to purchase feed offsite and raise their livestock in confinement.6 And Iowa, with its ready supply of feed input crops like corn and soybeans,7 became ground zero for factory hog expansion.

More hogs, fewer farms

Cheap feed is one part of the equation that fueled rapid factory farm growth. Another is growing corporate consolidation within the meat slaughtering and processing industry. In 1980, the top four pork processors slaughtered one out of every three U.S. hogs. Over the past 40 years, their market share has doubled (Figure 1).8 Concentration at the local level can be even more extreme. For instance, between 2004 and 2011, the top four firms slaughtered 9 out of 10 Iowa hogs.9

Extreme market power gives corporations greater leverage to dictate farm prices and practices. Until the early 1990s, most hogs were sold in “spot markets” like live auctions, where multiple buyers competed to purchase a farmer’s hogs. Iowa alone had around 200 such facilities.10 Competition among buyers helped secure fair prices for farmers.11

But corporate consolidation reduced the number of buyers vying for Iowa’s hogs. Those that remained put pressure on the industry to expand their herd sizes, preferring to bargain with a few very large farms rather than numerous family-scale ones. Some buyers use production contracts, paying farmers to raise hogs owned by the processor — a near-universal practice in the broiler chicken industry. Marketing contracts, however, are more common in the hog industry, where farmers agree to deliver a set number of hogs at a future date. In both cases, farmers swap independence for a guaranteed income/buyer.12

In 1993, more than 80 percent of all hogs sold nationally were negotiated on the spot market. Two decades later, this had fallen to as low as 3 percent. Such a “thin” hog market prevents fair pricing and contributes to market volatility. This impacts farmers selling under marketing contracts as well, since the prices they receive are often tied to the spot market.13

A market dominated overwhelmingly by marketing contracts and with few negotiated hogs gives greater leverage to processing corporations. It is also open to manipulation. Pork processors have abused the system in various ways; one example is flooding the auction floor with their own hogs, driving down the spot market price just as a marketing contract is delivered.14

Corporate takeover of the hog industry has provided windfall profits to processing companies, but has gutted farm income.15 Nationally, farmers today are earning $2 less per pound of pork than in 1982 (adjusted for inflation). That’s a third of the value earned in 1982. But we are paying only around $1 less per pound at the grocery checkout. Pork processors and retailers are capturing the other dollar (Figure 2).16 In fact, the average net returns among Iowa’s wean-to-finish hog operations were negative for nearly half the years between 2004 and 2019.17

Part 3:

Hog Farms Did Not Bring Prosperity to Rural Iowa

Counties with the most factory farm development score lower on numerous economic indicators

Main Street in Readlyn, Iowa. Photo credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 / Orange Suede Sofa, Wikimedia Commons

Iowa’s farming landscape looks significantly different today than just a couple of decades ago. In 2017, Iowa sold 2.5 times as many hogs as in 1982. And the average number sold per farm each year has swelled nearly 20-fold, to 9,600 hogs per farm. Today, one out of every four U.S. hogs comes from Iowa. Yet the state lost almost 90 percent of its hog farms over this same period (Figure 3).

Moreover, our findings indicate that pork processors are capturing greater shares of profits, while farmers are feeling the pinch. In fact, the farmer’s share per pound of pork sold dropped two-thirds between 1982 and 2017 (adjusted for inflation). This suggests that the factory farm industry’s takeover of Iowa is not benefiting most farmers or rural communities. Instead, it shifts economic output from small, family-scale operations to a handful of very large operations — and ultimately to the pork processing corporations.

The study

A 2012 Food & Water Watch economic analysis,18 reviewed by the Agricultural Policy Analysis Center (APAC) at the University of Tennessee, is a valuable case study in what happens when governments endorse and enable factory farm growth. From 1982 to 2007, as factory farms mushroomed across the Iowa landscape, the value per hog sold to the Iowa economy actually declined. Moreover, the gains from hog sales are more unevenly distributed today, with fewer (but much larger) farms across virtually every Iowa county. This concentrates wealth among the largest farms, which in turn tend to make fewer local purchases than their smaller counterparts. This has cascading effects across the entire economy.

The 2012 study also compared the economic and social well-being of counties with the most hog sales and the largest farms to counties with fewer sales and smaller farms. We updated many of these comparisons using data from the 2012 and 2017 Censuses of Agriculture, while adding a few more. (For details, see the Methodology section.) The results suggest that failure to stop factory farm expansion and eliminate subsidies to the industry is wreaking havoc on Iowa’s farm economies. The results also counter the industry narrative that pork processors are building wealth and jobs in rural communities.

More hogs, less income

The National Pork Producers Council19 boasts that the U.S. pork industry supports over $22 billion in personal income.b We found that on a per capita basis, personal income increased in each Iowa county over the study period of 1982 to 2017. There were not significant differences in growth rates between counties with high hog sales and large farms, and those with fewer sales and smaller farms. The same is true even when comparing urban to rural counties.

However, measuring total personal income (not accounting for population) tells a different story. Iowa’s top hog-producing counties saw real total personal income fall roughly 8 percent from 1982 to 2017. In contrast, it ballooned 181 and 142 percent, respectively, among counties that sold fewer hogs and have smaller farms. Even Iowa’s more rural counties saw a 41 percent growth in real total personal income.

In other words, significant population losses (detailed below) went hand-in-hand with the drop in total personal income in counties with high hog sales and large farms. Moreover, per capita income measurements can mask economic inequality, especially when a few large earners bring up the county average. Median household income can help account for this by finding the middle point among all households in a sample.20

For instance, the real median household income among counties with high hog sales and large farms was between 6 and 7 percent less in 2017 than in 1979 (Figure 4). In contrast, it increased slightly within counties with fewer sales and smaller farms. Real median household income even increased modestly among Iowa’s rural counties. These findings suggest that the income benefits of factory hog production are not evenly shared across households living in counties with the most hog production — even though these counties collectively increased their hog production three-fold.

Job losses both on and off the farm

One of the most compelling findings of this report relates to employment. The factory farm industry likes to claim that its industrial model creates jobs — and to stoke fears about job losses to oppose regulation.21 However, the data do not support this. Instead, the rise of Iowa’s factory farms coincided with significant job losses both on and off the farm.

Statewide, total farm employment dropped 44 percent between 1982 and 2017. Every single Iowa county experienced double-digit declines in farm jobs. However, job losses among the top hog-producing counties exceeded the state average — and were even slightly higher than among rural counties overall (Figure 5).

Our previous report came to a similar conclusion: Farm size matters more than total hog output when it comes to job creation. Other studies echo this conclusion, including a 2021 analysis comparing job creation between Iowa’s conventional hog farms and those practicing pasture-based farming. (The average pasture-based farm in the study sells 600 hogs per year, compared to the state average of 9,600). The economic analysis found that the pasture-based farms created more than three times as many jobs per 100,000 hogs marketed compared to conventional farms. They also contributed more indirect and induced jobs.22

Iowa counties with high hog production lost jobs in other industries as well, including manufacturing and retail, whereas counties with low hog production and small farms gained jobs. When looking at all wage jobs, top hog-producing counties saw 30 percent declines from 1982 to 2017. Those counties selling fewer hogs and with smaller farms saw 131 percent and 102 percent growth in total wage jobs, respectively (Figure 6) — outstripping population growth rates by roughly 2:1. Even rural counties saw a 12 percent growth in jobs over the study period.

Simply put, the factory farm model is both anti-farm (pushing family-scale farms to foreclosure) and anti-job (reducing employment both on and off the farm).

Business and retail

Factory farms have cascading impacts on all sectors of the local economy. This is due in part to the different purchasing patterns between small and large farms. For instance, Iowa’s average large wean-to-finish operation purchases only $1 out of every $3 of inputs locally.23 Numerous economic analyses underscore the importance of small farms to local economies; some studies have concluded that smaller farms make more local purchases than larger farms, thereby supporting local retail and contributing to the “multiplier effect” that occurs when wealth is circulated in a local economy.24 Another study found that small, family-scale hog production models shift more profits from corporations to farmers, and induce more household spending among affected workers and farm owners.25

Our study aligns with these analyses. While Iowa experienced an estimated 2 percent decline in total retail businesses between 1982 and 2017, the counties with high hog sales and large farms saw extreme declines — 40 percent and 33 percent, respectively (Figure 7). This decline was even more severe than in rural counties. Counties with low hog sales and small farms, in contrast, saw double-digit growth in retail businesses.

Similarly, while Iowa lost nearly 60 percent of its grocery stores from 1982 to 2016,c losses among counties with high hog sales and large farms were even more stark —75 and 70 percent losses, respectively. This is even greater than losses in the most rural counties. In contrast, losses among low hog sales and small hog farm counties were lower than the state average.

The only business categories considered in this report that had positive growth among high hog-producing counties were meat slaughter and processing plants. However, growth still trailed that of the state as a whole. In fact, most of the growth in meat slaughter and processing facilities occurred in counties with low hog sales and small farms, as well as in rural counties. This could be due to a number of factors, including proximity to the workforces, transportation infrastructure and sewage treatment systems necessary to run slaughter facilities. It is also worth noting that more than a quarter of all hogs raised in Iowa are slaughtered across state lines.26

Before we commend the factory hog industry for a growth in livestock slaughterhouse and processing jobs, it is clear that the quality of these jobs has declined significantly over the past few decades. As meatpacking conglomerates rose in power, working conditions at their plants deteriorated; union representation declined, wages were cut, and conditions became more dangerous.27 In fact, today’s slaughterhouse workers suffer twice the rate of reported injuries and illnesses compared to the manufacturing sector as a whole.28 The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the willingness of pork corporations to put profit ahead of worker health and wellbeing, as corporations fought to keep plants open despite outbreaks that were killing workers.29

Population losses and net migration

Iowa’s total population grew 8 percent from 1982 to 2017. However, counties with high hog sales and large farms saw their populations decrease by 44 percent and 36 percent, respectively. In contrast, the populations of counties with low hog sales and small hog farms boomed 73 percent and 47 percent, respectively. These differences cannot be chalked up to rural and urban divides alone; population loss in rural counties was 18 percent — at least half as much as in counties with high hog sales and large farms.

Additionally, counties with high hog sales and large farms experienced greater rates of net migration compared to counties with low hog sales and small farms. We cannot make sweeping claims about why populations are leaving these counties based on numbers alone. Job losses, decline of rural services, and nuisance and public health concerns from nearby factory farms could all play a role and deserve greater attention. This negative net migration can have cascading effects on communities, including reduced retail demand and declining tax bases.30

bPersonal income includes all wages, employer-provided benefits, rental property, government benefits, and interest and dividends. It excludes capital gains from stocks. See U.S. Department of Commerce. Bureau of Economic Analysis. “Income & Saving.” Available at https://www.bea.gov/resources/learning-center/what-to-know-income-saving. Accessed December 2021 and on file with Food & Water Watch.

cEstimate uses the U.S. Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns data, which changed reporting in the 2017 report year to no longer include data cells with three or fewer businesses. We used 2016 data instead to have a more accurate comparison across the years.

