Franklin Opposes New Gas Plant Planned for Woodbridge

Categories

Climate and Energy

On Tuesday evening, the Franklin Township Mayor and Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution opposing a plan to build a second gas-fired power plant in Woodbridge. 

Franklin is the fifth municipality to call on the Murphy administration to reject the proposal by Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) to build a new gas-fired power plant in Woodbridge. Similar resolutions have passed in Edison, Highland Park, Hoboken, and Perth Amboy.

CPV has proposed building a new 630-megawatt gas power plant in the Keasbey section of Woodbridge, a community already overburdened with pollution. If approved, this new facility – which would be adjacent to an existing CPV plant – would emit more than 2.3 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses each year, along with hundreds of tons of toxic air pollutants  – including carbon monoxide, ammonia, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, sulfuric acid, and lead

“I am proud that Franklin is now the fifth town that is supporting this resolution, and putting pressure on the DEP and Governor Murphy to reject this terrible project,” said Manijeh Saba, a Food & Water Watch volunteer and longtime Franklin resident. “We have the responsibility to provide a healthy environment to future generations, so we are demanding our leaders take action to stop fossil fuel projects like this.”

Next week, climate activists will be walking from Newark to Red Bank to raise awareness of fossil fuel projects that Governor Murphy must reject. On Wednesday (8/17) the “Walk Your Talk” climate caravan will stop at the Woodbridge Town Hall for a rally at 6:30 pm.

Newsom Drought Plan Doesn’t Hold Water

Categories

Clean Water

For Immediate Release

Sacramento, CA – Today, Governor Newsom is expected to release a plan purporting to prepare California for a hotter, drier future fueled by climate change. Yet the steps outlined rely heavily on desalination and controversial tunnel and dam projects. The plan makes no mention of curbing the most intensive water users of the state — Big Ag and Big Oil.

Food & Water Watch research recently found California could save as much as 82 million cubic meters of water every year by switching from fossil fuels to renewables like solar and wind power — that’s a 98 percent reduction from the water currently needed to maintain the state’s fossil fuel reliance. The water used for industrial cultivation of thirsty crops like almonds and pistachios is equally stark. Between 2017 and 2021, Food & Water Watch found almond bearing acres grew by 32 percent and pistachio acres increased by 63 percent. That expansion necessitated the withdrawal of an extra 523 billion gallons of water for irrigation — enough water to supply nearly four million households with enough water for an entire year.

“Newsom’s drought plan to conserve water ironically does nothing to curtail the biggest water abusers who are also the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions fueling the crisis,” said Food & Water Watch California Organizing Manager Tomás Rebecchi. “The toxic cycles of industrial agriculture and fossil fuel extraction use massive amounts of  water that could otherwise go to public uses, kneecapping any attempt at meaningful water conservation. Coupled with his energy plans that include continued reliance on fossil fuel gas plants and his failure to crack down on corporate water abuse, this drought plan heralds an increasingly dry, inequitable California at the mercy of fossil fuel and industrial agricultural companies.

Environmental advocates, scientists and frontline community members have long decried ocean desalination as a wasteful boondoggle that puts marine life at risk and threatens to extend the life of fossil fuels needed for its power. In May, advocates successfully shut down plans for a desalination plant by Poseidon, a client of Newsom’s close adviser, Jason Kinney, and his lobbying firm, Axiom Advisers.  Newsom proposes to “streamline and expedite permitting” for desalination facilities.  

“Frontline communities can’t afford desalination and neither can the environment,” continued Rebecchi. “And time after time Californians have fought against these boondoggle projects and won. It’s time Newsom treated water like a human right, not a commodity to be traded for corporate profit.”

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

Dems’ IRA Falls Short on Climate Action

Categories

Climate and Energy

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

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


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

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

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

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

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Residents Rally Against Fracked Gas Compressor Project in North Jersey

Categories

Climate and Energy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Manchin ‘Side Deal’ is a Climate Disaster

Categories

Climate and Energy

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Carbon Pipeline Companies Spent $92,600 on Lobbying in Iowa This Year

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Carbon pipeline companies Summit, Navigator and Wolf spent a collective $92,600 on lobbying in Iowa’s 2022 state legislative session, according to the state lobbying declaration records released this week. Specifically, since January 10, 2022, Summit Carbon Solutions spent $36,000, Navigator CO2 Ventures spent $16,600, and Wolf Carbon Solutions spent $40,000.

In the 2022 state legislative session, multiple bills to prohibit eminent domain for carbon pipelines failed to make it out of committee, despite 80% of registered Iowa voters opposing eminent domain for carbon pipelines.

These carbon pipeline lobbying expenditures far outpace the lobbying expenditures from the Dakota Access Pipeline fight, where Energy Transfer spent between $25-23.1K on state lobbying each year starting in 2015. Additionally, Summit Carbon Solutions is employing the same lobbyists who worked on that controversial pipeline.

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

“The halls of the Iowa legislature are teeming with cushy corporate cronies and their well-heeled Wall Street investors. While Iowans stand in fields and march in streets to hold our public institutions accountable to we the people, pipeline profiteers are greasing the wheels with dirty money.

