#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

Saving Our Climate Starts With The Decision To Fight Back

September 10, 2019
 Climate Democracy

People everywhere are feeling called to do more when it comes to climate change. Every person has a duty to protect those we love from a future of climate chaos driven by greedy corporations. It’s time for every single one of us to join the fight; it’s time to fight like we live here.

Dear friends, supporters, and those joining us for the first time,

Protecting ourselves and future generations from the worst effects of climate chaos sometimes feels overwhelming — like it’s beyond what any individual can do.  But think about all the unlikely wins that have happened when people have come together to mobilize for change. Every victory started when someone — even a seemingly ordinary person — decided to fight back! 

We’ve all heard some version of the too-common complaint: “Someone should DO SOMETHING about the corporations that poison our water, pollute our air, and destroy our climate.” We all wish that someone would do something when we see the Amazon rainforest in flames, or climate-change-fueled superstorms destroying communities, or the frequent disasters caused by fracking and other deadly fossil fuel infrastructure. In 2005, when we founded Food & Water Watch, we decided that that someone would be us. That’s when we chose to stand up to form an organization that wasn’t afraid to call for the bold policies humanity really needs to survive and thrive, not just the weak half-measures that might seem politically possible. Back then, we knew that to ensure a livable future, we had to take on the big money interests that control the levers of government at almost every level and stop this ravaging of our resources at its source. 

So — together with many of you— we took action. You believed in our shared mission so much that you helped mobilize a dedicated and powerful army of volunteers, members, donors, community coalitions, and scrappy organizers. We’ve done so much important work in the last 14 years and won so many important victories. Here is just a small snapshot of the progress we’ve won together:

Banned fracking in New York, Maryland, Washington. Bans in other states, like Florida, are visible on the horizon

— Banned arsenic in chicken feed, first in Maryland and then nationally

— Helped pass historic legislation in Baltimore to protect water and taxpayers

— Pressured Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti to halt a rebuild of three gas-fired power plants in favor of investing in renewable energy

Built the movement to ban fracking everywhere and set the stage for a REAL #GreenNewDeal

Today, in our toxic political environment, action is more important than ever. In fact, it’s so crucial that we developed another side to our organization called Food & Water Action, to wage the political fights that have the highest stakes for the environment and our resources. We’ve put that to work to achieve pivotal electoral victories. We win the battles that others think are impossible. 

In the face of Trump’s shameless and shameful environmental rollbacks, our mission has only become more important. So we’ve decided to be bolder, and lead with Action. You’ll be seeing more from our Food & Water Action arm in the months and years ahead, as we champion the fighters like you who are making real, positive change happen. If you’d like to see more about our strategy, we want you on board. We’re ready for the fight, and our mission — to save our climate and protect people everywhere — has never been more urgent.

All the progress we’ve made in the last 14 years comes down to this: we came together, stood up, and decided to fight back. We’re doubling down on that formula for the fights ahead because we know it will work.

The clock is counting down in this perilous time. We need many more people who care to make that decision, too. Send them our way, won’t you? The fight for our climate and natural resources is a fight we must win, because this planet is the only one we get. Let’s fight like we live here.

If you’re ready to fight like you live here, join our email list and enlist friends to join, too! 

A Bold New Strategic Vision for Food & Water Action

September 10, 2019

Catastrophic climate change is the most urgent issue of our time, creating enormous risks to people and threatening our food and water. To stop it, we need to think big and not be limited in vision. Science shows that the best – and only – way to battle climate chaos is to make massive and immediate changes to fight the greedy corporations that put their own profit over human life. In the last 14 years, we’ve proven that we know how to do that.

As just part of our long list of milestone victories, we’ve banned fracking in New York, Maryland and Washington State. We’ve fought and stopped dangerous oil and gas infrastructure in states across the country. We helped pass historic legislation in Baltimore to protect public water. And we built the national movement to ban fracking everywhere and set the stage for a real Green New Deal. But our work is just beginning. In today’s toxic political environment, our proven strategies are even more urgent. This plan, which is the result of research, thought, and collaboration from every member of the Food & Water Action team, shows us how to focus our action more effectively than ever to stop catastrophic climate change. We’re ready to come together, to mobilize, and to fight like we live here.

As part of this clearer & renewed focus, we updated our mission statement:

Our food, water, and climate are under constant assault by corporations who put profit over the survival of humanity. They have seized control of the very institutions that were built to protect us. We mobilize people to reclaim their political power, hold our elected officials accountable, and resist corporate control — ensuring we all have the essential resources we need to thrive. This is a fight we must win, because this planet is the only one we get.

In the coming years, we will invest the majority of our resources in 3 core campaigns to move that mission forward.

  1. Stop catastrophic climate change by working at the federal, state and local levels to eliminate the production and use of fossil fuels. Food & Water Action is a national leader in the fight to ban fracking and stop fossil fuel infrastructure projects; these efforts build on dozens of wins over the last 14 years. We have proven again and again that our approach and strategies work. We are doubling down on our success to win bigger victories to end climate chaos.

  2. Fight to make sure we all have access to clean and affordable water. In the face of crumbling infrastructure and worsening water shortages caused by climate change, corporations are racing to privatize our drinking water. At the same time, corporations are dumping toxic pollutants from fracking and other dangerous industrial practices into our water supply. We are mobilizing people to secure their right to clean and affordable water where they live, and we’re fighting for everyone by passing effective federal legislation.

  3. Ban factory farms and fight to create a just and equitable food system that protects our air, water, communities, family farmers and climate. Factory farms destroy air, water, and the communities they occupy. We’re fighting to ban them in favor of sustainable, fair food systems and we’re starting with the key agricultural battleground states of Iowa and Oregon.

