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

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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.”

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

Categories

Climate and Energy

By Mark Schlosberg

In recent weeks President Biden and his administration have moved to increase fossil fuel production and infrastructure. These actions fly in the face of climate science, which mandates a transition off of fossil fuels right away. Now scientists are speaking out, imploring President Biden to follow through on his commitments. As a candidate, Biden promised to listen to science, but his recent actions suggest the opposite.

The increased drought, wildfires, hurricanes, and floods that we’ve experienced recently would have been reason enough to curb this plan. But the Ukraine crisis has brought into full view the dangers of continued reliance on fossil fuels. Europe is planning for dramatic cuts in Russian gas and looking toward new sources. Rather than going all-in on renewable energy, Europe wants increased U.S. gas imports — for over a decade to come. This is a recipe for climate disaster. 

A Broken Promise — President Biden Moves to Increase Fossil Fuel Production and Infrastructure

When President Biden ran for office, he pledged to listen to science. He also pledged to stop new drilling on federal lands, and initiate a transition off of fossil fuels. He was already falling massively short on these promises before the Ukraine crisis, but now he has reversed course completely. He and his administration have urged increased fossil fuel production, rush approvals of its infrastructure, and ramped-up exports to Europe. And his plan envisions a huge increase of gas exports by 2030 — more than tripling a big increase this year.

“Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness.”

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterre

What these exports mean for the U.S. is more drilling, fracking, pipelines through communities and massive, polluting industrial facilities. These come with a litany of safety risks and local pollution, which have devastating environmental justice and health impacts. 

It also will have monumental climate impacts, according to the most recent IPCC scientific report. Global emissions continue to increase and the very narrow window to avoid even 2 degrees of warming is rapidly closing. Building more infrastructure will certainly lock us into decades of more emissions. 

As UN Secretary-General António Guterres said upon the release of the IPCC report: “Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness.”

Failing on Climate: Lies From Leaders Will Be “Catastrophic”

The Biden approach to climate is, unfortunately, not unique. As the IPCC report highlights, governments worldwide have broken prior commitments even though those fell far short of requirements. 

“Simply put, they are lying, and the results will be catastrophic.”

United Nations Secretary-General Guterres

The only way to avert even worse impacts is to embrace scientific reality and adopt policies matching the rapidly escalating climate emergency. This means confronting hard truths and paying the crisis more than lip service. The only way to really achieve energy independence and security is to move off of fossil fuels. That means making quick, bold investments in renewable energy and immediately halting and rolling back fossil fuels and its infrastructure. To do otherwise fails to confront what is happening. Secretary-General Guterres said: “Some government and business leaders are saying one thing – but doing another…Simply put, they are lying, and the results will be catastrophic.”

Scientists Implore Biden to Reverse Course Before It’s Too Late

While President Biden has charted a perilous course, there’s still time to reverse and confront the reality of the climate crisis. Over 275 scientists wrote Biden to implore him to act. This is directly in response to his announced plans to double down on fossil fuels and the IPCC report release. They urged him to instead take bold action to move off fossil fuels and infrastructure and reject the mad dash to increase production and exports. 

The initiative for this letter is led by scientists Bob Howarth,  Mark Jacobson, Michael Mann, Sandra Steingraber, and Peter Kalmus. The message is prophetic and clear in its call to action. It concludes:

“As scientists who look at data every day, we implore you to keep this promise and listen to what the scientific community is saying about fossil fuels and the climate crisis. Do not facilitate more fuel extraction and infrastructure. The impacts of climate change are already significant and we have a very narrow window to avoid runaway climate chaos. We urge you to lead boldly, take on the fossil fuel titans, and rally the country towards a renewable energy future.”

Help amplify this call to action. Join them, and all of us at Food & Water Watch in calling on President Biden to reject fossil fuels — now.

Tell President Biden to reject this mad dash toward more fossil fuels.

Northern California Senior Organizer

Food & Water Watch is working to create a healthy future for all people and generations to come—a world where everyone has food they can trust, clean drinking water and a livable climate. Making this happen requires involving people in the pressing issues of our time at the local, state, and federal level, building on one win after another, as we develop a larger movement that has the political power to make our democratic process work.   

The Northern California Senior Organizer will report to the California Director and will work with other state and national organizing staff and policy, research, online and communications staff to support FWW’s work to build a strong base of organizations and individuals in support of our campaigns. This position will focus on developing and implementing two main campaigns:

  1. Within our statewide coalition called Last Chance Alliance, we work to move Gov. Newsom to stop new fossil fuel drilling and projects, drop existing fossil fuel production in California and to roll out a 3,200ft health and safety buffer between drilling and sensitive sites.
     
  2. We are developing a statewide campaign on the drought and water issues in California. We are working to end the expansion of water intensive crops like almonds, alfalfa and pistachios and stop the expansion of factory farms that abuse California’s limited water resources. Additionally, we are working to protect groundwater resources in California.

The Northern California Senior Organizer will have several main responsibilities: fundraising including writing grants and reports, cultivating major donors, and ensuring the organizing team meet fundraising goals.

This is a Union bargaining unit position.

Compensation: $60,000 – $70,000 annually dependent upon experience and location.

Office Location: This position is approved for remote work, for candidates based in Northern California.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities
  • Build a strong base of organizations and individuals in support of our campaigns, with a particular emphasis on banning fracking and dangerous drilling and advocating for food and water justice in California and nationally.
  • Lead fundraising efforts pertaining to the Northern California program including building and maintaining relationships with foundations and major donors.
  • Work with a team to develop strategic campaign plans including long and short term goals, strategies and tactics.
  • Work closely with team and partner organizations to develop and implement joint strategies.
  • Participate in coalitions on campaign issues and implement grassroots organizing and public education campaigns.
  • Speak at public events, forums, and other venues, and serves as a representative of Food & Water Action/Watch to the public and the media.
  • Assist in building the capacity and leadership of volunteers and allied grassroots organizations by offering training and organizing support.
  • Maintain familiarity with a diverse set of issues, research products, and FWW’s suite of digital organizing tools, and respond to information and support requests from activists, coalition members, and the media.
  • Develop educational materials such as factsheets, action alerts, web site content and newsletter articles on campaign issues.
  • Maintain activist database and email lists to effectively communicate to members and supporters.
  • Regularly report on work to supervisors and donors.
  • Maintain accurate records in our database of supporter activities, volunteers, allies, and coalitions.
  • [If applicable] Participate and/or develop non-partisan electoral strategies and tactics for either/both Food and Water Watch (c3) and Food and Water Action (c4).
  • Participate in membership recruitment and fundraising for Food & Water Watch/Action.
  • Support Our Culture of Philanthropy: All staff must assist in fundraising and development for the organization. All staff must demonstrate an understanding that our members and supporters make our work (and our salaries) possible and should provide the highest level of customer and member services to people outside the organization. While your job position does not require you to raise any particular amount, you are expected to always be an “ambassador” for FWW/FWA and our work. All staff are expected to help with and participate/attend events and other activities as appropriate that are organized for our supporters and donors. All staff are expected to be cognizant of fundraising opportunities and to share contacts and information that will help build and sustain FWW/FWA.
  • Carry out other projects as assigned.
Qualifications

To perform this job successfully, the person in this position is expected to have a complete understanding of FWW’s Strategic Organizing model and an ability to develop campaign strategy. The Senior Organizer will be expected to work closely with volunteers and allied organizations to ensure campaigns are moving forward to achieve FWW’s programmatic goals.    

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 or combination of relevant education and experience. Three years of full-time experience organizing. Clear demonstration of ability to develop effective organizing strategies. Familiarity with California politics and northern California communities. Familiarity and experience working on elections strategies a plus. Development experience and experience working with donors 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 have coursework or certification 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: 04.07.22

Job Type: Full Time

Office Location: Remote

Department: Organizing

Organic Dairy Is Getting Squeezed By Big Ag

Categories

Food System

by Rebecca Wolf

In the 1980s, Tamara Tripp spent her days doing chores on a small dairy farm in Minnesota. The future FWW Managing Director of Philanthropy was helping her mom and dad milk 60 cows. They sold their milk to Land O’Lakes, took care of the land and were comfortable enough to raise four children.

By the late 1990s, corporate mergers and the systematically-crafted farm crisis had taken their toll — Tamara’s parents sold the cows. 

Big Ag Mergers In Organic Dairy Mean Fewer Buyers

We hear this story over and over again. Corporate bullies gobble up the market, enabled by corporate-friendly federal government policies. Since the advent of the organic milk label, the U.S. has failed to protect small organic dairy farmers from cutthroat corporate mergers.

In 2020, Dairy Farmers of America bought the dairy giant Dean Foods with little oversight from federal regulators. Before this $433 million-dollar buy, Dean Foods had swallowed up Horizon, AltaDena and Organic Cow of Vermont. Other notable shifts:

  • The licensing of Stonyfield Farm’s fluid milk brand to H.P. Hood
  • The growth of organic store brands in large grocery chains like Safeway, WalMart, Target and Trader Joe’s.

These changes left very few buyers for milk from organic family dairy farmers.

Organic Dairy Industry Becomes Another “Get Big or Get Out” Story

The dairy industry has been wholly transformed, from the cows to the cooperatives securing its prices and the processors packaging milk for consumers. Massive mega-dairies confine dairy cows and may use antibiotics and growth hormones to boost production. Then milk is shipped nationwide to be mechanically separated and resold as everything from ice cream to industrial protein concentrates. These days, consumers no longer know where their milk comes from — or what is actually in much of the dairy they consume.

It was hard for families like the Tripps who refused to use growth hormones like Monsanto’s Bovine Somatotropin (bST). And today’s industry doesn’t work for small- and mid-sized organic family farmers, either. They face pressure to “get big or get out.” The New York Times recently published a piece featuring the last New England organic family dairies. They struggle to survive in a market where just a few large cooperatives are the buyers — therefore setting the prices. Large processors also prefer to buy from a few large, polluting mega-dairy operations instead of family-scale ones with 60 cows. The growth of Western Goliaths producing organic milk on factory farms adds more pressure on small organic family dairies. They also happen to create massive amounts of liquid waste that jeopardize our air and water.

Higher Prices For Consumers, Smaller Profits For Farmers

While all this is happening, consumers are paying higher prices at the grocery store. It seems like everyone is losing, except for the corporate middlemen and speculators who skim off all the cream. 

The organic movement in the United States originally built support for sustainably-produced food. Sustainable methods preserve the health of the land, the animals and the farming families. At first, organic producers received great prices with standards administered by the USDA. But increasingly, even the organic label has been eroded by consolidation, the influence of corporate bullies and profiteering. Because of co-op Goliaths, the organic milk market is now dominated by factory farms, sometimes housing tens of thousands of cows. The almost total corporate control of prices and standards in our food system is a bad deal for farmers and consumers. 

The Crisis And Consolidation Of Organic Dairy Is A Policy Choice 

The good news is that with good policies, farming like Tamara’s family enjoyed is a possible vision for our future. We can have a real market for organic milk. Consumers, the environment, animals and farmers can all share in the abundance of a healthy food system. 

These changes will require shifting our food system using bold and essential federal legislation. The Farm System Reform Act will help us transition away from factory farms. Further, the Food and Agribusiness Merger Moratorium and Review Act will break the corporate stranglehold on our food system. Crisis and consolidation in organic dairy are policy choices that we can change.

Urge your Congressperson to support the Farm System Reform Act today!

NY Legislators, Groups Demand Gas Ban Passage in Budget as UN IPCC Warns “Now or Never”

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

As Monday’s United Nations IPCC report warns it is “now or never” for climate action to avoid worldwide catastrophe, advocates and sponsors of the All-Electric Building Act hosted a press conference during ongoing budget negotiations to urge inclusion of the Act in the final Executive Budget. The State Senate is pushing for a gas ban starting in 2024 for new buildings and the Governor also proposes a gas ban, but the State Assembly led by Assembly Speaker Heastie is currently balking at enacting the landmark move through the budget. The bill, A8431A/S6843B, has the support of 56 Senators and Assembly Members from across NYS.

As the budget remains in active debate, gas ban co-sponsors and advocates called for the bill to pass in order to combat climate change, cut air pollution, reduce utility bills and create jobs. Groups from the #GasFreeNY Coalition and the Renewable Heat Now Campaign called on the Governor and Legislature to pass the All-Electric Building Act via the budget, instead of deferring to the oil, gas and real estate lobbies, as the UN pleads for action in Monday’s terrifying report. Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director Alex Beauchamp said:

“The latest IPCC report is yet another wake up call that it is ‘now or never’ for climate action. Yet Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is flirting with single handedly killing progress on climate change, holding up inclusion of a landmark fossil fuel ban via the state budget. We don’t have time to wait, and we don’t need to. Buildings account for almost a third of New York’s greenhouse gas emissions, and we have the technology and know-how right now to build fossil-free. Speaker Heastie must listen to New Yorkers demanding a gas ban now rather than cave to the fossil fuel industry’s army of corporate lobbyists.”

“Fossil fuel companies are pouring lies into our representatives’ ears in order to keep us making the same poor decisions we’ve made in the past,” said Assemblymember Emily Gallagher. “But we can’t let the decisions of our past dictate our future. Fossil fuels and their money must become unwelcome in New York. What’s at stake is enormous and will impact all of us — I urge leadership to put the All-Electric Building Act in the budget.”

Assemblymember Chris Burdick said: “In my town of Bedford where I was Town Supervisor, we passed a Stretch Energy Code, pushed to have all-electric municipal buildings, and remade our community house to be all-electric. It’s super efficient from a cost and energy-consumption standpoint. We need to explain to people this makes the greatest sense from the standpoint of saving our planet, as well as for the pocketbook. I am going to be asking the Speaker to make this a priority, to get it through, and to get it enacted.”