Part 4:

The Factory Farm Industry Is Driving Climate Change

We need to support diverse family-scale farms

Derecho damage seen on a grain bin in Jackson County, Iowa Photo Credit: CC BY 2.0 / Phil Roeder / Flickr

Decoupling hog and crop production has had significant consequences for Iowa’s environment and the global climate. Previously, smaller and more diverse crop-and-livestock systems could only get so big, restrained in part by the amount of cropland that they could dedicate to growing feed. Smaller farms also produce less manure, which can be sustainably recycled onsite as fertilizer and thereby reduce chemical inputs on cropland.31

But artificially cheap feed and pressure from the pork industry have incentivized farms to expand their herds to previously unthinkable sizes. This creates a surplus manure problem, with many regions of the United States, including Iowa, producing more nutrients than can be sustainably recycled. These problems, compounded in regions with high densities of factory farms, contribute to runoff that pollutes soil and water.32 In 2021, American Rivers named Iowa’s Racoon River, which receives overflows from hundreds of factory hog operations, one of the country’s “Most Endangered Rivers.”33

RaCcOON RIVER

The Country’s Most Endangered Rivers: Raccoon River

​​American Rivers named Iowa’s Raccoon River one of the Most Endangered Rivers in the U.S. The Raccoon River supplies drinking water to over half a million Iowans. Des Moines Water Works, Iowa’s largest water utility, depends on the Raccoon River in order to provide residents of central Iowa with safe drinking water.

SCROLL SIDEWAYS TO NAVIGATE

Photo: Raccoon River
RACcOON RIVER

But industrial agriculture practices are rampant in the watershed. Over 750 factory farms are located in the basin and have put our access to clean water at risk. In order to provide safe drinking water to residents in Iowa’s capital city of Des Moines, the Des Moines Water Works was forced to invest in one of the world’s most expensive nitrate removal systems — a cost borne by ratepayers, not the corporate agribusiness entities responsible for the pollution. Why?

Photo: Hog farm in Iowa.
RACcOON RIVER

Because E. coli, MRSA, and toxic levels of nitrates are as much a part of the water in Iowa as hydrogen and oxygen. Where are they coming from? These harmful pathogens and pollutants originate in factory farms. Each year, over 3,600 factory farms across the state produce more than 72 billion pounds of manure. That waste is then spread on acre after acre of cropland, oftentimes in amounts far greater than the soil’s ability to absorb it. From there, the excess runs off into Iowa’s waters, polluting drinking water, limiting recreation on the water, and destroying critical plant and animal habitat.

Factory farms decimate rural economies and rural life, a price no one should have to pay so that corporations can profit.

The unsustainable factory farm model is pushing our climate to the limit. Globally, livestock production contributes 14.5 percent of all human-sourced greenhouse gas emissions.34 Yet Iowa’s hog production continues to balloon, with processors profiting off this glut by expanding export markets.35 At a critical juncture where climate scientists are urging nations to reduce livestock production to sustainable levels, the pork industry is promoting U.S. pork abroad and exporting as much as one-third of all U.S. production.36

The factory farm model is propped up by a cropping system that similarly encourages overproduction.37 Crop farmers faced the same pressures to “get big or get out” in the 1970s and 80s38; in 2017, Iowa produced 65 percent more corn and 85 percent more soybeans compared to 1982, but on 40 percent fewer farms (Figure 9). This is a highly inefficient system, with the vast majority of corn bushels not directly feeding people but instead getting processed into livestock feed, ethanol and food additives.39 Corn and soybean production also contribute to climate change, given the huge amounts of land and fossil fuel-derived inputs they consume.40

Transitioning to smaller, diverse crop-and-livestock systems can curb overproduction and lessen Iowa’s ecological footprint.41 But these systems can only scale up once we have reformed the federal farm safety net to support family-scale operations and to incentivize sustainable practices. Corporate agribusinesses spend millions of lobbying dollars to keep the current polluting system in place.42 We cannot address these climate impacts without combating corporate power.

Part 5:

Conclusion and Recommendations

We cannot solve this crisis without combating corporate power

The factory hog industry is not delivering on its promises to Iowa’s rural economies. In fact, counties with the most hog production score lower across a range of social and economic indicators compared to counties with less hog production. This report complements a Food & Water Watch economic analysis that found that, as corporations tightened their hold on Iowa’s hog production, the value shared by rural communities declined.

As illustrated in our first report in this series, “The Grocery Cartels,” corporate consolidation is at the heart of our food system’s dysfunction. Lax attitudes towards antitrust, embraced by leaders on both sides of the aisle, created space for a handful of powerful corporations to amass power over each step of the food supply chain. The problem is too big for any single farmer or eater to solve; we need our elected leaders to stand up against corporate power.

Legislation for a just food system

First, we need a moratorium on new and expanding factory farms, to solve this crisis that worsens every passing year. Moratorium legislation has been introduced in the Iowa legislature for the past several sessions; federal legislation like the Farm System Reform Act would similarly stop factory farm expansion while funding a just transition for existing factory farms.43 In addition, we must halt agribusiness mergers and break up big conglomerates through comprehensive legislation like the Food and Agribusiness Merger Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act.44

But unravelling the factory farm model and transitioning to family-scale farms will take additional steps. We need to overhaul the federal farm safety net and steer U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) resources into smaller, diversified farms. Fortunately, we have this opportunity every five years, through omnibus legislation known as the Farm Bill. Here’s what we recommend:

Restore supply management in the next Farm Bill and ensure the programs benefit farmers of all backgrounds. The first Farm Bill was part of New Deal legislation, and a direct response to commodity overproduction that led to plummeting crop prices and drove many farms into foreclosure. This and other bills curbed overproduction, protected vulnerable cropland and guaranteed living wages for farmers who could access these programs.45

Here’s how supply management worked: The USDA would set a price floor for grains and provide loans based on this price floor, which farmers repaid after harvest. In years when market prices dropped below the price floor, the USDA collected the harvest as collateral, essentially buying surplus grains from the market for the federal grain reserve. Then, when drought or other disasters reduced crop yield, the USDA sold grains from the federal reserve into the market,46 smoothing out market volatility and ensuring a steady supply of grain to the benefit of both farmers and consumers.

Remarkably, supply management can operate at virtually no budgetary cost to taxpayers.47 We can reinstate supply management for grain crops and extend it to dairy — while ensuring participation by farmers of all backgrounds.

Reform — rather than remove — the current farm safety net. Immediately ending current farm subsidy programs would only drive more farmers off the land. Instead, we can realign these programs with the climate reality while moving toward a system that actually manages production. Participants in programs like federal subsidized crop insurance should be required to implement organic regenerative practices such as crop rotation or reduced pesticide reliance. We must also ban factory farms from receiving public funding from conservation programs and guaranteed loans.

Expand coverage for more crops that directly feed people. Feed corn, soybeans and cotton make up a huge chunk of acreage enrolled in federal crop insurance programs,48 while many fruits, vegetables and nuts are not eligible under many programs.49 Expanding safety net coverage to more specialty crops can help more farmers shift to new production systems.

Corporate interests have fought against supply management and other common-sense farm policies that would bring prosperity to rural America. They spend hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying each year for the current agricultural system that serves their corporate interests, all while claiming that they support the family farm.50 But the COVID-19 pandemic revealed whose side they are really on — and their total disregard for workers’ lives. We must elect leaders who are willing to stand up to these hog bosses and other agribusinesses. Only then can we pass a fair Farm Bill and reshape our food system so that it works for all farmers, food chain workers and eaters.

Part 6:

Methodology

Food & Water Watch compiled data from the U.S. Census of Agriculture, a comprehensive analysis of U.S. farms released every five years. We pulled data on the number of hogs sold and the number of hog farms in each Iowa county, for census years spanning 1982 through 2017. We also used the Census of Agriculture to estimate historical yields and prices for corn and soybeans.

For each census year, we sorted counties into quartiles by the total number of hogs sold. The top 50 counties were designated “high hog sale” counties, and the bottom 49 “low hog sale” counties. We used the same method to distinguish “large hog farm” and “small hog farm” counties, based on the average number of hogs sold per farm. This enabled us to compare economic outcomes between counties that saw the most factory farm development and those that saw the least. We created a third comparison based on population density (50 most-rural / 49 least-rural), using data compiled from the U.S. Census Bureau, providing a way to tease out the impacts of population density on the various economic outcomes.

The Census of Agriculture withholds county-level data on livestock numbers when there are only a handful of farms reporting, to protect farm identity. In these instances, we summed the available county-level data on hogs for a particular year and subtracted this by the state-level data to find the residual difference. We then divided this difference by the total number of farms in all counties with undisclosed data to generate a residual average. We multiplied this residual average by the number of farms in counties with undisclosed data, to derive an approximation. This method was repeated in various census years as needed.

We used many of the same economic indicators found in our 2012 report, matching the years with those of the Census of Agriculture (1982, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2002, 2007, 2012 and 2017) or the nearest approximate. We estimated total retail establishments using data from the Iowa Department of Revenue. Retail establishments by industry come from the U.S. Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns. We used NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) data starting in census year 2002, and SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) codes for all earlier releases, matching with the closest approximation (i.e., NAICS 4451 “Grocery Stores” and SIC 541 “Grocery Stores”; NAICS 311611 “Animal (except Poultry) Slaughtering” and SIC 2011 “Meat Packing Plants”; NAICS 311612 “Meat Processed from Carcasses” and SIC 2013 “Sausages and Other Prepared Meat Products”).

The U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey provided data on population, county landmass in square miles and median household income. Personal and farm income, and wage jobs, came from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis. We converted all monetary data into January 2020 dollars using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) Inflation Calculator provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Congress needs to know you support a transition to diverse, family-scale farms. Will you send them a message?

