Victory in Santa Barbara, Eight Years In the Making

by Mark Schlosberg

In March the Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors voted to block a massive Exxonmobil trucking proposal on a 3-2 vote. The proposal would have resulted in the reopening of three offshore drilling platforms, which have been closed since 2015. This major win represents a shifted political dynamic in a county Food & Water Watch has worked in for the past eight years. 

Food & Water Watch’s Mark Schlosberg sat down with Tomás Rebecchi, Central Coast Organizing Manager, to chat about the win. They discussed why this is major, how  the county changed its approach to oil and gas since FWW first got involved and what’s up next.

Food & Water Watch’s Mark Schlosberg sat down with Tomás Rebecchi.

Growing a Movement to Ban Fracking and Stop Onshore Drilling in Santa Barbara County

Mark: In 2014, Food & Water Watch started getting involved in the county. What was work on oil and gas issues like before then, and what did we bring to the fight to move off fossil fuels?

Tomás: There’s always been onshore and offshore oil extraction in Santa Barbara and for the longest time, most of the effort was focused on stopping offshore drilling, especially since the major oil spill in 1969, which is viewed as the birthplace of the environmental movement. There was less focus on onshore drilling, which was going on in the northern parts of the county. These are areas with farmland and with significant communities of color. Food & Water Watch helped focus attention on these onshore issues and worked with our partners to build a strong coalition focusing on onshore drilling. We also brought attention to fracking and cyclic steam and other types of extreme extraction methods that are being used in the county. We helped organize a ballot measure in 2014 — Measure P — which would have banned fracking in the county. Though it failed at the ballot, it helped galvanize attention on these issues and support for stronger action. The movement against fossil fuels in the county is now stronger and more diverse. 

Mark: More specifically, what did we do on the ground to engage people and build a more powerful movement? 

Tomás: For about two or three years, we ran an effort that focused mostly on North County and Santa Maria. We would go door to door collecting petition signatures and handing out information about proposed drilling projects in Spanish, English and Mixteco. We collected people’s information and reached out to them to mobilize them to show up when their voices were needed — at planning commission meetings and board of supervisor hearings. We also fought for and won translation services so that these meetings would be accessible to the local impacted community. We helped organize house parties and other community events. We did this work for years in the fight to stop the over 700 proposed wells in Cat Canyon.

Changing Politics Results in Majority Political Power and Significant Victories

Mark: How have the politics around oil and gas changed in the county in the past eight years?

Tomás: Back in 2014, we did not have a solid majority on the Board of Supervisors against expanded oil drilling and fossil fuel infrastructure. The dynamics in the county have changed significantly since then. Food & Water Action, our political and lobbying arm, helped elect Joan Hartmann to the Board of Supervisors on a climate justice platform. Her getting elected has provided a critical third vote against fossil fuel projects. Getting her elected was critical. And this trucking proposal was the first significant vote on a fossil fuel project that tested this majority. It was great to see the majority come through for the community and stop this project. 

Mark: Can you talk a little about the defeat of the trucking proposal and the significance of it?

Tomás: It was a long process and there were multiple hearings. We first won at the planning commission, and then it was sent to the Board of Supervisors with a recommendation in our favor. During the last big push, Food & Water Watch and our coalition partners submitted hundreds of letters and turned out speakers. The oil industry bussed in people to try to drown out the community voices, but we also had lots of people on our side call in, write letters and show up. It came down to one vote — it was a 3-2 decision. On a policy level, it was an important vote against a dangerous proposal that would have led to more oil extraction. Politically, the result showed the impact of years of organizing by Food & Water Watch and our many allies across the country. 

Moving Towards A Renewable Energy Future

Mark: Lastly, can you share what’s next for Santa Barbara? What are your hopes, dreams and vision? 

