Environmental Groups Endorse India Walton for Mayor of Buffalo

October 15, 2021
 Climate

As mayor, Walton would make Buffalo a climate leader

As the general election approaches, national climate groups are rallying around Democratic nominee for Mayor of Buffalo, India Walton. These groups view Walton as a climate champion who would make Buffalo a climate leader by switching the city’s electricity over to clean energy, empowering working people over utilities and building out green infrastructure around the city.

Walton soundly defeated incumbent Mayor Byron Brown in the June mayoral primary election. However, instead of helping transition in Walton’s new administration, Brown is running a write-in campaign to defeat Walton. As Walton accumulates endorsements from Democratic party leaders and climate organizations, Brown’s campaign is running smearing attack ads fueled by large contributions from developers, Trump supporters and others working against climate action and the interests of Buffalo residents.

“India Walton has a real vision for what the city of Buffalo can do to make its residents’ lives better and avert catastrophic climate change,” said Santosh Nandabalan, Senior New York Organizer with Food & Water Action. “And she has the tenacity to make those visions reality. We are proud to endorse India Walton for Mayor of Buffalo.”

“Walton is a climate leader whose grassroots campaign made history for Buffalo and the country this June,” said John Qua, Campaign Manager with Lead Locally. “While she shouldn’t need to relitigate a race against Brown she’s already won, it’s important that the climate and progressive movement continue to stand strong behind her for the general election.”

“Data for Progress is proud to endorse India Walton for Mayor of Buffalo,” said Marcela Mulholland, Data for Progress Political Director. “Walton’s vision of equitable and ambitious climate policy that improves the lives of working people illustrates the importance of electing leaders at every level of government who will fight for vital climate policies.”

 

John Fetterman’s Fracking Liabilities

August 9, 2021
 Climate Democracy

On dirty energy, the Lt. Governor is out of step with Pennsylvania Democrats.

by Peter Hart

Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman is attempting to stake out the progressive lane in the early stage of the 2022 Democratic Senate primary. And while he basks in positive press from national political reporters, Fetterman is out of touch with Pennsylvania Democrats on the key issue of fracking. 

Over the years, Fetterman has flipped his position, broken promises, and ignored significant racial and environmental justice issues in his own backyard. His embrace of fracking presents a significant political liability — one that has left grassroots activists and elected officials across the state clamoring for other progressive candidates to jump into the race.

Fetterman on Fracking: Flip Flops and Broken Promises 

Fetterman’s political career is marred by broken promises over fracking. On several occasions, he promised to stand with communities fighting the powerful industry, only to abandon those commitments soon thereafter. 

In his 2016 Senate campaign, Fetterman signed a pledge supporting a statewide moratorium on fracking. At one debate, he criticized the pro-drilling record of rival candidate Katie McGinty, saying she “brought fracking to Pennsylvania.” Fetterman told McGinty: “You can’t have it both ways. There’s no such thing as a green fracker.” That year, he was a top supporter of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, saying that the senator’s call for a fracking ban would be a “winning issue” in Pennsylvania.

But in 2020, Fetterman took the opposite position, claiming that anti-fracking candidates would lose Pennsylvania. Why the sudden shift? Fetterman has claimed that stronger regulations have made fracking safer. But he’s never explained what those were, exactly — and the mounting scientific evidence of the serious hazards associate with fracking tells us all we need to know about the threats that drilling poses to our health, our air and our water.

It’s not the only time he’s tried to have it both ways. In 2018, Fetterman received a guided tour of construction of the massive Mariner East pipeline in Delaware and Chester counties, which has contaminated drinking water and created massive sinkholes. He promised to help the communities thrown into chaos by the pipeline. However, Fetterman never took up the issue in any way, and even defended Governor Tom Wolf amid reports that the FBI was conducting an ethics investigation into his handling of permit approvals.

Fetterman’s reversal on fracking also runs close to home. He supported a hugely unpopular fracking well proposed at the US Steel’s Edgar Thomson mill in his hometown, even while opposition from residents and local municipalities was piling up. Minimizing residents’ valid concerns, Fetterman flippantly stated this well — which would have been drilled in a community already dealing with numerous environmental justice issues — would be like “baking a loaf of bread in a pizza shop.

Luckily, grassroots activists continued that fight. Their opposition forced state regulators to suspend review of the project, and in May U.S. Steel announced it was abandoning the proposal

Fetterman’s Fracking Position is WAY Out of Line with Pennsylvania Democrats

Fetterman’s support for fracking is out of step with Democratic voters in the state, and voters overall. An August 2020 CBS/YouGov poll found that 75% of Pennsylvania Democrats oppose fracking, as do 52% of voters overall. The same is true in Fetterman’s home county of Allegheny County. A 2020 Franklin & Marshall poll found that 62% of county voters support a ban on fracking.