Endnotes
  1. Decision Innovation Solutions. Prepared for Iowa Pork Producers Association. “2020 Iowa Pork Industry Report.” May 2020 at 6; Sexton, Richard. “Market power, misconceptions, and modern agricultural markets.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics. Vol. 95, Iss. 2. January 2013 at 6 to 7.
  2. Clark, E. Ann. “Benefits of re-integrating livestock and forages in crop production systems.” Journal of Crop Improvement. Vol. 12, Iss. 1-2. 2004 at 3 to 5; Ayazi, Hossein and Elsadig Elsheikh. Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society. “The US Farm Bill: Corporate Power and Structural Racism in the United States Food System.” October 2015 at 26 to 27.
  3. Rasmussen, Wayne D. et al. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Economic Research Service (ERS). “A Short History of Agricultural Adjustment, 1933-75.” Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 391. March 1976 at 3 to 4; Reynolds, Bruce J. USDA. “Black Farmers in America, 1865-2000: The Pursuit of Independent Farming and the Role of Cooperatives.” RBS Research Report 194. October 2002 at 8 to 9.
  4. McGranahan, Devan A. et al. “A historical primer on the US farm bill: Supply management and conservation policy.” Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. Vol. 68, No. 3. May/June 2013 at 68A to 70A; Ayazi and Elsheikh (2015) at 23 to 26.
  5. Olson, Allen H. “Federal farm programs — past, present and future — Will we learn from our mistakes?” Great Plains Natural Resources Journal. Vol. 6, No. 1. 2001-2002 at 13 to 16; Freese, Betsy. “How contract feeding changed the hog industry.” Successful Farming. November 25, 2019.
  6. Ayazi and Elsheikh (2015) at 26 to 27; Clark (2004) at 3 to 5.
  7. Decision Innovation Solutions (2020) at 29.
  8. USDA. Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration. “2008 Annual Report.” March 1, 2009 at 46; USDA. Agricultural Marketing Service. “Packers and Stockyards Division: Annual Report 2019.” August 2020 at 9.
  9. Sexton (2013) at 2; Food & Water Watch (FWW) analysis of National Pork Board. “Pork Facts: The Pork Industry at a Glance.” 2009-2012.
  10. Lawrence, John D. “Hog marketing practices and competition questions.” Choices. Vol. 25, No. 2. 2nd Quarter 2010 at 2 to 3.
  11. Ajewole, Kayode et al. “Price reporting in a thin market.” Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics. Vol. 48, No. 4. November 2016 at 347 to 348 and 361 to 362; Willingham, Zoe and Andy Green. Center for American Progress. “A Fair Deal to Farmers: Raising Earnings and Rebalancing Power in Rural America.” May 2019 at 16 to 19.
  12. Lawrence (2010) at 2 to 3 and 5; Sexton (2013) at 6 to 7; MacDonald, James et al. USDA ERS. “Contracts, Markets, and Prices.” Agricultural Economic Report No. 837. November 2004 at 41.
  13. Ajewole et al. (2016) at 345 to 347.
  14. Ibid.; Lawrence (2010) at 4; MacDonald et al. (2004) at 50 to 52.
  15. Willingham and Green (2019) at 20.
  16. USDA ERS. “Pork values and spreads.” Available at https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/meat-price-spreads. Accessed August 2021.
  17. Decision Innovation Solutions (2020) at 42, figure 38.
  18. FWW. “The Economic Cost of Food Monopolies.” 2012.
  19. National Pork Producers Council (NPPC). “Pork facts.” Available at https://nppc.org/pork-facts. Accessed November 2021 and on file with FWW.
  20. Missouri Census Data Center. “All about measures of income in the Census.” Available at https://mcdc.missouri.edu/help/measures-of-income. Accessed December 2021 and on file with FWW.
  21. NPPC. “Pork facts”; NPPC. [Press release]. “New economic impact study on livestock rule means rural job losses & higher meat prices.” October 21, 2010.
  22. Swenson, Dave. Iowa State University and University of Iowa. Prepared for Niman Ranch. “The Economic Contribution of Niman Ranch Hog Production in Iowa.” March 2021 at 6, table 1 and 10.
  23. Decision Innovation Solutions (2020) at 61.
  24. Andrews, David and Timothy J. Kautza. Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production. “Impact of Industrial Farm Animal Production on Rural Communities.” 2008 at v to vi; Donham, Kelley J. et al. “Community health and socioeconomic issues surrounding concentrated animal feeding operations.” Environmental Health Perspectives. Vol. 115, No. 2. February 2007 at 317; Foltz, Jeremy D. et al. “Do purchasing patterns differ between large and small dairy farms? Econometric evidence from three Wisconsin communities.” Agricultural and Resource Economics Review. Vol. 31, No. 1. April 2002 at 37; Swenson (2021) at 9.
  25. Kelsey, Timothy W. et al. Pennsylvania State University. College of Agricultural Sciences. “Not Inconsequential: The Economic Effect of Small Farms in Pennsylvania, 2017.” 2021 at 5 to 9.
  26. Decision Innovation Solutions (2020) at 26.
  27. MacDonald, James M. et al. USDA ERS. “Consolidation in U.S. Meatpacking.” AER-785. February 2000 at 14 to 15; Fitzgerald, Amy J. “A social history of the slaughterhouse: From inception to contemporary implications.” Research in Human Ecology. Vol. 17, No. 1. 2010 at 62 to 64.
  28. U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2020 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. Available at https://www.bls.gov/iif/soii-data.htm#newsrelease.
  29. FWW. “Fact-checking Smithfield’s coronavirus food shortage BS.” April 22, 2020.
  30. McGranahan, David et al. USDA ERS. “Nonmetropolitan Outmigration Counties.” Economic Research Report No. 107. November 2010 at 2.
  31. Clark (2004) at 8, 19 and 24.
  32. Yang, Qichun et al. “Spatiotemporal patterns of livestock manure nutrient production in the conterminous United States from 1930 to 2012.” Science of the Total Environment. October 2015 at 14 to 20; Kellogg, Robert L. et al. USDA. Natural Resources Conservation Service and ERS. “Manure Nutrients Relative to the Capacity of Cropland and Pastureland to Assimilate Nutrients: Spatial and Temporal Trends for the United States.” Nps00-0579. December 2000 at executive summary, 1 and 89 to 92.
  33. Jones, Chris et al. “The urgent need to address nutrient imbalance problems in Iowa’s high-density livestock regions.” Agricultural Policy Review. Fall 2019 at discussion; Food & Water Action. “American Rivers has named Iowa river ‘Most Endangered’ in the country.” April 13, 2021.
  34. Gerber, P.J. et al. (2013). “Tackling Climate Change Through Livestock: A Global Assessment of Emissions and Mitigation Opportunities.” Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations at xii.
  35. USDA. Foreign Agricultural Service. “2020 United States Agricultural Export Yearbook.” 2021 at 1 to 2; Holcomb, Griffin. IBISWorld. “Meat, Beef & Poultry Processing in the US.” Industry Report No. 31161. March 2021 at 11, 14 and 20 to 21.
  36. Schiermeier, Quirin. “Eat less meat: UN climate-change report calls for change to human diet.” Nature. Corrected August 12, 2019; U.S. Meat Export Federation. “U.S. pork exports soared to new value, volume records in 2019.” National Hog Farmer. February 6, 2020.
  37. Smith, Trevor J. “Corn, cows, and climate change: How federal agricultural subsidies enable factory farming and exacerbate U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.” Washington Journal of Environmental Law & Policy. Vol. 9, Iss. 1. March 2019 at 47 to 48 and 55.
  38. McGranahan, Devan A. et al. (2013) at 69A to 71A.
  39. FWW analysis of USDA. National Agricultural Statistics Service. Quick Stats. Available at https://quickstats.nass.usda.gov. Accessed July 2020; “Sweet corn vs. field corn: What’s the difference?” La Crosse Tribune. October 16, 2015.
  40. Koneswaran, Gowri and Danielle Nierenberg. “Global farm animal production and global warming: Impacting and mitigating climate change.” Environmental Health Perspectives. Vol. 116, No. 5. May 2008 at 579.
  41. Clark (2004) at 11 to 13.
  42. Ayazi and Elsheikh (2015) at 26 to 27 and 34.
  43. Cadloff, Emily Baron. “Iowa representative pushing to ban new factory farms.” Modern Farmer. February 10, 2022; S. 3221. 116th Cong. (2019).
  44. S. 1596. 116th Cong. (2019).
  45. Rasmussen et al. (1976) at 3 to 5; Reynolds (2002) at 8 to 9.
  46. Graddy-Lovelace, Garrett and Adam Diamond. “From supply management to agricultural subsidies — and back again? The U.S. Farm Bill & agrarian (in)viability.” Journal of Rural Studies. Vol. 50. February 2017 at 76.
  47. Ibid at 76; McMinimy, Mark A. Congressional Research Service (CRS). “U.S. Sugar Program Fundamentals.” R43998. April 6, 2016 at summary.
  48. Shields, Dennis A. CRS. “Federal Crop Insurance: Background.” R40532. August 13, 2015 at summary; Schnepf, Randy. CRS. [Fact sheet]. “2018 Farm Bill primer: Marketing Assistance Loan program.” IF11162. April 3, 2019 at 2.
  49. Rosa, Isabel and Renée Johnson. CRS. “Federal Crop Insurance: Specialty Crops.” R45459. Updated January 14, 2019 at 9; Smith (2019) at 43 to 44.
  50. Ayazi and Elsheikh (2015) at 15; Open Secrets. “Sector profile: Agribusiness.” Available at https://www.opensecrets.org/federal-lobbying/sectors/summary?id=A. Accessed December 2021 and on file with FWW; Duvall, Zippy. American Farm Bureau Federation. “Your voice is essential to our country’s success.” July 21, 2021.

Food, Water, And Climate Are Under Attack. We Must Protect Them.

Categories

Climate and Energy

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

With the Western United States engulfed in megadrought and climate change supercharged weather disasters increasing everywhere, the future can seem bleak. This is especially true given that our dysfunctional Congress has failed to pass any meaningful climate legislation. 

But now isn’t the time to surrender. It’s time to double down to advance a bold food, water, and climate agenda. This moment calls for visionary plans that will inspire people across the country and meet the challenges we face.

We need to organize around the real solutions that will address our food, water, and climate problems. 

A Proven Theory To Address Climate Change And Resource Problems

At Food & Water Action and our affiliated organization, Food & Water Watch, we’ve never backed down from a fight. Our theory of change — how we believe real change happens — is two-fold. First, we propose bold policies that will solve real problems that people face. And just as importantly, we organize around those solutions, even when others say they are politically unreasonable. 

It’s how we’ve:

  • Changed the national debate on fracking and won a ban in New York, Maryland and communities nationwide. 
  • Blocked water privatization attempts in dozens of communities.
  • Begun changing the debate around factory farms. 

At the federal level, we cannot afford to waste time on industry schemes like carbon capture and so-called “renewable” biogas. These are delay tactics that will lock us into decades of fossil fuels, incentivize the spread of factory farms and subsequently pollute our water. We need to advance legislation that takes on the fossil fuel industry, big agribusiness, and the water privatizers. That’s exactly what we’re doing. 

Climate Change Is Inseparably Connected With Food And Water Concerns

The issues of food, water and climate are deeply connected. The historically punishing drought in the West, for example, is driven by climate change. Climate change, in turn, is being fueled by greenhouse gasses from factory farms and fracking and drilling. Industrial agriculture is also a massive water user and polluter in dry western states, as is the fossil fuel industry.

So we have a reckless cycle: 

  • Fracking and factory farms use and pollute water. 
  • The greenhouse emissions they create drive climate change. 
  • Climate change leads to drought and less water, which also affects food supply. 

All the while, a small number of giant corporations and wealthy titans profit while ordinary people suffer.

This Climate Change Cycle Can Only Be Broken Through Systemic Shifts In Policy

We need to break this cycle. And that’s what we aim to do with three landmark pieces of legislation in Congress. Passing the Future Generations Protection Act, the Farm System Reform Act, and the WATER act will not happen in the current weak Congress. But laying the groundwork now is critical. Real federal solutions are essential to avoid worsening climate chaos, depleted water systems, and a further consolidated food system that hurts everyone, including family farmers. 

THREE LANDMARK BILLS

The Farm System Reform Act (FSRA) will make our food system safe, healthy, and sustainable. This critical legislation will ban the construction of new factory farms and the expansion of existing ones. The FSRA will phase out existing factory farms by 2040. It will also ensure we’re enforcing environmental laws on existing factory farms, including holding Big Ag companies responsible for their pollution. 

Our aging water systems are crumbling. Meanwhile, giant corporations are scrambling to privatize public water systems to profit from the basic human right to water. The Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability (WATER) Act will provide a long-term, comprehensive solution to the current water-funding gap. It will achieve this by rolling back a small portion of the Trump’s administration’s corporate income tax cuts. The WATER Act will significantly fund the protection of our drinking water and create almost one million jobs. The WATER Act will help renew our commitment to public water, ensuring everyone has access to affordable water service.

The Future Generations Protection Act (FGPA) is groundbreaking legislation that would move us toward the fossil-fuel-free future we need. The FGPA will: 

  • Ban greenhouse gas emissions from all new power plants
  • Ban fracking
  • Ban crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids exports 

It’s the only bill in Congress that would ban fracking nationally — a critical step to ending climate chaos.

Your Support Is Needed In The Fight To Preserve Our Resources

The first step is having the right solutions to the problems that face our generation. Now that we have those, we need your support at all levels to build the power over the long-term to enact them. Will you add your name to show Congress the power these solutions have?

Urge Congress to support the Future Generations Protection Act!

Booming Oil Earnings Demand Windfall Profits Action

Categories

Climate and Energy

Today, Exxon Mobil and Chevron released first quarter earnings that show the companies making astonishing profits while American families struggle with punishing inflation. 