Tomás: We need to continue to roll back fossil fuels in the county, and also look to a renewable energy future. We’re inspired by the work happening in Ventura County to stop oil extraction and the work in Los Angeles to move to 100% renewable energy. We need to move beyond playing wack-a-mole when projects are proposed and move forward with a comprehensive plan to rapidly move off fossil fuels and to 100% renewable energy. We don’t have time to waste!  

We can’t win without supporters like you.

Food, Water, And Climate Are Under Attack. We Must Protect Them.

by Mark Schlosberg and Peter Hart

With the Western United States engulfed in megadrought and climate change supercharged weather disasters increasing everywhere, the future can seem bleak. This is especially true given that our dysfunctional Congress has failed to pass any meaningful climate legislation. 

But now isn’t the time to surrender. It’s time to double down to advance a bold food, water, and climate agenda. This moment calls for visionary plans that will inspire people across the country and meet the challenges we face.

We need to organize around the real solutions that will address our food, water, and climate problems. 

A Proven Theory To Address Climate Change And Resource Problems

At Food & Water Action and our affiliated organization, Food & Water Watch, we’ve never backed down from a fight. Our theory of change – how we believe real change happens – is two-fold. First, we propose bold policies that will solve real problems that people face. And just as importantly, we organize around those solutions, even when others say they are politically unreasonable. 

It’s how we’ve:

  • Changed the national debate on fracking and won a ban in New York, Maryland and communities nationwide. 
  • Blocked water privatization attempts in dozens of communities.
  • Begun changing the debate around factory farms. 

At the federal level, we cannot afford to waste time on industry schemes like carbon capture and so-called ‘renewable’ biogas. These are delay tactics that will lock us into decades of fossil fuels, incentivize the spread of factory farms and subsequently pollute our water. We need to advance legislation that takes on the fossil fuel industry, big agribusiness, and water privatizers. That’s exactly what we’re doing. 

Climate Change Is Inseparably Connected With Food And Water Concerns

The issues of food, water and climate are deeply connected. The historically punishing drought in the West, for example, is driven by climate change. Climate change, in turn, is being fueled by greenhouse gasses from factory farms and fracking and drilling. Industrial agriculture is also a massive water user and polluter in dry western states, as is the fossil fuel industry.

So we have a reckless cycle: 

  • Fracking and factory farms use and pollute water. 
  • The greenhouse emissions they create drive climate change. 
  • Climate change leads to drought and less water, which also affects food supply. 

All the while, a small number of giant corporations and wealthy titans profit while ordinary people suffer.

This Climate Change Cycle Can Only Be Broken Through Systemic Shifts In Policy

We need to break this cycle. And that’s what we aim to do with three landmark pieces of legislation in Congress. Passing the Future Generations Protection Act, the Farm System Reform Act, and the WATER act will not happen in the current weak Congress. But laying the groundwork now is critical. Real federal solutions are essential to avoid worsening climate chaos, depleted water systems, and a further consolidated food system that hurts everyone, including family farmers. 

THREE LANDMARK BILLS

The Farm System Reform Act (FSRA) will make our food system safe, healthy, and sustainable. This critical legislation will ban the construction of new factory farms and the expansion of existing ones. The FSRA will phase out existing factory farms by 2040. It will also ensure we’re enforcing environmental laws on existing factory farms, including holding Big Ag companies responsible for their pollution. 

Our aging water systems are crumbling. Meanwhile, giant corporations are scrambling to privatize public water systems to profit from the basic human right to water. The Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability (WATER) Act will provide a long-term, comprehensive solution to the current water-funding gap. It will achieve this by rolling back a small portion of the Trump’s administration’s corporate income tax cuts. The WATER Act will significantly fund the protection of our drinking water and create almost one million jobs. Ultimately, the WATER Act will help renew our commitment to public water, ensuring everyone has access to affordable water service.

The Future Generations Protection Act (FGPA) is groundbreaking legislation that would move us toward the fossil-fuel-free future we need. The FGPA will: 

  • Ban greenhouse gas emissions from all new power plants
  • Ban fracking
  • Ban crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids exports 

It’s the only bill in Congress that would ban fracking nationally – a critical step to ending climate chaos.

