Alison's Toxic Tour of Houston and its horrifying array of polluting facilities near homes and schools. Here's what that means for you.
The link between fracking and the bottled water industry is one more reason to take back the tap.
The fracking health compendium is the most comprehensive look at the many ways fracking harms public health and destabilizes the climate.
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Five Reasons to Take Back the Tap
➊ A Colossal Environmental Footprint
The public relations push touting the purity and health benefits of bottled water hides a colossal environmental footprint. It took upwards of 82 million barrels of oil to manufacture the 4 billion pounds of plastic used to make the plastic water bottles sold in the United States in 2016. Most of these bottles ended up in landfills, as litter or incinerated. And bottled water companies profit by pumping out our groundwater, depleting local water supplies and ecosystems.
➋ Cost: Bottled Water Costs More Than Gasoline
Bottled water was once marketed as natural spring water, but today it is mostly filtered municipal tap water. The bottled water industry has promoted the purity of its products under vague labels that sidestep questions about the origin of the water.
In just five years, the share of bottled water from municipal tap water rose from just over half (51.8 percent) in 2009 to nearly two-thirds (nearly 64 percent) in 2014.
➌ Safety: Bottled Water Is Not Better Water
The federal government requires more rigorous safety monitoring of municipal tap water than it does of bottled water. Bottled water can, in many cases, be less safe than tap water.
Between 2002 and 2017, the Food and Drug Administration issued 35 bottled water recalls -- averaging more than 2 annually -- due to contamination from dangerous substances, such as bromate and arsenic (which may increase cancer risks), as well as the presence of E. coli, mold, pieces of plastic and milk allergens.
➍ Predatory Marketing: Targets Women, People of Color and Immigrants
Bottled water companies have honed their marketing to target lower-income groups, people of color and immigrant communities in the United States -- especially Latinx mothers, children and women generally.
Latinx and African-American parents were more likely to buy bottled water than white parents, and they are dishing out more money on bottled water primarily because of perceived health benefits. The industry also specifically targets Latinx immigrants - despite admitting that tap water is much cheaper and usually safer -- in part by exploiting bottled water as part of the immigrant "heritage" of coming from places with less access to clean drinking water. Nestlé aggressively promotes its Pure Life brand to its target audience of recent Latin-American immigrants, particularly mothers.
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➎ Dirty Energy: Plastics, Energy and Fracking
It takes a lot of energy and fossil fuels -- mostly from fracked gas -- to make billions of pounds of plastic water bottles annually. Bottled water is 1,100 to 2,000 times as energy intensive as the treatment and distribution of tap water. The 2016 U.S. bottled water consumption used the energy input equivalent of about 64 million barrels of oil. That's equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from nearly 2.5 million passenger cars -- nearly 11.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
What Do We Do Next?
Federal, state and local governments need to protect the quality and integrity of our water sources so that everyone has access to safe, affordable tap water that they trust. Our public drinking water systems desperately need federal investment, but federal funding for water and sewer systems is decreasing. Reliance on bottled water may make people less inclined to support public investment in municipal water systems.
While there has been growing recognition of the need for investment in the United State' aging water infrastructure, how we will finance it is less clear. Plans that rely on privatization including public-private partnerships, such as those advanced by the Trump administration, are not acceptable.
Private control of our water systems will lead to rate hikes, job loss, lack of accountability and poor service. Congress must dedicate long-term public funding for fixing our drinking water and wastewater infrastructure so that communities across the United States can keep or make their tap water clean, safe and affordable.
"America’s premier oil and gas booster should have no role in U.S. diplomacy at a time when we urgently need to transition off of fossil fuels. Likewise, Mike Pompeo is a climate denier and should not be leading the State Department."
Determined activism is stopping a push by petrochemical giant Ineos to frack the UK
We deserve knowledge and truth from this corrupt administration to protect democracy and human rights. And that’s why we’re suing the Trump administration.
In 2004, Maryland lawmakers created a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) with the goal of incentivizing new clean energy development. But a recent analysis of the program by Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility and Food & Water Watch shows that instead of incentivizing new renewable energy development in the state, Maryland ratepayers sent over $254 million to energy sources in other states between 2008 and 2016 -- and most of that money actually went to dirty, combustion-based energy sources.
Under the current Maryland Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), utilities must derive 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020, but the system only requires the utilities to purchase renewable energy credits to meet that goal. A renewable energy credit (REC) is a document that certifies one megawatt-hour of electricity was generated by a renewable energy resource as defined by Maryland law.
RECs were intended to incentivize new production of renewable energy in a way that benefits Maryland. However, apart from solar RECs, two serious flaws in the current system severely undermine that goal and cost Maryland ratepayers dearly.
Maryland Ratepayer Dollars Are Going Out of State
The analysis shows that Maryland ratepayers paid $254 million in non-solar RECs to out of state energy sources between 2008 and 2016, while only $42 million stayed in Maryland. The REC system is resulting in Maryland ratepayer dollars leaving the state to benefit the economies of other states as far away as North Dakota and Tennessee. The chart below includes a listing of the total dollars sent to others states.
Unbundled RECs Fail to Achieve Policy Goals
A second major flaw is the current RPS system allows the use of unbundled RECs. If the energy and RECs are “unbundled,” the developer can sell the electricity to one utility and the REC certificate to another. For example, a North Dakota wind developer would sell its electricity to a local utility in North Dakota, but sell the REC certificate to a utility in Maryland. The Maryland utility can then use the REC to count toward meeting Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard requirements, even though the REC purchase failed to bring new renewable energy onto the grid. Maryland ratepayers pay for the cost of the REC, even though the energy has already been sold elsewhere. The unbundled non-solar REC is not necessarily incentivizing the development of new renewable energy; rather it is subsidizing existing energy sources, making it a waste of Maryland ratepayer money. This accounting gimmick makes it appear that Maryland is using much more renewable energy than it actually is.
Maryland ratepayers pay for the cost of the REC, even though the energy has already been sold elsewhere.
The exception to this practice of purchasing unbundled renewable energy credits is the in-state solar and offshore wind in the RPS. However, by 2020, under the current RPS, such renewables will be 5 percent or less of the Renewable Portfolio Standard. Under a new bill introduced to raise the RPS to 50 percent, the use of unbundled RECs in Maryland’s RPS will continue to grow at a rapid pace; the bill caps the state’s required renewables from in-state solar and offshore wind at 25 percent by 2030.
A recent news story from Oberlin, Ohio illustrates these two flaws in the REC system. A local utility in Oberlin received RECs when purchasing energy, primarily from landfill gas-to-energy sites. The utility used the energy and then sold the RECs as profit to utilities in Maryland and other states. The Oberlin utility then refunded its ratepayers the $2.2 million profit it made from selling these RECs to Maryland and other states. In other words, Maryland ratepayers’ money ended up in the pockets of ratepayers in Oberlin, Ohio through a system that did not actually encourage the development of more renewable energy.
This analysis makes it clear that Maryland policymakers must reform the REC system before expanding the RPS in a way that would also increase the unbundled RECs and send more Maryland dollars out of state.
"While many Senators voted to support a ban this past session, leadership in the Florida legislature chose to block the fracking ban from ever becoming law."
At Offshore Drilling Event, Groups Call on Governor Cuomo to Protect New York by Stopping Planned Gas Pipeline for New York Harbor
For Cuomo's clean energy rhetoric to be truly meaningful, he must oppose Williams pipeline