Food & Water Action Propels Candidates to Victory Throughout 2022


by Mia DiFelice

This November, voters returned to the polls. While dozens of senators and hundreds of representatives campaigned for national seats, thousands more jockeyed for state and local offices. These midterms were full of make-or-break elections that stood to shape the path toward our collective future.

For months prior to those elections, Food & Water Action mobilized with allies around the country. We helped elect leaders committed to bold action on everything from climate, to corporate greed, to environmental injustices. And we could not have done it without our organizers, volunteers, and members.

As we prepare for the long work still ahead, we’re taking a moment to look back on all the progress we’ve made. Here are just a few of the victories we will build on in 2023.

1. An Early Win For a Climate Champion in New York

At Food & Water Action, we know that significant races for climate progress come at all levels, not just national. After years of work in the New York State Assembly, it was time to shake things up.

Though New York banned fracking eight years ago, lawmakers have dragged their feet on measures to pull the state into a fully renewable future. Despite momentum in the legislature, leadership failed to pass key bills that would have made huge progress on this front. 

So this year, we rallied support for Democratic challengers who walked the walk, not just talked the talk. 

In the Hudson Valley, we threw our weight behind climate activists like Sarahana Shrestha, who helped lead the victory to shut down a Danskammer fracked gas plant. 

In June, Shrestha won a different kind of victory, unseating 23-year incumbent Kevin Cahill. While Cahill took thousands of dollars in donations from fossil fuel companies over his career, Shrestha won with zero corporate donations. She then carried her victory into the general election by an easy 20 points. 

As she prepares to take office, we have sent a clear message: we can and will unseat those who slow-walk climate action. We can and will get out the vote for candidates who commit to bold solutions. And those candidates can and will win general elections.

2. Fighting Pipelines at the Ballot Box in Iowa

Over the past few years, Iowa has become a key site in our fight for clean water, a livable climate, and an end to polluting industry. Right now, the state faces a buildout of thousands of miles of hazardous pipelines — with or without landowner consent. 

Despite a broad and vocal coalition opposing the projects, key state lawmakers blocked legislative action. So it was no surprise that pipelines became a major issue in this year’s midterms. Our polling found that 73% of voters were less likely to vote for candidates who support the projects.

And that opposition crystallized with the election of our endorsed candidate in the State Senate, Sarah Trone Garriott. This year, Garriott faced a redistricting that put her head-to-head with Senate President Jake Chapman — the same Senate President who blocked multiple bills that would have stopped pipeline projects in their tracks. 

Sen. Garriott committed to choosing constituents over corporations and vocally opposed carbon pipelines. So we went big on our support for her, knocking on more than 7,000 doors and mobilizing more than 1,000 phone calls and hand-written letters to voters. 

Her victory is a victory for everyday Iowans who are done with polluting industries. That includes not only pipeline corporations, but factory farms. Garriott also supports a state factory farm moratorium, which has become increasingly urgent as Iowans suffer a growing flood of factory farm pollution in their backyards. 

3. Bringing Blue-Wave Sea Change To Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania was a critical state in this year’s midterms for many reasons. For one, it’s the second-highest gas-producing state in the country. With the right elected officials, we can keep a lot of gas in the ground. For another, the purple state had a make-or-break impact on the Democrats’ Senate majority. 

So we started local, endorsing two key races for the House in Southwestern Pennsylvania: those of Chris Deluzio, a progressive champion for workers, and Summer Lee, the only candidate in her primary to unequivocally oppose fracking. 

Throughout the state, we turned out more than 220,000 phone calls, knocked on 20,000 doors, and sent 4,600 handwritten letters to get out the vote. As a result, not only did Deluzio and Lee win their races; our efforts also mobilized thousands of Pennsylvanians to vote blue in the tight races for governor, state legislature, and the U.S. Senate.

Now, the PA State House has a Democratic majority for the first time in 12 years. What’s more, at the national level, John Fetterman’s win helped maintain the Democratic Senate majority. With these victories, we have a baseline for crucial work coming down the line. 

With Your Help, We Have Plenty of Victories Ahead

In the run-up to the midterms, pundits predicted that a “red wave” would crash through Congress. But with the work of thousands of organizers and volunteers, we turned that “red wave” into a puddle. 

Our get-out-the-vote efforts turned out more than 433,000 phone calls and 8,760 handwritten letters to voters across the country. At the same time, our canvassers knocked on more than 27,000 doors nationwide. 

The result: we helped keep Demorats’ control of the Senate and reduced Republican gains in the House to a barely-there majority. We also rallied support behind a growing contingent of progressive lawmakers like Lee and Shrestha. These victories will open new possibilities for clean water, safe food, and climate action in the years ahead.

Already, we are preparing for the next election cycle. It won’t be an easy battle. The growing number of extremists in the House and former-President Donald Trump’s entrance into the 2024 presidential race make that clear. But it’s a battle that we’re ready for, with your help.