“Let’s get one thing straight — Iowa belongs to the people. Our land belongs to us, and our public institutions must be accountable to us. Carbon pipelines are dangerous and unnecessary, and we don’t want them. They’ve also been massive conflicts of interest for our elected officials from the start. Governor Reynolds must listen to the people, not the money, as we demand she stop carbon pipelines, and prevent eminent domain for private gain.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Lawsuit Against Smithfield for Lying to Public Will Move Forward

Categories

Food System

Smithfield Foods lost its bid to dismiss a case alleging that the meatpacking giant repeatedly lied to consumers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to protect its bottom line at the expense of its workers’ health and safety.

The decision from Judge Heidi M. Pasichow, released on July 22, means that the case, filed by the advocacy group Food & Water Watch in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, will proceed. The group is represented by itself and Public Justice.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and especially in the early stages of the global health crisis, Smithfield has mounted an aggressive public relations campaign to bolster its image and keep its production plants operating at full capacity despite the grave risk to workers. 

When major COVID-19 outbreaks struck Smithfield plants in 2020, the company told consumers that closing processing plants to protect workers’ lives would result in national meat shortages. It also reassured the public that its pandemic safety protocols were keeping workers as safe as possible a claim it continues to make to this day.

The lawsuit alleges both claims are false. The country was never in danger of a meat shortage: at the height of the pandemic, Smithfield increased its exports and held billions of pounds of meat in warehouses across the country. The company’s fearmongering led to record sales and profits. Meanwhile, Smithfield has consistently failed to implement essential safety measures at its processing plants, and workers still face dangerous working conditions, particularly as new COVID variants emerge.

As the company sought to have the case dismissed, a congressional report exposed the role that Smithfield and other meatpacking giants played in inciting panic about the national meat supply, and documented how companies like Smithfield aggressively lobbied the federal government to keep plants running with “glaringly deficient” safety protocols, endangering workers’ lives. The report also revealed how Smithfield actively impeded state and federal policies that would have better protected all meatpacking workers, including its own. 

“While Smithfield told the public it was doing ‘everything in its power’ to protect its workers, the company was actually cutting backroom deals with federal regulators that halted life-saving safety precautions from being instituted at its plants,” said Emily Miller, Staff Attorney at Food & Water Watch. “We are grateful that the court will provide us an opportunity to make our case, and to deliver justice for workers and consumers who continue to be harmed by Smithfield’s reckless behavior and incessant fearmongering.”

“Smithfield lied to consumers about workers’ protections from COVID-19 and even made up a story about an impending national meat shortage—all to justify continuously operating its slaughterhouses at full tilt at the height of the pandemic, no matter how many workers or people in the surrounding community got sick,” said Public Justice Budd Attorney Ellen Noble. “Public Justice is glad that the court quickly denied Smithfield’s motion to dismiss, recognizing that Food & Water Watch has properly alleged violations under the DC Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA) and should have an opportunity to seek discovery and prove its case. We look forward to doing just that.”

Food & Water Watch is also represented by Berger Montague and Towards Justice.

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

Categories

Climate and Energy

 For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

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

Allegheny County Overrides Executive Veto and Bans Fracking in Parks

Categories

Climate and Energy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories

Climate and Energy

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

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

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

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

Contact: Seth Gladstone – [email protected]

Records Reveal Even With No Animals On Site, Easterday Dairy Violated Water Quality Laws

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Boardman, OR – Stand Up to Factory Farms has learned that before even obtaining a permit to operate a 28,000-head dairy, Easterday Dairy repeatedly violated the “cleanup” permit it inherited when it bought the former mega-dairy site near Boardman, Oregon. Public records obtained by the coalition show that the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) cited 11 separate instances where Easterday Dairy violated its wastewater discharge permit in 2021, indicating high levels of nitrates, phosphorus and e.coli bacteria in the soil and water nearby. Easterday Dairy would operate in an area already plagued by dangerous nitrate contamination, exemplified by the fact that Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality recently fined the Port of Morrow $2.1 million for over-applying nitrogen-laden wastewater to fields. 

In response, Stand Up To Factory Farms Coalition Organizer Kristina Beggen issued the following statement:

“Easterday Dairy is violating its wastewater discharge permit before the dairy cows even get there, and yet Oregon agencies are considering approving the Easterdays to operate a nearly 30,000 cow mega-dairy that will produce massive amounts of polluting waste. Communities in the Boardman area have lacked access to clean, safe drinking water for decades — in large part because of factory farms’ irresponsible waste management practices. The timing could not be worse to authorize a mega-dairy with a history of environmental violations to operate in a groundwater management area in a historic drought. Oregon’s state agencies have every reason to deny Easterday Dairy’s application for a mega-dairy permit that will risk further polluting Eastern Oregon’s already contaminated water sources.” 

While ODA has indicated it will take no immediate action on Easterday’s permit in light of the company’s current environmental violations, the Port of Morrow water contamination emergency, and Easterday’s financial situation, ODA has not denied or withdrawn the permit. The site’s previous occupant, Lost Valley Farms, closed after it was cited for hundreds of environmental violations, including overflowing manure lagoons and improper management of dead animals. 81 public drinking water systems were threatened by Lost Valley Farms, and the site still retains contamination from that period.

