Big Oil and Gas’s Dangerous Plan to Keep Us Hooked on Fossil Fuels

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by Mia DiFelice

A record-breaking summer of heat waves, wildfires, floods, and other disasters has underscored our urgent need for climate action. But rather than make the changes we need, Big Oil and Gas are pushing technology that will prolong the status quo. To add insult to injury, the industry will spend billions of our taxpayer dollars and endanger our health and safety in the process. 

Carbon capture and storage technology aims to take carbon emissions from polluting industries or out of the air itself and store them deep underground. We know this is a climate scam, yet boosters are cynically pushing it as a climate “savior.” They know it will allow them to pollute our planet for decades to come.

Big Ag is in on it, too. It’s proposed thousands of miles of pipelines carrying captured carbon. These pipelines would cut through farms and rural communities to prop up the ethanol industry.

We can’t let them get away with it. The safety of our communities and the future of our planet depends on it. So for the past year, Food & Water Action has mobilized around this issue. We’re calling on Congress to oppose carbon capture funding, and we’re urging President Biden to reverse course and stop supporting Big Oil and Gas’s carbon capture scam.

Big Oil and Gas Has Gathered Support for Carbon Capture

Many of our leaders and lawmakers are following the fossil fuel industry’s lead. In recent decades, they’ve shelled out tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to try and develop carbon capture.

But these efforts have a track record of failure. In fact, carbon capture projects in the U.S. have emitted more climate pollution than they’ve captured. Nevertheless, in the past few years, the federal government has sent billions more in federal subsidies to carbon capture. 

To make matters worse, these programs are ripe for fraud. There are few measures to ensure that companies are actually capturing the carbon they claim. And there is overwhelming evidence that they are not. In an especially egregious example, the Department of Energy wasted $300 million on four carbon capture facilities that were never built.

Corporations Are Barreling Forward Despite the Dangers

Not only is carbon capture wasting our money; companies are bowling forward with projects without the safety regulations we need. Now, carbon capture projects and their related infrastructure (including as many as 65,000 miles of new pipelines) threaten communities across the country.

Crucially, U.S. pipeline regulations aren’t strong enough to protect communities from captured carbon dioxide. Accidents, like the 2020 carbon pipeline rupture in Satartia, Mississippi, would be disastrous. 
That incident hospitalized dozens of people, many of whom are suffering lasting injuries. Moreover, it showed just how much we don’t know about carbon pipelines, how to prevent accidents, or how to respond to them. 

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is drafting regulations for carbon pipelines. However, drafts of these rules likely won’t be released until early next year, and companies are moving fast to avoid tighter regulations. 

Congress can strengthen CO2 pipeline rules through the reauthorization of PHMSA, which expired this year. But general dysfunction — including House leadership fights and right-wing extremists calling for government shutdowns — has delayed this. It now looks like PHMSA reauthorization might not happen until sometime next year. 

Tell your representative: Protect our communities and stop carbon pipelines!

Our Leaders and Lawmakers Can Help Stop the Buildouts

Big Oil and Gas and its backers are trying to cash in on carbon capture as quickly as possible. We’ve got to slow them down by strengthening the public and political opposition.

That includes engaging with lawmakers to push for stronger rules in the PHMSA reauthorization and pressuring President Biden. With an executive order, he can stop carbon pipelines and infrastructure until PHMSA finalizes its updated safety guidelines. 

We’ve joined allied organizations and allies in Congress to gather support for a carbon pipeline moratorium. This fall, we’ve endorsed a letter released by Representatives Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL), and a dozen more Congressmembers calling on President Biden to declare a moratorium.

At the same time, we need to stop the deluge of taxpayer dollars flowing to carbon capture. This issue is even more pressing in light of the current budget battles going on in Congress. 

As lawmakers negotiate spending for the coming year, some are suggesting huge cuts to social, health, and environmental programs and agencies. Yet, Congress is willing to send huge giveaways to the fossil fuel industry through carbon capture subsidies.

Our taxes shouldn’t be funding climate scams. They should be supporting the renewable energy transition we need to stave off the worst of the climate crisis. 

Join Food & Water Action in Fighting Carbon Capture

Food & Water Action has been working with members and allies to make our demands heard. So far, our volunteers have sent hundreds of calls directly to President Biden, demanding a moratorium on carbon pipelines. We’ve also delivered dozens of letters to representatives, calling on them to stop funding carbon capture and support a moratorium on carbon capture infrastructure like pipelines.