All Giving Tuesday gifts are now matched $4-to-$1. That’s five times the power to protect our planet in 2023 and beyond!

What’s At Stake In The Midterms: Seven Victories To Build On


by Mia DiFelice

Heading into the November midterm elections, we need to go all out to elect more and better Democrats. 

On issues that matter most — the climate crisis, access to clean water and a sustainable, just food system — we need bold action. We need a Congress that will take on the fossil fuel industry and big agribusiness. We need representatives who will use their power to bring about meaningful and lasting solutions. 

The current Congress is divided by the narrowest of margins, allowing a few conservative Democrats to dictate the terms of legislation. We have seen what happens when Senators like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema can call the shots on our climate agenda. As it stands, Congress won’t pass the ambitious policies we need to keep our planet livable and support working families.

But even with a narrowly divided Congress and a moderate Democratic president, we’ve made important progress in the last two years. This is a testament to our movements’ organizing efforts and a growing progressive contingent in Congress. 

The victories over the past two years are a starting point. Many have gone under the radar, but they were only possible because of the Democrats in national office. With more and better Democrats, we can achieve even more in the two years ahead.

Here are seven wins we can build on after the midterms:

1. Phasing Out Single-Use Plastics On Public Lands

In June, the Department of Interior issued an order to phase out single-use plastics on public lands by 2032. Plastics are almost entirely derived from fossil fuels and only 10% of all plastics ever made have been recycled.

Plastic trash breaks down in our soils and washes into our waterways, where it pollutes our environment, our food and our bodies. This order is an important step in protecting our national parks and wildlife refuges from toxic plastic pollution.

2. An Unprecedented Deployment of Clean Energy Funds

Under the Defense Production Act, Biden authorized the Department of Energy to grow U.S. production of clean energy technologies. This includes both renewable solar power and conservation technology like heat pumps and insulation. 

Biden’s use of the Defense Production Act signals that the executive branch is finally prepared to treat climate change as it is: an existential threat to be met with a whole-of-government approach. It also recognizes that an energy transition is too dire to leave to private corporations and a wily market.

3. The House Holds Big Oil Accountable For Its Lies

For decades, fossil fuel corporations have grown profits by spreading lies about the climate crisis. But in September 2021, the House Oversight Committee began investigating its history of deceit. 

The Committee, led by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney and Rep. Ro Khanna, will finally hold the industry accountable for profiting billions of dollars off lies that have kept us dependent on their climate-wrecking products. 

4. A Proposed Methane Rule Tightens Emissions Control

In November 2021, EPA proposed a new Clean Air Act rule to tackle climate pollution from the oil and gas industry. The proposal would restrict emissions of not only new oil and gas projects, but — for the first time ever — existing ones as well. 

The rule especially targets methane emissions, which is integral to fighting climate change. As EPA reports, the methane emitted from our oil and gas industry has a greater climate impact than the emissions of all greenhouse gasses from 164 other countries. Additionally, the rule takes aim at toxic air pollution like volatile organic compounds, which disproportionately sicken low-income communities and communities of color.

5. Biden’s EPA Starts Regulating Toxic PFAS

In 2022, the Biden administration set new advisory levels for several PFAS chemicals. These chemicals are toxic and don’t break down in the environment — yet we have used products with PFAS in them for decades. 

The EPA’s long-awaited advisory levels come closer to the research that shows no level of PFAS are safe. While we have a long road ahead of us to tackle our country’s widespread PFAS problem, the EPA has taken vital first steps.

6. Support For Environmental Justice Communities

The Biden administration has taken several steps to improve funding for environmental justice communities that have been historically excluded from federal assistance. It created the first-ever Environmental Justice Advisory Council and announced the Justice40 initiative, committing 40% of the benefits from federal climate and sustainability programs to EJ communities. 

The administration’s commitments have already led to on-the-ground change. For example, the USDA and EPA are working on new guidance and a pilot for rural wastewater projects. We can push for more and greater programs like these with Democrats in Congress.

7. Executive Action Against Monopolies And Corporate Greed

In 2021, an executive order outlined 70 actions to foster competitive markets. As our sister organization Food & Water Watch reported, the market power held by just a few corporations in our food system enables unjust practices to thrive. But now, the Biden administration is taking aim at this market power with investigations, regulations and legislation.

For example, the USDA recently proposed changes to the Packers and Stockyards Act that would give them more tools to stop abusive practices among meat corporations. These changes would strengthen rural economies, ensure food security and empower family farms.

With Democrats In Office, We Can And Will Win More

Our elected officials have achieved a lot in the past two years, but we have a long road ahead of us. To build on these victories, we need a strong showing in the midterm elections. Across the country, Food & Water Action is mobilizing support for climate champions, building people power behind a livable future for all.

Help us spread the word!