See the relevant documents here.

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

Bucks County Sewer Proposal Details Remain Hidden from Public

Categories

Clean Water

Today, the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records denied Food & Water Watch’s appeal seeking to overturn the Buck County Water & Sewer Authority’s refusal to provide information about its dealings with Aqua Pennsylvania. 

In early March, after hearing rumors that the BCWSA was in private talks with Aqua, Food & Water Watch requested copies of any presentation, draft proposal, unsolicited bid or other materials or communication from Aqua Pennsylvania or Essential Utilities from January 1, 2020 to present. 

The Office of Open Records ruled that the documents would be confidential until the execution of a contract, but failed to respond to any of Food & Water Watch’s arguments for the release of the records. Their decision, which was delayed by months, comes two days after BCWSA approved an exclusivity agreement with Aqua Pennsylvania. 

The entire process has been highly flawed. On Wednesday, the BCWSA Board voted on the exclusivity agreement even though it excluded it from the public agenda posted before the meeting, and it failed to notify the public that the vote was happening. The Board, however, did take the time to hold a private press briefing the day prior to the vote to discuss the agreement. 

In response, Food & Water Watch Eastern Pennsylvania Organizer Ginny Marcille-Kerslake issued the following statement:

“What is the BCWSA Board trying to hide? The people of Bucks County have a fundamental right to know what is being discussed about the future of their sewer system. The entire privatization process has been shrouded in secrecy without public access to even basic information. The process has been flawed since its conception. Sewer privatization is not in the public interest and will sacrifice public control over an essential asset, leading to massive increases in bills for households and local businesses. The BCWSA Board must reject the sewer privatization deal.” 

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

Categories

Climate and Energy

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

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

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

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

Contact: Seth Gladstone – [email protected]

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

Categories

Climate and Energy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact: Seth Gladstone – [email protected]

Bucks County Water & Sewer Authority Advances Backroom Deal with Aqua

Categories

Clean Water

This morning, the board of directors of the Bucks County Water & Sewer Authority (BCWSA) announced a year-long exclusivity deal with Aqua Pennsylvania to finalize the sale of the authority’s sewer system to the corporation. This comes after months of community opposition, and it follows months of private conversations between the BCWSA board and the corporation. The proposed $1.1 billion sale would be the largest sewer privatization in the United States. 

Aqua Pennsylvania submitted an unsolicited proposal in late 2020 and has since been attending Board meetings. The BCWSA has rejected Food & Water Watch’s Right to Know request for a copy of that proposal or any information about its ongoing conversations with the corporation. According to a document submitted by BCWSA in response to an appeal of that denial, Aqua Pennsylvania has claimed that the proposal and all communication are confidential “without regard to time.” 

“This backroom dealing is a recipe for disaster for the customers of the BCWSA,” said Ginny Marcille-Kerslake, Eastern Pennsylvania Organizer with Food & Water Watch. “The process was ripe for manipulation by private interests at the public expense. The Board has failed the public, who should have been informed and consulted before the Board started down the road to privatization. This major transaction would stick generations of Bucks County residents with higher utility bills. The Board must reject the deal.”   

“When you put politics before the residents who would be affected by the increases privatization of services and the effects it has on their daily life brings, it’s a sad day for all of us who will have to live with this mistake,” said Tom Tosti, Director of District Council 88, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). 

“Yet again we see Aqua Pennsylvania continue its drive to be the regional water monopoly in our area and yet again we have a set of local officials who do not appear to understand the bigger and profound negative impacts from commodifying our water and wastewater systems,” said David McMahon, cofounder of Neighbors Opposing Privatization Efforts (NOPE). “And so once again it is left to the ratepayers themselves to do the due diligence and show how these privatization efforts are simply not in the public interest.” 

“We keep playing this game where consultants and public officials pretend that there is a magical benefit to privatizing water and wastewater systems but time and time again we are shown that the PA PUC is unable to protect ratepayers,” said Kofi Osei, a community organizer with NOPE. “Investor owned utilities consistently have double or triple rates of nearby systems owned and operated by municipal authorities. Section 27 of the PA constitution states that ‘ Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come’. Investors have no right to our constitutionally protected resources and Municipal Authorities, especially huge multi county ones like BCWSA, have no right to explore giving away our property.”

“This is disappointing but not surprising,” said Margo Woodacre with Keep Water Affordable. “We spoke at one of the suddenly-announced Buck’s County Sewer and Water Authority’s board meetings to warn the board of our experience with Aqua’s tactics of raising fees on the ratepayer. We were surprised to see Aqua’s leadership quietly present at that meeting.  Although the board promised that this would be an ‘open process,’  this decision seems to have been made behind closed doors with no public input!”

Since last winter, community groups, workers and residents have attended Board meetings to express opposition to privatization of BCWSA. More than 300 Bucks County residents have signed petitions opposing the privatization. 

The authority will not pursue the traditional competitive bidding process. It has engaged in exclusive conversations with Aqua Pennsylvania. The vote was made without advance public notice. The item was not included on the agenda. This has raised concerns that the anticompetitive nature of the transaction will result in higher costs for the public. 