“The All-Electric Building Act is exactly the kind of legislation the IPCC report calls for, phasing out fossil fuels and electrifying our buildings, the primary source of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change,” explained Annie Carforo, WE ACT for Environmental Justice’s Climate Justice Organizer. “People of color have been disproportionately harmed by the fossil fuel economy, from the air pollution it produces to the impacts of climate change it causes, which is why we must pass this legislation to provide climate justice for all New Yorkers!”

Liz Moran, New York Policy Advocate for Earthjustice, said, “The message from the latest IPCC report couldn’t be clearer — the time to move off fossil fuels and electrify everything is now — and nothing could be more simple than stopping fossil fuels in new construction. The question is, will the Governor and the Legislature heed this urgent call from scientists, or will they succumb to the same old fossil fuel industry tactics? If New York is truly committed to meeting its climate mandates, the All-Electric Building Act will be included in the final state budget.”

“It has been a failure of leadership that New York has waffled on the necessary transition off fossil fuels, and not electrified sooner. But the Governor and Legislature can turn that ship around this session,” said Maraki Russell, Project Coordinator with NYPIRG at Nassau Community College. “With the new IPCC report being so dire, I must ask: ‘What is the hold up?’ The state cannot wait any longer to enact the All-Electric Building Act. Students are depending on it for our future.”

“New construction is the ideal spot to start weaning away from the fossil fuel industry. It sets a precedent moving forward,” said Kevin Moravec, President and owner of Van Hee Heating and Barney Moravec Incorporated. “Here in Western New York, we’re already going as hard as we can, engaging with developers and showing them that the technology is often cheaper than installing gas. We ask for the support of the speaker and the governor to make this a reality. The time is now.”  

“We support the All-Electric Building Act because this law will make sure that our new buildings meet a modern standard that protects our health and the environment,” said Avni Pravin, Deputy Policy Director at AGREE. “We need to stop delaying on common sense solutions because that is just going to rack up the bill for ourselves and future generations.”

“New York cannot afford to continue 19th century technology with fossil fuels,” said Kim Fraczek, Director of Sane Energy Project. “Despite the bribes and misinformation that corporate utilities like National Grid and others peddle to keep a fossil fuel economy in place, it is clear that New York can lead the nation into the 21st century with the All-Electric Building Act. Renewable energy is already happening. We must ensure it is available, equitably and swiftly, to all New Yorkers to alleviate illness, debt, and climate threats.”

“I have a message for the legislature and the governor: New York is ready to electrify our buildings,” said Lisa Marshall, Director of HeatSmart Tompkins. “We emphasize the cost, the comfort, the convenience, and the climate benefits of heat pumps. The IPCC report is telling us that building electrification is one of the main pathways, and what a wonderful pathway it is that provides all of these benefits right now while providing a more livable planet for our future. New York is ready, we are ready to go. Let’s do this.”  

A recording of the press conference is available here.

Analysis Finds Midwest Carbon Pipelines Could Cost Taxpayers in Excess of $20 Billion

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Today, the national advocacy group Food & Water Watch released a new analysis on the true cost of the three carbon pipelines proposed for the Midwest, finding that federal taxpayers could waste in excess of $20 billion dollars on these projects over the next 12 years. Summit Carbon Solutions’ proposal alone could cost taxpayers more than $7 billion — almost twice the amount the company claims its project will invest in the region.

Carbon capture schemes and the dangerous pipelines that feed them are propped up by public funding. A single federal tax credit called Section 45Q could funnel almost $2 billion a year to Summit, Navigator and Wolf/ADM to capture carbon from ethanol facilities to feed their pipeline projects. Over the 12 years that the projects are eligible to profit from the Section 45Q credit, the companies could make $23 billion.

Meanwhile, despite a failing track record, the federal government is only doubling down on carbon capture funding. Since 2010, the federal government has poured more than $8 billion into carbon capture projects via direct funding and tax credits, yet most federally-funded projects failed. Despite this, in the past year alone, legislators approved a record $12.2 billion in federal appropriations to finance carbon capture projects. 

While federal funding props up these projects, it leaves local communities to foot the bill should anything go wrong. Landowners whose property is affected by carbon pipeline construction can expect hefty costs from the aftereffects of pipeline damage. In the case of the Dakota Access Pipeline, some landowners reported farmland repairs upwards of $100,000 for a single property.

To date, hundreds of Iowans have submitted public comments against the costly and dangerous Summit carbon pipeline, the first proposed for the state and first in line to go through Iowa Utilities Board permitting. As of a March 8 review, 98.9 percent of comments filed are in opposition.

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

“Carbon capture and its associated pipelines are designed to funnel wealth from communities to corporations. But Iowans see these schemes for what they are — greenwashing and corporate profiteering at our expense — and we are uniting to stop these projects from taking root.

“Regular people have already paid through the nose for carbon capture, only to watch the flawed technology fail time and time again. We refuse to also offer up our land, communities, health and safety so that corporations like Summit can make a quick buck. Governor Reynolds must ensure companies cannot use eminent domain to steal Iowans’ land for these projects, and she must direct her Iowa Utilities Board to put an end to carbon pipelines in Iowa for good.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Carbon Capture Is Iowa’s New Problem Pipe Dream

Categories

PDFFood SystemClimate and Energy

Senator Henry Stern And San Fernando Valley Residents Rally to Pass Aliso Canyon Closure Bill

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Chatsworth, CA – At a rally to kick off the campaign to pass SB 1486, Senator Henry Stern (D-Los Angeles) joined Food & Water Watch activists and San Fernando Valley residents at SoCalGas’ Chatsworth offices to demand the closure of the natural gas storage facility. 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. Despite this, the Public Utilities Commission voted to increase storage capacity at the Aliso Canyon facility in November 2021.

“I want this to be a nightmare of the past,” Senator Stern said. “This legislation is there to help the Public Utilities Commission who sometimes has a hard time doing the right thing on Aliso Canyon. It was a shame that the Public Utilities Commission decided to reopen this field last winter and to pretend that everything will go down unless this field is on. We know that’s not the case. We saw L.A. operate leaner but smarter and cleaner without Aliso Canyon. This could be done today and we would be fine. Do not let them scare you.”

Despite issuing a mandate to the CPUC to close Aliso down, Governor Gavin Newsom has taken no action to enforce that commitment even as the agency voted to increase storage capacity at the facility. The Clean Energy Jobs, Coordination and Community Safety Through Aliso Canyon Closure Act provides a firm roadmap to closing Aliso Canyon by 2027 — the first piece of legislation to do so. In another first for the site, the bill mandates protections and safeguards for workers who would be displaced from their jobs at Aliso Canyon and ensures their transition to clean energy work. SB1486 will stipulate that the facility cannot be used for hydrogen, biofuels or carbon capture. Stern stressed the importance of SoCalGas transforming itself from a gas company to a renewable energy company. 

“We’re here as a protest and also as an invitation,” Stern continued. “It’s a loud invitation.”

“We picked this location because every time we go up to the Aliso Canyon storage facility, we get sick,” said Food & Water Watch’s California Director Alexandra Nagy. “And we’re tired of putting our loved ones and friends in harm’s way. We have a lot of hurt and trauma that we’re working on overcoming, and this is not an issue of the past. It’s still ongoing. This is why we’re fighting. We’re on the tip of a huge paradigm shift. SB 1486 has the potential to lead California to climate action and the equitable transition away from natural gas. Senator Stern will not be alone in this fight.”

Nagy asked the crowd who had experienced health consequences or had to relocate because of the blowout. At least a dozen hands flew up. Aliso Moms Alliance member Deirdre Bolona lost her father to kidney cancer after the blowout. “We were told it was safe,” she said at the rally. “No one cares. Senator Stern cares.”

“We are in a climate crisis,” said Jane Fowler, a Granada Hills resident and member of Aliso Moms Alliance. “I wish everything was fine but it isn’t. I live near this horrible, dilapidated facility and I know what it’s like to breathe toxic air. We have dubbed our cough ‘the Aliso cough.’ We are living in the shadow of Aliso Canyon gas storage facility. We’ve been sounding the alarm for six and a half years. SB 1486 is the beginning. Senator Stern is making this all happen and he’s actually making it easy for Governor Newsom to sign off.”

Matt Pakucko, President and co-founder of Save Porter Ranch, said “It’s a very clever bill. It disarms the opposition right off the bat by transitioning jobs in keeping with California and Los Angeles long term energy plans. And best of all is that it turns Aliso Canyon back into an asset of last resort — that protocol that kept Aliso unused and unneeded for nearly two years.”

The bill faces its first hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in April. 

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

Public Hearing on Use of Eminent Domain for Carbon Pipelines Draws Widespread Opposition

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

On Tuesday, legislators, landowners, advocates and experts from the mounting anti-pipeline movement staged a public hearing on the use of eminent domain for the controversial carbon pipelines proposed for Iowa. More than 150 people attended the hearing in person, with more than 90 additional viewers online, including impacted landowners, County Supervisors, State Senators and Representatives, and activists representing bipartisan opposition.

Citing widespread opposition from all corners of the state, speakers urged rapid legislative action to ban the use of eminent domain takings for the carbon pipeline projects. As the Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline moves into Iowa Utilities Board permitting, the threat of private land takings only increases: Recent news revealed that Summit Carbon Solutions has less than 2% of their proposed route secured via voluntary easements.

The event came on the heels of the House’s passage of House File 2565, with amendments from Rep. Kaufmann (R-Cedar) to establish a 12-month moratorium on eminent domain takings for the dangerous carbon pipeline projects. Legislators, landowners, advocates and experts are calling for additional amendments to make the ban on eminent domain takings permanent. Food & Water Watch Senior Iowa Organizer Emma Schmit said:

“Carbon capture is a costly false solution to our climate crisis, and the pipelines that support it spell danger for our communities. Until our legislature removes the legal ability for corporations to capture private land for dangerous carbon pipeline projects, Iowans will continue to live under threat of eminent domain takings for these unwanted projects. Governor Reynolds and legislative leadership must commit to passing legislation this session that permanently removes the threat of eminent domain takings for carbon pipelines. With less than a month remaining in session, it’s time to put this issue to bed.”

“A one-year delay on CO2 pipelines might sound like a good idea on the surface, but HF 2565 looks more like a political game to protect politicians during an election year,” said Julie Duhn of Eldora and member of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. “Lawmakers need to get serious about this. They need to stand up for farmers and against this destruction of our land for private gain. We don’t need a bait and switch, we need actual leadership from our legislators and more than just lip service to our agricultural tradition.”

“Legislation to postpone eminent domain takings until next year kicks the can down the road. Pressure is already increasing on reluctant landowners to voluntarily sign carbon pipeline easements, with eminent domain framed to us as ‘inevitable,’” said George Cummins, of Vinton, retired agronomist and former director of the Floyd County Iowa State University Extension Office. “As voters, it is our responsibility to hold our elected officials accountable — and we will, both now and at the ballot box, demanding that eminent domain never be used for these unwanted carbon pipelines.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Iowa House Passes Amendment to Delay Carbon Pipeline Eminent Domain Proceedings

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Late Thursday evening, the Iowa House of Representatives passed legislation that would impede the approval process of proposed carbon pipelines in Iowa, as an amendment to an appropriations bill, House File 2565. The amendment would enact a moratorium on Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) hearings for carbon capture & storage (CCS) pipelines until February 1, 2023. This legislation would temporarily stop carbon sequestration companies from using eminent domain proceedings to condemn land along the pipeline routes for the length of the moratorium.

Carbon capture & storage is the process of liquefying carbon dioxide for transport and storage underground, though the carbon dioxide can also be used by the fossil fuel industry for enhanced oil recovery or the extraction of coalbed methane. The science behind this fairly new technology is unsound, and CCS pipelines have proved disastrous for communities where problems occur, such as the February 2020 rupture in Satartia, Mississippi. The thousands of miles of carbon pipelines proposed for construction in Iowa by Summit, Navigator, and Wolf/ADM have raised widespread opposition from a broad range of Iowa residents, landowners and organizations opposed to the use of eminent domain for the controversial projects.

The amendment, introduced by Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (R-Cedar), was met with bipartisan support, and passed via a voice vote. HF 2565 subsequently passed by a 60-30 chamber vote.

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

“While the House of Representatives was right in taking action to address the proposed carbon pipelines, we know the credit largely goes to the tireless efforts of Iowans who have been relentlessly demanding legislative action on this issue.

“Rep. Kaufmann’s amendment opened the door, and we are now looking to the Senate to strengthen this language to enact permanent measures that protect Iowans from the harms these pipelines cause and the manipulative tactics being employed by pipeline companies. Our rights, our land, and our lives are not for sale.” 

More Fracking Is Not the Answer to Energy Crisis

Categories

Climate and Energy

European leaders and White House officials are developing plans to deal with the energy crisis exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Corporate interests are cynically seizing on this moment to push forward an agenda to entrench fossil fuel dominance for decades to come, moves that would all but doom the necessary shift away from dirty energy. 

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

“The solution to the energy crisis exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine isn’t doubling down on fracking here in the United States – or anywhere else. The fossil fuel industry, which is enjoying soaring profits amidst considerable suffering, pushes fracked gas exports as the solution, despite the fact that new fossil fuel export infrastructure will take years to develop, and Europe lacks infrastructure to move LNG through the continent. 

“President Biden should firmly reject any plans to fast track gas export terminals here in the United States. Corporate polluters are brazenly seizing on this crisis to secure decades of dependence on dirty energy, which will further devastate frontline communities and abandon any hopes for bold climate action. 