Chevron’s first quarter earnings were the highest in a decade, while Exxon Mobil reported $5 billion in profits over the first three months of the year, a substantial increase from 2021. 

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


“The evidence could not be any clearer: The fossil fuel giants are cashing in on the global energy crunch, pinching American families and sending excess profits back to shareholders and Wall Street speculators. This demands a policy response – namely, a windfall profits tax like the one introduced by Rep. Ro Khanna and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, that would recover much of these ill-gotten gains and return them to struggling households. Lawmakers who complain about corporate concentration and inflation should do something about it – like tackling the damage being caused by polluting profiteers. Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer should bring this legislation forward for a vote.”


Amidst High Gas Prices, Tampa Activists Protest Big Oil Profits During Global Crisis

Categories

Climate and Energy

On Tuesday, activists from the University of South Florida, Food & Water Watch and other local youth-led organizations rallied at a local gas station near the University of South Florida campus to protest increasing gas prices that have been fueling oil and gas industry record profits. 

Activists called out the industry’s exploitation of the geo-political instability caused by the COVID pandemic and the Ukraine crisis. Activists protested skyrocketing gas prices, pointing out that right now Floridians are paying an average of $4/gallon, down only slightly from record-setting highs of $4.21/gallon last month. Oil and gas industry executives are profiting from this consumer price gouging, raking in millions.

Food & Water Watch Senior Florida Organizer Brooke Errett said:

“Fossil fuel companies like Exxon have been making record profits off of cascading crises that they are openly exploiting to gouge the public. Our federal elected officials must put an end to dangerous oil and gas industry profiting. Representative Kathy Castor must stand with Tampanians hurting at the pump by standing up to Big Oil & Gas and supporting a windfall profits tax in Congress.”

The groups urged Tampa Congresswoman Kathy Castor to co-sponsor and ensure passage of a windfall profits tax to stop Big Oil’s excessive profits at the expense of people and climate alike. Specifically, activists urged Representative Castor to support Representative Ro Khanna’s Big Oil Windfall Profits Tax Act (H.R. 7061) and Representative Peter DeFazio’s Stop Price Gouging Tax and Rebate Act (H.R. 7099). If passed, these bills would levy a tax on the oil and gas industry’s price gouging and return that money as rebate checks to consumers.

“Out of control income inequality is already here, and an unmitigated climate catastrophe is on its way,” said Tampa DSA EcoSocialist Working Group Co-Chair Monica Petrella. “Representative Castor can choose to stand up against Big Oil and Gas to protect families, communities, and everyone who is lucky enough to call earth home by supporting a windfall profit tax. The time for incremental change is behind us. It is now time for bold, progressive policies that put the working class first.”

Chanting “Keep It In the Ground,” protesters sent a clear message that ending fossil fuel use is necessary to combat the climate crisis. “A windfall profit tax addresses immediate needs of the community, but ultimately students and young people need our members of congress to stand strong in fighting back against the Fossil Fuel Industry and end our unsustainable reliance on fossil fuels,” said Florida Student Power Network Climate and Environmental Justice Organizer Mary-Elizabeth Estrada. “Members of Congress, it is time to show the people and especially young constituents that you are truly willing to take immediate action for climate change.”

“As we continue to extract oil and gas, big gas companies will continue to profit and cause more severe negative impacts of climate change. Florida is on the frontlines of the climate crisis with sea-levels rising, increasing amounts of storms, more flooding events, raising temperatures, and so on,” said Kate Koenig, USF Campus Organizer for GenCleo. “GenCleo is a youth advocacy program that is dedicated to educating and empowering the youth, high-school aged and college-aged students when it comes to ways to fight against the Climate Crisis.”

“In order to ensure a clean, safe, and equitable future for current and future generations, one of the largest challenges to tackle is the continued use of fossil fuels. And while the complete phasing out of these substances as a fuel source is the ultimate goal, it is still important that everyone has access to affordable and equitable transportation in the present, regardless of how that transportation is powered,” said Bobby Vose, 100% Renewable Energy Campaign Coordinator, Florida PIRG Students at USF. “This is why reducing the price of gas through cutting the exorbitant profits made by oil companies is so essential. Allowing everyone the means to affordably conduct their daily lives is an important first step to creating a better future for all, which is why it is so pivotal that the windfall profits tax passes in Congress.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Senate Energy Committee Votes 8-1 to Pass Aliso Canyon Closure Bill to Appropriations

Categories

Climate and Energy

Sacramento, CA – In an 8 to 1 vote, the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee voted in favor of moving SB 1486, the Clean Energy Jobs, Coordination and Community Safety Through Aliso Canyon Closure Act. More than a dozen people testified supporting the bill in the hearing’s public comment period, citing climate and public health concerns. Only two public comments opposed the bill. California Senator Henry Stern (D-Los Angeles) introduced the bill in January with strong community support. The bill will go on to the Appropriations Committee.

The bill sets a firm 2027 timeline for the shutdown of SoCalGas’ Aliso Canyon storage facility, site of the nation’s worst natural gas blowout, and establishes the facility as an asset of last resort until then. 

“Justice is on the way for those who have lived in the shadow of Aliso Canyon,” said Andrea Vega, Southern California Organizer with Food & Water Watch. “The people are powering this fight, and today’s victory belongs to them. We will keep fighting for the passage of SB 1486 and the vision of a clean energy future for California where no one is left behind. Our climate can’t wait for the delayed timelines and half measures offered by profiteering fossil fuel companies, and neither can our communities.”

Residents, Advocates Speak Out Against PVSC Gas Plant At Public Hearing

Categories

Climate and Energy

Today, dozens of Newark residents and activists from across New Jersey spoke at a public hearing in opposition to the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission’s plans to build a new gas fired power plant at their wastewater treatment facility in Newark’s Ironbound Community.

“The last thing the Ironbound needs is another power plant. Residents here already experience high levels of pollution from numerous sources including three other gas power plants, NJ’s largest trash incinerator, heavy industry, Newark airport, truck and train traffic, and  major highways. The Ironbound is the definition of an overburdened community,” said Maria Lopez-Nuñez, Deputy Director of Advocacy and Organizing at Ironbound Community Corporation. “Increasing the pollution burden on Newark is perpetuating NJ’s legacy of environmental racism. The community has done its job sounding the alarms, we need our elected officials to step in and help us stop this grave injustice . We can’t fix one problem by hurting the lungs of children.” 

Despite the landmark Environmental Justice law that Governor Murphy signed in 2020 that should prevent projects like this from being sited in overburdened communities, PVSC is seeking final approval for their power plant before the law is implemented. The interim Administrative Order 2021-25, which PVSC is subject to, does not include the requirement for a cumulative public health and environmental impacts assessment to be completed prior to a permit decision – a key provision in the EJ law. 

“It is disappointing to see that PVSC has opted to forego doing a thorough cumulative impact assessment in line with the forthcoming EJ law, thereby disregarding the sentiment of thousands of residents from Newark and across the state who are demanding that EJ communities are no longer treated as sacrifice zones,” said Dr. Ana Isabel Baptista, Assistant Professor of Professional Practice & Co-Director of the Tishman Environment and Design Center at The New School University.

“All of NJ was affected by Hurricane Sandy, but people in Newark, specifically the Ironbound are impacted continuously by the imminent health crisis of environmental pollution,” said Melissa Miles, Executive Director, New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance

Approving the project would undermine Governor Murphy’s professed commitment to phase out fossil fuels and protect clean air, clean water and a healthy environment for all residents regardless of zip code.

“Newark residents need their concerns addressed, not just lip service. We cannot afford any new industrial smokestacks like PVSC’s proposed gas plant. There are better options out there for our lungs, our jobs, and our Bay,” said Kim Gaddy, Clean Water Action National Environmental Justice Director and the founder of Newark’s South Ward Environmental Alliance. “PVSC and the Murphy Administration must rethink building a fourth gas plant in the Ironbound if their words about environmental justice are to mean anything other than another environmental injustice.” 

People in Newark have a long history with polluting facilities and their effects on our health. The new environmental legislation, which is designed to protect us, has not yet had the desired effect,” said Cynthia Mellon, Co-Chair of the City of Newark Environmental Commission. “We are carefully monitoring PVSC’s promises to the community, but due to the pollution overburden Newark experiences, we ask that this gas-fired power plant not be built and that PVSC seek other ways to increase the resiliency of its plant. We must turn away from fossil fuels now.”

After widespread opposition to a vote to move this project ahead that had been planned for PVSC’s January board meeting, Governor Murphy intervened and directed PVSC to cancel it and do a renewable alternatives assessment. Though PVSC put out an RFP for renewable energy proposals earlier this year, they have still not completed their review.

“PVSC is rushing through the EJ Law public hearing process for its outdated gas plant idea before it has even finished reviewing proposals for renewable energy sources that could replace the need for a new, polluting plant,” said Jonathan Smith, Senior Attorney at Earthjustice. ”We need PVSC to pump the brakes and thoughtfully consider alternatives that could save the health of Ironbound residents and help New Jersey achieve its decarbonization goals – not barrel through another gas plant in a neighborhood that already has more gas plants than anywhere else in the state.”

This public hearing comes less than a week after over 130 health professionals held a press conference in opposition to this project, and sent a letter to Governor Murphy signed by over 130 health care workers regarding the public health impacts of increased pollution in the Ironbound.

“Fossil fuel pollution has been estimated to lead to over 10.2 million premature deaths,” said Dr. Lisa Cerceo, MD, academic hospitalist with a special interest in environmental health and the impacts of climate change. “But it is far too easy to fall into the trap of just seeing these as numbers. These are children with asthma, grandparents with lung cancers, fathers with heart attacks, and mothers with adverse birth outcomes.”

PVSC will receive public comments on this proposal through the summer which will be reviewed by the NJDEP before they decide whether or not to grant PVSC permits to construct the gas plant. In the meantime, Newark residents and allies across the state remain committed to getting Governor Murphy to stop this project and direct PVSC to redesign it with a renewable energy alternative.

“The path forward has never been more clear,” said Matt Smith, New Jersey State Director with Food & Water Watch. “Governor Murphy must direct his own agency, PVSC, to cancel their contract for gas fired turbines, withdraw their air permit application for the polluting power plant, and re-design the project in a way that does not add any more pollution to Newark and neighboring communities.”

California Director

Food & Water Watch is looking for a bold leader, a team player, and passionate advocate who will work with us to build Food & Water Watch and spearhead our work in the California so we can effectively take on the most challenging issues of our time. For almost two decades, Food & Water Watch has been on the leading edge of campaigns across the state for clean water, safe food, and a livable climate. We have worked to ban fracking in communities across the state and supported front line efforts to ban neighborhood drilling and halt fossil fuel infrastructure. We have taken on water privatizers and bottling companies and won, highlighted impacts of factory farms, and exposed corporate abuse of our state’s water. As we face the climate crisis and historic drought, we are looking for a strategic leader who can elevate our campaigns, build the organization, and strengthen our coalition engagement. 

The California Director will work to build the organization’s reputation and membership base, as well as overseeing the organizing campaigns in California and managing a broad range of responsibilities, requiring an equally wide range of skills. Among the tasks to be performed are: (1) building Food & Water Watch’s advocacy efforts to support federal action on climate change, protecting our water resources, and banning factory farms; (2) overseeing strategic direction of many of Food & Water Watch’s local and state  campaigns in California; (3) managing the  California organizers; (4) working in close collaboration with the philanthropy team to identify and cultivate major donors and foundation support in the state; (5) working closely with our legislative, research, communications, outreach and field staff to build the organization and further our campaign goals; (6) working with organizers to build out the Food & Water Volunteer Network in the state.