Fitzgerald’s Fracking Ban Veto: Disappointing but Not Surprising

Categories

Climate and Energy

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

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

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

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

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

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

One Year In, Landowners and Activists Protest Eminent Domain for Carbon Pipelines at Iowa Utilities Board Meeting

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

This morning, more than 50 impacted landowners and activists from the Iowa Carbon Pipeline Resistance Coalition including Food & Water Watch, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, the Sierra Club Iowa Chapter, and the Science, Environment and Health Network attended the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) monthly meeting in Des Moines to raise concerns about three proposed carbon pipelines. Protesters demanded an end to the threat of eminent domain for carbon pipeline proposals before the Board, and requested a meeting with Governor Reynolds to discuss the projects further. Following the meeting, protestors caravanned to the Governor’s Mansion at Terrace Hill to amplify the demand for Governor Reynolds to put the interests of Iowans before the profits of pipeline companies.

Summit Carbon Solutions’ 2,000 mile hazardous pipeline is currently before the Iowa Utilities Board, drawing expansive opposition surpassing that of the Dakota Access Pipeline. To date, 76% of the Iowa counties impacted by Summit’s proposed pipeline route have submitted formal objections.

Tuesday’s rally marks just over one year since Summit announced their project. The company is seeing slow progress on securing voluntary easements, as impacted landowners resist handing over private property for the project which threatens public health, safety and farmland alike. In fact, Food & Water Action polling found that 80% of Iowa voters oppose eminent domain for the project.

Food & Water Watch Senior Iowa Organizer Emma Schmit said:

“It’s been one year since greedy corporations announced their plans to take our land for their gain. Iowans simply won’t accept eminent domain for private gain, and it’s time our Governor listened to us. We demand a meeting with Governor Reynolds to discuss these projects and make clear that Iowans will not allow carbon pipeline corporations to ram their dangerous schemes through our land, putting us at risk so someone on Wall Street can make a quick buck.”

“We are a year into the Summit project and it’s clear Iowans do not want CO2 pipelines. Land agents call us 20 times a week — worse than telemarketers or a presidential election. We do not want these pipelines destroying our land,” said Sherri Webb, a Summit-impacted owner of a Century Farm in Shelby County

“Navigator is telling landowners one thing, and the IUB and County Supervisors another. We have no way to know the truth,” said Richard McKean, a Navigator-impacted landowner. “It’s a living nightmare.”

“This process is a sham,” said Johnson County Supervisor Jon Green. “The outcome is preordained. I’m here to ensure the record reflects that these carbon pipelines are a greenwashing grift.”

“A year into this project, it’s clear that no one wants carbon pipelines except for those who stand to benefit,” said Sierra Club Iowa Chapter Conservation Program Coordinator Jess Mazour. “70% of landowners won’t sign easements, 34 county boards of supervisors are saying no — Iowa doesn’t want these pipelines. The IUB needs to say no to carbon pipelines now.”

IUB officials have indicated any action or public hearing on Summit’s permit application is not expected before February 2023. Photos from today’s event are available here.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

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

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

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

Categories

Climate and Energy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact: Seth Gladstone – [email protected]

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

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

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

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

Read the full letter here.

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

Climate Justice Advocates March on Trenton

Categories

Climate and Energy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pleasantville Flushes Sewer Privatization Deal

Categories

Clean Water

Tonight the Pleasantville City Council approved an ordinance to rescind its earlier approval of a 39-year sewer concession deal with the private equity firm Bernhard Capital. 

The 4-3 vote represents a remarkable turnaround after months of organizing by community groups opposed to the privatization deal. 

The original memorandum of understanding would have transferred control of the operation, management and financing of the sewer collection system to Bernhard Capital in exchange for $15 million upfront. Advocates had raised concerns with contract provisions that could have led to unexpected rate increases as well as with the approval process. The original ordinance was approved during consecutive meetings in February 2022, when community members were barred entry from City Hall due to unrelated protests. 

“This is a huge victory for democracy in South Jersey. This privatization scheme was a horrible deal for Pleasantville residents,” said Food & Water Watch senior organizer Kate Delany. “It would have gouged residents with excessive sewer rate hikes to profit a private equity firm. We applaud the City Council and the community organizations who stood up to this financial firm to protect their essential wastewater system. Responsible public provision is in the best interests of the public.”

This is the second time Bernhard Capital has lost an attempt to privatize a water system in South Jersey. The company faced stiff opposition to its bid to take over the public sewer system in Cumberland County. 

“From Fayetteville, Louisiana to Pleasantville, New Jersey, controversy follows Bernard Capital,” said Irvin Moreno-Rodriguez, Pleasantville resident and co-director of El Pueblo Unido of Atlantic City. “This is not a coincidence. Bernhard is a firm that will do whatever it takes to profit off the public utilities of American cities. Public utilities should be public and never at the mercy of money.”