Those sentiments have been evident in local elections. State Representative Summer Lee was elected as a first-time candidate in 2018, thanks in part to a campaign strongly opposing the Edgar Thomson well. Two years later, Lee crushed a challenger who tried to use the fracking well as a wedge issue. Fetterman’s successor, Braddock Mayor Chardae Jones, has said she opposed the well because it is so unpopular among residents. 

This is all backed up by a 2020 Change Research poll, commissioned by Food & Water Action, which showed that the vast majority of Democrats in the Mon Valley — 70 percent — opposed the proposed well. Only 17% supported Fetterman’s position.

Fetterman Chooses Corporations Over Environmental Justice

By embracing fracking, Fetterman is siding with corporations over communities. And that’s true about more than just fracking; Fetterman has also discounted and underplayed Allegheny County’s significant air pollution problem, which ranks among the worst in the country. Allegheny County children are nearly three times more likely to have asthma than the national average; kids living near the major polluting facilities in the Mon Valley are even more in danger of respiratory disease.

In response to news that U.S. Steel would decrease capacity at their Clairton Coke Works facility, the single biggest polluter in the region, Fetterman said, “I live here… Is the air Rocky Mountain fresh? No, but it’s OK.”

Democratic Leaders Across Pennsylvania Are Expressing Concerns About Fetterman

Pennsylvania State Representative Danielle Friel Otten, who led Fetterman on a tour of the Mariner East pipeline problems in 2018, had this to say:

‘No one should have to live in these conditions,’ were John Fetterman’s words after he sat in my neighbor’s family room with me and walked through their backyards to see the devastation that Mariner East is having on communities like mine. Voters in Chester County will need to understand Fetterman’s confusing public positions on fossil fuel expansion, fracking and the suffering that communities are facing in the name of jobs, as he now runs for Senate.


State Representative Summer Lee, who represents Fetterman’s community of Braddock, has been outspoken in criticizing the Lieutenant Governor over a 2013 incident where Fetterman chased a young black man, Christopher Miyares, with a shotgun as he jogged through Fetterman’s neighborhood. Rather than apologizing, Fetterman pointed to Miyares’ later conviction of an entirely unrelated crime. Rep. Lee called Fetterman’s comments “unacceptable” and “egregious,” and wrote that “Even if John doesn’t feel he has anything to take responsibility for, it’s disappointing he’d deal in harmful dog whistles.” 


Braddock Mayor Chardae Jones, had this to say about Fetterman’s position on drilling: 

“I’ve seen that John Fetterman weighed in on the issue of fracking quite a few times…. Where he stands now, I’m not certain.”


Northampton County Councilmember Tara Zrinski, who gave Fetterman the fracking ban pledge that he signed in 2016:

“It is disappointing that Fetterman made a commitment to me and communities around Pennsylvania that he would fight to stop fracking, and then turned around and became a staunch supporter of new fracking.”


East Pittsburgh Borough Councilwoman Stacey Simon, who took action to protect the Mon Valley from the US Steel fracking well:

“East Pittsburgh residents oppose this well, and will continue to despite Merrion’s threats. It would be very helpful for John Fetterman to voice his support for our community. Unfortunately, thus far he has chosen to stick with the fracking industry.”


So What Does Fetterman Really Believe?

Fetterman’s appeal has often focused on surface issues: His tattoos, photos of the family dog, and his preference for one regional convenience store chain over its rival.

But aside from legalizing marijuana and a $15/hour minimum wage, Fetterman’s views on important policy issues remain unclear. Many lawmakers have criticized Fetterman on running a campaign based more on image than substance.

State Representative Jessica Benham, responded this way to a Fetterman fundraising email touting his tattoos: “I. Don’t. Care. About. Your. Tattoos. How anything resembling an apology? Or heck, since that’s apparently a bridge too far, an email about anything of substance or policy?”


State Representative Austin Davis wrote this about the Miyares shotgun incident: “I agree w/ my colleague @SummerForPA! The comments that @JohnFetterman continues to make are deeply troubling…”


State Representative Melissa Shusterman wrote, “I’m betting a white guy who went to Harvard whose campaign is based on sheetz versus wawa is not the answer to Trump. A woman would be DRAGGED for a lack of seriousness if that was her campaign.”


Democrats Need a Strong Candidate for the Pennsylvania Senate Seat

Democrats have a razor-thin majority in the Senate, and the race for Pennsylvania’s open seat is a key opportunity to increase that majority. To win that race, Democrats need to field a candidate that can champion a strong climate vision and stand up to the fracking industry.

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Kate Triggiano Endorsed in Red Bank Council Race

May 25, 2021
 Climate

Food & Water Action, the political arm of the advocacy group Food & Water Watch, is endorsing Kate Triggiano in the Democratic primary for Red Bank Borough Council.