We’ll continue this work until Congress and Biden respond. The urgency of the climate crisis underscores the need for investments in real solutions. That means renewable energy, batteries, and energy efficiency — not Big Oil and Gas’s scams.

We’re gathering a new team of volunteers to build power around the biggest climate issues of our time. From calling on Biden to declare a climate emergency, to stopping carbon capture, you can help us fight for a livable future!

How State-Level Organizing Could Spark National Change in 2023

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by Mark Schlosberg

It’s easy to feel discouraged with the House of Representatives controlled by hard right-wingers. But federal legislation is only one avenue for change. 

This year, Food & Water Action is working at the state level toward big policies with national impact. Building on our years of work with communities on the ground, we’re growing grassroots power. Because of that work, 2023 could be a banner year, with or without federal legislation. 

From New York, to Iowa, to Oregon and beyond, here’s how we’re moving the needle on food, water, and climate. 

How State Wins Ripple into National Action

Though the national stage gets much attention, we’ve seen how state victories can be just as impactful. For instance, back in 2011, we called for a ban on fracking, despite its popular support and reputation as a “bridge fuel” among many environmental organizations. 

Some said fighting for a ban was politically naive, but we didn’t listen. With grassroots partners in New York, we built a powerful coalition and successfully banned fracking in the state. That helped change the conversation, and the environmental community has now reached a consensus against fracking.

Moreover, the New York ban led to bans in Maryland, Washington state, and communities across the country. It also energized a growing movement working to move off fossil fuels. 

We’ve seen this happen with other issues as well, from banning arsenic in chicken feed in Maryland, to stopping water privatization in California and Illinois. These state-level efforts laid the groundwork for nationwide change. 

Now, we’re building on this history of influential state wins in our current campaigns. 

Fighting Factory Farms With Statewide Bans

For years, we’ve worked to stop the factory farms that dominate our food system, threaten our climate, and pollute our communities. 

In Oregon, a moratorium on factory farms is now in sight. We have a new governor, more champions in the state legislature, and more organizations joining our efforts. This year, we’re doubling down on on-the-ground organizing, helping Oregonians to engage their representatives and communities in this fight. 

A statewide factory farm moratorium in Oregon — the first in the country — would advance efforts against factory farms nationwide. Moreover, it would help us fight factory farm gas, a greenwashed marketing ploy propping up both dirty energy and factory farms. That’s why we’re dedicating more research, national volunteers, and funding for key tactics. 

Protecting Our Water by Going After Its Worst Abusers

Across the U.S., millions lack access to affordable clean water at the tap — but not because there’s no water. We face a crisis of underinvestment in water infrastructure, coupled with policies that put big agriculture and fossil fuel corporations before our human right to water. 

Nowhere is this crisis more extreme than in California, where over a million people lack reliable access to clean water. In 2023, we’re ramping up our campaign for water justice in the Golden State. That includes fighting for a moratorium on fossil fuel permits, factory farms, tree nuts, and alfalfa. These industries guzzle tons of water, even when the wells of nearby residents run dry. 

With upcoming research and new volunteer efforts, we can pressure Governor Newsom to protect our communities and climate. Last year, we successfully moved Newsom to embrace protection zones between oil drilling and homes and schools. This campaign, led by environmental justice groups, shows that big changes in California are possible. 

Now, we’re growing our efforts to stop new drilling permits. A statewide moratorium on new drilling in California would be the first of its kind, setting a powerful national precedent. 

Stopping Fracked Gas in Its Tracks

The science is clear: we need to move off fossil fuels as quickly as possible. That means ending policy that benefits dirty energy companies, as well as investing big in clean energy. 

So in New York, we’re working to ban gas hookups in new construction. We already won a gas ban in New York City; now, the state ban is just within reach, with support from Governor Hochul and more than 80 state legislators. 

At the same time, we’re pushing for the Build Public Renewable Act, which would allow New York’s largest public utility to build new renewable energy projects. 

Not only are we targeting fossil fuels in buildings — we’re working against fracking operations, fossil fuel power plants, and pipelines in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and California.

Moreover, we’re fighting Big Oil’s latest schemes to protect its dying industry. High on our radar: carbon capture and storage. In Iowa, we’re fighting plans for three carbon pipelines that will threaten public health and mask more pollution and emissions.

We’ve spent years on the ground in Iowa, helping to build a powerful bipartisan movement against these pipelines. In 2023, we’re advancing efforts to pass legislation that will stop pipeline companies from wrenching land from families and farmers.