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

Categories

Climate and Energy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who: Film director Jon Bowermaster and featured activists including: 

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

Contact: Seth Gladstone – [email protected]

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

Categories

Climate and Energy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Climate Justice Groups Slam California Climate Plan Ahead of Hearing

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

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

Reach near-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Experts Join IA Farmers, Advocates and Legislators For People’s Hearing on Need for Factory Farm Moratorium

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

AMES, IA — On Saturday, farmers, experts, advocates and legislators gathered at the Ames Public Library for a people’s hearing on the urgent need for a factory farm moratorium in Iowa. The event came on the heels of yet another legislative session without action in Des Moines on the state’s factory farm crisis, and one month after the release of a new Food & Water Watch report, “The Hog Bosses,” detailing the agricultural consolidation crisis in Iowa farm country.

Absent legislative action on the issue, advocates from the Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture, a coalition of more than 25 organizations united against factory farming in Iowa, hosted the two-hour people’s hearing to present constituent demands and expert perspectives on the necessity of a factory farm moratorium in Iowa. Hours of testimony reflected the diverse criticisms of the industrial factory farming model, and highlighted local impacts on the lives of Iowans from all corners of the state. Topics discussed included water quality, public health, market consolidation, and the impacts factory farms have on community members’ quality of life and on farmers’ ability to make a living.

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

Food & Water Watch Senior Iowa Organizer John Aspray, Chair of the Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture issued the following statement:

“The factory farm system is crushing Iowa. For decades, Iowans have seen independent family farms forced into bad contracts with corporate giants in order to survive, small businesses shutter their doors, and our waterways and drinking water devastated by this model of industrial agriculture.

“Today, community members, farmers, and experts from all across Iowa came together to bear witness to the tremendous suffering our people, state, and environment are undergoing at the hands of corporate agribusiness and their legislative enablers. Our hearing underlined the criticisms of a model that many of our legislators have been too weak to confront.

“Iowa legislators must listen to us, their constituents, as we state loud and clear that it is high time to put an end to factory farms’ relentless growth in our state. We must pass a factory farm moratorium in Iowa and our federal representatives must pass the Farm System Reform Act.”

A full quote list from event participants is here. A recording of the event is available here.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

VP’s Pittsburgh Visit Underscores Need for More Lead Funding

Categories

Clean Water

Today, Vice President Kamala Harris is in Pittsburgh to highlight the city’s lead line replacement program. Her visit should help shine a light on policies that have worked – and on the level of funding that is necessary to replace lead lines across the country.

Food & Water Watch Water for All Program Director Mary Grant issued the following statement: 

“Cities like Pittsburgh and Newark have had real success in replacing lead lines, thanks to the work of community activists and the availability of public funds to do the work. We applaud the Our Water Campaign led by Pittsburgh United for its work to advocate for lead line replacement, and for pushing back on the water privatization that aggravated the lead crisis itself. Pittsburgh still has much work to do to eliminate all lead service lines, and federal support will be crucial to achieving lead-free water without exacerbating the city’s water affordability problems.

“Unfortunately, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law did not provide the level of funding that is necessary to end the nation’s lead-in-water crisis. The infrastructure law that was championed by the Biden administration devotes $15 billion to lead pipe replacement, which is only a quarter of what the water industry estimates is necessary to replace all lead service lines. And about half of that funding comes in the form of loans, instead of grants, which disinvested-in cities urgently need. 

“If the administration wants to fully confront this crisis, President Biden should make the WATER Act a part of his infrastructure agenda. This bill is the only permanent fix for our water crises, allocating $35 billion per year to urgently address the problems facing communities all across the country. The WATER Act prioritizes disadvantaged communities and would be fully paid for by rolling back some of the previous administration’s corporate tax breaks. And the WATER Act would make sure that the funds would not flow to large private water companies that take control of public water systems. It is the most comprehensive solution to our national water crisis, already backed by over 100 members of Congress. It’s time to act.”

EPA Action on PFAS Contamination is Modest First Step

Categories

Clean Water

Washington, DC – Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new drinking water health advisories for four specific PFAS “forever chemical” substances, in an effort to address the rampant contamination of drinking water sources from the highly toxic class of chemicals commonly found in proximity to military bases and industrial sites. The announcement includes updated advisories for PFOA and PFOS at near-zero levels and new advisories for two additional compounds, including GenX. These are just four of the thousands of known PFAS compounds known to exist in communities across the country.

In response, Mary Grant, Director of Food & Water Watch’s Public Water for All Campaign issued the following statement: 

“This modest action by the EPA to warn communities of the harm caused by these four specific chemicals is good, but it only represents the tip of the iceberg in terms of adequately acknowledging and mitigating the hazards posed by the thousands of highly toxic variants existing in the PFAS ‘forever chemical’ family. The EPA needs to go much further by implementing strong, enforceable regulations on the entire class of PFAS chemicals that are sickening communities around the country as we speak.

“Funding in the bipartisan infrastructure law provided a down payment on what needs to be a continuing stream of adequate funding to properly address the drinking water crisis facing our country. The WATER Act, which now has more than 100 cosponsors in Congress, would provide the adequate long-term solution we need to provide clean water for everyone for years to come.”

Contact: Seth Gladstone – [email protected]

Baltimore Advocates Urge Full Implementation of Water Affordability Law as City Approves New Water Rate Hike

Categories

Clean Water

For Immediate Release

Baltimore, MD — Today, the Baltimore City Board of Estimates voted to approve a water rate hike, increasing rates by three percent a year for the next three years. The rate schedule would increase a typical household’s water, sewer and stormwater bill from $118.46 a month currently to $130.21 a month, beginning in July 2024. It would be the smallest water rate increase in two decades. 