The group cited Triggiano’s involvement in a range of activist campaigns across the region, and her leadership on the Council. During her first term, Councilmember Triggiano successfully introduced and enacted a local law that puts Red Bank on a path to achieve 100% clean renewable energy by 2030. She also championed an ordinance to ban single use plastic bags in the borough.

Food & Water Action New Jersey State Director Matt Smith released the following statement:

“We have been proud to consider Kate a friend and an ally for years. It was bold of her to run for political office and win her seat on the Council. And she didn’t stop there. She has demonstrated not only her support for bold climate and clean energy solutions, but also the political savvy to get them enacted into law. She is the kind of young progressive leader we need in Red Bank, and everywhere else across the state.”

Food & Water Watch has been active in New Jersey for over a decade, with a regional office in New Brunswick.

Food & Water Action Endorses Elizabeth Guzman and Lee Carter for the Virginia General Assembly House of Delegates

May 14, 2021
 Climate Democracy

 

Richmond, VA — The national advocacy group Food & Water Action is endorsing Elizabeth Guzman and Lee Carter in the races for House District 31 and 50, respectively, citing their bold climate and environmental justice policies. Both candidates endorse the Green New Deal for Virginia, and are dedicated to a bold and urgent suite of climate policies that treat climate change as the emergency it is.

One of the first two Latinx women elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, Elizabeth Guzman has an impressive legislative track record. She wrote the resolution to declare a climate emergency in Virginia, and worked to ensure its passage in the House. As an immigrant and second-generation union member, Guzman has long championed policies that support Virginia’s workers, championing their needs above those of corporate interests. She is a co-founder of the Virginia New Deal Coalition, where she pushes for legislation that centers environmental justice concerns. She is also a strong advocate for clean water, having passed a bill to study and create recommendations for PFAS forever chemicals in water.

Lee Carter is running to maintain his seat in the House of Delegates 50th district. A Marine Corps veteran, Carter brings bold commitments to environmental policies that put Virginia workers above corporate powers. Committed to a fossil fuel free future, Carter opposes fracking, is a vocal opponent of infrastructure projects like the Mountain Valley Pipeline and refuses campaign contributions from fossil fuel companies. A supporter of the Virginia Green New Deal, Carter’s leadership in the House of Delegates will push for bold policies that address the urgency of the climate crisis.

With the endorsements, Food & Water Action Southern Region Director Jorge Aguilar issued the following statement:

“Elizabeth Guzman is a champion of clean energy and clean water, and she has the legislative experience to support her bold ideas with action. She has already spearheaded successful environmental policy initiatives from the declaration of a climate emergency to the formation of a declaring a climate emergency to the Green New Deal Coalition and action on PFAS contamination in Virginia’s water supply. With another term, Guzman will deliver more urgent action on the climate crisis knocking at our door.

“Lee Carter is committed to standing up to corporate control. Virginia needs his leadership on bold climate policies that put people before polluters. Carter has displayed critical leadership in his commitment to keeping fossil fuels in the ground and fighting dirty pipeline projects. With another term, Carter’s bold policies will be critical in pushing Virginia toward a clean, renewable energy future that works for all Virginians.”

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Food & Water Action Endorses Sam Rasoul for Virginia Lieutenant Governor

April 27, 2021
 Climate Democracy

 

For Immediate Release

Richmond, VA — The national advocacy group Food & Water Action is endorsing Sam Rasoul for Virginia Lieutenant Governor. Sam Rasoul is a longstanding climate champion in the Virginia House of Delegates. Since 2018, Delegate Rasoul has been the lead sponsor of legislation to move Virginia to 100% renewables by 2035 and to declare a fossil fuel moratorium. In that time, he has also led Virginia’s Green New Deal coalition, offering bold leadership on the intersectional issues of environmental justice, racial justice and climate change.

With the endorsement, Food & Water Action Southern Region Director Jorge Aguilar issued the following statement:

Sam Rasoul has been our top ally in the fight to stop the worst impacts of climate change and has consistently provided a vision for how Virginia can protect its residents from the impacts of the fossil fuel industry. During his time as a Delegate, like his campaign says, he has approached coalition building with truth, love and grit, standing with advocates in critical fights surrounding the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines, as well as the legislative battles to ensure ratepayers are protected from companies like Dominion.

We believe that as Lieutenant Governor, Rasoul will bring his critical focus on working Virginians to the climate movement, prioritizing bold policies that ensure a just transition for all workers. Rasoul’s visionary plan for a Marshall Plan for Mothers, infrastructure that ensures quality internet access for all Virginians, and focus on a platform that benefits ordinary residents is reflective of what he’s stood for as a public servant. We are proud to endorse his candidacy for Lieutenant Governor.