Other critical and urgent issues relate to our 3 core campaigns. We’re going to continue to fight on these fronts: plastic contamination in our food, water, and environment; water privatization; weak and ineffective organic food standards and food safety laws; and other issues that impact our climate, food, and water. Our core campaigns are a critical framework for taking on these aligned issues.

The challenges we are taking on today are the biggest issues humanity has ever faced. Our approach to these issues is bold, uncompromising, and hard-hitting – and it works. Every part of our identity, from our core campaigns to our tagline – Fight Like You Live Here – captures and shares that strength, conviction, and hope.

Our goals are clear; our focus is urgent: We will be working hard every day in order to secure our climate, our food, and our water. And to do it we need your ongoing support, now more than ever. With your support, we will ban fracking and factory farms, stop catastrophic climate change, and secure our water infrastructure. Will you join us?

No, I’m sorry, I can’t make a monthly donation — but I can make a one-time donation.

The Ins & Outs of the Democratic Climate Policies

September 4, 2019
 Climate Democracy

It almost seems like every day brings a new ‘climate plan’ from one of the Democratic presidential contenders, and telling them apart can start to feel tricky.

While each of the candidates agrees that tackling climate catastrophe is vital, they differ on what that agenda should look like — who should fund it, what sectors it should target, and how it should correct environmental inequities. There is no one perfect plan, but there are policies we can identify that make a plan bolder, more efficient, and less susceptible to corporate manipulation.

What does a market-based climate policy look like? What about a non-market-based one? 

A market-based climate policy is simply one that relies on market forces to slow fossil fuel production or usher in a ‘carbon neutral’ energy system. Key examples include carbon taxes, cap and trade, and carbon offsets. The big idea with carbon taxes is that, if we make fossil fuels expensive enough, we’ll simply price them out of use; high costs will force ratepayers to pick clean energy over dirty energy.

While this might sound appealing on its face — especially given a status quo where the government grants huge tax breaks and subsidies to fossil fuel corporations — the evidence tells us that cap and trade, carbon taxes, and carbon offsets aren’t effective at reducing the emissions that are causing global warming. A small tax would likely only lead fossil fuel companies to pass along the cost to working people. That could be one reason many corporations have begun to embrace carbon taxes: they are a fairly painless way to look like you care about climate. 

So far, carbon taxes feature prominently in the plans of Andrew Yang, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Senator Cory Booker. Buttigieg and Booker both embrace dividend programs that purport to return some of the tax revenue back to Americans. But a more effective strategy is an all-out ban on fossil fuel production and exports. All-out bans are absolute and won’t fall victim to corporate antics (at least not without serious legal repercussions). Several candidates call for moratoria on leasing federal lands for fossil fuel development, including Booker, Buttigieg, and Senator Elizabeth Warren (who promises a complete ban on new leases as her first executive order). Senator Bernie Sanders and former Representative Beto O’Rourke both promise a total end to subsidies for the oil and gas industry

We need a total clean energy transition. But by when? 

ASAP, folks. But because even the most politically brilliant candidate won’t be able to install solar panels on every single building in America on Inauguration Day, the frontrunners are proposing some different benchmarks. 

In line with the demands of the Green New Deal and Paris Climate Agreement, several candidates call for national net zero emissions (note: not the same thing as decarbonization) by the year 2050: Julian Castro, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. Andrew Yang is a year more ambitious, setting the net zero deadline for 2049, and Cory Booker, Julian Castro, and Kamala Harris all set it for 2045. 

So… how much will this cost? 

Regardless of which candidate’s plan you’re looking at, it’s going to be in the trillions. Bernie Sanders’ plan takes the lead with a $16.3 trillion investment over 15 years, and Julian Castro and Kamala Harris are right behind with a pledge to spend $10 trillion. Joe Biden is at the low end with his plan to spend $1.7 trillion over 10 years. All other candidates have plans with a price tag somewhere between $3 and 5 trillion. 

If that sounds expensive, just remember that not addressing climate change would be the costliest option of all

Where does nuclear power fit into a clean energy plan? 

The short answer is — it doesn’t. Although nuclear energy doesn’t emit carbon, it still produces dangerous radioactive waste, which has historically been placed in the midst of underrepresented, low-income communities. Nuclear power also lacks the potential for local, community-owned energy production that makes wind and solar so promising (amongst other things). 

Andrew Yang’s plan calls for massive subsidies towards nontraditional forms of nuclear power. Cory Booker also plans to build more nuclear plants. Senator Sanders explicitly advocates for a nuclear phase-out. Other plans leave the door open to nuclear energy by describing their goal as “zero emission” electricity, instead of 100 percent renewable electricity. 

Some other stuff…

These climate plans also touch on other issues. A few interesting climate policy pillars you’ll see: 

Cory Booker recently announced that his climate plan will remove all lead water pipes in the country by the year 2028. This is in response to the recently-uncovered lead poisoning crisis in his home city of Newark, New Jersey. Sanders also addresses aging water infrastructure, calling for the passage of the WATER Act

Elizabeth Warren’s plan takes aim at the U.S. military, one of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters globally. 

Andrew Yang’s plan has a section titled “Moving to Higher Ground,” which allocates hundreds of billions of dollars to getting people physically out of the way of sea level rise and major storms.

It’s worth remembering that the campaign season has just started, so expect more details to emerge in the months ahead. Most importantly, grassroots climate activists have fundamentally changed the nature of this debate, forcing the candidates to spell out where they stand on the fight to fundamentally save a livable future. 

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?