“This crisis must drive political leaders to prioritize energy independence by speeding the transition to clean, renewable energy coupled with increasing energy efficiency – not deepening our foolish dependence on polluting fossil fuels. We urge leaders here and abroad to craft policies that prioritize peace and climate stability, not corporate profiteering and geopolitical manipulation.”

Hoboken Passes Resolution Opposing Woodbridge Fracked Gas Plant

Categories

Climate and Energy

Last night, the Hoboken City Council unanimously adopted a resolution opposing a plan to build a new fracked gas power plant in Woodbridge.

The Competitive Power Ventures plan would place a 630 megawatt plant amid a densely populated community already overburdened with fossil fuel pollution.  If approved, CPV’s new facility would emit more than 2.3 million metric tons of greenhouse gases (GHGs) each year, along with toxic pollutants like particulate matter, NOx and formaldehyde.

The company — which was embroiled in a high-profile corruption scandal in New York over approval for a plant in Orange County — already operates a gas-fired power plant adjacent to the proposed site. Combined with its existing power plant, CPV’s power plant in Woodbridge would be one of the largest single sources of climate-destroying carbon emissions in New Jersey, emitting over 4 million tons of GHGs every year.

“I am yet again proud of Hoboken for making the environmentally correct choice in voicing its opposition to yet another fossil fuel power plant in New Jersey,” said Hoboken resident Liz Ndoye. “We are leading the way in helping to slow the progress of the climate crisis and helping to save lives from the severe and damaging health effects of air pollution caused by fossil fueled power plants.” 

“Hoboken is proud to take a leading role in opposing yet another ill-conceived fossil fuel power plant in the Garden State,” said Councilman Phil Cohen, who sponsored the resolution. “We stand in solidarity with our friends in Woodbridge to protect their right to breathe clean air.  New Jersey is on the front lines of the climate crisis and Hoboken is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change.”

Hoboken joins Edison and Highland Park councils in opposing the CPV plant. Its adoption comes as state officials develop and implement rules under a new environmental justice law, which will make it harder for polluting projects like this one to be sited in overburdened communities.

If approved by the Murphy administration, the proposed new facility would be a significant source of air and climate pollution. Each of the towns located within 5 miles of the proposed site (Woodbridge, Perth Amboy, South Amboy, Metuchen, and Edison) are considered overburdened, with 73% of all census block groups meeting one or more of the state’s environmental justice criteria.

“There is simply no need to add another source of air and climate pollution in this part of the state, or anywhere else,” said Food & Water Watch organizer Charlie Kratovil. “If Governor Murphy wants us to believe he is ready to be a climate leader, he will reject the Keasbey plant.”

Newsom Announces Gas Rebate, But Is Silent on Ending Oil and Gas Permits

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Sacramento, CA – Governor Newsom announced a gas rebate offering Californians direct payments of $400 to ease economic strain caused by high gas prices, but noticeably absent from his statement was any concrete action to end California’s production of fossil fuels. 

“Rebates are helpful for consumers but are surely a bandaid for the short term,” said Food & Water Watch California Director Alexandra Nagy. “The only way to safeguard Californians from the profiteering of the oil industry is to stop issuing new permits and transition to renewables immediately. Governor Newsom has touted California’s trajectory towards an oil free future, but how can we get there if he dodges every opportunity to end new drilling permits?”

Recent research from Food & Water Watch shows that fossil fuel companies are not only profiting from the increases in gas prices, their executives are seeing a windfall in their personal wealth. 

“The real issue here is the fossil fuel industry’s profiteering and price gouging,” continued Nagy. “While Californians suffer the economic fallout of high gas prices and climate disasters associated with fossil fuel extraction, the executives of Chevron, ExxonMobil and other dirty energy companies watch their profits soar. The only way to bring lasting economic relief to Californians is for Governor Newsom to initiate a just transition away from fossil fuels immediately. We can no longer afford to bankroll the profits of the oil and gas industry.”

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

Oil Giant Aera Energy Drops $5 Million To Fight Measures A And B 

Categories

Climate and EnergyClean Water

For Immediate Release

Ventura, CA – Recently released campaign documents reveal oil giant Aera Energy, owned jointly by Exxon and Shell Oil, has spent $5 million to fight Measures A and B, two ballot initiatives that would eliminate loopholes which allow oil companies to drill in Ventura County with no modern environmental review. That could break the record for fossil fuel interest contributions to a referendum campaign in the county. 

In 2020, Aera Energy was among the fossil fuel interests who spent upwards of $1 million three days after the Ventura County Board of Supervisors voted to eliminate the antiquated permit loopholes for new drilling projects. The money bought enough signature gatherers to put the issue back on the ballot in the form of Measures A and B. Voting “yes” on Measures A and B will reinstate the protections against antiquated drill permits initially voted on by the Board of Supervisors. 

“This is just the beginning of a tsunami of money and misinformation Big Oil is going to flood Ventura County with,” said Tomás Morales Rebecchi, Food & Water Watch Central Coast Organizing Manager and a VC-SAFE campaign leader. “But Aera Energy leaders are mistaken if they believe millions in misinformation will fool Ventura County voters into giving up protections for their water, farms and communities. We will not allow fossil fuel interest groups with massive warchests to dictate our future and subvert our democracy. More than 1,000 oil wells sit within half a mile of Ventura County homes, and 60 percent of those homes are located in communities of color. This is a grassroots fight for environmental justice, public health and a livable future. Aera Energy’s fight is for their bottom line and corporate greed.”

The VC-SAFE (Ventura County Save Agriculture and Freshwater for Everyone) coalition comprises environmental, social justice and public health advocates working to pass Measures A and B to protect Ventura’s aquifers, communities and farms from oil drilling using antiquated permits. 

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

Fracking Execs See The Ukraine Crisis As An Oil And Gas Goldmine

Categories

Climate and Energy

by Peter Hart and Mark Schlosberg

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been seized as an opportunity by fossil fuel investors. While consumers get hammered by high gas prices and spiking energy costs, top fracking executives’ wealth soars. Since January, the value of shares currently held by CEOs of eight leading fossil fuel companies has increased by nearly $100 million.

An analysis of leading fossil fuel interests shows executives are profiting from the crisis. While carnage happens in Ukraine, 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

Fossil Fuel Titans Are In A Mad Dash To Profit From Soaring Gas Prices

The value of Cheniere CEO Jack Fusco’s company stock is up $25 million from January to March 10th. ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods’ stock holdings have increased by $25 million over the same period. The value of Kinder Morgan CEO Steven Kean’s stock has jumped nearly $15 million. Some of these corporate leaders have sold shares to cash in on the crisis. ConocoPhillips’ Ryan Lance sold shares for $23 million in mid-February, while Chevron’s Michael Wirth sold $14 million in stock by late February.

The companies are finding other ways to consolidate wealth in response to this crisis, too.

Eight big fracked gas and export companies announced stock buybacks and repurchase authorizations in the last year totaling over $25 billion. That amassed wealth is equivalent to filling up 500,000,000 gas tanks with 10 gallons of gas at $5 a gallon. It’s also enough to heat the homes of over 33 million people for the winter (assuming a $750 gas bill).

Fossil Fuel Interests Use PR Spin To Peddle LNG As a  ‘Solution’

The invasion of Ukraine helps fossil fuel interests promote an even greater expansion of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports. Theoretically, this is to replace Russian gas in Europe. EQT, the largest US gas company, launched a brazen PR campaign. Its plan is titled “Unleashing U.S. LNG: The Largest Green Initiative on the Planet.” They’ve cooked up talking points to sell LNG as a security measure against the climate crisis they’ve helped cause:

[LNG is] ”one of the world’s largest weapons to combat climate change…. it would allow us to provide energy security to our allies while weakening the energy dominance of our adversaries.” — EQT CEO Toby Rice

The truth is LNG transportation and export has significant environmental, public health, and safety impacts. Further taking into account the life cycle including leaks, fracked gas can be as bad or worse for the climate than coal, especially in the short term. 

The Push For LNG Expansion Is A Bid To Lock In Decades Of Fossil Fuel Dependence

The United States is already the top exporter of fracked gas in the world, and companies are planning to expand their U.S. fracking operations. As Chevron CEO Colin Parfit said recently about the company’s Permian drilling projects:

“Essentially the U.S. isn’t big enough to absorb it all, so essentially you need to create export alternatives for all of it.”

While the industry and White House officials push to increase drilling, that will have no impact on current prices. It also overlooks the fact that Wall Street investors have been pushing drillers to slow production to increase profits. This campaign to promote LNG in response to Ukraine is a cynical calculation by the dominant players in the industry. They intend it to lock in long-term contracts that would create decades of additional fossil fuel dependence.

They say so themselves, often most clearly when speaking to investors. 

As Jack Fusco, CEO of LNG company Cheniere, put it: “If anything, these high prices, the volatility drive even more energy security and long-term contracting. So I would say that the fact that there’s a scarcity of LNG these days is driving more and more conversation on how to increase our infrastructure and secure monthly contracts for our European customers.” He added that “the market continues to get healthier, but it’s extremely volatile. And you should expect us to be opportunistic out there.” 

Ezra Yacob, CEO of EOG remarked, “the U.S. has discovered a very vast supply of natural gas and it’s important that we get that gas offshore and into the global market for some of the reasons that you talked about now, not only geopolitical, but just developing nations.” 

It’s An Aggressive Move From Fossil Fuel Companies As Climate Change Jeopardizes Their Prospects

Oil and gas companies are positioning themselves for decades of continued fossil fuel growth because they perceive a threat. The science clearly shows we need to rapidly move off fossil fuels and towards a renewable energy future. 

Enbridge president and CEO Al Monaco told investors that increasing exports ”is what’s behind our crude and LNG export strategy. So before the crisis, our view was that conventional energy will grow at least through 2035 and what’s happening today just reinforces that view.“  

Chevron CEO Michael Wirth said similar, based on fossil fuel execs’ favorite lie about renewable energy: “Particularly as you see more wind and solar, you need some sort of reliable generation capacity to deal with the intermittency that we’re going to see increasingly….I think there’s a good future for natural gas.”

The long-term damage of expanding fossil fuel extraction, however, is something they think can wait for another day. Charif Souki, the chair of LNG company Tellurian put it, “Since the consequences of climate are going to be 30 or 40 years down the road, people are going to focus a lot more on what is happening now….We can come back to climate.” 

They couldn’t be more wrong. The consequences of climate change — which they’ve helped drive — are all around us now. Letting them capitalize on international conflict to secure their profits will only perpetuate their damage. 

Send a note urging your Congressperson to support the Big Oil Windfalls Profits Act!

Sussex County Council Overrides DE Public Opposition, Approves Pipeline Expansion

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

This afternoon, despite more than 30 public comments filed in opposition to the project, the Sussex County Council voted 4-1 to approve the proposal to expand Eastern Shore Natural Gas’ pipeline capacity at a site near Bridgeville, Delaware. The proposal will require federal approval via the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to continue.

The pipeline expansion proposal is a part of an agreement with Bioenergy DevCo to accept factory farm biogas from their proposed methane refinery a few miles away near Seaford. The proposal has come under attack by community members and environmental advocates due to the dangers the pipeline and accompanying “bomb trucks” pose to the nearby elementary school, homes and community.

In response, Food & Water Watch Delaware Organizer Greg Layton issued the following statement:

“The Sussex County Council’s vote today to approve a dangerous gas pipeline expansion next door to an elementary school is shameful. This project will endanger Sussex County residents and our climate, all so that polluting fossil fuel and factory farm interests can profit at our expense. Simply put, we need less dirty fuels in Sussex County, not more.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NY Crypto Mining Moratorium Passes Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

ALBANY, NY — Today, the New York State Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee voted to pass legislation (A7389C) to establish a moratorium on cryptocurrency mining. The vote comes after the Department of Environmental Conservation cast doubt on the ability of the Greenidge Generation bitcoin mining facility – seeking permits in the Finger Lakes – to operate without endangering the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reductions goals stipulated in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA).

Now, companion legislation in the senate, S6486D, awaits movement through the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee. Action is urgently needed, as the Bitcoin industry moves into the state. New York now hosts at least 20 percent of the Bitcoin mining in the United States, resulting in detrimental impacts on small businesses, local economies, the environment, and the climate.

Activists are calling on the Senate and Assembly to swiftly move this bill through both houses, and are demanding commitment from Governor Hochul to stop Bitcoin mining permits this session. A recent white paper from the Sabin Center at Columbia University laid out a clear legal case for Governor Hochul’s action on the issue. Eric Weltman, Senior New York Organizer with Food & Water Watch said:

“New York needs less fracked gas burned in our communities, not more. Bitcoin mining threatens to re-power the very fracked gas plants New Yorkers fought so hard to shut down. Every moment we delay, another company eyes another shuttered gas plant upstate. We can’t let Bitcoin take root in New York — we must pass a Bitcoin mining moratorium now.”

“New York State must take a step back from permitting further cryptocurrency facilities due to their massive carbon footprint, stemming from the computing power required to carry out the buying and selling of crypto coins,” said Richard Schrader, New York Legislative and Policy Director for NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “Our state has taken concrete steps to address the climate crisis with the CLCPA and crypto can’t get us sidelined. It’s time to deliver on the CLCPA’s greenhouse gas and climate justice goals, and accelerate the transition to a healthy, equitable carbon-free New York.”

“We are thankful that a moratorium bill is moving in the Assembly, but we need the Senate’s support in order to protect communities like mine,” said Yvonne Taylor, Vice President of Seneca Lake Guardian. “This relatively new, little understood industry is catching many small NY towns off guard, doesn’t provide many jobs, and derails our state’s bold climate law.  We’re counting on our representatives to enact legislation that would take a pause to study crypto mining’s impact on our air, water, climate, crops, and jobs, and we need them to do it now.”