Members of the long-standing Baltimore Right to Water Coalition testified at the Baltimore City Board of Estimates meeting to applaud the City’s efforts to minimize the rate impact on households, and demand the full implementation of the Water Accountability and Equity Act, legislation that makes any rate increase less burdensome for City residents. It has been nearly one year since the legislation’s legal deadline for implementation and still the City has yet to take critical mandatory actions. 

Ongoing delays are rampant in implementation of the City’s signature water equity law, which was legally required to be implemented nearly a year ago, July 1st, 2021. The Water4All affordability program launched in February of this year, over 7 months after the deadline, and still falls short of critical enrollment thresholds. In addition, the Department of Public Works (DPW) has yet to establish the Office of the Water Customer Advocate or the Committee for Office Oversight. The Coalition demanded that the DPW fulfill its legal obligations to fully implement the Water Accountability & Equity Act, in light of ongoing rate increases.

Rianna Eckel, Baltimore organizer with Food & Water Watch and convenor of the Baltimore Right to Water Coalition, a coalition of dozens of organizations that has been advocating for accountable, equitable, affordable water for all Baltimoreans since 2016, said:

“We applaud the efforts of the Mayor to minimize the rate burden on households in our City. But at the end of the day, a smaller rate increase is still a rate increase. Baltimore has a signature water affordability law on the books to protect low wealth residents from rate increases of any size — all that remains is action from DPW to expand enrollment in the Water4All program and implement the rest of the law. We urge the Mayor to fully implement the Water Accountability and Equity Act to ensure affordable and accountable service to all households in the City. Successful implementation will minimize future water rate increases by increasing payment rates for low income families, as well as restoring trust in billing accuracy with an expedient, transparent billing dispute process led by an independent Customer Advocate. Providing affordable water service is a win-win for households and for the city.” 

Jaime Lee, Director of the Community Development Clinic at the University of Baltimore School of Law and a member of the Baltimore Right to Water Coalition, stated, “The Advocate’s job is to listen to customers, help them resolve water issues, and craft policies that treat customers more fairly. Hiring a strong, independent Advocate would be proof that the City puts the interests of its constituents first.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

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

Categories

Climate and Energy

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

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

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

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

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

Contact: Jessica Gable – [email protected]

Morrow County Commission Declares State of Emergency Over Nitrate Contamination in Groundwater

Categories

Food SystemClean Water

For Immediate Release

Boardman, OR – Morrow County, one of Oregon’s primary hubs for industrial agriculture and food processing, is under a state of emergency after numerous groundwater wells showed dangerously high nitrate pollution. A leading source of nitrates is industrial animal agriculture. Mega-dairies in particular produce massive amounts of nitrogen-laden waste that can easily seep into groundwater.

“It’s a relief to see the Morrow County Commissioners doing everything in their power to protect the drinking water of vulnerable Oregonians,” said Kristina Beggen, an organizer with Food & Water Watch and the Stand Up to Factory Farms Coalition. “But the problem of nitrate pollution can only be solved by addressing its primary source: the irresponsible waste management practices of mega-dairies. Our coalition petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to use its own emergency powers under the Safe Drinking Water Act over two years ago, but the EPA has so far failed to act. It is past time to take decisive action to curb this dangerous, mega-polluting industry and protect Oregonians’ drinking water.”

The Oregon Department of Agriculture is currently considering an additional mega-dairy for Morrow County: the 28,000 cow Easterday Dairy. According to national advocacy organization Food & Water Watch’s latest research, the proposed Easterday Dairy operation in Boardman (within Morrow County) would produce nearly 6 million cubic feet of manure and 12 million cubic feet of wastewater per year. 

Beggen added, “In light of the State of Emergency, it would be wholly unconscionable to introduce another mega-polluting industrial dairy to Morrow County’s landscape. ODA and DEQ have no choice now but to deny Easterday Dairy’s permit and focus on providing clean, accessible water to their constituents.” 

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

Food Advocacy Groups Defend Lawsuit to Hold Smithfield Accountable for Lying to the Public

Categories

Food System

Today, Public Justice and Food & Water Watch submitted their opposition brief in response to Smithfield Foods’ motion to dismiss Food & Water Watch’s case. The case alleges that Smithfield Foods has repeatedly lied to consumers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to protect its bottom line at the expense of its workers’ health and safety.

Smithfield’s attempt to dismiss the lawsuit comes in the wake of a damning congressional report released last month, exposing the role that Smithfield and other meatpacking giants played in inciting panic about the national meat supply and endangering workers in the process. After conducting an extensive investigation, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis concluded that the country’s largest meatpackers—including Smithfield— not only lied to the public about meat shortages, but also aggressively lobbied the federal government to keep plants running with “glaringly deficient” safety protocols, despite the terrible risk to workers’ lives.

Congress’ findings validate the advocacy groups’ claims against the pork giant. Throughout the pandemic, Smithfield has mounted an aggressive public relations campaign based on two claims: that the company was adequately protecting workers at its facilities from COVID-19, and that meat shortages were imminent if processing plants were forced to close. The lawsuit alleges both claims are false. Nonetheless, Smithfield continues to promote misleading information about how it protected its workers earlier in the pandemic.