Office Location: While FWW has physical offices in Washington D.C., New York, NY, New Brunswick, NJ, Los Angeles, CA, and Ventura, CA, this position is approved for remote work within California. All staff are working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Salary competitive and dependent on experience.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities
  • Manage the California organizers.
  • Oversee the development and implementation of strategic organizing campaign plans for the state including long- and short-term goals, strategies and tactics that elevate our issues and grow  the organization in the state.
  • Work closely with the philanthropy team to build the membership base and to identify and cultivate major donors and foundation contacts in California.
  • Maintain familiarity with a diverse set of issues and research products, and respond to information requests from activists, coalition members, and media. Work with the Food & Water Watch research team to develop pieces related to the key campaigns in the state.
  • Develop and implement key pieces of legislative, field organizing, online, and media strategies in support of this campaign, as well as educational materials such as factsheets, action alerts, website content and newsletter articles on the issue.
  • Present Food & Water Watch views on climate, food and water issues to local, state, and federal elected officials in the region.
  • Travel to target areas to support local and state organizations and individuals through public speaking, media appearances, strategic planning and training, and meetings with state and local governments.
  • Carry out other projects, as assigned.
  • Support Our Culture of Philanthropy: Demonstrate an understanding of the essential role of our members and supporters, and consistently serve as an ambassador for FWW/FWA and our work. Participate in or attend events and other activities as appropriate that are organized for our supporters and donors. Be cognizant of fundraising opportunities and share contacts and information that will help build and sustain FWW/FWA.
Qualifications

To perform this job successfully, the person in this position has a high degree of contact with our coalition partners and donors; a moderate degree of contact with elected officials; and a low degree of contact with vendors.

The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.   

Essential Qualifications

Education/Experience: Bachelor’s Degree (BA, BS, etc.); at least 10 years experience in strategic campaign planning that includes managing organizers;  advocacy and legislative strategy development; familiarity with federal and state legislatures; consumer and environmental issues; organization building  and development experience; working with the media;. Knowledge of climate, water or food issues a plus.

Computer Skills: An individual should be able to work in a computerized environment and have adequate knowledge of word processing, email, internet and spreadsheet software; in particular in Microsoft Word, Excel, and Power Point and proficiency with all other Microsoft Office products.

Click here to apply. Please include your resume, cover letter and three professional references to be considered.

We will review your application and if we feel that your knowledge, skills and abilities are potentially a good match for our organization, we will be in contact with you. Please include a Cover Letter with your submission. Position open until filled. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Food & Water Watch (FWW) strives for a diverse work environment and encourages women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and individuals with disabilities to apply.

Food & Water Watch (FWW) is committed to the health and safety of its staff members. Moreover, FWW, as an organization, promotes science-based policy. Science clearly shows that unvaccinated populations drive the spread of the coronavirus and the emergence of new variants, and that unvaccinated people are more likely to contract COVID and experience severe symptoms. Effective immediately, prospective new staff members are required to provide proof of vaccination or request a waiver as a condition of their offer of employment.

Contact Email: [email protected]

Post Date: 04.26.22

Job Type: Full Time

Office Location: Remote

Department: Organizing

‘Bipartisan’ Climate Compromise Would Be Bad for the Climate

Categories

Climate and Energy

Recent news reports indicate that lawmakers are aiming to craft climate legislation that could draw the support of a handful of Republican Senators and coal millionaire and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. 

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

“The Build Back Better bill was effectively stymied by Senator Manchin, who is now apparently part of an effort to craft a bipartisan bill that would be even weaker than the compromise efforts he soundly rejected last year. This approach could only be considered ‘climate legislation’ if we warp the meaning of that term to include bills that will make climate change worse. Instead of letting Manchin and fossil fuel interests define the terms, the White House and Democratic leadership must push for the solutions we need, not merely what pleases Joe Manchin.”

Finance Director

The Finance Director is responsible for directing the financial and risk management operations of the 501(c3), 501(c4), and PAC. This includes leading all financial planning and analysis including accounting, forecasting, budgeting, and cash flow management. The Finance Director will also manage all administrative functions of the finance department including payroll, grant/funding reporting, creating organizational and program budgets, and creating and implementing organizations policies and procedures. 

Nonprofit Finance, as well as progressive supervisory experience, is required.

Office Location: This position is approved for temporary remote work, but is based out of the Washington, DC office.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities
  • Provide strategic recommendations to the Managing Directors based on financial analysis and projections, cost identification and allocation, and revenue/expense analysis.
  • Oversee long-term budgetary planning and cost management in alignment with organization’s strategic plan.
  • Engage the Managing Director of Development and other Managing Directors to align financial management with short- and long-term financial planning and projections.
  • Reconcile income from all sources on a monthly basis.
  • Oversee FWW/FWA’s compliance with all rules related to the organizations’ 501(c3)/ 501(c4)/PAC status and reporting obligations.
  • Oversee budgeting, and the implementation of budgets, monitoring progress and operational metrics.
  • Ensure that finance staff maintains financial record systems in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and monitor the use of all funds.
  • Oversee the preparation and approval of all financial reporting materials and metrics for funders.
  • Direct annual audit and 990 processes, serving as the principal liaison to the external auditor.
  • Prepare monthly and annual financial statements for review, (including explanations for variance analysis) and prepares cash flow analysis.
  • Work in collaboration with HR to ensure proper accounting of benefits and staff allocations.
  • Review all formal finance-related procedures, processes, and administration; recommend improvements, and manage the systems in place.
  • Manage banking relationships.
  • Responsible for the appropriate and timely implementation of all regulatory procedures impacting the organization’s financial reporting.
  • Present financial reports to executives, board members, and other stakeholders in a timely manner.
  • Develop and manage staff in finance department.
  • Engage other members of the organization to facilitate cross-department collaboration that ensures that all financial solutions positively support FWW/FWA’s evolving strategy, operational delivery, and data collection needs.
  • Other duties as assigned.
  • Support Our Culture of Philanthropy: Demonstrate an understanding of the essential role of our members and supporters, and consistently serve as an ambassador for FWW/FWA and our work. Participate in or attend events and other activities as appropriate that are organized for our supporters and donors. Be cognizant of fundraising opportunities and share contacts and information that will help build and sustain FWW/FWA.
Qualifications

To perform this job successfully, the person in this position has a high degree of contact with staff; a moderate degree of contact with other vendors and a low degree of contact with donors.

The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. 

Essential Qualifications
  • Education/Experience: 
    • Bachelor’s in finance, accounting, or comparable experience is required; management experience is preferred.
    • Master of Business Administration or a Master’s in Finance is a plus; 8 or more years of senior financial leadership experience or an equivalent combination of education and experience is preferred.
    • Candidates with experience in 501(c3) and 501(c4) organizations will be considered first.
  • Computer Skills: 
    • An individual should be able to work in a computerized environment and have adequate knowledge of word processing, email, internet, and spreadsheet software; in particular Office Suite and Excel and familiarity with software like Salesforce and QuickBooks.                                             

Click here to apply. Please include your resume, cover letter and three professional references to be considered.

We will review your application and if we feel that your knowledge, skills and abilities are potentially a good match for our organization, we will be in contact with you. Please include a Cover Letter with your submission. Position open until filled. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Food & Water Watch (FWW) strives for a diverse work environment and encourages women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and individuals with disabilities to apply.

Food & Water Watch (FWW) is committed to the health and safety of its staff members. Moreover, FWW, as an organization, promotes science-based policy. Science clearly shows that unvaccinated populations drive the spread of the coronavirus and the emergence of new variants, and that unvaccinated people are more likely to contract COVID and experience severe symptoms. Effective immediately, prospective new staff members are required to provide proof of vaccination or request a waiver as a condition of their offer of employment.

Contact Email: [email protected]

Post Date: 04.25.22

Job Type: Full Time

Office Location: Washington DC

Department: Finance

Seattle Climate Activists Rally Outside President Biden’s Earth Day Visit

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Seattle, WA — This morning, President Biden visited Seattle for an Earth Day event and signing of a new executive order to protect old growth forests. Dozens of climate activists were there to demand that the President reject fossil fuel projects and declare a climate emergency. President Biden’s trip comes just one week after his administration opened up thousands of acres of federal land for oil and gas drilling, contradicting a specific pledge from the President’s campaign. Local activists present on Friday represented Food & Water Watch, 350 Seattle, Stand.earth and others from Build Back Fossil Free, a national coalition of over 1,100 groups pressuring the Biden Administration to declare a climate emergency and end the federal approval of new fossil fuel projects.  

The latest scientific report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of severe consequences to human health, security, food and water supplies, and more should world leaders fail to quickly curtail the use of fossil fuels. 

“Fossil fuels are destroying our climate with direct impacts in our own backyard,” said Thomas Meyer, Seattle-based national organizing manager at Food & Water Watch. “On this Earth Day, President Biden can’t claim to be a climate leader just a week after his administration opened up more of our federal lands for fracking and drilling. This contradicts an explicit campaign promise and flies in the face of the latest UN climate report. President Biden has the power to meaningfully address the climate crisis by ending federal fossil fuel sales, rejecting permits for fossil fuel infrastructure projects, and declaring a national climate emergency to quickly expand the clean energy economy.” 

The Pacific Northwest has faced record heat waves, drought, and wildfires in recent years, impacts that climate scientists say will likely get worse in the near future unless drastic action is taken to reduce fossil fuel use. 

Activists held signs urging Biden to stop fossil fuel projects and declare a climate emergency. A 15-foot banner read “C’mon man, the IPCC says it’s now or never: put an end to fossil fuels!” 

Link to photos and video here (credit Food & Water Watch).

###

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

1,000 NY Activists March In Albany, Call for Immediate Climate Action on Earth Day

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

ALBANY, NY — Today, 1,000 activists from the Climate Can’t Wait coalition came from all corners of the state to Albany for an Earth Day protest of the state legislature’s climate inaction. Activists, who had traveled to Albany by bus and bike, with some having departed almost a week prior to the event, demanded prompt passage of 12 critical legislative and advocacy proposals to address the urgency of the incoming crisis.

The Earth Day protest comes on the heels of a “now or never” United Nations IPCC report, which lays out the urgent need to move off fossil fuels as quickly as possible to avert climate catastrophe. Climate Can’t Wait groups, representing hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, cite two years of climate inaction from state leaders, and a failure for legislative leaders to come to the table on a critical statewide off from fossil fuels in new construction in the NYS Budget earlier this month, as clear indications that New York is not moving fast enough on the incoming climate crisis.

In the meantime, the climate emergency has only accelerated in New York, with increased extreme heat, fires, storms and floods, including Hurricane Ida which took the lives of 42 New Yorkers last year. Food & Water Watch Senior New York Organizer Laura Shindell said:

“Our legislative leaders are failing us on climate, and New Yorkers won’t take inaction as an answer. Climate can’t wait and neither can we. Governor Hochul, Speaker Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins must move as fast as the climate crisis is moving towards us. It’s time to pass the nation-leading All-Electric Buildings Act now, and with it a full suite of climate policies to fully enforce the CLCPA.”

“I biked to Albany because I believe in the power of regular people to change the world through courageous choices, and the change we need is a healthy and abundant future for all of us New Yorkers. I’m joining the trek to do my part to blaze the trail toward that future, and I’m excited to meet hundreds of other trailblazers along the way,” said Veekas Ashoka, Sunrise NYC, who cycled from Manhattan to Albany for the protest. “New York has the unique opportunity to lead the nation in creating a healthy and abundant future in which all of us—not just the powerful billionaires and corporations—can thrive. The Climate Can’t Wait bill package has given the Governor and Legislature that opportunity to create that hopeful future for us all. It’s our job to demand that they take it.”