“Having passed New York’s landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, it is the responsibility of the Governor and the Legislature to ensure energy-hogging industries, like proof-of-work crypto mining, don’t jeopardize our crucial climate goals,” said Liz Moran, New York Policy Advocate with Earthjustice. “We applaud the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee for passing this bill through committee and urge the Senate to swiftly follow suit. Time is of the essence — the Legislature has the opportunity to demonstrate climate leadership and prioritize the protection of communities by passing this moratorium this session.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Rep. Khanna, Senator Warren Introduce Bill to Prevent Corporations From Profiting Off Water Rights

Categories

Clean Water

Washington, D.C. — Today, Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) led a bicameral group of colleagues in introducing the Future of Water Act to amend the Commodity Exchange Act to prohibit futures trading of water or water rights and protect our country’s water. Water is a basic human right that must be managed and protected as a public trust resource.

As climate change has increased the severity and frequency of drought in our country, large corporations should not be profiting off of water or water rights. Water should be affordable, easily accessible, and guarded from markets prone to manipulation and speculation that could cause real-world price increases. The announcement of the water futures trading received condemnation from the global water community, including the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Water who stated: “Water is already under extreme threat from a growing population, increasing demands and grave pollution from agriculture and mining industry in the context of worsening impact of climate change. . . I am very concerned that water is now being treated as gold, oil and other commodities that are traded on Wall Street futures markets.”

Wall Street’s interest in financial derivatives based on water and water rights could lead to severe real-world water price spikes due to market manipulation and/or excessive speculation. Prohibition of water and water rights futures trading stops this dangerous speculation and protects American families and agricultural producers.

“Every American should agree: Clean, drinkable water is one of our most basic human rights,” said Rep. Khanna. “That’s why I’m proud to introduce this legislation with Senator Warren to prioritize human needs over corporate profits. Large companies and investors should not be allowed to use an essential public resource for their own gain. We have to stand together to protect our water.”

“Water is a human right and Wall Street shouldn’t be allowed to use this vital resource to make profits at the expense of hardworking Americans,” said Senator Warren. “My bill with Rep. Ro Khanna would protect water from Wall Street speculation and ensure one of our most essential resources isn’t auctioned off to the highest bidder.”

“With the climate crisis delivering historically devastating droughts across the West, it is clearer than ever that water should be treated as a scarce, essential resource, not a commodity for Wall Street and financial speculators,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “This groundbreaking legislation would put a lid on dangerous water futures trading before it creates a crisis, and it reinforces the fact that water must be managed as a public resource, not a corporate profit center. We thank Senator Warren and Representative Khanna for showing true leadership in the fight to protect access to safe, affordable water for all.”

“IATP welcomes the Future of Water Act’s amendment to the Commodity Exchange Act to exclude water as a tradable derivatives asset class under the regulations of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission,” said Steve Suppan, Senior Policy Analyst at the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy. “According to one of the CFTC’s core principles, derivatives contracts should not be traded if the underlying cash market for the commodity is susceptible to market manipulation. The CFTC has allowed the water future contract to be traded when the underlying cash market for that contract is price opaque and therefore susceptible to manipulation. The Future of Water Act will help protect water as a public good by preventing its price manipulation in the futures market.”

“No one should be allowed to gamble with the Great Lakes – but that’s exactly what Wall Street is trying to do by trading water futures,” said FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood.“Allowing speculators to bet on water as a commodity like oil is a world-class threat to our world-class Great Lakes.”

Last year, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) announced it had certified the world’s first water futures contracts, which allow investors to purchase and sell futures contracts based on “water rights” prices in California. Market speculators are interested in financial derivatives based on water and water rights. Large contract holders would have a strong incentive to manipulate the water futures market for profit. Too much concentration in water markets by massive passive investors could lead to physical water hoarding and price increases. The Future of Water Act sends a powerful message that access to clean and affordable water is right and not a financial instrument to gouge American families, farmers, and ranchers. 

House cosponsors include: Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Cori Bush (D-MO), André Carson (D-IN), Chuy García, Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Mondaire Jones (D-NY), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Andy Levin (D-MI), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL),Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ).

Senate cosponsors include: Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

Over 250 organizations have endorsed the Future of Water Act including Americans for Financial Reform, Center for Biological Diversity, Demos, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth United States, Greenpeace USA, Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy, Indigenous Environmental Network, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, National Family Farm Coalition, Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Open Markets Institute, People’s Action, PolicyLink, Public Citizen, Inc., and the Sunrise Movement. A full list of organizations supporting the legislation can be found here.

A copy of the House legislation can be found here.

Mikindra Morin

Mikindra Morin

Factory Farm Organizing Manager

Livingston, MT

Chickahominy Announces Termination of Controversial VA Fracked Gas Plant and Pipeline

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Yesterday, Chickahominy Power LLC announced the termination of its controversial fracked gas power plant and accompanying pipeline. The fracked gas plant was proposed for Charles City County, and the pipeline would have crossed five Virginia counties. 

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

“The Chickahominy pipeline and fracked gas plant were completely unnecessary and totally unwelcome from the start. We celebrate the years of efforts by grassroots activists in Charles City County and across the state in achieving this momentous victory.

“The writing was on the wall for the Chickahominy fracked gas plant. Fossil fuels have no place in our energy future, both here in Virginia and across the country.

“As we continue the fight to defeat the 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline and additional proposed pipeline modification proposals in Virginia, we gain strength and momentum from the termination of this controversial dirty fossil fuel project.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

The WATER Act: Restoring Federal Support for Clean Water Systems

REPORT - March 2022

What You’ll Learn From This Report

  • 1: Introduction
    • Fifty years after Congress passed the Clean Water Act, communities need a restored federal commitment to improve clean water systems.
  • 2: The Daunting State of Our Wastewater Systems
    • Access to clean water is threatened by aging systems, growing needs, climate chaos and an affordability crisis.
  • 3: Health Threats of Underfunded Water Infrastructure
    • Outdated systems and lack of funding are causing sewage spills, failing septic systems, polluted waters and human illnesses.
  • 4: The Water Solution for The 21st Century
    • It’s time for the WATER Act to restore the federal government’s commitment to protect clean water for every community.

Part 1:

Introduction

Fifty years after Congress passed the Clean Water Act, communities need a restored federal commitment to improve clean water systems.

Across the country, outdated wastewater systems dump hundreds of billions of gallons of raw sewage into our waterways each year, polluting water resources, endangering public health, harming aquatic life and damaging our environment.1 It has been 50 years since the passage of the Clean Water Act, and an unprecedented climate emergency is overwhelming our aging wastewater systems.

Climate chaos is driving extreme weather that worsens sewage spills and dumps toxic waste in cash-strapped communities across the country, particularly in the Midwest and Northeast,2 while the Southwest suffers a megadrought, fueling fires and depleting water supplies.3 Without dedicated federal funding, many communities cannot afford to make the necessary repairs to the collection, treatment and septic systems that keep our water clean and safe. This lack of investment in water infrastructure isn’t just shortsighted; it’s dangerous. Aging systems contaminate our natural and built environments and threaten the health and safety of our water and of people everywhere.

It’s time to pass landmark water legislation for the 21st century: the Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability (WATER) Act. Our nation’s water systems need dedicated federal commitment to keep the promise of clean, safe water for everyone.

Clean Water Act

In 1972, Congress overrode a veto by President Richard Nixon to pass into law the Clean Water Act, a defining environmental victory of the 20th century. The legislation was intended to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.” It has been one of our most effective environmental laws.4

To help communities comply with wastewater standards, the law dramatically increased funding for the wastewater system construction grants program, providing nearly $41 billion through 1984. According to the Congressional Research Service, it was “the largest nonmilitary public works program since the Interstate Highway System.”5

“The objective of this [Clean Water] Act is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.”

Part 2:

The Daunting State of Our Wastewater Systems

Access to clean water is threatened by aging systems, growing needs, climate chaos and an affordability crisis.

Aging Systems

Many of the nation’s wastewater treatment plants were built or improved with the federal dollars provided by the Clean Water Act.6 By 2021, however, water and sewer pipes were averaging 45 years old, and many were approaching the end of their lifespan.7 These aging wastewater systems need major updates to protect human health and the environment.8 Overall, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the country’s wastewater infrastructure a grade of D+ in 2021.9

American Society of Civil Engineers (2021)

Growing Needs

In total, our drinking water and wastewater systems require at least $744 billion in investment over the next 20 years, or more than $35 billion a year.10 Public wastewater systems alone, as of the latest needs survey in 2012, needed at least an estimated $271 billion over two decades to improve treatment plants, sewer lines, address stormwater and stop overflows.11 But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program, the main source of federal support for wastewater projects, provided a mere $1.6 billion in 2021,12 and the infrastructure law of 2021 added only $12.7 billion over five years to this program.13 This falls far short of the total need.

Overall, federal funding for water and wastewater infrastructure has plummeted since its peak in the 1970s, dropping 77 percent from 1977 to 2017 in real terms.14 That’s a per capita decrease in funding of 84 percent.15

A 2020 wastewater industry survey found that two-thirds of spending on capital improvement plans went to update aging systems and to address combined sewer overflows, and that improvement budgets had grown 24 percent over the previous three years.16 Federal support through the State Revolving Fund program, however, accounted for only 15 percent of long-term financing,17 leaving a huge gap between what communities know they need and what the federal government has provided.

Climate Chaos

Climate chaos threatens to strangle the nation’s access to clean water, causing more sewage spills and compounding the costs of urgently needed updates to aging systems.18 In 2022, the megadrought in the southwestern United States was so severe that the last two decades were estimated to be the driest period in 1,200 years, causing water shortages and fueling wildfires.19

Weather disturbances also contribute to water system disruptions, including operational outages, loss of supply or restrictions on water use, and degraded water quality.20 Extreme weather has been catastrophic to water infrastructure. Flooding and sea-level rise further threaten systems and can force infrastructure relocation. Also, heavy rainfall leads to more sewage overflows. The total costs of adapting our water and sewer systems to meet the threats of climate chaos are already high and are projected to near $1 trillion by 2050.21

Affordability Crisis

Many communities struggle to meet the costs of keeping waters clean, maintaining aging systems and grappling with climate emergencies. With meager federal support, water and wastewater systems are forced to hike customer rates.22 From 2008 to 2014, water and sewer rates nationwide increased by about 40 percent on average.23 Over the last 15 years, water bills have increased at three times the rate of inflation, but household incomes have fallen in real terms.24

Households and localities are grappling with water service costs that are increasingly unaffordable.25 This problem has become especially complex in this period of widening income inequality and reliance on regressive water billing practices, which lead low-income households to pay a disproportionate amount of their income for their water service.26

Many communities are stuck with an impossible choice: raise rates on people who cannot afford to pay, or allow aging systems to spill sewage into homes and waterways and endanger public health. Because of structural inequities, this crisis is not felt equally. Black and Brown communities are disparately impacted because of systemic racism, leading to unaffordable water bills,27 service shutoffs,28 failing wastewater and septic systems, greater pollution burdens and human illnesses.29

Part 3:

Health Threats Of Underfunded Water Infrastructure

Outdated systems and lack of funding are causing sewage spills, failing septic systems, polluted waters and human illnesses.

Outdated Systems and Sewage Spills

The EPA estimated in its last national assessment that more than 850 billion gallons of raw sewage were being spilled each year across the country.30 That’s enough to fill more than 1 million Olympic-sized swimming pools. Sewer overflows can cause raw sewage to back up into basements, flood onto streets and spill into rivers, lakes and streams.31 While improvements have been made, this remains a problem in communities across the country.32

Outdated systems are vulnerable to spills during storms. When there is heavy rainfall or snowfall, outdated wastewater systems overload, and large volumes of sewage spill into local waterways.33 In 2014, nearly 1,500 different spills discharged at least 22 billion gallons of untreated sewage into the Great Lakes Basin alone.34

Climate change is making things worse.35 The storm surge caused by 2012’s Hurricane Sandy— the largest storm to hit the Northeast to date — resulted in the spillage of 11 billion gallons of raw and partially treated sewage into waterways and city streets.36 In 2021, Hurricane Ida also caused major spills of raw and partially treated sewage, including 350,000 gallons in Panama City, Florida;37 nearly 1 million gallons in Mobile, Alabama;38 more than 130 million gallons in the Merrimack watershed, Massachusetts;39 and hundreds of thousands of gallons in New Orleans.40

Failing Septic Systems

Aging home septic systems add to the problem. Wastewater from failing septic systems is a large source of groundwater pollution in the United States.41 More than one in five U.S. households rely on home septic systems instead of a centralized sewer system. Together, these decentralized systems treat more than 4 billion gallons of sewage every day.42

Many septic tanks are aging, failing, and endangering the environment and human health.43 Households bear the burden of maintaining and updating their septic systems, but the cost is unaffordable for many low-income rural residents.44 Failing household septic systems can contaminate water supplies and endanger human health.45 A 2013 survey in Ohio estimated that 31 percent of household septic systems were failing.46 Many rural residents in central Appalachia do not have a safe way to dispose of wastewater.47

Subsurface sewage treatment systems (SSTS) — common in areas that are not connected to centralized municipal sewage systems — can fail, contaminating the soil and groundwater around them, and leaving residents with high repair or replacement costs. Photo credit: CC-BY-NC 2.0 / MN Pollution Control Agency, Creative Commons

