#UnfrackTheWhiteHouse: We Need To Know Where The 2020 Candidates Stand

September 17, 2019
 Climate Democracy

Climate change and the insidious influence of the industries that contribute to it are one of the most pressing issues of this presidential election. We developed a survey for the candidates that asks about the top environmental issues our organization and members fight to solve.

So far we’ve received answers from only TWO candidates (thank you Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris)! We’re following up with folks including Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, and Pete Buttigieg to see why they haven’t responded yet. We need to get answers on the issues that keep a large percentage of voters awake at night.

Check out our survey below (or download it if you’re a candidate who lost your copy), and click on the tweets below to ask the candidates who haven’t weighed in yet to answer these important questions. Climate change won’t wait for politicians to be ready to address it!

UPDATE: We’ve also challenged all Democratic Presidential candidates to take our Fossil-Fuel Free Cabinet Pledge. So far the only candidate to step to the plate is Bernie Sanders. We are looking forward to seeing where the rest of the candidates stand. 

2020 Candidate Survey

The people want to know where you stand on @fwaction 's climate change survey, Joe! Will you answer the Q's here today? #UnfrackTheWhiteHouse fwwat.ch/UNFRACK Click To Tweet The people want to know where you stand on @fwaction 's climate change survey, Senator! Will you answer the Q's here today? #UnfrackTheWhiteHouse fwwat.ch/UNFRACK Click To Tweet The people want to know where you stand on @fwaction 's climate change survey, Beto! Will you answer the Q's here today? #UnfrackTheWhiteHouse fwwat.ch/UNFRACK Click To Tweet The people want to know where you stand on @fwaction 's climate change survey, Pete! Will you answer the Q's here today? #UnfrackTheWhiteHouse fwwat.ch/UNFRACK Click To Tweet

The Time Is Here To Fight A Fracking Invasion

July 10, 2019

As people everywhere are waking up to the truth about fossil fuels, the fracking, petrochemical/plastics, electric power and gas exporting industries have teamed up to take the country by storm. A fracking invasion looms and your help is needed.

Just like the moment when a summer action-suspense blockbuster gets really good, the fight between the frackers and everyone working for a livable future has a new twist. But this time, the urgency is real and we have to win. It’s not a movie — it’s real life. 

Exposing Their Plans

Our sister organization, Food & Water Watch, just released a new report, The Fracking Endgame, exposing the plans the fracking, plastics, and liquid natural gas industries are cooking up. 

It details how the fracking industry is in a gas glut and is now banking on polluting partnerships with three industrial players: 

  • The petrochemical and plastics industries that use fracking byproducts as feedstock for manufacturing; 
  • gas exporters building liquefied natural gas terminals to ship gas overseas; 
  • and the electric power industry, which is using fracked gas for unnecessary gas-fired power plants. 

Just as climate scientists, activists, and other leaders are making it known that a rapid shift to renewable energy is crucial, the frackers are doubling down to create new demand for what has been a sinking investment. 

Their plan will massively increase their investments and footprint — locking us in to a dismal future and keeping us from making the changes we need to thrive (and potentially even survive) as a species. 

The Fracking Invasion, By The Numbers

Over 700 new facilities have been built, proposed, or are under development to capitalize off of an oversupply of cheap fracked gas.

2030: The deadline by which the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates we need to pivot to 100% renewable energy in order to avoid the worst effects of climate catastrophe. 

28 million tons: The amount of plastic production that industry experts are projecting will be produced between 2011 and 2020. More than $202 billion is slated to be invested in 333 new chemical facilities and expansions related to fracked gas (including 20 ethylene crackers that will turn shale gas into feedstock for plastic manufacturing.) 

40 percent: the increase in global plastic production over the next decade from investments in Appalachian and Gulf Coast petrochemical facilities. 

That is just the beginning. The Fracking Endgame report goes into more detail about these plans to engineer a fracking-to-plastics pipeline in the industrial landscape and the disastrous effect that will have on our attempts to stabilize our climate. 