“In addition to passing the Climate Can’t Wait bills, we need Governor Hochul and state agencies to ensure that industry complies with the landmark climate law,” said Rosemary Rivera, Co-Executive Director of Citizen Action of New York and an Albany resident. “The CLCPA Scoping Plan should recommend legally enforceable timelines for greenhouse gas reductions, ensure that 40% of energy funds be directly invested in disadvantaged communities, and avoid false solutions like waste incineration and renewable natural gas that harm communities of color. The state must also provide billions of dollars each year to jumpstart the transition to a green energy economy.”

“The United Nations says it is now or never to prevent climate collapse. There is no time left for incremental changes. New York lawmakers are not doing anywhere enough to save life on our planet for future generations. We need our state leaders to act like it is a climate emergency and enact the full Climate Can’t Wait agenda this Earth Day,” said Mark Dunlea, convenor of PAUSE (People of Albany United for Safe Energy), the 350.org affiliate in the Capital District. Among other critical environmental justice issues, PAUSE supports converting the state capitol complex with 100% clean renewable energy.

“Our climate is in crisis. New York must stop funding climate destruction; must mandate and enforce greenhouse gas reductions; and must fund a just and equitable transition to renewable energy. The Climate Cant Wait policy package does exactly what is needed. We are proud to be part of this diverse coalition all working together to demand urgent, bold and comprehensive climate action,” said Ruth Foster, Divest NY.

“We’re here in Albany at this time of crisis because we have solutions,” said Sara Gronim of 350Brooklyn. “The passage of these bills would mean that New York State has returned to the kind of leadership it showed when it passed the landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act in 2019.  Governor Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Leader Heastie must stand up to fossil fuel interests trying to slow our transformation to a renewable economy and take bold, effective action now.” 

“Let’s be honest—the legislature’s failure to pass climate legislation last year and so far this year comes down to leadership,” said Jordan Dale, 350NJ-Rockland. “There is plenty of support in both the Senate and Assembly for climate action, but bills aren’t moving, and that falls squarely on the shoulders of Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Carl Heastie. It is time for them to make climate a priority.”

“New Yorkers have spoken,” said Elaine O’Brien, co-founder and core group member of Queens Climate Project. “We need our legislators to pass meaningful climate legislation, and to protect the frontline communities that suffer the most from the climate crisis. Queens residents have endured the devastating effects of floods and poor air quality resulting from decades of fossil fuel burning power plants on our waterfront. We organized and beat back the proposed repowering of the NRG facility in Astoria, but now we need Governor Hochul and state leaders to do their part and pass the 12 bills in the Climate Can’t Wait package. Our future depends on their immediate actions. Inaction or delay would be catastrophic.”

“We are running out of chances to prevent climate chaos and the New York State legislature is failing to address this crisis. It’s time for our leaders to live up to their promises and take substantial climate action by enacting the Climate Can’t Wait agenda, cutting ties with the fossil fuel industry, and taking steps to ensure that our generation, and generations to come, will have a healthy, sustainable, and equitable future,” said Sophie Campbell, Executive Director of the New York Youth Climate Leaders.

“It’s been three years since NY lawmakers passed truly significant legislation (the CLCPA) to address the climate crisis we’re in. It’s been a privilege to work with over 40 organizations statewide to compile a package of significant bills and proposals which does just that. Nothing is more important for ensuring environmental justice than ending our dependence on fossil fuels and moving to 100% clean, renewable energy. Our message to legislators is that inaction results in deep and lasting harm. Act immediately and do the right thing by passing the Climate Can’t Wait 2022 agenda,” said Natalie Polvere and Iris Hiskey Arno, Co-Chairs, NYCD16 Indivisible Environment Committee.

“NYSUT, representing 600,000 educators and health care workers across the state, unanimously endorsed the Build Public Renewables Act at its Representative Assembly on April 2. We want an economy fueled by renewable energy that is safe, clean, publicly-owned and operated for the common good, a system that has strict and strong labor and environmental standards and builds a better world for future generations,” said Nancy Romer, Chair, Environmental Justice Working Group, Professional Staff Congress of CUNY, AFT #2334, delegate to NYSUT.

“Since 2009, we’ve known that both the climate and health impacts of fracking are wildly unacceptable. But New York State continues to heat buildings with oil and with fracked gas — it’s immoral and insane,” said Iris Marie Bloom, Executive Director of Protecting Our Waters, a member of the New Paltz Climate Action Coalition. “We need to forbid fossil fuel use in new construction now, and that’s just one of the dozen aspects of Climate Can’t Wait legislation which we must pass this session. Let’s do this now! It will only be harder, less effective, and more expensive if we wait. Morally and economically, climate can’t wait.”

“New York State can no longer wait to take bold climate action. While special interests encourage our leaders to cling to their dying fossil fuel economy, communities of color are being sickened by their pollution and facing the harsh impacts of climate change, such as extreme heat waves and flooding.” said Sonal Jessel, Director of Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “We need immediate action to move our state off of these deadly fossil fuels and towards a healthier, renewable energy economy – and the green jobs this transition will create.”

“On Seneca Lake, the Greenidge Generation Bitcoin mining plant is burning fracked gas and emitting greenhouse gases 24/7/365. It is destroying our natural resources, kneecapping local businesses, and keeping us from meeting the crucial climate goals outlined by the CLCPA, just to make fake money in the middle of a climate crisis,” said Abi Buddington, Town of Torrey Property Owner and member of Seneca Lake Guardian. “We need Governor Hochul to protect New Yorkers and enact sane energy policy. I urge her to deny Greenidge’s air permit renewal and put a moratorium on climate-killing cryptomining.”

Contact: Seth Gladstone, [email protected]

FERC Issues Approval for North Jersey Compressor Expansion Project

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

At their monthly board meeting, on Thursday, April 21 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a “Certification of Public Convenience and Necessity” to Tennessee Gas Pipeline LLC (TGP) for their proposal for new fracked gas compressor stations in North Jersey. This “certification” is the final federal approval TGP needs for their project. State permits remain pending.

Tennessee Gas Pipelines’  “East 300 Upgrade” expansion project involves the construction of two new gas compressor stations — one in Wantage Township that would more than triple the size of the existing facility there, and one in West Milford at the site of a former quarry less than 1200 feet from the Monksville Reservoir which connects to the water supply of 3.5 million NJ residents. Compressor stations maintain or increase pressure in natural gas transmission lines, and operators regularly “blowdown” the facility releasing gas when too much pressure has built up. These new compressors would allow the company to pipe higher volumes of gas – fracked in Pennsylvania – at greater pressure through an aging pipeline system to Westchester County NY. This project serves no benefit to NJ residents but brings increased danger, air pollution, and noise to NJ communities.

Adam Carlesco, Staff Attarney, Food & Water Watch said:

“In approving this project, FERC disregarded relevant state climate law, neglected environmental review requirements, and failed to demonstrate that this project is required by the public interest. Despite recent losses in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the Commission has continued to ignore the long-term climate consequences of its permitting and has betrayed the principles of scrutinous oversight it sought to embody with its proposed certification policy.”

“Knowing Climate Change is a real threat, FERC shouldn’t be permitting new Fossil fuel infrastructure at all. They should be improving the electric grid,” said Renee Allessio, Board Member of Sustainable West Milford. “As a long time resident of West Milford, it’s insane that FERC would allow a new compressor station to be built near 2 major reservoirs that supply the drinking water for millions of New Jerseyans.”

FERC is well known for “rubber-stamping” fossil fuel projects in the United States.  Out of hundreds of applications, FERC has approved permits 99% of the time for pipelines, compressor stations, and gas-fired energy plants. FERC has only denied 2 permits for natural gas pipelines and compressor stations out of 500 applications received since 1999.

Activists and environmentalists were hopeful that recent changes at FERC would start to change FERC’s approach towards approving fossil fuel infrastructure and evaluating climate impacts, and result in FERC rejecting TGP’s unnecessary expansion. In February of this year the commission issued new guidance for natural gas project approval, which included for the first time, a climate change impacts evaluation threshold.

“Sadly, and predictably, FERC continues to act as the industry’s agent instead of safeguarding the public’s interests. They rubber-stamped this project without requiring the rigorous proofs of safety that should be mandated,” said Julia Somers, Executive Director of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition. “We are not well served by this decision and will continue to work with our partners to oppose the project in every way possible.” 

In addition to climate concerns, residents and activists are concerned about the threat to air quality and public health posed by these compressors.

“I continue to stand firmly against TGP’s expansion, as it threatens my home and my health, clean air and water, as well as the native plant and wildlife. We cannot allow a company, that has already shown itself to be unethical and irresponsible, to spew toxins into the air, water, and ground, all within reach of our town’s elementary and secondary schools, and peoples’ homes,” said Allison Orsi, MA, LPC, Resident of Wantage Township, NJ. “The bottom line is, we don’t need natural gas, in fact it is killing us: we need to keep fossil fuels in the earth, so they don’t exacerbate climate change. We need to stop this expansion.”

The health implications of compressor stations are real, including hearing impairments and sleep disturbance, to say nothing of potential toxic impacts associated with inhalation of the colorless and odorless methane gas from leaks that can lead to such things as slurred speech, vision problems, memory loss, nausea, vomiting, facial flushing and headaches, at elevated concentrations, said “Dr. Judy Zelikoff, Professor, Dept. of Environmental Medicine, NYU Grossman School of Medicine.

Despite this approval, residents and activists will continue to organize against this project and call on Governor Murphy to live up to our states climate commitments and stop this project by directing the NJ DEP to reject the state permits needed for it’s approval. The DEP plans to hold a public hearing on the Title V Air Permit required for the project in the coming months.

“These compressor stations put people and the environment at risk. These facilities create air pollution and water pollution by releasing toxic chemicals such as methane, ethane, MTBEs and other chemicals. An explosion or leak could threaten communities, impact critical drinking water for over 3 million people, and destroy sensitive ecosystems in the Highlands Preservation Area,” said Taylor McFarland, Conservation Program Manager, Sierra Club, NJ. “Even though FERC has given the green light for TGP, New Jersey can still stand up and deny this disastrous project.” 

Contact: Sam DiFalco, [email protected]

Rosemarie Fiscus

Rosemarie Fiscus

Human Resources Director

Ventnor City, NJ

Biden’s Earth Day Forests Pledge is Grossly Inadequate Response to Deepening Climate Crisis

Categories

Climate and Energy

In anticipation of President Biden’s Earth Day announcement in Seattle tomorrow regarding an initiative to preserve old-growth forestsFood & Water Watch National Organizing Manager Thomas Meyer issued the following statement:

“President Biden seems to think we’re celebrating the first Earth Day in 1970, rather than in the depths of the climate crisis in 2022. Protecting forests without addressing the root cause of the climate crisis, namely the continued extraction and burning of fossil fuels, will do very little to slow global warming. The president has many effective tools at his disposal to address the climate and public health impacts of fossil fuels in a serious way. He should start by following through on his pledge to end fracking on public lands and stop offshore drilling, and directing his agencies to reject all new fossil fuel infrastructure.”

Scores of climate activists will be outside President Biden’s event in Seattle tomorrow to remind him of his commitments and demand that he take bold action to address the climate crisis.