Failing septic systems have been associated with bacterial contamination of groundwater.48 A 2003 study found that 40 percent of Alabama’s septic systems were failing or in need of repair, while bacteria contaminated 46 percent of household water wells in the state, leaving an estimated 340,000 residents with greater risks of waterborne disease.49 In Alabama’s Black Belt region, because of rural poverty, structural racism, and soil characteristics, not only do many septic systems fail but also many homes use straight pipes that directly pour raw sewage into woods or a ditch. A 2016 survey of Wilcox County, Alabama found that only 7 percent of homes had permitted septic systems, while 60 percent of homes examined had straight pipes, which together released more than half a million gallons of raw sewage every day.50 In Lowndes County, Alabama, a majority-Black county, at least 40 percent of homes lack adequate sanitation, and the cost of installing a system can exceed the average resident’s annual income.51

Climate chaos will continue to amplify these problems. More systems will fail as sea levels rise, precipitation increases and temperatures warm.52

Polluted Waters

Sewage spills harm the environment; they pollute rivers, streams, and other water bodies, and they can contain toxics and dangerous pathogens that endanger human health.53 These toxic overflows have destroyed aquatic life, killed fish and closed shellfish harvesting areas.54

Overall, because of all sources of pollution, two-thirds of estuaries in the United States have elevated risks of eutrophication55 and harmful algal blooms.56 More than a third of the shoreline area of the Great Lakes is in fair or poor biological condition (a third of the area was unable to be studied).57 Less than one-fifth of estuarine and Great Lakes waters have fish in good condition.58 In total, more than half of U.S. rivers and streams, 40 percent of lakes and 21 percent of coastal waters have excess nutrients (which can lead to excessive algal growth and cause fish kills), and 73 percent of U.S. wetlands have lost plant life, which can stress the ecosystem.59

Sewage spills have made water too polluted to swim, boat or fish.60 In 2020, one-third of the recreational beaches in the United States had at least one advisory or closing. Over the last five years, between 28 percent and 33 percent of beaches have had at least one advisory or closing each year. Aging and poorly designed sewage and stormwater systems contribute to many of the beach closures.61 In 2020, wastewater and septic systems were responsible for one-fifth of the beach closings and advisories with known causes (although nearly half of closings have unknown causes, some of which may be related to wastewater events).62 Increased funding to improve wastewater systems and address stormwater can help stop pollution of the nation’s beaches.

Human Illnesses

More than 7 million cases of waterborne diseases are reported in the United States every year.63 As a result of these illnesses, more than 100,000 people are hospitalized and over 6,000 people die a year.64 People become sick from drinking contaminated water; swimming in polluted pools, lakes and beaches; and other exposures to contaminated water.65

More than 7 million cases of waterborne diseases are reported in the United States every year.

The EPA estimated that thousands of people become sick each year just from exposure to sewage-contaminated recreation areas.66 Wastewater contains viruses, bacteria and other pathogens that can cause serious illness. Many people are exposed to raw sewage that backs up in their homes or yards from overloaded municipal sewer systems or failing septic systems.67 People exposed to sewage-polluted waters can become sick with hepatitis, gastroenteritis, and infections of the skin, lungs and ears, among other illnesses.68

Failing septic systems can also expose people to high nitrate levels in household well water, which can lead to the potentially deadly blue baby syndrome in infants.69 In Wilcox County, Alabama, researchers estimated that the raw sewage dumped from straight pipes from homes into the environment releases 10 billion viruses and 19 billion parasites every day.70 In Lowndes County, Alabama, one study found that more than 40 percent of households were exposed to raw sewage, and more than a third of adults tested positive for gastrointestinal parasites, including hookworm.71

Part 4:

The Water Solution for The 21st Century

It’s time for the WATER Act to restore the federal government’s commitment to protect clean water for every community.

The WATER Act is the landmark 21st-century legislation that we need to restore federal support and help protect clean water. The WATER Act is the only permanent solution to our nation’s water funding woes, providing $35 billion each year to restore our public water infrastructure.

In addition to funding drinking water improvements, the WATER Act will provide $18.1 billion each year to address the nation’s wastewater problems:
  • $15.7 billion a year to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to fund publicly owned wastewater system upgrades, with at least half of the funding prioritized as grants or additional subsidization to disadvantaged communities;
  • $871 million a year to help update and install household septic systems and other on-site sewage disposal systems;
  • $871 million a year for non-point-source management programs;
  • $523 million a year for pollution control programs; and
  • $174 million a year for technical assistance to rural, small or indigenous wastewater providers.72

Now is the time to fully fund our wastewater infrastructure to help clean up our waterways and protect our communities.

Tell Congressmembers to support the WATER Act now!

Endnotes
  1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Office of Water. “Report to Congress: Impacts and Control of Combined Sewer Overflows and Sanitary Sewer Overflows.” (EPA 833-R-04-001). August 2004 at ES-2, ES-3 and ES-5.
  2. Bagenstose, Kyle and Kevin Crowe. “US sewer systems weren’t built for climate change; heavier rainfall can overwhelm systems, causing toxic spills in communities that can least afford it.” USA Today. December 7, 2021.
  3. Fountain, Henry. “How bad is the western drought? Worst in 12 centuries, study finds.” New York Times. February 14, 2022.
  4. Hines, N. William. “History of the 1972 Clean Water Act: The story behind how the 1972 Act became the capstone of a decade of environmental reform.” Journal of Energy & Environmental Law. Summer 2013 at 80, 81 and 98.
  5. Ramseur, Jonathan L. and Mary Tiemann. Congressional Research Service. “Water Infrastructure Financing: History of EPA Appropriations.” Updated April 10, 2019 at 1.
  6. Ibid. at 1; American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). “2021 Infrastructure Report Card.” 2021 at 153.
  7. ASCE (2021) at 153.
  8. EPA. “Clean Watersheds Needs Survey 2012: Report to Congress.” (EPA 830-R-15005).January 2016 at 1; ASCE (2021) at 152.
  9. ASCE (2021) at 151.
  10. EPA (January 2016) at 1; EPA. “Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment: 6th Report to Congress.” (EPA 816-K-17-002). March 2018 at 9.
  11. EPA (January 2016) at 1, 2 and 6.
  12. EPA. “FY 2021 CWSRF Allotments: $1,638,826,000.” Available at https://www.epa.gov/cwsrf/clean-water-state-revolving-fund-cwsrf-allotments-federal-funds-states. Accessed December 22, 2021.
  13. Regan, Michael. EPA. Letter to Governors. December 2, 2021 at 6.
  14. Congressional Budget Office. “Public Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, 1956 to 2017.” October 15, 2018 at Supplemental Tables. Table W-8.
  15. Food & Water Watch (FWW) calculation based on Ibid.; U.S. Census, Population Estimates Program. “Historical National Population Estimates: July 1, 1900 to July 1, 1999.” June 28, 2000; U.S. Census. “Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2019.” (NST-EST2019-01). Last revised October 21, 2021.
  16. National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA). “NACWA Financial Survey: Executive Highlights.” August 2021 at 7.
  17. Ibid. at 18.
  18. Bagenstose and Crowe (2021).
  19. Fountain (2022).
  20. U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). “Water Infrastructure. Technical Assistance and Climate Resilience Planning Could Help Utilities Prepare for Potential Climate Change Impacts.” (GAO-20-24). January 2020 at 2, 17 and 61.
  21. NACWA and Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies. “Confronting Climate Change: An Early Analysis of Water and Wastewater Adaptation Costs.” October 2009 at ES-1 and ES-8.
  22. National Academy of Public Administration. “Developing a New Framework for Community Affordability of Clean Water Services.” October 2017 at 25.
  23. Ibid. at 21.
  24. Ibid. at 22.
  25. National Consumer Law Center. “Review and recommendations for implementing water and wastewater affordability programs in the United States.” March 2014 at 1 and 5.
  26. Economic Policy Institute. “Income Inequality in the U.S. by State, Metropolitan Area, and County.” June 16, 2016 at 1 to 4; Mirosa, Oriol. “Water affordability in the United States: An initial exploration and an agenda for research.” Sociological Imagination. Vol. 51, Iss. 2. December 2015 at 52.
  27. Butts, Rachel and Stephen Gasteyer. “More cost per drop: Water rates, structural inequality, and race in the United States — The case of Michigan.” Environmental Reviews & Case Studies, Vol. 13, No. 4. December 2011 at 386 and 392 to 393.
  28. Foltz-Diaz, Kimberly et al. Massachusetts Global Action. “The Color of Water: A Report on the Human Right to Water in the City of Boston.” July 2014 at 1 and 5; GAO. “Water Infrastructure: Information on Selected Midsize and Large Cities With Declining Populations.” (GAO-16-785). September 2016 at 57 to 58 and 72 to 73.
  29. Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise, Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic and the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University. “Flushed and Forgotten: Sanitation and Wastewater in Rural Communities in the United States.” May 2019 at 12, 19 to 24 and 30; Flowers, Catherine Coleman. “A county where the sewer is your lawn.” New York Times. May 22, 2018; Okeowo, Alexis. “The heavy toll of the Black Belt’s wastewater crisis.” The New Yorker. November 23, 2020; Smith, Catherine. “‘If white people were still here, this wouldn’t happen’: The majority-Black town flooded with sewage.” The Guardian. February 11, 2021.
  30. EPA (2004) at ES-5 to ES-7.
  31. EPA. “NPDES Compliance Inspection Manual. Chapter 13.” (305-K-17-001). January 2017 at 297.
  32. EPA (2004) at ES-5 to ES-7; ASCE (2021) at 153; Bagenstose and Crowe (2021).
  33. EPA. Office of Wastewater Management. “Report to Congress: Combined Sewer Overflows to the Great Lakes Basin.” (EPA 833-R-16-006). April 2016 at 1 to 2.
  34. Ibid. at ES-2.
  35. Kenward, Alyson et al. Climate Central. “Sewage Overflows From Hurricane Sandy.” April 2014 at 3.
  36. Ibid. at 1.
  37. “Hurricane Ida — 350K gallons in raw sewage spill in area; Rains from hurricane overflowed 10 separate wastewater systems.” The News Herald (FL). September 8, 2021.
  38. Specker, Lawrence. “Hurricane Ida’s silver lining: Mobile sewer improvements are working.” Press-Register (AL). September 8, 2021.
  39. Wade, Christian M. “Lawmakers hear more pitches for relief money.” The Eagle-Tribune. September 13, 2021.
  40. Natter, Ari. “Ida leaves toxic chemicals, sewage swirling in its wake.” Bloomberg. September 3, 2021.
  41. EPA. Office of Water. “Managing Septic Systems to Prevent Contamination of Drinking Water.” (EPA 816-F-01-021). July 2001 at 2; Mihaly, Elena. “Avoiding septic shock: How climate change can cause septic system failure and whether New England states are prepared.” Ocean and Coastal Law Journal. Vol. 23, Iss. 1. January 2018 at 7.
  42. EPA. “Decentralized Wastewater Program Annual Report 2013.” (EPA-832-R-140006). August 2014 at 1.
  43. Hoghooghi, Nahal et al. “Frontiers in assessing septic systems vulnerability in coastal Georgia, USA: Modeling approach and management implications.” PLOS One. Vol. 16, Iss. 8. August 2021 at 2 to 3; Mihaly (2018) at 7.
  44. United Nations. Human Rights Council. “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation on her mission to the United States of America (22 February — 4 March 2011).” August 2, 2011 at 7 to 8.
  45. Mohamed, R. “Why households in the United States do not maintain their septic systems and why state-led regulations are necessary: Explanations from public goods theory.” International Journal of Sustainable Development Planning. Vol. 4, No. 2. 2009 at 41.
  46. Ohio Department of Health. “Household Sewage Treatment System Failures in Ohio.” January 2013 at 1.
  47. United Nations (2011) at 7.
  48. Wedgworth, Jessica Cook and Joe Brown. “Limited access to safe drinking water and sanitation in Alabama’s Black Belt: A cross-sectional case study.” Water Quality, Exposure and Health, Vol. 5, Iss. 2. June 2013 at 70.
  49. Ibid. at 69 to 70.
  50. Elliott, Mark. University of Alabama. “Innovative Technologies and Approaches to Address Decentralized Wastewater Infrastructure Challenges in the Alabama Black Belt.” Presented at EPA Decentralized Wastewater Webinar Series. May 26, 2021 at 22; Elliot, Mark and Kevin White. Alabama Water Resources Research Institute. “Onsite Wastewater Management in Hale and Wilcox Counties: Failing Septic Systems, Direct Discharge by ‘Straight Pipes’ and Microbial Source Tracking.” Annual Technical Report. FY 2016 at 1 to 2; Flowers (2018).
  51. Flowers (2018); Okeowo (2020).
  52. Mihaly (2018) at 2 and 4 to 6.
  53. EPA (2004) at ES-2, ES-3, ES-7 and ES-8.
  54. Ibid. at ES-7 to ES-8; EPA. “Keeping Raw Sewage and Contaminated Stormwater Out of the Public’s Water.” 2011 at 4.
  55. Eutrophication: A process that occurs when an estuary or another body of water has an excess of nutrients that causes too many plants and algae to grow. This can lead to toxic algal blooms and low-oxygen waters that kill aquatic life. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service. “What is eutrophication?” Available at https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/eutrophication.html. Last updated February 26, 2021.
  56. EPA. “National Coastal Condition Assessment.” (EPA 841-R-21-0001). August 2021 at 25.
  57. Ibid. at 37.
  58. Ibid. at 29 and 43.
  59. EPA. “How’s My Waterway?” Available at https://mywaterway.epa.gov/national. Accessed November 9, 2021.
  60. EPA (2004) at ES-7 to ES-8.
  61. Note: the recreational beaches that are monitored are program beaches under the BEACH Act. EPA, Office of Water. “EPA’s Beach Report: 2020 Swimming Season.” (EPA-820-R-21-004). August 2021 at 2.
  62. FWW calculation based on Ibid. at 3.
  63. Collier, Sarah A. et al. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Estimate of burden and direct healthcare cost of infectious waterborne disease in the United States.” Emerging Infectious Diseases. Vol. 27, No. 1. January 2021 at 140 and 145.
  64. Ibid. at 140 and 145.
  65. Ibid. at 140 and 145.
  66. EPA (2004) at ES-9; EPA (2011) at 4.
  67. EPA. Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “EPA enforcement: Preventing backup of municipal sewage into basements.” Enforcement Alert. Vol. 8, No. 1. (EPA 325-N-06-001). September 2006 at 1; Mihaly (2018) at 7.
  68. EPA (2011) at 4.
  69. EPA (2001) at 2; Hoghooghi et al. (2021) at 2 to 3.
  70. Elliot and White (FY 2016) at 1 to 2.
  71. McKenna, Megan L. et al. “Human intestinal parasite burden and poor sanitation in rural Alabama.” The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Vol. 97, Iss. 5. September 2017 at 1 and 2.
  72. S. 916. 117th Congress. §2 (2021); H.R. 1352. 117th Congress. (2021).