Your Support Is Needed In The Fight To Preserve Our Resources

The first step is having the right solutions to the problems that face our generation. Now that we have those, we need your support at all levels to build the power over the long-term to enact them. Will you add your name to show Congress the power these solutions have?

Urge Congress to support the Future Generations Protection Act!

The Truth About Bogus Factory Farm ‘Biogas’

By Phoebe Galt and Peter Hart

Factory farms are a huge pollution menace. These industrial facilities are responsible for an array of serious threats to our air, water and climate. Factory farms are responsible for an enormous amount of methane pollution — a potent greenhouse gas supercharging the climate crisis. Now, industry wants to profit off that pollution. They’re calling the scheme “renewable natural gas,” but we prefer the term “factory farm biogas.

The most recent assessments from the EPA report methane emissions from agriculture have increased about seven percent since 1990. Emissions from factory farm manure have risen an astonishing 71 percent. The main contributor to this spike appears to be the common factory farm practice of mixing animal waste with water. 

Lagoon at Pennwood Dairy Farms. CCBY-USDA

After creating this problem, the factory farm and fossil fuel industries are promoting a bogus biogas “solution” — one that we’re all paying for. It involves trapping the methane before it is released into the atmosphere, using expensive and often dangerous digesters. Then they turn it around and market it as “clean energy.” This business is booming with venture capital and government subsidies, and it enjoys mostly glowing coverage in the media. After all, turning waste into energy is a good thing, right? 

It’s time to set the record straight.

Methane? More Like Methain’t

If methane emissions are the problem, factory farm biogas is hardly a solution.

The main culprit here is actually the factory farms themselves. Factory farms produce and concentrate huge amounts of waste in one location. So addressing factory farm pollution has to start with addressing factory farms themselves.

But it’s not only the presence of poop — it’s the way factory farms handle it. Many facilities mix manure and water in large waste pits. Industry prefers to use the term, “lagoons,” but that’s quite a stretch. The anaerobic conditions in those pits are what create most of the methane. As the latest EPA data explains, solid manure management techniques practiced on non-industrial farms produce far less methane. The growth of factory farms and with it the growth of stewing waste cesspools have created the industry’s methane problem. Some projects, like one we’re fighting in Delaware, go even farther, creating methane where there was none before. Poultry litter doesn’t emit methane until companies modify it to “capture” the gas for profit.

Factory Farms Drive Climate Change — Biogas Doesn’t Help

The industry’s biogas “solution” addresses only a tiny fraction of methane pollution — created by its own poor practices. Despite pouring millions of public dollars into these projects, digesters do not appear to be having much effect on actually reducing pollution. One news report noted the Obama administration and an industry group aimed to reduce agriculture’s climate pollution problem by promoting digesters. The result? Since then, factory farms have only gotten bigger, and emissions have risen 15 percent.

So a factory farm digester is not even close to a solution. At best, it transforms a small fraction of the pollution created at these facilities into pipeline-grade gas and digestate. We’ll get to that later. But in doing so, the methane refinery creates a different stream of pollution:

  • The methane that will inevitably leak from pipelines and other dirty energy infrastructure;
  • The pollution created by trucks that carry the gas to be injected into pipelines;
  • And the pollution that is created when the gas is finally burned (releasing CO2).

Digesters use public money and incentives to prop up two of the biggest polluters — Big Ag and Big Energy.

Biogas Won’t Clean Up Factory Farms Either

What industry doesn’t tell you is there’s also the matter of the leftover poop after anaerobic digestion – what’s called “digestate.” Refining gas out of it doesn’t make that poop magically disappear. In fact, digestate has been found to contain higher concentrations of pollutants than manure, and is more water-soluble. This means the threat to clean water — a well-documented problem caused by factory farms — will persist even with biogas digesters. 

Leftover digestate is generally overapplied to fields, and can either spill directly into waterways or leak into water tables from there. Those who live near factory farms know that the field application of manure has long been a menace for nearby communities. It poses real threats to people’s drinking water and health.