They Want To Lock Us Into Plastics, Pollution, and Climate Chaos

Globally, estimates suggest that people are already eating about a credit card’s worth of plastic each week because of the microplastics leaching into our water and food supplies. Questions are arising about the relationship between fracking and rare childhood cancers. And new information has become available in the last year from Duke University showing that fracking depletes water at an alarming rate and returns very little treatable water back after the process. 

We don’t need more of the health risks and climate instability that fracking brings. We can’t stand by and allow this to happen. Say no to fracking and plastics pollution. Say no to running out of drinkable water. Say no to mysterious illnesses that crop up in areas where fracking is prevalent. 

People are ingesting more plastic from food and water than they realize.

You Can Be A Part Of Helping To Stop The Fracking Invasion

The time has come to fight like we live here. Our way of life is in jeopardy. Our teams are fighting fracking in states across the country and overseas. Fracking has been banned in states like New York, Maryland, and Washington because of the work of fighters like you. The next step is to fight for a Green New Deal that explicitly bans fracking nationwide. 

Will you help us work to achieve this goal by becoming a monthly donor today?

We’re Literally Eating and Drinking Plastic. Fossil Fuels Are To Blame.

July 10, 2019
 Climate Water

The plastics industry sees fracking as a huge opportunity for their profit margins. But plastic has already entered our food and water supply and our bodies—one more reason we need to move off fossil fuels before the problem gets even worse.

By Darcey Rakestraw

Care about plastic pollution? Then it’s time to work to start moving away from fossil fuels.

Plastic is a serious problem, and it’s time we addressed it at its source: fossil fuel production. Plastics are increasingly fueled by fracking in the U.S.—the extreme method of extracting fossil fuels that is polluting our air and our water, and exacerbating climate change. Fracking provides the cheap raw materials for plastics production, which has lead industry publication Plastics News to say fracking “represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity.” More fracking equals more profit in plastics (which equals, you guessed it…more plastics.)

It is so pervasive in our environment that it’s become commonplace to digest it through the microplastics present in our food and water.

Plastic in Water, Salt…Even Beer?

Everyone drinks water, and whether you drink tap water or bottled water, you are very likely ingesting some level of plastic pollution. A recent study by Orb Media tested 159 drinking water samples from cities and towns around the world, and 83 percent of those samples contained microplastic fibers. That means food prepared with plastic-contaminated water becomes contaminated as well.

Bottled water samples fared even worse than tap water—unsurprising because it is manufactured with plastic. Another recent study by the same organization found 90 percent of bottled water analyzed from around the world contained plastic microfibers. A single bottle of Nestlé Pure Life had concentrations of microfiber plastics up to 10,000 pieces per liter. The type of plastic used to make bottle caps was the most common type of microplastic fiber found in bottled water.

In response to the mounting evidence showing plastic is present in our drinking water, the World Health Organization is now looking into the problem.

Plastic has also been found in sea salt, and researchers attribute that to the ubiquitous nature of single-use plastics such as water bottles, which comprise the majority of plastic waste. In 2015 about 70 percent of plastic water bottles went unrecycled, and much of this plastic waste ends up in landfills, incinerators or in—you guessed it—our oceans and seas. Plastic has also been found in seafood, beer, honey and sugar.

We need more research on the extent of microplastic pollution and the best ways to treat water to remove it. It’s also clear that we need to upgrade water treatment plant infrastructure so it can handle this new pollutant. But the best way to address this pollution is at the source by reducing plastic waste in the environment.

Fracking in the U.S. Promotes a Global Plastics Bonanza

Fracking, which causes many negative public health problems and harms our air, water, and climate, is now powering a dangerous plastics bonanza. It was the rapid expansion of fracking in the United States that led to a gas glut, which drove real natural gas prices to the lowest level in decades. This is where the plastic industry came to the rescue of the oil and gas industry: low-cost ethane, a byproduct of fracking, is used to manufacture plastics.

Both plastic and ethane are being exported across the globe. More than half of the raw plastic produced in the U.S. is headed to distant shores. Whereas the chemical giant Ineos, based in the United Kingdom, is receiving ethane to help fuel European plastic factories. The controversial Mariner East pipeline system delivers this gas byproduct to the Marcus Hook export terminal in Pennsylvania—where it is then carried via massive “dragon ships” across the Atlantic to Ineos’ facilities in Grangemouth, Scotland and Rafnes, Norway.