Political Opposition Grows to PVSC Fracked Gas Power Plant Proposal

Categories

Climate and Energy

This week, Union City and Bayonne passed resolutions opposing the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission’s (PVSC) plans for a new fracked gas power plant in Newark. They join a growing number of Hudson County municipalities – including Weehawken, Kearny, Jersey City, and Hoboken – that are calling on Governor Murphy to stop PVSC’s polluting proposal and instead pursue a renewable energy alternative. 

With these votes, six of the twelve municipalities in Hudson County have now formally opposed the project, in addition to three other municipalities from Essex and Bergen Counties (Livingston, Maplewood, and Alpine).

“It was impressive to watch the Union City Commissioners and Bayonne Council pass this resolution against the dirty power plant proposed by PVSC in the Ironbound. It showed that smaller cities can work in solidarity with their neighbors to stop environmental injustice at the local level,” said Liz Ndoye, member of the Hoboken Democratic Committee. “They can help their neighbors and themselves stave off the ill effects of air pollution and the climate crisis by taking this kind of direct action. These commissioners did the right thing to protect the residents of Hudson and Essex Counties from further damage and illness from pollution and climate change.”

The power plant would be built at PVSC’s massive sewage processing facility in the Ironbound section of Newark, part of a resiliency project that was proposed in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. That storm caused the sewerage plant to lose power and spill billions of gallons of raw or partially treated sewage into the Passaic River. The project would provide backup power to the treatment plant when the grid is down, but PVSC also plans to run the facility to offset their power needs from the grid at other times.

“We applaud our neighbors in Hudson County for taking a stand against the dirty energy plant and supporting the well-being of North Jersey communities and our climate,” said Maria Lopez-Nuñez, Deputy Director of Advocacy and Organizing at Ironbound Community Corporation. “The welfare of Newark residents and residents downwind in Hudson County and across the region depends on Governor Murphy rejecting the proposed PVSC power plant and investing in an alternative guided by input from our community.” 

While local community members and advocates agree about the importance of improving infrastructure resiliency in the face of a worsening climate crisis, they are demanding a clean renewable energy project that will not increase the pollution burden in Newark and the surrounding region, which has historically faced the brunt of New Jersey’s pollution burden and decades of environmental injustice.

“These resolutions are major victories in our effort to make PVSC and Governor Murphy realize they must listen to the residents of Newark and surrounding communities who are suffering severe health issues from overwhelming pollution,” said Bill McClelland, a volunteer with Food & Water Watch. “Another huge fossil-fuel burning project is not acceptable. If Governor Murphy wants to live up to his clean energy, environmental justice, and climate commitments, he must direct PVSC to immediately withdraw its air permit application for this power plant and re-write their proposal.”   

Residents and activists will continue to present this resolution forward to other municipalities in the region. Secaucus is expected to vote on the resolution at their next council meeting.

American Petroleum Institute Launches Misleading Ad Campaign Against Grassroots-Led NY Gas Ban

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

One week ago, the American Petroleum Institute (API) front group, Energy Citizens, launched an ad campaign against the effort to pass a statewide ban on gas in new construction in New York. Today, despite their national reach, 43% of the group’s current active Facebook ads are targeting New Yorkers with misleading claims on the affordability of fracked gas.

Food & Water Watch research has shown that renewable energy from wind and solar are far cheaper than energy from fossil fuels, across their lifetime. API’s online misinformation campaign follows a similar effort last year to stop New York City from passing a gas ban.

Activists are pressuring Governor Hochul to include an immediate gas ban in her state budget, due April 1. The Governor’s current budget proposal includes a ban beginning in 2027. New research from RMI demonstrates that an immediate ban, starting in 2024, would save an additional 4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2040 beyond the reductions already expected from NYC’s ban — the equivalent of keeping 870,000 cars off the road for one year.

The grassroots-led campaign for a statewide ban on fossil fuels in new construction is led by the #GasFreeNY coalition, made up of Food & Water Watch, New York Communities for Change, NYPIRG, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and Earthjustice. Groups won a critical legislative victory last year with the passage of a gas ban at the New York City level. With the recent endorsement of an immediate gas ban by Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins in her budget, released last Sunday, the campaign for a statewide ban is picking up critical momentum.

Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director Alex Beauchamp said:

“New Yorkers and the legislators that represent us are rallying beyond a statewide gas ban because we know that addressing climate change must include keeping fossil fuels out of the buildings where we live, work and play. Fracked gas in buildings is unhealthy for people and destructive to our climate, while all-electric buildings are cheaper, cleaner, and more energy efficient. Governor Hochul must side with people, and tune out industry’s well-funded front groups. It’s time to pass a statewide gas ban in New York via the state budget, and it’s up to Governor Hochul to make it happen.”

“Governor Hochul should stand up to the oil and gas companies by enacting an immediate gas ban, which would create jobs, save people money on their bills, cut air pollution, and help defund Putin’s war machine. New York City is moving forward, which will end gas in about 2,000 new buildings per year. Now it’s time for the state: Governor Hochul should take on the likes of Exxon by enacting an immediate gas ban,” said Pete Sikora, Climate & Inequality Campaigns Director for New York Communities for Change.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Activists Rally Around Bill to Clean Up Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

On Tuesday, activists from the Reclaim Renewable Energy Coalition (REC), a group of over 20 environmental and social justice organizations, testified in the Senate Finance committee hearing in favor of SB0616 and strengthening it with amendments. The bill would remove dirty energy derived from polluting incineration from Maryland’s signature clean energy program, the Renewable Portfolio Standard. Reclaim REC members from around the state are united in the call for critical amendments to ensure that the bill would remove all carbon-intensive dirty fuel sources from the program.

As it stands, definitional flaws in Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard allow dirty energy sources including trash incineration, factory farm biogas, and burning wood products to count towards the state’s renewable energy goals. A recent report by PEER found that as of 2020, about 25% of the state’s “clean” energy money financed polluters. Absent action to clean up the Renewable Portfolio Standard, any climate legislation passed in 2022 threatens to double down on expanding dirty energy, rather than facilitate a transition to truly clean renewable energy sources like wind and solar. Food & Water Watch Maryland Organizer Lily Hawkins said:

“At this critical moment for bold climate action, Maryland’s signature clean energy program is rife with loopholes that prop up polluters, undermining the very purpose of the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. Climate action in the state legislature must include passage of SB0616 with amendments to clear out all polluting energy sources from our Renewable Portfolio Standard. It’s time Maryland ratepayers stopped financing the polluters supercharging the climate crisis.”

“Community leaders in Frederick County, Carroll County, and Baltimore City had to fight for almost a decade to prevent new trash incinerators from being built — incinerators that were falsely greenwashed as environmental solutions and would have received ‘renewable energy’ subsidies through the RPS. And now, communities on the Eastern Shore are facing the same fight against new factory farm biogas,” said Jennifer Kunze, Maryland Coordinator at Clean Water Action. “It’s time to take trash incineration and other pollutants out of our RPS. Maryland needs to double down on real renewables, not force ratepayers to subsidize the very polluting facilities we’re trying to fight.”

“We fully support taking incineration out of the RPS,” said Assateague Coastkeeper Gabby Ross with the Assateague Coastal Trust. “We have a long way to go as far as getting other dirty energy sources out of the RPS. Taxpayer dollars should not be invested in energy sources that are polluting our most vulnerable communities. We have to act now.”

A recording of yesterday’s rally is available here.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Court Rules FERC Failed to Consider Emissions From Agawam Compressor Station

Categories

Climate and Energy

The DC Circuit Court issued a ruling today in an important case challenging the approval of a compressor station in Massachusetts. The decision found that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) failed to adequately assess the indirect greenhouse gas emissions linked to the 261 Upgrade Project outside of Springfield, Massachusetts, and the court ordered FERC to redo its environmental assessment to fully account for downstream emissions.

The lawsuit, Food & Water Watch and Berkshire Environmental Action Team v FERC, charged that the federal regulator that permits new gas infrastructure projects had failed to consider the climate impacts of the Agawam  Compressor Station and associated pipeline. FERC has been flouting a D.C. Circuit precedent requiring it to meaningfully consider the reasonably foreseeable ‘downstream’ greenhouse gas emissions of gas infrastructure projects — essentially the combustion of the gas transported by these pipelines and compressor stations – for nearly five years. This decision confirms that FERC must review downstream emissions even when gas is moved to local distribution companies for residential and commercial use, an issue long ignored by FERC.

The decision comes at a critical time for FERC, which recently approved policy statements that provide guidance for how the commission will consider pending and future gas infrastructure projects.

In response to the ruling, Food & Water Watch staff attorney Adam Carlesco issued the following statement: 

“This decision confirms that FERC has a legal responsibility to properly evaluate the downstream emissions linked to compressor station upgrades and the local distribution of gas. These projects create acute pollution impacts for nearby residents and contribute to the climate pollution that is fueling our global climate crisis. FERC must take these responsibilities seriously, and enact a greenhouse gas emissions policy that meaningfully addresses the glaring problems in the Commission’s track record up to this point.”

Sussex County Zoning Commission Unanimously Approves Dangerous DE Pipeline Expansion

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Yesterday evening, the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission voted unanimously to approve the proposal to expand Eastern Shore Natural Gas’ pipeline capacity at a site near Bridgeville, Delaware. The proposal has come under attack by community members and environmental advocates due to the dangers the pipeline and accompanying “bomb trucks” pose to the nearby elementary school, homes and community.

The pipeline expansion proposal is a part of an agreement with Bioenergy DevCo to accept factory farm biogas from their proposed methane refinery a few miles away near Seaford. Advocates assert that the pipeline expansion would entrench both polluting fossil fuels and factory farms in the region for decades to come.

In response, Food & Water Watch Delaware Organizer Greg Layton issued the following statement:

“The decision to unanimously approve a dangerous gas pipeline expansion next door to a school and residential community is unconscionable. Not only will this project put Sussex County residents at risk, but it will also deepen our reliance on the dirty fossil fuels locking us into climate disaster.

“Luckily, this project isn’t a done deal. We look forward to a public debate on this pipeline proposal before the Sussex County Council, where our elected representatives will have the clear choice to side with their constituents over dirty energy interests.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Lawmakers and State Attorneys General Weigh in on Preserving Federal Meat Inspection

Categories

Food System

Several attorneys general, members of U.S. Congress, and the meat inspectors’ union filed amici curiae or “friend of the court” briefs in a key food safety case, a move that signals the growing importance of strengthening food inspection systems. 

The Congressional brief was spearheaded by U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, and written by the non-profit law firm Public Justice. Representatives Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), and Jesús G. “Chuy” García (D-Ill.) also signed on to the brief.

The states’ brief was spearheaded by Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh and signed by the Attorneys General for Illinois, Massachusetts, and Michigan.

The case – Center for Food Safety, et al. v. Thomas Vilsack, No.4:20-cv-00256-JSW (N.D. Cal) – concerns the implementation of the USDA’s New Swine Inspection System (NSIS), a Trump administration rule that greatly undermines the ability of federal inspectors to protect consumers from foodborne illnesses.

National food-policy and consumer organizations – including the Center for Food Safety, Food & Water Watch and the Humane Farming Association – have argued that those rules violate the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA), one of our country’s cornerstone food safety laws.

The NSIS program relies in large part on meat company employees conducting inspections instead of government inspectors, part of a decades-old industry push for ‘self-regulation’ and a radical departure from long-established practice. This raises significant dangers to public health; an examination of USDA data showed that the plants that had piloted the new system had significantly more regulatory violations for fecal and digestive matter on carcasses than traditional plants.

​​The Congressional brief argues that USDA “promulgated rules related to meat inspection that run contrary to the congressional intent and purpose of enacting the Federal Meat Inspection Act (‘FMIA’),” and that the NSIS rules “are not only inconsistent with the ways Congress directed the FMIA be implemented, but also with the statute’s overarching goal of ensuring consumer confidence in a safe meat supply.”

The Attorneys General brief argues that the new rules “delegate[] many inspection duties to private plant employees, who must meet only minimal training requirements, effectively sidelining federal inspectors and placing the public at a greater risk of consuming suspect products.”

The American Federation of Government Employees, who represent the federal food safety inspectors employed by USDA, argued that the new rules improperly delegated inspection tasks to private companies.  They also “effectively prevent[] … inspectors from performing the required post-mortem examination of all carcasses, and parts thereof, by allowing establishment employees to trim carcasses prior to the required inspection.”

