Statement by Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Action
Washington, D.C. – “With huge turnout yesterday, voters enabled Democrats to retake the House, electing candidates who are champions on issues from climate and energy to economic and social justice. Across the nation, with 113 million votes so far, we are seeing a repudiation of Trump’s disastrous policies. While there is much work to do, this election is the first step in stopping the juggernaut of environmental rollbacks that we’ve seen over the past two years, and a first hope at stemming the climate crisis.
“This election puts a legislative check on Trump’s big business agenda that harms people, the environment, our food system, and access to safe, clean water. What’s more, gains have been made at the state level, with progressive champions elected in legislatures across the country—including in California, Maryland, New Mexico, New York and Pennsylvania, where we endorsed several candidates that will fight the fossil fuel industry and protect our communities. Public water also won mightily on the ballot nationwide: Baltimore voters overwhelmingly passed Ballot Question E, making it the first major U.S. city to ban water privatization, and Monterey voters passed Measure J to begin the process of reclaiming their water system from California American Water despite the corporation’s $3 million cash infusion to stop it.
“Despite a few losses against colossal fossil fuel cash infusions to fight local initiatives to restrain oil and gas development, we have hope that this is the beginning of a collective move towards meaningful climate action on a larger level. With yesterday’s midterms we’re seeing the beginning of a Green Wave in the Democratic party, led by women like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; Deb Haaland, one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress; and Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the first Muslim women elected to Congress. These members—and others like them—form the backbone of a stronger and more vocal progressive voice in Congress that is prioritizing what people really care about: a fair society, a healthy environment and a government that works for people, not corporations.
“We began working on climate change in earnest after recognizing that it is the greatest long-term threat to our food system and access to clean, affordable water for all. Before the Paris climate talks in 2015, we determined that we must transition off fossil fuels completely by 2035 and start the transition immediately. Since then, we’ve organized around the strongest federal climate legislation to date: the Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act. Several of the congressional candidates elected last night pledged to support this key legislation, making them climate champions.
“A recent poll shows that climate change ranks second among issues of concern to Democrats, right behind healthcare. This election shows that climate change is square on the agenda now, and not just a marginal concern for voters.
“Climate action, clean water, jobs and economic justice, and safe and healthy communities should be the centerpiece of a green progressive agenda leading up to 2020 and beyond. Progressives should take heart with this big win. We will redouble our efforts to move Democrats towards this broad vision, and organize around it.
“We will continue our legislative work in a new Congress to support the transition off fossil fuels. We will also continue our efforts to build political muscle to support our aging public water systems in an era of climate crisis. We plan to reintroduce the Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability (WATER) Act to accomplish this. We are also working to support legislation that would halt megamergers in a highly consolidated food system that are leading to environmental degradation and economic hardship for rural communities. Our legislative agenda looks brighter now with more progressive champions in Congress.
“We’ll also work to hold the Trump administration accountable. There will be many much-needed investigations into the Trump administration’s dirty dealings at the EPA, Department of Interior and other agencies that have operated with virtually no oversight for the past two years. We’re also hopeful for a more constructive debate on issues that matter to all of us, and for the enhanced ability to block policies that help corporations but harm people and the environment upon which we all depend.”
Food & Water Action is a political advocacy organization supporting the educational work of Food & Water Watch. We champion healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment.
Contact: Darcey Rakestraw, 202-683-2467; [email protected]