What represents an “opportunity” for the plastics, oil, and gas industries means adverse health effects and climate catastrophe for all of us. To learn more about the toxic relationship between the plastics and fracking industry read our recent report, and spread the word: we can’t tackle plastic pollution without moving off fossil fuels. Will you help us put a stop to the fracking-to-plastics pipeline by chipping in once a month?

It Turns Out Fracking Is A Water Hog That’s Stealing Our Futures

July 10, 2019
 Climate Water
A team of Duke University researchers are delivering a truth that’s hard to swallow and that some of us predicted — fracking is resulting in the disappearance of usable water. Will the people listen and do something in time?

For years, the American people have been assured by energy companies that fracking is harmless and doesn’t use more water than other energy sources. The Duke research team that recently put out a new report begs to differ. They examined data across 12,000 wells and five years of operation. Here are key findings from the report and what they mean for our survival.

The Findings

Water is staying trapped in the shale, or if it does re-emerge, isn’t treated: 

Only a small fraction of the fresh water injected into the ground returns as flowback water, while the greater volume of FP (flowback and produced) water returning to the surface is highly saline, is difficult to treat, and is often disposed through deep-injection wells.

Right: Charts showing the increase in water use intensity over time. Left: Charts showing the decrease in usable Flowback & Produced waters over time. Courtesy of Duke University via Creative Commons.

The amount of water used by fracking has been critically underestimated.

The study finds that from 2011 to 2016, the water use per well increased by as much as 770 percent. In an interview for ThinkProgress, one of the authors of the study explained how early estimates of fracking’s irresponsible use of water had been so skewed:

“Previous studies suggested hydraulic fracturing does not use significantly more water than other energy sources, but those findings were based only on aggregated data from the early years of fracking… After more than a decade of fracking operation, we now have more years of data to draw upon from multiple verifiable sources.”— Avner Vengosh, Duke professor of geochemistry and water quality

The toxic wastewater produced is a much bigger problem than previously understood.

The study found that toxic wastewater produced from fracking had increased up to 1440 percent between 2011 and 2016. There has been no satisfactory practice of water treatment that returns this water to usable condition for humanity — and at this scale, one can reason that fracking is on pace to destroy U.S. water sources and leave us without water for our population’s consumption: 

The total water impact of hydraulic fracturing is poised to increase markedly in both shale gas– and oil-producing regions. On the basis of modeling future hydraulic fracturing operations in the United States in two scenarios of drilling rates, we project cumulative water use and FP water volumes to increase by up to 50-fold in unconventional gas-producing regions and up to 20-fold in unconventional oil-producing regions from 2018 to 2030, assuming that the growth of water use matches current growth rates and the drilling of new wells again matches peak production.

What We Do Next Is Critical

Waiting another five years for a new report to bolster this or to show an even bigger spike in fracking’s greedy water consumption is not an option.

“At a time when large parts of our county are suffering through persistent droughts and year-round fire seasons, it’s truly unconscionable that the fossil fuel industry would be allowed to divert vast volumes of water to fracking for oil and gas. The fact that the burning of this oil and gas is driving our climate chaos and intensifying the droughts and fires makes this reality all the more shameful and absurd.” – Seth Gladstone, Food & Water Watch

Organizations like Food & Water Watch and people like you need to double down on our efforts to ban fracking now and to move to 100% renewable energy ASAP. Humanity doesn’t get a do-over on saving our water supply. Help us do this work by chipping in as a monthly donor! 

Duke’s full report is available here:

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren Target Big Ag in Iowa

May 21, 2019
 Democracy Food

Presidential candidates have long visited Iowa to pay lip service to rural communities, donning cowboy boots on farm visits and eating deep-fried butter at the state fair. However, a true commitment to American farmers must include breaking up the food monopolies that lower the prices farmers get for their crops while raising the cost of the seeds and other inputs they buy. And at the other end of the food chain, these food monopolies reduce choices for consumers and make food more expensive. So it’s a hopeful sign that several of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have made tackling corporate control of agriculture central to their campaign platforms.