“The Trump administration implemented this outrageous self-policing initiative that hands over inspection duties to meat companies themselves, putting millions of Americans at risk from getting sick due to foodborne illness,” said Zach Corrigan, Senior Attorney for Food & Water Watch and lead counsel in the case. “We welcome the support of lawmakers and state officials who realize this case is about stopping a fundamentally unsafe food policy.”

“We are gratified to see our elected officials, state, and union allies step up to help us restore safety to our animal food system,” said Amy van Saun, Senior Attorney for Center for Food Safety. “This overwhelming support confirms how important public health and safe meat are to so many in this country.”

“This partnership between federal meat inspectors and the plaintiffs in this case is a natural,” said Bradley Miller, national director of the Humane Farming Association. “We’re also gratified to have several legislators and attorneys general standing with us. Clearly, USDA bureaucrats should not be relying upon the industry’s own employees to conduct federal meat inspection.  Food safety and humane slaughter laws should be vigorously enforced by federal inspectors for the sake of both animal welfare and public health.”

Expanded Natural Gas Exports Will Doom Us Later, But Not Help Anyone Today

Categories

Climate and Energy

Washington, D.C. – Amid the growing calls from the American fossil fuel industry and its political allies to ramp up the export of liquified natural gas to Europe, Food & Water Watch’s Managing Policy Director Mitch Jones issued the following statement:

“As we’ve come to expect, the fracked gas industry and its political backers are leveraging a global crisis to justify a buildout of new infrastructure, like pipelines and export terminals, in the name of alleviating a short-term supply crunch. In reality, no action taken now to enable the industry to expand operations here in America would have any impact on price spikes or supply shortages in the days or months to come. New pipelines and export facilities would take many years to come online. Meanwhile, Europe doesn’t have the storage capacity to import more American gas right now, even if it wanted to.

“The fracked gas industry is seeking an excuse to expand its drilling, fracking and export infrastructure for decades to come, and in so doing, commit the planet to an irreversible future of climate chaos. Nothing this industry is angling for today will have any positive impact on the troubles we or our allies face, tomorrow or in the future.”

Contact: Seth Gladstone – [email protected]

100 Upstate NY Groups Call on Gov. Hochul to Support Immediate Gas Ban In New Buildings Via State Budget

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, days before One-House budgets are expected to be announced, 100 organizations from upstate New York issued letters to Governor Hochul urging her support for an immediate gas ban in new buildings via her state budget. Together, these groups represent members across the Albany, Rochester, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Central Region and Western Region of the state.

These groups join a mounting movement of organizations and New Yorkers statewide pushing for more rapid action from Albany to ban the use of fossil fuels in new buildings, beginning in 2024. Governor Hochul’s current proposal to begin such a ban in 2027, moves slower than the citywide gas ban passed in New York City last year. Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director Alex Beauchamp said:

“New York City was only the beginning. Governor Hochul has the groundswell of support from all corners of the state to make New York the first state in the nation with an immediate ban on gas in new buildings — she must commit to making it happen.”

The All-Electric Buildings Act introduced by Senator Brian Kavanagh and Assemblymember Emily Gallagher (S6843B/A8431), would institute a ban on fossil fuel use in new buildings by the end of 2023. An immediate gas ban in new construction would promote good green jobs and reduce local air pollution while reducing the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change. In light of the worsening climate crisis driving extreme weather events across the state, groups are urging incorporation of the more rapid timeline in the state budget.

“In the Capital District, local groups have developed a sustainable roadmap for local officials which includes decarbonizing buildings as quickly as possible and moving to air and ground heat pumps. A critical measure is to amend state and local building codes to require an immediate ban on gas in new buildings, something that the state’s draft Climate Action Plan recognizes. The IPPC has once again sounded the alarm that governments are moving far too slow to halt emissions, making passage of this law essential in the struggle to provide a livable future,” said Mark Dunlea, coordinator of PAUSE (People of Albany United for Safe Energy), the 350.org affiliate in the Capital District.

“We cannot expect our utilities to stop expanding fracked gas infrastructure of their own free will. Their bottom line is profits, not affordability, health, and safety for ratepayers,” said Courtney Williams of Westchester County-based Safe Energy Rights Group. “Westchester has already seen the panic poor planning causes when Con Edison issued their moratorium on new gas hookups in 2019. Despite the chaos it caused, the moratorium did nothing to slow construction because renewable heating and cooling was ready for the job. Let’s make it official and stop leaving our future in the hands of utilities focused on profits. Pass the All-Electric Buildings Act and we can take renewable heating and cooling statewide.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Newsom’s “California Way” Fails on Climate and Drought

Categories

Climate and EnergyClean Water

For Immediate Release

Sacramento, CA – While Governor Gavin Newsom’s fourth State of the State address coincided with the worst drought California has seen in 1,200 years, he offered no concrete steps to tackle the drought or the primary driving force behind California’s warming climate: fossil fuel extraction. Newsom signaled a priority in “fighting polluters, not bolstering them,” but offered no plan or intentions to halt new oil and gas permits, something environmental advocates have urged as the most immediate way to fight climate change and preserve California’s scarce water resources.

The oil and gas industry swallows millions of gallons of freshwater annually that could otherwise go to households, but Newsom has delayed a phaseout of oil drilling in California until 2045, a date environmental and frontline community advocates decry as far too late to avert the worst impacts of climate change. The latest polling indicates fewer than a quarter of Californians believe Newsom is on track in dealing with the drought. The subject was not featured in the governor’s address. Meanwhile, the same poll shows a six point drop in his support among progressives over six months. 

“Governor Newsom’s climate and drought policies are deeply flawed and his State of the State address reflects that,” said Food & Water Watch’s California Director Alexandra Nagy. “Every new oil and gas permit that Newsom’s administration grants is a step backward for California’s climate and communities and a missed opportunity to protect scarce freshwater resources.  If Newsom truly wants to take up the mantle of climate leadership, he needs to issue an immediate moratorium on oil and gas development. Without concrete steps to protect our climate and water, Newsom’s grand plans for California’s climate leadership are only empty words.”

###

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

Delaware Is Doubling Down On Factory Farm Biogas. It’s Not A Good Thing.

Categories

Food SystemClimate and Energy

by Greg Layton

For more than a year, local residents and our allies have joined with Food & Water Watch in a critical mission. We’ve teamed up to fight the nation’s first poultry waste factory farm biogas facility in Delaware. Now a new front has emerged, and the community is fighting back.

Eastern Shore Natural Gas (ESNG) has proposed expanding its pipeline facility in Sussex County, right next to an elementary school. Why? To pipe in biogas from the Bioenergy DevCo facility we’ve been fighting a few miles away.

Factory Farm Biogas Is Just As Explosive As ‘Traditional Gas’

ESNG asked Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission for a conditional use permit to expand its facility on Black Cherry Drive. Most significantly, the subsidiary of Chesapeake Utilities wants three new terminals to receive truckloads of “non-traditional” gas. We know what that means — factory farm biogas. Bioenergy DevCo has been teasing this expansion for months.

That could mean 18 truckloads of explosive gas daily to a site with almost no current traffic, a company spokesman said. The company could seek further expansion in the future, he said. All the while, local driverss and children at elementary school next door will be in harm’s way. After all, “non-traditional” biogas is just as explosive as “traditional gas.” In fact, factory farm biogas is absolutely identical to fracked gas.

This is a bad idea, and there are a lot of reasons why. 

Proximity To Schools And Neighborhoods Isn’t Smart When It Comes To Biogas

The proposed pipeline expansion is adjacent to Phillis Wheatley Elementary School. The school’s playground would lie less than 1,100 feet from the gas facility. The school itself would lie just 1,300 feet away, according to the ESNG spokesman. We’re not sure where these figures come from, because at a glance Google Maps suggests they are actually much closer. 

The nearest home would be just 330 feet from where the proposed facility meets the main gas line. This information is from a letter ESNG sent to the Planning & Zoning Commission. There are many additional homes in the area. 

The largest pipe would carry gas under 800 pounds of pressure per square inch, the ESNG spokesman said. He also mentioned a “catastrophic failure” of the facility would have an “impact radius” of 200 feet. History suggests this figure could be misleading. In 1974, a gas pipeline facility in Bealeton, Va. exploded, burning an area as wide as 700 feet. That blast originated from a pipeline also under 800 pounds of pressure. During his commission testimony, the spokesman didn’t say how far from the facility neighbors could expect damage from potential explosions. Given that these explosions could cause widespread burning, broken windows, and serious injury, we think these details matter.

And then there are the bomb trucks. Nearly 7,000 bomb trucks annually would carry factory farm biogas from Bioenergy DevCo through the residential community into the site. This transport is not safe. The recent explosion of a fuel-laden bomb truck in New York underscores the danger posed by these vehicles. This hazard is not only at the Black Cherry Drive location, but to motorists, homes and businesses all along the haul route.

Environmental Justice Issues Raise Concern About Factory Farm Biogas

Residents within one mile of the proposed facility are significantly more likely than the average Sussex County resident to be people of color. More than a third of these residents live in low-income households. And rounding out the inequity, more than a third of them are 65 years of age or older. Placing a potentially explosive facility in a vulnerable neighborhood would worsen community members’ difficulties, while lowering their property values. In testimony before the commission, one opponent said the fact that this project was even proposed constitutes “environmental racism.” They’re right.

It’s All So Bioenergy DevCo Can Make A Buck From A False ‘Climate Solution’

The proposed pipeline facility expansion is clearly tied to the Bioenergy DevCo factory farm gas facility proposed for Seaford. It’s no big secret. Chesapeake Utilities, ESNG’s parent company, struck an agreement with Bioenergy DevCo in June 2020, and announced it widely.

The Bioenergy DevCo proposal would bring 200,000 tons of poultry slaughterhouse waste annually from three states; Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. It would go to a digester and methane refinery near Seaford, all to sell biogas into regional pipelines. That gas would be trucked to Bridgeville to be injected into the Chesapeake Utilities pipeline. Without this pipeline facility expansion, Bioenergy DevCo has nowhere to take their bomb trucks, and nowhere to sell their gas.

This proposal would justify the pollution of factory-farmed poultry and amplify the contamination it already causes. Rather than solving the climate crisis, its damage would manifest in other toxic byproducts, some worse than the original issue.

Concerned Residents Will Speak Out Against This Dirty Biogas Scheme

Concerned Delawareans submitted nearly 30 written comments to the Sussex Planning & Zoning Commission in opposition to the ESNG pipeline proposal. Several also spoke out at the hearing. After this pressure, the Commission deferred its decision until March 10. But Food & Water Watch is prepared.

Food & Water Watch and allies will be protesting outside the Sussex Planning & Zoning Commission meeting on March 10. 

Join us in protest at the Commission meeting on March 10.

Bring a sign opposing pipeline expansion, and join Food & Water Watch on March 10, 2022. We will gather outside the Sussex County Administration Building at 2 The Circle in Georgetown, DE.

Hearing Underlines Necessity of Bill to Clean Up Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Annapolis, MD — Today’s Economic Matters committee hearing underlines the urgent need to clean up Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. With committee members scheduled to debate a variety of climate legislation this afternoon, speakers representing the Reclaim Renewable Energy Coalition (REC), a group of over 20 environmental and social justice organizations, will speak on behalf of Del. Vaughn Stewart’s HB 11, which aims to cut polluting carbon-intensive fuel sources out of Maryland’s renewable portfolio standard.

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

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

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

“Community leaders in Frederick County, Carroll County, and Baltimore City had to fight for almost a decade to prevent new trash incinerators from being built – incinerators that were falsely greenwashed as environmental solutions and would have received ‘renewable energy’ subsidies through the RPS. And now, communities on the Eastern Shore are facing the same fight against new factory farm biogas,” said Jennifer Kunze, Maryland Coordinator at Clean Water Action. “Maryland needs to double down on real renewables, not force ratepayers to subsidize the very polluting facilities we’re trying to fight.”

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

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

“Green” Hydrogen Motion Introduced at LA City Council Despite Environmental and Justice Concerns

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Los Angeles, CA – L.A. City Councilmembers Nury Martinez, Mitch O’Farrell, and Joe Buscaino introduced a motion to authorize the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and the L.A. Ports to apply for federal funding to make Los Angeles a regional “green” hydrogen hub. An initial draft of the motion shared with Food & Water Watch included guardrails to ensure hydrogen production would not perpetuate or support dirty energy systems like natural gas or factory farm gas, but these were stripped from the motion ahead of its introduction. 

Without these provisions, utilities could easily use hydrogen development to perpetuate and prop up fossil fuel power plants in Los Angeles that would otherwise retire with the transition to clean energy. This is a key flaw of any hydrogen development project. Burning hydrogen (whether in a power plant or people’s homes) can produce six times more nitrous oxides than burning methane. This harmful pollutant can cause respiratory illness and is a key pollutant in the formation of smog. LADWP has expressed interest in retrofitting the Haynes, Scattergood, Harbor and Valley natural gas plants to burn hydrogen gas despite fervent community concern that this will increase environmental pollution in overburdened communities.  

“Without important guardrails, even green hydrogen will be a smokescreen for fossil fuel development in the guise of clean energy,” Food & Water Watch Los Angeles Senior Organizer Jasmin Vargas said in response to today’s motion. “Hydrogen is being used by fossil fuel interests to maintain their dangerous pipeline and energy infrastructure, propping up a system of dirty fossil fuels like fracked gas. Climate justice advocates have made it crystal clear that hydrogen does not belong at L.A.’s power plants and hydrogen with no safeguards against fossil fuel development or biofuels is unacceptable. This motion is a betrayal of Los Angeles communities who deserve equitable, accessible energy solutions and not costly, energy-intensive, water-intensive scams like this “green” hydrogen proposal.”