Iowans aren’t the only ones threatened with Big Oil’s climate scams — hydrogen power buildouts, factory farm gas facilities, and more loom over communities across the country. A victory in Iowa will drive efforts nationwide to stop harmful industry boondoggles.

2023 Will Be Our Year — With Your Help

In the face of congressional inaction, we know we must use every strategy we have to protect our food, water, and climate. We’ve seen how state-level organizing can drive huge national changes. So in 2023, we’re doubling down on everything from blocking fossil fuel permits to protecting our water; ending factory farms to exposing carbon capture and other greenwashing grifts. 

But we can’t do it without you. Every campaign starts at the grassroots, with communities pitching in whatever they can — time, expertise, resources. With your help, we’ll secure the wins we need to secure a livable future for all.

Join us in our work toward a livable future for all!

The Threat of Carbon Pipelines Looms Large Over Iowa Midterms

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by Emma Schmit and Mia DiFelice

In a political landscape cleaved more and more by division, one issue in Iowa has united folks from all walks of life: opposition to hazardous carbon pipelines. 

Three corporations have planned to build thousands of miles of pipelines through Iowans’ backyards. And they’re not above doing so without landowners’ consent. If the state grants them eminent domain, Summit, Navigator and ADM/Wolf could build on private land without an easement (the landowner’s express permission). 

These pipelines threaten the lives and livelihoods of Iowans across the state. And so, the movement against eminent domain has grown over the past several months. “No eminent domain for private gain” has become a rallying cry. 

Now, as the midterm elections approach, we know where Iowans stand. And Food & Water Action is doing everything we can to make sure we’re heard at the polls.

Carbon Capture Brings Only Risks, No Rewards

The proposed network of pipelines are part of corporate profiteers’ newest scam, “carbon capture and storage.” The pipelines will transport hazardous carbon dioxide gas from ethanol and fertilizer facilities throughout Iowa and the Midwest to injection wells.

Pipeline companies claim that these sites safely sequester carbon deep underground, but in reality, they often leak. And besides, most captured carbon is injected into oil wells to extract even more fossil fuels.

These companies say carbon capture is crucial climate action. But we know they’re lying through their teeth. Carbon capture projects in the U.S. have actually increased emissions, when accounting for all the dirty energy needed to power them.

Not only does carbon capture threaten the climate — it also poses dire risks to those who live near it. In the case of a leak or rupture, high amounts of CO2 can asphyxiate people. This kind of dangerous infrastructure has no place in backyards. 

In August, Summit began filing for eminent domain for 60% of its route through Iowa. Maps of their route show they may need more than that. They’ve had a year to wine and dine our politicians with unprecedented campaign cash and lobbying money. But they’ve failed to bring Iowans on board with their scam. We know our land isn’t worth what Summit’s offering.

Carbon Capture Companies Aren’t Playing Fair

In a sore loser move, Summit is now suing landowners in South Dakota and Iowa who have refused to grant easements. Texas-based Navigator has sued four other groups of Iowa landowners for refusing to grant the company access to their private properties. 

It’s only a matter of time before these corporations ramp up their efforts. But it will be our elected officials and public institutions that cast the final vote in this debate. Ultimately, state legislators will decide whether carbon pipelines have the right to eminent domain. 

This November, we can cast our vote for the candidates that stand with Iowans in opposing carbon pipelines.

It’s Not Just You — Carbon Pipelines Are Unpopular Among Iowa Voters

This year, Food & Water Action commissioned polling in Iowa by Change Research to see what Iowans really think of carbon pipelines.

We found that:

  • Only 35% of Iowa voters support the three carbon pipelines. 44% oppose them and 21% are unsure. 
  • 8 out of 10 Iowans oppose allowing private corporations to use eminent domain. This opposition crosses party lines. 
  • This is also true amongst voters who are favorable toward current Governor Kim Reynolds. 8 out of 10 of those voters oppose granting eminent domain to pipelines.

Our polling also found that the pipeline fight will affect Iowans’ votes this November. 

  • Nearly 3 out of 4 voters, Democrat and Republican alike, say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who supported eminent domain for carbon pipelines. 
  • 7 voters out of 10 want their elected officials to prevent carbon pipeline companies from using eminent domain. This holds true across party lines.

So far, our leaders currently in office have ignored the widespread opposition to eminent domain for carbon pipelines. Governor Reynolds, Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, Senate President Jake Chapman and House Speaker Pat Grassley killed several bills during the 2022 legislative session that would have taken eminent domain for carbon pipelines off the table. 

