Despite the contentious political climate, 2016 wasn’t all bad. Thanks to the dedication and passion of people like you, we scored some major victories in our fight for safe food, clean water and a just transition away from fossil fuels to a clean energy future.
Before we start the New Year, let’s celebrate some of the top victories we were able to achieve with our allies and supporters across the country from 2016:
1. Introducing the WATER Act to Protect our Drinking Water
Food & Water Watch worked with Representative John Conyers’s office and allies to introduce the WATER Act, a bill that would provide billions of dollars in dedicated funding to update the country’s aging water infrastructure. By closing corporate tax loopholes, the country would be able to reinvest in water systems in dire need of updates—most built over 50 years ago and reaching the end of their lifespans. With the crisis in Flint, Michigan still ongoing, the need for investing in our water service is more essential than ever—and the WATER Act, if passed, could play a huge role in ensuring safe, affordable, public water for everyone.
2. Stopping the Constitution Pipeline and More Progress Against Fracking Infrastructure
Despite New York's fracking ban approved in 2014, the oil and gas industry still poses a significant threat to the state: pipelines and other infrastructure projects present public safety hazards because of the explosions, leaks and the other potential disasters we've come to expect from our reliance on fossil fuels. So, when the Constitution Pipeline threatened the Catskills and Central New York, Food & Water Watch joined with dozens of grassroots and regional organizations to make sure Governor Cuomo kept the state safe from all aspects of fracking. Thanks to a strong campaign and the efforts of passionate community members, we were able to move Governor Cuomo to stand up as a climate leader and reject the Constitution Pipeline. And with big wins stopping liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports in Oregon and the Northeast Energy Direct (NED) natural gas pipeline project, the movement to keep fracking infrastructure out of communities is clearly gaining momentum!
3. Beating Nestlé with the Hood River Water Protection Measure
A coalition, which Food & Water Watch helped lead along with the Local Water Alliance, scored a major win against Nestlé by passing the Hood River Water Protection Measure in a landslide vote: 69 percent of the county voted in favor of banning commercial water bottling countywide. By passing this measure, Hood River County voters took a major step towards ensuring Nestlé will not be able to exploit the community’s water for profit. This victory—eight years in the making—set an important precedent for other communities determined to protect their water.
4. Shutting Down the Gas Leak at Aliso Canyon
On October 23, 2015, a massive natural gas leak was detected at the underground storage facility at Aliso Canyon, spewing 110,000 pounds of methane every day. Over 20,000 residents of Porter Ranch in Southern California were forced out of their homes after experiencing nausea, headaches, nosebleeds, rashes, sick pets, and other symptoms because of the leak. Food & Water Watch worked with residents to stage protests demanding an investigation into the gas leak, uncovered critical information about the deteriorating wells, and collected health surveys of community members. After the facility was finally shut down, 112 days into the largest gas leak in California history, SoCal Gas filed against all common sense to reopen it. Food & Water Watch organizers and local community members fought relentlessly to send a message to their politicians: people, not profits, come first--and thanks to their efforts, the facility has remained closed. In the coming year, we'll be working to keep it that way.
5. Monterey County
Thanks to years of organizing in California, we helped beat Chevron and ban fracking in Monterey County—the first oil-producing county in the US to ban new drilling. Even though the oil and gas industry outspent anti-fracking efforts 30-to-1, this victory won on Election Night was a powerful reminder that when we fight together and work to build our movement, we can win—even with the system, and money, stacked against us.
Next year promises to be filled with tough fights, from stopping the dangerous appointments of people like Rex Tillerson and Scott Pruitt to Trump's cabinet, to more work in states like Florida and Maryland to ban fracking for good. But we know we can build on the victories of 2016 to make sure we're protecting everyone's right to clean food and water, and under the Trump Administration, our work in communities toward local victories is more important than ever. With your support, we'll keep fighting even harder as we face bigger challenges in 2017. And if you donate today, thanks to a generous donor, your gift will be matched—meaning you'll make an even bigger impact!