 

We Helped Elect More Than Just Biden — Here’s Our Plan To Get Bold Climate Action

November 13, 2020
 Climate Democracy

Where does Joe Biden stand on banning fracking?

We saw big wins nationwide for our plan to curb the worst of climate change. It goes far beyond just electing Biden. Here’s what we did and what comes next.

by Sam Bernhardt, Political Director of Food & Water Action

The movement for a healthy future played a big role in defeating Donald Trump. 

President-elect Joe Biden has served in public office for nearly five decades, and he’s got his ways of doing things. However, Biden will enter office with one of the most progressive Congresses in history, and he will need to govern with them. Among the 117th Congress will be a set of new climate champions like Mondaire Jones (NY17), and Jamaal Bowman (NY16) who we helped elect, and who will go to work every day fighting for a COVID recovery that creates millions of renewable energy jobs and bans fracking.

Biden will also need to govern with a powerful climate movement which this fall rallied behind him to defeat Trump, but which will pivot to pressuring Biden to transition our country off of fossil fuels now. 

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Climate Movement Activists Helped Elect Biden And We Plan To Get Bold Climate Action

Food & Water Action played our part in defeating Trump. Our leaders drove a massive campaign to get voters in Pennsylvania signed up to vote absentee. In the last two weeks of the election, we pivoted to getting voters who weren’t registered to vote absentee to instead vote early or vote in person on election day. In total, we made 700,000 phone calls to voters around Pennsylvania, and engaged 25,000 voters in conversations to talk through their options for voting safely and securely. Food & Water Action volunteers also wrote 5,000 handwritten letters to voters in swing districts around the country, and sent hundreds of thousands of peer-to-peer text messages encouraging people to get out and vote, and to mobilize their friends to vote. 

Our effort was part of an enormous mobilization of organizations fighting to protect our planet, with the understanding that defeating Donald Trump was step one. Not only did the movement to ban fracking do the work, but our messaging worked too. Trump tried to frame Joe Biden as the leader of the movement against fracking. We now know that Trump’s messaging pushed voters in Pennsylvania’s heavily-fracked counties towards Biden.

Now that that’s accomplished, we turn our focus to pressuring President-elect Biden to follow through on his campaign commitments, like banning fracking on public lands. And we need to prioritize electing a majority in the Senate that will act on climate change. That work starts in Georgia’s January 2021 Senate runoff elections, but we know that the path towards meaningful climate legislation also runs through states like Pennsylvania and Iowa, where we need to utilize power we’ve been building on the ground for years to elect climate champions to the U.S. Senate.

Nationwide Support For Bold Climate Action Resulted In Important Regional Wins

We also know now more than ever that our movement is more than just groups like Food & Water Action and the community leaders we work with. We know that we have broad-based support nationwide for climate action, because in races around the country where the main issue was climate change, voters sided with the science to vote for a livable future.

New Jersey

The township of East Brunswick, New Jersey passed a ballot measure to create a clean energy program that will transition every household in the community to 100% renewable energy by 2030. Food & Water Action brought this policy to East Brunswick after we passed a similar ballot measure in neighboring Piscataway in 2019. We collected 1,000 signatures to qualify it for the ballot in East Brunswick. Then, we engaged in hundreds of conversations with East Brunswick voters through phone-banking, texting, and friend-to-friend organizing. On election day, over 70% of voters cast their ballot in support of the measure, making East Brunswick the sixth community Food & Water Action has worked with to adopt this policy, called Community Choice Aggregation, since 2018.

California

Meanwhile, in California, two county races pitted people against the profits of fossil fuel corporations, and we came out on top. In Los Angeles County, the third-most drilled county in the state, we helped elect Holly Mitchell to the County Board of Supervisors, who will be the deciding vote to enact setbacks to keep oil wells away from homes. With Holly’s vote, we’re ready to kill the dangerous practice of urban oil drilling in LA. 

In Ventura County, the second-most drilled county in California, we helped elect Carmen Ramirez, who will be the deciding vote in keeping recently passed setbacks in place. The oil industry didn’t go quietly. They spent nearly one million dollars to try to roll back our progress. But we out-organized, out-strategized, and out-mobilized them. 

Pennsylvania

Even in Pennsylvania, where fracking spokespeople would have us believe that opposing their industry is political suicide, we made progress, roughly doubling the caucus of state legislators who support transitioning off of fossil fuels while defending our most vocal leaders against hundreds of thousands of dollars in attack ads funded by the fracking industry. In 2022, we will flip the Pennsylvania State House with the most progressive Democratic majority to ever hold power in Harrisburg, so stay tuned for ways you can help build toward that goal. 

We have so much more work to do, but I know that by working together to make the most out of these important wins, we can build the power needed to get our country to a renewable energy future.

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