By the end of the 2022 legislative session, leadership had squashed all attempts at protecting Iowans from corporate abuse of eminent domain. But there is still time to stop these dangerous pipeline schemes. In the upcoming legislative session, we need elected officials who will fight for Iowans, not corporations. 

Representing Iowans Means Voting NO Against Carbon Pipelines

For more than a year, the movement opposing Iowa’s carbon pipelines has grown. Iowans from both sides of the aisle and from all walks of life have united to stop this threat. We have shown up to public meetings, called our representatives and even demonstrated at the governor’s mansion to make our opposition clear. 

This November, we will make our voices heard at the polls. It’s time to vote in representatives who will take our demands seriously. To stop these hazardous carbon pipeline scams, we need a legislature ready to fight for us; a legislature that will end the abuse of eminent domain for private gain.

We’re getting out the vote for legislators who will fight for us.

Carbon Pipelines Promise Midterm Battleground

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by Phoebe Galt and Emma Schmit

If Iowa’s 2022 General Assembly did anything well, it was ignoring the interests of Iowans. Division marred this year’s legislative session — between parties, between chambers, between elected officials and their constituents. Governing has given way to petty drama. While legislators squabble, the people of Iowa lose.

A key issue elevated during the session was the use of eminent domain for three hazardous carbon pipelines. Summit Carbon Solutions, Navigator CO2 Ventures and Wolf Carbon Solutions have each proposed carbon capture projects through Iowa. Their schemes are ludicrous and dangerous. Each company plans to convert the polluting carbon dioxide emitted from ethanol facilities into hazardous liquefied CO2. Then, they plan to transport that CO2 via a network of high-pressure pipelines, across thousands of miles and five state lines. Why? To make a quick buck off the plentiful federal subsidies available for these projects.

Any one of these projects would be the largest carbon pipeline ever built. Each is a fool’s errand. Altogether, they would span nearly 2,000 miles across Iowa, posing serious risks to our land, our livelihoods and our future.

Carbon Pipeline Opposition Reaches Fever Pitch

On the ground, Iowans have united against these pipeline scams and the threat of eminent domain to build them. Earlier this year, more than 150 people flooded the Capitol Rotunda in Des Moines demanding that lawmakers stop eminent domain for these projects. Opposition has crossed parties, geography, class and more to form a strong, passionate coalition devoted to stopping any carbon pipeline. Recent Food & Water Action polling conducted by Change Research confirms this. We found that 80% of Iowans oppose the use of eminent domain for the proposed pipeline projects. Additionally, 73% are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports the pipelines. These voters cut evenly across the political spectrum, indicating that this will be a decisive electoral issue.

The movement to stop these pipelines is reaching a fever pitch; and the silence of Iowa’s leaders is deafening.

Iowans Refuse to Fund Dangerous Pipelines

Our state has opened its arms to corporate control for too long. The carbon pipelines may very well break the camel’s back. We might be “Iowa Nice,” but we will not be railroaded. We deserve better than to carry the risks for Wall Street’s reward; and the risks are many. They include:

These pipeline corporations expect Iowans to not only accept these risks, but to fund them with our land and our tax dollars. But we aren’t having it. In spite of dishonest, unscrupulous harassment tactics, Iowans are refusing to sign over their land to these greedy corporations. We have much better ideas about where our tax dollars can go. Instead of pouring more than $20 billion into these pipelines, why not invest in our communities? Iowa’s infrastructure is failing, social safety nets are being slashed, schools are consolidating and our emergency services rely on volunteers. We clearly have better uses for our public money than  to line billionaire’s pockets. 

Midterm Elections Offer Promise Against Pipelines

Iowans have made our demand clear: Stop the proposed carbon pipeline scams. The pipelines have faced immense pushback from local governments, landowners, schools, community organizations and activists. Despite this, few of Iowa’s elected officials have taken meaningful action to address the concerns of their constituents.

With the close of the 2022 General Assembly session, we look ahead to the midterms. It’s time our elected officials remember that our votes must be earned. Iowans deserve leaders that will fight for us, not cower to corporate interests. When we vote this fall, we vote for our land and our lives. Elected officials must know — we will not be sold out.

In June, the Iowa Democratic Party unanimously ratified a grassroots-led platform, becoming the first state party to formally oppose carbon capture. Now, more than half a dozen midterm candidates are running campaigns on anti-pipeline platforms. Grassroots Democrats and Iowa voters alike want action from state elected officials to stop these carbon pipelines. With our votes this fall, we’ll ensure that not a single project breaks ground. 

Help us elect leaders who’ll keep pipelines out of Iowa!