Frackers Love Biogas

There’s another industry as eager to hype bogus biogas as Big Ag — fossil fuel corporations and related utility companies. This might seem a little surprising at first. If factory farm gas were really a form of clean energy, it could replace gas from drilling. Wouldn’t that be bad news for the companies that make money fracking? They know better than to worry. Even the rosiest industry predictions tell us that biogas will only ever displace a small fraction of fracked gas usage.

For fossil fuel interests, this is almost a too-perfect scenario. The fracked gas industry is calling biogas their savior. They can promote biogas as ‘clean’ energy knowing it will be delivered in the same pipes that transport fossil gas. Factory farm gas does not replace fracked gas – it complements it, and further entrenches the dirty status quo.

Factory Farms And Their Waste Are No Climate Fix

Help us stop false solutions like factory farm biogas. It’s not clean energy and it’s not a path out of our climate crisis. We don’t need to rely on fairytales that paint fossil fuels and factory farms as heroes — we have the capability to rely on renewable energy now. Electing leaders with the political will to take necessary strides into a clean energy future is how we get there.

Your friends should know about this.

Four Big Reasons We Should All Look At The IPCC Climate Report

by Mark Schlosberg

A new report should be making waves, but because of a news cycle focused on other things, it’s being ignored. On February 28, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”) released its latest report on climate change. While it didn’t get nearly the attention it deserves, it’s another in a series of increasingly dire warnings about the severity of the climate crisis. It practically bellows the need for bold action, and yet it’s disappearing into the void.

As Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC said:

“This report is a dire warning about the consequences of inaction…It shows that climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our wellbeing and a healthy planet. Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to increasing climate risks.”

The report is loaded with detail about a litany of impacts, but there were four main themes. 

Climate impacts being felt and some have become irreversible

The report made clear that climate change is here, accelerating, and “has caused substantial damages, and increasingly irreversible losses.” There are a wide array of impacts including drought, fires, and species loss. While some impacts like species loss are already irreversible, others including glacier retreat, Arctic changes, and mountain ecosystems are approaching irreversibility. 

Climate change is already having significant impacts on food and water, which will only get worse

The mega-drought hammering the western U.S. is the latest example of climate change’s impact on our food and water. According to the IPCC report climate change is having a wide range of impacts on food. These range from ocean acidification’s impact on fisheries to water and food insecurity for millions of people and increased malnutrition. Indigineous communities, small farmers, and low income households are hit the hardest — particularly in Africa, Asia, Central and South America. According to the report:

 “…roughly half of the world’s population currently experience severe water scarcity for at least some part of the year due to climatic and non-climatic drivers.”

Our ability to adapt is limited and we are fast approaching those limits

There are still steps we can take to avoid climate chaos. However, several limits of adaptation have been reached in some areas and others are fast approaching. According to the IPCC, several systems have already approached our surprise adaptation limits including “some warm water coral reefs, some coastal wetlands, some rainforests, and some polar and mountain ecosystems.” Once we reach 1.5 degrees of global warming “some ecosystem-based adaptation measures will lose their effectiveness.”

We still have time to act but we need bold action across the economy. 

We still have time to act, but the window for avoiding catastrophic impacts is rapidly closing. We no longer have time for half measures or long term plans. We need a global mobilization to move off fossil fuels and transform our economy. According to the IPCC this will require significant political commitments and follow through, policies with clear goals, and mobilization of financial resources. It will take a truly global effort. We’ve seen that the U.S. and other countries can make bold, rapid changes in the response to COVID-19. It will take that level of commitment and more to address the climate challenge. 

The report noted: 

“…the cumulative scientific evidence is unequivocal: Climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health. Any further delay in concerted anticipatory global action on adaptation and mitigation will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.”

 Tell your representative to support the Future Generations Protection Act.

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

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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John Fetterman’s Fracking Liabilities

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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