The motion also fails to address hydrogen’s intensive water usage in a drought identified as the worst in 1,200 years. “Green” hydrogen utilizes electrolysis to break water molecules apart, requiring 9 kg of water per every 1 kg of hydrogen produced. California is already a home for water-heavy industries, including factory farms, industrial agriculture and fossil fuel extraction, and the state’s water supply is dwindling. 

Investor-owned utility giant SoCalGas recently announced its intention to begin the “Angeles Link Project,” an initiative building out “green” hydrogen to power the Los Angeles Basin. SoCalGas has also promised to mix hydrogen with natural gas in its forthcoming H2 Hydrogen Home in Downey, drawing fierce criticism from environmental advocates who point to the move as another opportunity for the utility to expand gas infrastructure at Aliso Canyon, Playa Del Rey and Ventura. 

###

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

USDA Grants Cargill Beef Self-Inspection, Raising Food Safety Concerns

Categories

Food System

A Cargill cattle slaughter plant in Schuyler, Nebraska has been granted a regulatory waiver by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that will allow the plant’s employees to perform several critical safety inspections instead of federal inspectors.  

USDA informed union officials representing inspectors that the switch will start next week, with full implementation to begin the week of May 2.

It is only the second beef plant to be granted this permission, and the first under the Biden administration. Last year, Food & Water Watch released agency documents showing that pork plants operating in a similar pilot program for swine had significantly more regulatory violations for fecal and digestive matter on carcasses than traditional plants. 

The USDA’s waiver occurs at the same time that the USDA has been defending the pig slaughter system in court.

In response, Food & Water Watch Senior Attorney Zach Corrigan issued the following statement: 

“By transferring critical inspection duties to plant employees, the USDA is allowing plants to essentially inspect their own beef.  This is fundamentally dangerous for consumers. Pork plants that switched to this system saw a two-fold increase in violations for contamination of fecal matter and digestive contents. While this is only one plant, it is the second pilot plant for a program the Biden administration plans to implement for the entire industry.  At a time when consumers are already wrestling with the high prices due to industry consolidation, the USDA is asking consumers to jeopardize their health.”

A Lost Decade: Fossil Fuel Production Grew as Renewables Boomed

Categories

Climate and Energy

New research from the national environmental advocacy group Food & Water Watch reveals that a decade of impressive growth in the clean energy industry was matched by increases in fossil fuel production – showing that any meaningful climate policy must focus on measures to stop new fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure.

Over that past decade (2010-2020), solar and wind generation grew considerably. The share of renewable energy on the U.S. electrical grid rose from 2.8 percent to 11.5 percent. But over the same time frame, fossil gas went from supplying 22.7 percent of electricity to 39.3 percent. Overall fossil fuel production (coal, oil and gas) grew throughout the period as well.

The research is featured in a new report, “Averting Climate Catastrophe: Fossil Fuels Must End While Renewables Take Over,” which lays out the ways that domestic fossil fuel production has continued to grow, thanks to plastics production and a massive increase in gas exports. 

The research casts serious doubt on climate policies that exclusively focus on developing new sources of clean power, such as those that rely heavily on tax credits and other incentives. And it serves as a stark rebuke to the assurances of fracking boosters that gas production would serve as a clean energy ‘bridge.’ As the data show, fossil fuels have grown alongside renewables. 

“What this research shows us is that building more renewables while continuing to promote the development of dirty energy puts us on the climate treadmill. We’re going nowhere fast in the race to slash climate pollution,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “The so-called fracking boom was a boon to the dirty energy industry, which cynically deployed arguments about gas being a clean energy bridge. Nothing could be further from the truth. What we need is immediate action to confront the fossil fuel industry and stop new fossil fuel projects.”

The Food & Water Watch report highlights similar dynamics at the state level. In Virginia, where a new state climate law received national acclaim, plans to build substantial new wind and solar capacity were overshadowed by twice as much fracked gas capacity that came online between 2010 and 2020. California enjoys a reputation as a climate leader, and produces the most solar power in the country. But it also uses more gas than every state but Texas, and is a massive electricity importer, some of which is sourced from out-of-state coal plants. While the state’s gas-fired generation has declined by 29 percent since 2015, the reliance on out-of-state generators has left overall gas generation unchanged.

A Day In The Life Of Our Staff As We Fight To Protect Our Environment

Categories

Climate and Energy

The people who make up Food & Water Watch fight for safe food, clean water, and a livable climate for all of us. As expert advocates, they bring a complex mix of skills and experience to organize people to build the political power needed for real change. Whether they work in our Washington, DC headquarters or in home offices from Oregon to Maine, our team members rely on you and your generosity to advance our mission on the ground.

That’s because rich and powerful corporations are working desperately to exploit our resources for their own profit. And they’ve seized control of the institutions meant to protect us. But with your investment, our team is fighting back. They’re mobilizing people to reclaim political power, hold elected officials accountable, and resist corporate control — ensuring we all have the essential resources we need to thrive. This is a fight we must win.

And our team is fiercely dedicated to that fight. They have the skills and audacity to win real solutions. These are the people who lead the fight to protect our food, water, and climate.


Meet Santosh

Food & Water Watch’s Senior New York Organizer, located in Brooklyn, NY

Santosh is constantly on the streets and in our communities mobilizing people power to push for New York to become THE climate policy trendsetter, as it is for other industries. Working with other Food & Water Watch New York City and state staff to champion our work, Santosh builds strong coalitions of both individuals and organizations in support of our campaigns, such as our fight to ban the use of gas in new construction statewide, and much more.

7:00 AM
Wake up, make a Morir Soñando (Milk and Orange Juice) to-go and head out on a morning walk through Brooklyn with my dog, Pepper.

9:30 AM
Heading into the Food & Water Watch Brooklyn office earlier than usual today. My bike is busted so I take the 2 subway line.

10:45 AM
After catching up on emails and calls, I meet with our new intern Sakshi and we map out a future canvasing route together.

12:30 PM
I rush into Manhattan and meet up with some of our volunteers. We start making calls to New York Governor Kathy Hochul to push her to enact a gas ban in one year statewide.

2:05 PM
With our coalition, Food & Water Watch is putting pressure on the Governor to include the NY Build Public Renewables Act (BPRA) in the 2022 Executive Budget. We’re gaining a crowd and we occupy the street outside of Gov. Hochul’s office in midtown Manhattan.

4:15 PM
Such a busy day! I rush over to Fort Greene to meet a volunteer to gather petition signatures to help us amp up our message to the Governor even more.

5:45 PM
I head home to grab a bite to eat and get to some emails from the day that I didn’t have time to answer while petitioning and traveling. I’m never quite caught up on emails but I make a point to check in again when home to finalize everything that’s urgent for the day.

7:30 PM
I go home to Pepper and crash. Tomorrow is another busy day fighting for the planet!

Meet Jessica

Food & Water Watch’s Media Relations Officer based in
Los Angeles, CA

Jessica works with our western U.S. campaigns to engage reporters and shift the narrative on the issues Food & Water Watch advocates for. She often spends her days drafting press releases, crafting op-eds that will be pitched to newspapers, or offering media training to colleagues across the policy, organizing, research and legal teams to help when they’re interacting with reporters. Food & Water Watch is doing incredible work to protect our planet and ensure its resources are available for everyone and Jessica is the one who helps tell the world about it!

6:45 AM
Good morning! I wake up, feed the cat and have my breakfast. Ready to tackle the day.

10:34 AM
I start the day by catching up on emails and reading articles Food & Water Watch has been featured in the day before. Then I watch California Governor Gavin Newsom’s press conference.

11:05 AM
After the press conference I type up the statement that I’ll release to the media in the next hour or so. The Governor didn’t mention any concrete steps to phase out fossil fuels in his budget, so it’s important to hold him accountable.

11:40 AM
Need a quick break after writing the statement on the budget so I step away for a cup of decaf Earl Grey tea.

1:15 PM
I join a CA coalition call discussing the budget and what other organizations are planning to say in response. Always good to have an idea of what other environmental advocates think!

2:15 PM
I take another break and go for a walk. I tend to go for walks after a series of meetings to get some fresh air. Today I walk through my South Pasadena neighborhood before prepping for a media interview later in the evening.

5:45 PM
Radio station KPFA invited me to speak on their live show, to talk about the deficiencies in Gov. Newsom’s budget.

7:30 PM
I come home from the radio interview and decide to destress after work with some Vinyasa Yoga. I’m so passionate about the work we do but I also know how important it is to take care of my physical and mental health too. It’s all about balance!

That’s just a small glimpse at the commitment our staff demonstrates in their personal and professional lives on a daily basis.

Our team is fiercely dedicated to their role in this larger movement, and they have the skills and grit to win our biggest campaigns. When you invest in our work, you directly support our staff who are on the ground actively fighting to protect our planet. Together, we will fight for the better future we ALL deserve.

Power our work and invest in our team!

Averting Climate Catastrophe: Fossil Fuels Must End While Renewables Take Over

REPORT - March 2022

What You’ll Learn From This Report

  • 1: We Must Stop Pretending Renewables Will Automatically Displace Fossil Fuels
    • Only curbing fossil fuels will let renewables deliver on their potential.
  • 2: Renewables and Fossil Fuels Have Grown Together
    • Renewable energy is not a silver bullet for eliminating fossil fuels.
  • 3: Emphasizing Renewables Alone Will Not Displace Fracking
    • Waning consumer demand for fracked gas means frackers turn to exports, industrial uses.
  • 4: Corporations and Democrats Continue Trump’s Energy Agenda
    • The “all of the above” approach prevents us from curbing the climate crisis.
  • 5: Cozy State Regulators Will Not Choose Renewables Over Fossil Fuels Unless They Have To
    • Loopholes help fossil fuels compete against renewables.
  • 6: Leaders Must Directly Confront Fossil Fuel Production and Use
    • Supply-side energy policy is crucial for our future.

Part 1:

We Must Stop Pretending Renewables Will Automatically Displace Fossil Fuels

Only curbing fossil fuels will let renewables deliver on their potential.

Leaders of the United States are at a make-or-break crossroads. As the climate rapidly deteriorates and the impacts multiply from climate-amplified disasters — such as fires, drought, hurricanes and floods — we have a waning chance to avert the worst-case scenarios of climate chaos. It will require bold action and directly taking on the fossil fuel industry.

The science behind climate change is undeniable, and with each passing day more policy makers agree that action is required. The only real debate that remains is how to address this challenge.

There is a growing consensus that we must drastically increase the production of renewable energy, and policy makers — including President Biden — have embraced broad goals for a large percentage of electricity to come from renewable energy by 2030.1 However, these goals will fall short in addressing the climate emergency if increases in renewable energy are not coupled with immediate action to curb the production and use of fossil fuels.2

Curbing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Changes Our Future

The climate policies we enact by 2030 affect how much our climate warms by 2100.

Source: Graphic based on projections for warming over pre-industrial levels, from OurWorldInData.org.

The policy decisions of the past decade drove a boom in hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), resulting in a massive buildout of fracked gas power plants, pipelines and petrochemical facilities. Fossil fuel corporations plan to build even more. Natural gas currently accounts for more than three times as much electricity production as renewable energy.3 Alarmingly, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that the United States will consume more fracked gas in 2050 than 2020.4 This is a recipe for disaster.

We do not have a decade or even a few years to test the idea that simply by building up renewable energy, the market will phase out the production of fossil fuels. History shows that even when renewable energy has increased, it has not significantly impacted fossil fuel production. For example, only 34 percent of the fracked gas is burned to produce electricity — meaning that most fracked gas is not even supporting our electric grid.5 To address our climate crisis, we need to thwart climate change’s main driver: fossil fuels.

President Biden and many elected leaders use catchy soundbites about moving off of fossil fuels, but the policies that they embrace (including false solutions such as carbon capture, “blue” hydrogen and offsets) will lock us in to dependence on fossil fuels for decades. Despite Biden’s promises to tackle climate change, and the iron-clad science that says we must stop approving new fossil projects, the administration has greenlit even more of them.6

Hundreds of leading scientists stated in an October 2021 letter to President Biden that “the reality of our situation is now so dire that only a rapid phase-out of fossil fuel extraction and combustion can fend off the worst consequences of the climate crisis.”7 Their urgency was mirrored in the 2021 report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Following the report’s release, the UN Secretary-General said:

“This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet. There must be no new coal plants built after 2021…. Countries should also end all new fossil fuel exploration and production, and shift fossil fuel subsidies into renewable energy.”8

We still have time to fix our future, but the hour is getting late. We are already experiencing significant climate impacts, but we can and must act now to avoid truly catastrophic consequences. We are at a crossroads that will either haunt our future or redeem it. Policy makers can keep catering to the fossil fuel industry and condemn us to runaway climate chaos, or we can boldly reverse course, act for the benefit of humanity and take the necessary steps to end fossil fuels. As a society, the choice is ours.

Part 2:

Renewables and Fossil Fuels Have Grown Together

Renewable energy is not a silver bullet for eliminating fossil fuels.

Renewable Energy Is Ready to Take Center Stage

The need for urgent climate action becomes more pressing daily, and fortunately renewable energy options are cheaper than ever. Across their lifetimes, solar and wind energy projects cost $36.50 and $40 per megawatt-hour, respectively, in 2020, down from $248 and $123.50 per megawatt hour just over a decade earlier.9 These levelized costs are far cheaper than generating electricity from new nuclear or coal power plants and are often cheaper than natural gas plants.10 Over the past decade, cost reduction