In moving to dismiss this case, Smithfield excused its baseless claims about impending meat shortages, arguing that government agencies and the Trump administration made similar statements. However, the congressional report traces those same government statements directly back to meat industry lobbyists, including Smithfield CEO Ken Sullivan.

“Smithfield has a lot of nerve attempting to dismiss our case just two days after Congress published its truly disturbing findings about the company’s pandemic response,” says Emily Miller, Staff Attorney at Food & Water Watch. “As confirmed by Congress, while Smithfield was telling the public it was doing ‘everything in its power’ to protect its workers, the company was actually cutting backroom deals with federal regulators so that it did not have to implement life-saving safety precautions at its plants. Smithfield put its workers in grave danger then, and if not stopped now, will keep putting workers at risk as new COVID variants surge throughout the country.”

The meatpacking giant also claimed that it had addressed worker safety concerns. However, the COVID pandemic is still having a serious impact, from the emergence of new variants to ongoing outbreaks that continue to put workers in danger.

Public Justice Budd Attorney Ellen Noble has this to say on today’s brief: “Smithfield Foods fabricated a controversy and panic. The company intentionally promoted the myth that meat shortages were imminent if the company scaled down production to protect workers. This myth impacted consumers’ purchasing decisions and stirred up a national debate about the need to keep meatpacking plants running at full capacity. Smithfield’s tactic of ginning up a public controversy to promote production is not unlike Big Tobacco’s strategy of turning the health risks of smoking into a public argument, instead of a well-documented and widely accepted fact.”

World’s Largest Ethanol Producer Joins Forces with Navigator On Controversial Carbon Pipeline Scheme

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

Yesterday, Texas-based Navigator CO2 Ventures announced a letter of intent to partner with the world’s largest ethanol producer, POET, to add 18 new facilities to the company’s controversial carbon pipeline proposed for the Midwest. The pipeline is set to cross 36 Iowa counties and stretch into Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota and South Dakota.

Navigator’s pipeline proposal is one of many controversial carbon pipelines proposed for the Midwest. Hotly contested by scores of landowners, farmers, health professionals, experts and activists, the projects have drawn widespread opposition and brought together odd bedfellows. Recent Food & Water Action polling showed that 80% of Iowa voters, across party lines, objected to the use of eminent domain for the project. 

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

“The Midwest’s carbon capture pipeline battle is pitting the biggest industry players against the very farmers who supply them. The lines are being drawn, and it’s people vs polluters. Our elected officials need to stand up for the little guy and stop these carbon pipeline scams from taking root. Carbon capture is a false solution to our climate crisis, sucking up billions in public dollars to throw at private companies, while leaving farmers, landowners and communities like mine to foot the bill when things go wrong.

“Iowa and our farmers deserve better than irreparably damaged farmland and leaky and potentially lethal pipelines running through our communities — Governor Kim Reynolds must direct her Iowa Utilities Board to stop these carbon pipelines, and the legislature must ban the use of eminent domain for their construction.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

EPA Proposes Rule to Return Key Water Protections Power to States

Categories

Clean Water

Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it would return to states the legal authority to block certain key infrastructure projects that pose a threat to clean water. 

This move will restore longstanding state power to protect waterways from infrastructure projects. States’ Clean Water Act Section 401 legal authority has been a key factor in stopping several major fossil fuel pipelines and related dirty energy infrastructure, but was severely limited by a Trump administration rollback. 

In response, Food & Water Watch Legal Director Tarah Heinzen released the following statement:

“In recent years, states have wisely used their long-standing legal authority to protect clean water in denying certification for dangerous new fossil fuel projects. The Trump administration’s reckless decision to gut state authority was nothing but a gift to oil and gas polluters at a time when we must leverage every tool available to combat the worsening effects of the climate crisis. It is welcome news that the White House is restoring this common-sense authority to protect our water and our climate.”

Fracking Exporters Post Huge First Quarter Profits

Categories

Climate and Energy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

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

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

Other key statistics highlighted by the report:

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

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

READ THE FULL REPORT HERE.

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

Perth Amboy Votes to Oppose New Fracked Gas Plant in Woodbridge

Categories

Climate and Energy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Research Shows More Than Half a Million South Floridians At Risk from Liquefied Gas Transit

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

New research from Food & Water Watch released today, South Florida’s Bomb Trains, unveils the first-ever map of truck and train routes available to liquefied fracked gas transport vehicles through Miami-Dade and Broward counties. The report finds that 575,000 South Floridians, including 228 schools and 13 hospitals are located within the one-mile evacuation radius of a potentially catastrophic accident or rupture during transit.

The transport of fracked gas in its volatile liquid state (termed LNG or liquefied natural gas by the fossil fuel industry) from a Hialeah liquefaction facility owned by New Fortress Energy to Port Everglades for export is one of only three places where liquefied gas transit by rail has been permitted. The other locations are Alaska and New Jersey (where the special permit expired in November 2021 and is pending reapproval). Meanwhile in South Florida, exports are ramping up. New Fortress Energy exported triple the amount of liquefied gas from Port Everglades in the first quarter of 2022, compared to Q1 2021.