Two candidates stand out as having the strongest policies addressing these issues so far. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) commits to breaking apart recent mega-mergers between seed and agri-chemical companies, such as last year’s acquisition of Monsanto by the German chemical company, Bayer.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has pledged to tackle consolidation in the meat packing industry, which has shuttered medium-sized plants serving regional markets and reduced livestock prices for farmers. Iowa is ground-zero for extreme consolidation in the hog industry, which led to the state shedding 82 percent of its hog farms between 1982 and 2007, even as hog production ramped up due to factory farms that popped up across the state.

Sanders is going even further by seeking to reinstate our country’s grain reserve, which would buffer our food system against the growing threat of extreme weather due to climate change. A grain reserve would allow the government to buy crops during surplus years and sell them during times of drought, disaster or other conditions that drive prices up. Current farm policies encourage nonstop overproduction, leading to a steep decline in prices of crops like corn and soy that only benefit corporate buyers and the meat industry, which feeds cheap corn and soy to its factory farmed animals.

Presidential candidates have no business visiting Iowa if they are not committed to addressing the root economic and policy causes behind the loss of family farms. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have set the benchmark this election cycle on the issue, and other candidates should come out strong, too. They must make restoring a fair playing field for farmers and consumers central to their campaigns – and we must hold whomever is elected accountable for following through on his or her promises.

A Ban on Fracking Is Missing From The Green New Deal. Help Fix That.

May 1, 2019

A Green New Deal has been on the lips and agenda of anybody with credibility on climate change these days. There’s one crucial piece of the plan we need your help to put in place: an explicit halt to new fossil fuel infrastructure, including fracking.

At Food & Water Watch and Food & Water Action, the joy was palpable when we learned that a Green New Deal was about to become a household term all over the nation. We and our members were steeped in gratitude toward Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey. But we were troubled by one major step we knew that the plan (so far) lacked. We’ve been working even harder than ever to make sure people understand how important a ban on fracking and new fossil fuel infrastructure is if we are to thwart a lingering dependence on oil.

The Proven Perils of Fracking

Fracking has been ravaging our planet and our resources for decades now, under the pretense that Big Oil cooked up. They said it was safe, new technology. They said it was necessary. They said it wouldn’t hurt us.

Nothing could be further from the truth, now that the long term data is in. We have, as they say, receipts.

It turns out, as so many of us knew, fracking is a water hog. It siphons up gallon after gallon of clean water that belonged to the people, and returns very little (if any) that is still usable.

Fracking is causing earthquakes.

Fracking is playing a role in climate change.

And fracking has shown decreasing profits over time. Now the titans of industry have colluded to make up a supposed demand for plastics to export overseas, in order to prop up their failing investment and squeeze some return from it. Their new plan only endangers nearby families and the world at large even further, whether it’s from the risk of explosions or the long term effects plastics are having on the health of people and our planet.

The Good Sense of Renewables

The truth is that the fair and just transition to 100% renewables is more feasible than many thought possible, and less costly than remaining stuck on fossil fuels. Not only is it doable (and will result in great jobs), it’s necessary. Full stop.

The United Nations’ special panel on climate change released a report in October 2018 showing strong evidence that if society does not greatly reduce the major contributors to climate change by 2030, the hope of staving off the worst effects of climate change is all but lost. Moving to 100% renewable energy is one of the most impactful ways to reduce the CO2 emissions that endanger us.

There has been no time to feel helpless or to delay. We’ve been working for years to move the United States off of fossil fuels and we knew that everything we’d worked for led to this moment. Soon after, our role became clear as talk of a Green New Deal emerged — Food & Water Action and its members will be pivotal in shaping a real Green New Deal that not only invests in our future, but puts its foot down against the dirty energy swindlers that have stolen too much from society already.

We Need Your Help To Do This

It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to require research, organizing, legal work, media outreach, and endless hours of strategizing. And the opposition has a lot more cash to try to beat us with. But we’re all going to fight like we live here, because we do! That’s where you can help. By chipping in each month as a sustainer, in any amount that works for you, you help provide a base of support that we can plan on. That’s what is going to make ending fossil fuels possible.

This is a fight we must win, because this planet is the only one we get. Become a monthly member today!

Fight like you live here.