Contact: Jessica Gable – [email protected]

Fracked Gas Bomb Trains Are Moving Through South Florida

Categories

Climate and Energy

By Michelle Allen and Phoebe Galt

A dense coastal landscape, Broward County never expected to be a battlefield for the fossil fuel industry. More accustomed to tourists and traffic jams than drilling and hazardous trucks, Broward County wanted to keep it that way. So they banned fracking. Within a year, the fracked gas industry moved to town, undeterred, with their latest scheme. It was a liquefied fracked gas (LNG) export out of Broward’s busy Port Everglades.

Now, LNG tankers dock alongside cruise ships, as New Fortress Energy quietly expands fossil fuel operations in South Florida. Fracked gas from out of state is brought via pipeline to a liquefaction facility in Medley. That’s where it is transformed from a volatile gas to a volatile liquid – liquefied fracked gas. That is then loaded onto truck and rail cars and transported over 30 miles to Port Everglades, where it’s Caribbean-bound. 

Transporting Volatile Fracked Gas Puts Floridians Directly In Harm’s Way

LNG transport and export keep our region locked into the very fossil fuels supercharging climate chaos, threatening our drinking water and way of life. It’s also putting Floridians directly in harm’s way. Liquefied fracked gas is no safer than regular fracked gas. It’s extremely volatile — leaks at the Medley facility or in transport to Port Everglades can form a flammable vapor cloud. If ignited, these vapor clouds can cause explosions up to a mile wide. 

Those explosions have been fatal. In 2020, A gas tanker truck in China exploded on the highway, killing 19 and injuring over 100 people. It’s simply too dangerous to put trucks carrying volatile liquefied fracked gas on the roads, especially on high traffic highways like I-95 where a collision with a vehicle could spell disaster. 

South Floridians are Unknowing Volunteers In A Dangerous Bomb Train Experiment

The use of trains in transporting liquefied fracked gas is new, untested, and extremely dangerous. South Florida is one of only three U.S. cities where the hazardous material can legally be transported by rail. All three of these dangerous rail transport approvals occurred during the Trump Administration. The Biden Administration has taken steps against the dangerous practice but stopped short of ending rail transport in South Florida. That makes South Floridians unknowing volunteers in a dangerous bomb train experiment.   

To make matters worse, South Florida’s liquefied fracked gas “bomb trains” are transported on the same rail line as Brightline. That’s the high-speed train with the highest death rate of any line in the U.S. Adding fracked gas bomb trains to the mix, sharing tracks with passenger rail, is a terrible idea. 

Despite Immense Risks, This Fracked Gas Project Escaped Public Oversight 

South Florida’s liquefied fracked gas export operation has been active for several years, but not many people know about it. Why? Because New Fortress Energy, the company behind the scheme, sought as few permits as possible, generating almost no public oversight.

First, the corporation used loopholes in federal law to evade the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) jurisdiction. FERC is supposed to oversee gas liquefaction facilities, but New Fortress Energy successfully argued their way out of that process. New Fortress Energy got an air permit from Miami-Dade for the liquefaction facility. However, there wasn’t any oversight from the Broward County Commission when Port Everglades struck a deal with New Fortress Energy. This lack of government oversight means there were too few opportunities for public input. The public deserves an opportunity to weigh in on an operation that puts so many directly in harm’s way. 

The Broward County Commission Must Halt The Transport of Liquefied Fracked Gas At Port Everglades

For too long, South Floridians have been subjected to the dangers of New Fortress Energy’s profiteering liquefied fracked gas transport. Luckily, the Broward County Commission can do something about it. We’re calling on the Broward County Commission to halt the transport of liquefied fracked gas and investigate the risky operation.  

Port Everglades’ project was the first liquefied fracked gas export project in Florida. Not only has it endangered South Florida residents, but it sparked a push from the fossil fuel industry for more. Jacksonville is now also home to fracked gas exports. Alarmingly, there have been proposals for even more, including in the Panhandle and Tampa Bay. Furthermore, last fall New Fortress Energy doubled its operation in South Florida, sending more liquefied fracked gas into Broward communities. What’s to stop them from continuing to expand? 

The Broward County Commission must halt the transport of liquefied fracked gas and conduct an investigation into the operation.

Urge Broward County Commissioners to protect the public from this danger.

These Are The Fossil Fuel Titans Profiting As The World Burns

Categories

Climate and Energy

An analysis of leading fossil fuel interests shows executives are profiting from the Ukrainian crisis. While carnage decimates others’ way of life, these predators are taking advantage of global price increases that have sent company stocks soaring. They include: 

  • Fracking and LNG companies Cheniere, EQT, EOG Resources
  • Pipeline giants Kinder Morgan and Enbridge
  • And industry powerhouses Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Exxon Mobil

Who are these players? Here are a few (and we’ll highlight more of them in the future).

The American Oligarchs Profiting From Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuels are one of the top drivers of climate change and need to be replaced by renewables now. These CEOs do everything so we can’t get out from under fossil fuels and the damage will last for decades. It’s stomach-churning to realize that people are profiting off an international crisis, even as they continue to drive climate chaos. These actions impact people and the environment in the present day and in the future.

Those who parcel out our future climate security in exchange for payouts should be known by name. We’ll keep making sure they are.

Make them famous for their greed — share this with your friends!

Health Professionals Outline Alarming Impacts of Newark Gas Plant Proposal

Categories

Climate and Energy

On April 20, health professionals from across the region gathered in Newark to call attention to the environmental injustice and health implications of building a new gas power plant in Newark’s Ironbound community.

If approved, a proposal from the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (PVSC) would result in construction of a fourth methane gas-fired power plant in the Ironbound, a community which already faces a massive pollution burden from fossil fuel plants, the state’s largest trash incinerator, ports, thousands of diesel truck trips daily, and other major polluting facilities.

At the press conference, health professionals released a letter to Governor Murphy outlining these concerns, signed by over 130 health care professionals from dozens of medical fields urging him to stop PVSC’s proposal.

“If PVSC is serious about their environmental and public health commitments, they should sit down with the residents of Newark and figure out how to make their waste treatment plant more resilient without further increasing the already unsafe levels of air pollution in the community and region,” said Dr. Nicky Sheats, Esq., the director of the Center for the Urban Environment of the John S. Watson Institute for Urban Policy and Research at Kean University.” 

“There’s no substitute for the air we breathe. Over 19 million people in the Newark-Jersey city area already suffer from bad air days because of ozone and particulate matter,” said Dr. Catherine Chen, MD, FACP. “Over 42 days of this already. We can’t have this power plant add even more days of the year to this toll. People and the communities need to breathe clean air.”

The Ironbound already faces dangerous levels of harmful air pollution. A gas fired power plant will increase air pollutants including CO2, NOx, particulate matter, SO2, and VOCs in the Ironbound, a community that already experiences some of the worst air pollution in the country. These air pollutants have been linked to a host of health problems including respiratory and cardiovascular disease, autism, learning disabilities, cancer, and neurodegenerative disease.

“As a reproductive health specialist, doula and student midwife, I am tired of seeing the health issues and near death experiences of my clients due to systemic racism. Environmental racism being one of the biggest endocrine distributors effecting our overall health and contributing to our infant and maternal mortality rates in Newark,” said Erica Castillo, Newark resident, birth doula, and student midwife. “There is much work to be done but stopping PVSC from adding another power plant in Newark is something we can easily do now to protect our residents of further health damage.”

Despite Governor Murphy directing the commission to delay a vote this past January, PVSC is moving ahead with this project by seeking an air pollution permit before New Jersey’s environmental justice law is implemented. NJDEP’s interim Administrative Order 2021- 25 does not require PVSC to conduct a cumulative public health impacts assessment, the main requirement of NJ’s environmental justice law.  

“The science rings true: Another dirty fossil fuel powerplant near the Ironbound is bad for the health of the community, the state of New Jersey, and the planet,” said Dr. Robert Laumbach MD, MPH, CIH, DABT, Associate Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health and Justice, Rutgers School of Public Health.

PVSC will hold a public hearing on the power plant on April 26, as required by the NJDEP AO-25. Approving the project would undermine Governor Murphy’s professed commitment to phase out fossil fuels and protect clean air, clean water and a healthy environment for all residents regardless of zip code.

Iowa Legislative Session Set to End Without Action to Stop Eminent Domain for Private Gain

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Today, the Iowa 2022 legislative session is set to conclude without any action on the state’s controversial carbon pipeline issue. More than 1,700 constituents contacted state legislators with demands to stop eminent domain for private gain this session, and recent Food & Water Action polling found that 80% of registered Iowa voters oppose the use of eminent domain for the hazardous carbon pipelines. Despite staunch constituent demand and the introduction and movement of two bills to stop eminent domain for the carbon pipelines, SF 2160 and HF 2565, no legislation was passed this session to address the politically popular issue.

Impacted landowners and members of the Carbon Pipelines Resistance Coalition held a press conference today to reprimand the legislature’s failure to stop eminent domain for private gain. Food & Water Watch Senior Iowa Organizer Emma Schmit said:

“The legislature’s inaction this session is shameful. But the anti-pipeline movement is only growing. Iowans stand united against the threat of eminent domain for these hazardous carbon pipelines. And we refuse to give up our taxpayer dollars, our land and our safety to build them. This is only the beginning.”

“Eminent domain is not just an issue for those of us affected by the Summit pipeline; it should be an issue of concern for all landowners in Iowa,” said Cynthia Hansen, owner of Century Farm in Shelby County, affected by the proposed Summit pipeline. “Our legislators need to stand with us, the landowners, their constituents, who elected them to serve. If these dangerous pipelines are allowed to use eminent domain, no landowner will be safe from its use by other private companies in the future. This will be a dangerous precedent to set.”

“CCS only serves the monied interests and the fossil fuel industry while never truly addressing the climate emergency affecting all of us,” said Mahmud Fitil, Great Plains Action Society. “Amidst this climate emergency we must demand a reduction and phasing out of fossil fuels as a wider part of a just transition. Additionally, the same concerns present with other pipeline projects in the area regarding safety, degradation of the water and land as well as disturbance of sacred Indigenous ceremonial and burial sites. CCS is greenwashing rather than a solution to the climate emergency that Iowans deserve, and as Indigenous people we remain committed to the water, the land and the future generations of Iowans. Great Plains Action Society is firmly opposed to the carbon pipelines.”

“The Iowa legislature has failed to take action on one of the most important issues facing Iowa — the carbon pipelines,” said Conservation Program Coordinator Jess Mazour with the Sierra Club Iowa Chapter. “There is nothing good about these carbon pipelines. It is all risk for us and all rewards for them. We need the Iowa legislature to make meaningful changes to Iowa’s law to protect Iowa, our landowners and our resources. We need to ban eminent domain for carbon pipelines.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

A Federal Energy Agency Could Make A Change That Thwarts Climate Offenders

Categories

Climate and Energy

by Adam Carlesco

For the first time in over two decades, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued two new proposed permitting policies. The policies will inform how FERC considers whether an interstate gas infrastructure project is in the public interest before permitting. The first policy revises its gas certification policy, which has been unchanged since 1998. The second proposes an interim policy concerning how FERC will analyze the climate impacts of proposed infrastructure projects. For years, Food & Water Watch has been pushing FERC to improve its certification policy through litigation and legal comments. It appears FERC may be poised to finally consider the true climate and community impacts of fossil fuel gas projects.

These policies indicate that FERC and its new Commissioners may begin taking their duties under the Natural Gas Act and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) more seriously. So does FERC’s Strategic Plan for 2022-2026. The Natural Gas Act requires projects to be in the public interest. NEPA requires agencies to evaluate the environmental impacts of proposed federal actions like pipeline approvals. But it stands to be seen how these policies will be applied in practice. Under pressure from fossil fuel interests, will FERC commissioners stand strong against permits for gas projects that will cause environmental harm? 