Liquefied fracked gas and its transit pose numerous serious risks to the climate and peoples’ health and safety. New research findings include:

  • Liquefied gas-toting railcars share tracks with Brightline, the deadliest train route in America. Trucks, meanwhile, travel alongside passenger vehicles on county roads and highways.
  • A container rupture, truck crash or train derailment could result in fireballs, flammable vapors, toxic fumes and devastating fires that burn so hot that they are exceedingly difficult to extinguish and nearly impossible to contain. First responders often lack training in responding to LNG releases.
  • An estimated 575,000 people live within the evacuation zone surrounding the gas transport routes. An additional 228 K-12 schools fall within the evacuation zone, as do 13 hospitals.
  • People of color are 1.5 times more likely to live within the evacuation zone compared to white residents, and Black residents are nearly twice as likely. People in poverty are 1.3 times more likely to live within the evacuation zone, compared to residents living above the poverty line. 
    • These disparities are even greater within the 0.4 mile “lethal zone” — the distance to which residents could receive second degree burns following a worst-case disaster.

Food & Water Watch is calling for action by the Broward County Commissioners to halt the transportation of LNG at Port Everglades. Michelle Allen, Food & Water Watch Southern Region Deputy Director said:

“South Floridians are unwilling volunteers in a dangerous bomb train experiment. We are in the midst of a mounting climate crisis; we cannot be piloting new ways to frack ourselves past a tipping point while putting people at daily risk. The Broward County Commission has the power to stop this risky business. We urge local leadership to stop the transport of LNG at Port Everglades before it’s too late.”

“Transporting liquefied methane (LNG) by train or by truck carries the risk of catastrophic accidents into the heart of Florida communities,” said Barbara Gottlieb, Program Director for Environment & Health at Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR). “A truck or a train accident could result in a huge explosion and fireball, causing death and widespread destruction. And as we know, accidents do happen.”

A recording of the press conference where the research was announced is available here.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

NY Community Members, Climate Activists Demand Assemblyman Benedetto Support All-Electric Building Act

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Bronx, NY — This afternoon, community members and climate activists rallied outside Assemblyman Michael Benedetto’s office in the Bronx, demanding passage of the All-Electric Building Act. The Act would ban the use of fossil fuels in all new construction, beginning with buildings under seven stories in 2024; larger buildings in 2027. The Act mirrors the near-identical law passed in New York City in December 2021, and brings the job-creating, health-protecting benefits to New Yorkers statewide. The Act has no effect on existing buildings.

Despite outreach from constituents and tremendous momentum around the legislation, including staunch support from the Hochul administration both during budget negotiations and at a recent Assembly hearing on the issue, Assemblyman Benedetto has failed to co-sponsor the bill. Activists demanded he champion the issue in advance of session’s close on June 2 and the midterm elections. Food & Water Watch Senior NY Organizer Eric Weltman said:

“With barely a week left in session, the New York state legislature is perilously close to concluding another year in Albany without any action on climate change. Assembly Member Benedetto knows this, and he is hearing from his constituents on this issue — his silence is deafening. It’s a no-brainer to keep fossil fuels out of new buildings, and it’s already a requirement in Benedetto’s home district. Assemblyman Benedetto must co-sponsor the All-Electric Buildings Act and fight for its immediate passage.”

“We desperately need our representatives to recognize the urgency of climate change and pass this imperative legislation. Time is running out and the All-Electric Building Act is a large step in ensuring a sustainable and livable future for all New Yorkers,“ said Atqiya Khan, Climate and Inequality Campaigns Associate at New York Communities for Change.

“Assembly Member Benedetto’s climate voting record tells us that his heart is in the right place. But his good intentions won’t help if vital climate legislation never even reaches a vote,” said Dorian Fulvo, 350NYC member and Benedetto constituent. “That’s why we need him to lend his voice now to demand immediate climate action by the Assembly leadership. We ask that he join us in supporting the All Electric Building Act and push to bring it to a vote in the Assembly.”

A recording of the rally is available here.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

West Ventura Community Rallies for Yes On Measures A And B

Categories

Climate and EnergyClean Water

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bill to Close Aliso Canyon Gutted in Senate Appropriations Committee

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

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

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

LA City Council Passes Hydrogen Hub Motion Amid Environmental Concerns

Categories

Climate and EnergyClean Water

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

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

Newsom’s Budget Champions Climate Scams

Categories

Climate and EnergyClean Water

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories

Clean Water

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

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

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

New Investigation Documents Meatpackers’ Pandemic Deceptions

Categories

Food System

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories

Clean Water

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

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

‘Lab Meat’ Industry is Big Ag in Disguise

Categories

Food System

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories

Food System

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

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

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories

Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Report Outlines Deepening Crisis in Iowa Hog Industry

Categories

Food System

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact: Seth Gladstone – [email protected]

Booming Oil Earnings Demand Windfall Profits Action

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Climate and Energy

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

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

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


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


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

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Climate and Energy

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

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

Food & Water Watch Senior Florida Organizer Brooke Errett said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

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

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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 Safet