A little over seven years ago, I started working for Food & Water Watch as the New Jersey Campaign Manager. Now, I'm excited to work on a new project organizing to help bring about a clean energy future, one community at a time, building on our successful model of working with communities to secure our access to safe food and clean water.
Before applying for a job at Food & Water Watch, I had never heard of the organization, but was excited to see it was taking on issues of water privatization, something that nobody in New Jersey seemed to be interested in addressing.
Jim Walsh, Renewable Energy Policy Analyst
A few months after joining Food & Water Watch, I was knee deep in a fight to stop a plan to sell Trenton's water system to American Water. With a little over $30,000 in donations raised through yard sales and in-kind contributions of computer equipment, we defeated American Water's $1,000,000 campaign and kept Trenton's water in public hands.
Following this fight, I went on to become a regional director, overseeing campaigns from Maryland to Maine, and even worked on a campaign in Hawaii to stop factory fish farming. In this capacity, I worked with organizers and volunteers to fight against Nestlé water bottling operations in Maine, ban the use of triclosan in soaps nationally, fight factory farms in Pennsylvania and Maryland, label GMOs in New Jersey, stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), oppose numerous pipelines and LNG facilities, and ban fracking and fracking waste dumping everywhere.
Like the fight to keep Trenton's water public, many of these fights were successful and against tremendous odds. Of all of these ongoing fights, the fight to end our use of fossil fuels is more important than ever.
Working as a movement, I believe we will ban fracking everywhere like we did in New York, and in hundreds of communities across the country. I believe this because the alternative is death: Death for those living on the front lines who have poisoned air and water, death for those who live next to refineries and breathe toxic air, and death to those who are having their lives destroyed by climate change induced drought, sea level rise, and starvation. But banning fracking is not enough; we need to build a political system and energy system that puts human rights and environmental protection above the interests of corporate greed.
That is why I am excited to take on a new position at Food & Water Watch to build out a renewable energy program that will aggressively push for 100% renewable energy, and put our energy future in the hands of a people powered movement that values human rights and environmental protection above profits.
Using Our Successful Model to Demand Clean Energy
We will be pushing for stronger net metering policies, which will ensure that people who put solar power on their homes will be able to sell that energy to utilities at the same rate the utility charges them. We will work to establish and strengthen community solar programs that will allow local organizations, businesses and neighbors to establish solar farms to power their community. We will work to increase public financing of renewable energy to make it more affordable. Finally, we will work to establish strong benchmarks for renewable energy development to ensure utilities have a clear and accountable plan to end their use of fossil fuels and ensure a rapid transition to a clean energy future.
The odds in this fight look like they are stacked against us when you consider that a Trump cabinet is poised to be filled with climate deniers, former oil executives, and people who have trampled on civil rights. We must continue to resist what will certainly be significant attacks on the gains we have made, but in addition to resisting the Trump administration, we can win real victories for clean energy at the state and local level. These victories will help us chart a path for new administration to follow for a sustainable future.
These victories will come from our ability to continue building on the campaigns we have mobilized in the past. This means building broad-based coalitions for renewable energy, calling our neighbors to action, holding elected officials accountable, and creating a strong uncompromising vision for the world we want to live in.
A real clean energy future is something that will benefit everyone; the farmer in Michigan who has had his crops devastated by leaks from an oil pipeline has as much to gain from a real clean energy plan as the mother in Los Angeles who has children growing up with respiratory problems due to fracking rigs, refineries and power plants in her community. The family in the New Jersey suburbs who has a risky and unnecessary gas pipeline proposed to run through their neighborhood needs a real clean energy plan as much as the families in New Orleans who had their neighborhood destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The unemployed worker can gain as much from a real clean energy future as the homeowner who is seeing their energy bills increase.
We can mobilize in our communities by volunteering to set up tables at farmers markets or showing a documentary film in a local library. Social media can also be a powerful platform for reaching our friends and neighbors with important actions they can take to help create a real clean energy future. You can contact a local Food & Water Watch office and ask one of our community organizers how you can help build the movement.
Most importantly, we can continue to create a vision for the world we want to live in. When Food & Water Watch became the first national organization to call for a ban on fracking, we were criticized by people who were our allies on many issues, who told us we were being unrealistic and unstrategic. But since we launched that effort, we have banned fracking in New York, had a leading presidential candidate make a ban on fracking central to his energy vision, and built a movement with over 900 organizations in all 50 states. We can do that for renewable energy and we can start today.
I am looking forward to leading the Clean Energy Revolution forward with all of you. Onward!