FERC Has A History Of Rubber-Stamping New Gas Projects

During the fracking boom of the early 21st century, FERC’s flexibility was a convenience for the gas pipeline industry’s vast expansion plans. In that time, FERC granted 1,021 approvals over twenty years and rejected only six. Simultaneously, FERC glossed over the harmful effects of gas infrastructure, including greenhouse gas emissions, downwind air pollution, and threats to public safety. It also completely ignored the big picture. Pipelines need expanded fracking operations to feed them, meaning more fossil fuel extraction over the decades-long lifetime of the infrastructure. However, there has also been consistent pressure from the public, court decisions, and a change in administration. Because of that, FERC has finally re-evaluated how it will determine if a project is in the public interest. 

FERC’s New Certification and Greenhouse Gas Policies

In issuing its new gas certification policy, FERC strengthens its review of new and modified gas infrastructure in several ways. These include: 

  • Requiring more information from project applicants on foreseeable but indirect impacts (e.g., fracking) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the eventual burning of the piped gas; 
  • Greater evidence of “need” for the pipeline that cannot otherwise be addressed, 
  • And collection of information on the cumulative harms to nearby communities. 

FERC has also for the first time proposed a separate policy on the consideration of GHGs. The draft features an emissions threshold that would categorize most new or modified gas infrastructure as having “significant” climate impact. This is an important change because a significance finding means FERC must do a more rigorous environmental review under NEPA. However, this policy is still just a proposal and the Commission is seeking input from the public until April 25th.

Pressure From Watchdog Groups And Communities Is Crucial For Enforcement

Food & Water Watch’s work in the courts is keeping pressure on FERC to adopt strong policies. In March, the federal D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in Food & Water Watch v. FERC issued an important decision. It held that the Commission could no longer ignore the emissions from gas delivered to local distribution companies. The court found FERC must review the indirect, but foreseeable, greenhouse gas emissions from even a single compressor station replacement. 

This is only the beginning, however, as a policy is only as strong as it is enacted and enforced. At a time when fossil fuel interests are pushing to build infrastructure to export fracked gas around the world, FERC Chairman Glick, recently stated

“FERC has never rejected an LNG project based on climate change [concerns]…” 

He went on to say that he doesn’t “think there’s a linkage between climate change and limitations on exports.”  Food & Water Watch will continue to pressure FERC to take into account the full climate impacts of fossil fuel projects. We’ll hold the agency accountable if it continues rubber-stamping gas infrastructure development. 

You Can Do Something Easy Right Now To Make This Change Official

FERC Commissioners are under tremendous pressure from the gas industry and the politicians funded by them. That’s why it’s so important FERC commissioners hear from you! 

Tell FERC that climate change is a reasonably foreseeable impact of gas infrastructure approval, and that it must consider fracking’s impacts when approving pipelines. Most importantly, tell the commissioners that FERC must deny new gas infrastructure applications as contrary to the public interest. The comment period on FERC’s draft gas certification and  GHG policies is open until April 25th – weigh in now!

Urge FERC to finalize these new policies.* It just takes a moment!

*Please reference Docket Nos. PL18-1-000 and PL21-3-000 in your comment to FERC.

Ben Murray

Ben Murray

Senior Researcher

Madison, WI

Andrea Vega

Andrea Vega

Southern California Organizer

Los Angeles, CA

Camden Forum Highlights LNG Terminal Dangers

Categories

Climate and Energy

On Wednesday evening, about 90 people gathered at a public forum in Camden to learn about a dangerous fracked gas terminal proposed for Gibbstown. 

The attendees, both in person and online, ended the evening by signing a letter to President Biden and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to ban the dangerous transport of liquified natural gas (LNG) by rail car. The residents and activists are also preparing to mobilize in Trenton in June to call on Governor Murphy to call a moratorium on new fossil fuel infrastructure in Jersey.

The public education forum was held at Rutgers Camden Campus and was hosted by the Rutgers Faculty Union and co-sponsored by Food & Water Watch, the National Institute for Healthy Human Spaces, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Southern Burlington County NAACP, Camden for Clean Air, South Jersey Progressive Democrats, Rowan College at Burlington County Environmental Club, Our Revolution Trenton Mercer and the Empower Coalition. 

“Educating folks about this dangerous project is the first step at engaging the public to take action to stop it. Everyone who attended is sending a powerful message to Governor Murphy and President Biden: Reject permits for this project and protect the health and safety of already overburdened environmental justice communities,” said Food & Water Watch organizer Noa Gordon-Guterman.  

Iowa Senate Remains Silent on Eminent Domain Despite Outreach From 1,700+ Constituents

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Over the course of this legislative session, more than 1,700 constituents have reached out to state legislative offices by phone and email to demand action on eminent domain for the controversial pipelines proposed for Iowa. In addition, almost 250 people attended a public hearing on the issue last month in person in the Capitol Rotunda or virtually. It’s been more than two weeks since the Iowa House passed legislation to pause eminent domain for carbon pipelines, yet the Senate remains silent on the critical legislation.

The silence comes despite new Food & Water Action polling that shows that 80% of registered Iowa voters oppose the use of eminent domain for the hazardous carbon pipelines.

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

“As opposition mounts to the hazardous carbon pipelines proposed for our state, and the threat of eminent domain to build them, the Senate’s silence is deafening.

“Iowans see these projects for what they are — greenwashed hazardous pipelines that will make a few very rich at the expense of the many. Senator Whitver and his chamber must heed constituent demands and stop eminent domain for private gain.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Ventura County Farmers Urge Passage of Measures A and B to Protect Water Resources

Categories

Climate and EnergyClean Water

For Immediate Release

Fillmore, CA – Amid the sweeping backdrop of the Topatopa Mountains and a field of colorful organic vegetables, members of the Ventura County farming community joined advocates and water experts to urge the passage of Measures A and B. The twin 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. Cynthia King’s farm, where the press conference took place, is surrounded by a CUP that was approved in 1928. 

“It’s terrifying,” King said. “As a member of the family that has owned and farmed this land for over a hundred years — and a family that is committed to maintaining the health and safety of the land, the water and the crops — it’s terrifying what could happen if our Fillmore aquifer gets contaminated by oil products.”

King and her husband supply avocados and citrus fruit to local markets and restaurants, also renting some of their land to The Abundant Table, a non-profit organic CSA and worker-owned collective. They recently learned that an abandoned oil well sits in the middle of their organic avocado field. 

“Over 654 active and idle oil wells in Ventura County are either located on top of groundwater basins or have been drilled through our groundwater basins,” said Food & Water Watch Central Coast Organizing Manager Tomás Rebecchi, who also leads the VC-SAFE coalition to pass Measures A and B. “If [oil operators] want to drill or frack an oil well next to your home or school, they would have to do as little environmental review as building a gazebo or a deck in your own backyard. And in Ventura County, more than 60 percent of oil wells located next to homes are next to Latino and Latinx communities. This creates a disproportionate burden of pollution shouldered by communities of color. Measures A and B are common sense protections that make oil operators in Ventura County play by the same rules as the rest of California.”

Numerous health studies have linked living within a close proximity to oil wells with asthma, cancer and preterm births among other health issues. 

“The health of our people depends on our water supply,” said Carmen Ramirez, Chair of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors. “This precious source of life is threatened everywhere in the Southwest. Certainly in Ventura County we don’t have enough of it. When you care about people and health, that should win over other people’s profit motives. We have to protect our water. We have to protect our climate. We have to protect our beautiful agriculture.

“I’ll be out there knocking on doors, getting people to vote “yes” on Measures A and B,” Supervisor Ramirez added. Other elected officials who have endorsed Measures A and B include Rep. Julia Brownley, Senator Henry Stern, and Ventura Mayor Sofia Rubalcava.

Pouring oil into a glass of water, geologist and member of Ventura’s Water Commission Nova Clite demonstrated how difficult it is to truly separate the two substances. “Most groundwater contamination is in the dissolved phase. You don’t taste it. You don’t even see it. You can be exposed to toxic chemicals and not even know it. So the best course is prevention.” 

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).

“These loopholes risk the very fabric of the community we’ve built together and we can’t let that happen,” said Abundant Table board member Tom Nafziger

Guadalupe Rojas is the farm manager for The Abundant Table. Through a translator, he said, “We’re very close to the Santa Clara River here and it’s very important to keep our subterranean storage very clean for the water. A very tiny amount of oil can contaminate thousands of gallons of water. Another thing that’s very important to keep our soils free of petroleum and other contaminants is to keep oil wells far away from our farms.”

 “We want to make sure that we’re bringing the healthiest, most intact, unpolluted product to people to eat,” continued Cynthia King. “We don’t use herbicides or pesticides. So we’ll be voting yes on Measures A and B. The oil companies may have thousands of dollars, but we have thousands of people.”

See the full press conference here.

###

The VC-SAFE (Ventura County Save Agriculture and Drinking Water for Everyone) coalitionis composed of working families, farmers, and environmental justice groups banding together to protect our drinking water and demand safeguards for all future oil drilling.

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

Gas Ban Activists Picket Speaker Heastie’s Office to Demand Passage of All-Electric Buildings Act

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Amidst breaking news that New York’s landmark statewide gas ban is dead in the Executive Budget deal, activists rallied outside Speaker Heastie’s Bronx office to demand legislative action on this issue. As the state budget takes shape, the Speaker Heastie has balked at the inclusion of a landmark statewide ban on fossil fuels in new buildings, single handedly holding up passage of the ban via the state budget, despite gas ban support from Governor Hochul and Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins.

News of Speaker Heastie’s budget failure on climate comes as the United Nations IPCC report issues the ultimatum that it’s now or never to act for a livable future, including immediate building electrification. New York emits more building pollution than any other state, with buildings accounting for fully one third of New York’s climate-warming greenhouse gas pollution, and the indoor air pollution fossil fuels in New York buildings cause leads to an estimated 1,940 premature deaths every year.

Members of the #GasFreeNY campaign, climate advocacy groups, and concerned New Yorkers demanded legislative passage of the All-Electric Buildings Act (S6843B/A8431A, Kavanagh/Gallagher). The legislation has 56 co-sponsors, and widespread support from New Yorkers. As of a January Siena poll, 62% of New Yorkers support the All-Electric Buildings Act (only 23% oppose), and New York City already enacted a gas ban in December 2021. Food & Water Watch Senior New York Organizer Eric Weltman said:

“The ink is barely dry on the latest IPCC report warning world leaders that it’s now or never to act on climate, and still, Speaker Heastie and a Democratic majority in the Assembly failed to come to the table on negotiating a necessary, landmark gas ban for New York — it’s shameful. Speaker Heastie and Governor Hochul must commit to passing the All-Electric Buildings Act. If they don’t, Assembly incumbents deserve to lose every single primary this summer.”

“We are here to urge New York State to pass a law ending gas and oil in new buildings so that all new buildings would be built clean and green,” said Ángel Flores, member of New York Communities for Change. “The world’s scientists tell us we must stop using oil and gas because of climate change — we saw Hurricanes Sandy and Ida. Those are climate disasters and we can’t let the future get much worse. Carl Heastie stopped this legislation from passing as part of the state budget. He should stop listening to oil and gas lobbyists and real estate companies, and listen to the people. Carl Heastie must support a gas ban in new construction.”

Photos are available here, and a recording of the protest is available here.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Scientists To Biden: Don’t Ramp Up Fossil Fuels