Group Reveals Concerning Big Energy Campaign Finance for Ron DeSantis

October 10, 2018
 Climate  Florida

Today, new Food & Water Action research revealed that energy utility companies including Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy, Gulf Power, and TECO have given $3 million this year to Associated Industries of Florida’s (AIF) controlled PACs and given $9 million over the past 5 years. AIF, one of the most powerful lobby groups in Tallahassee, has endorsed Ron DeSantis for Governor and funneled millions of these dollars to the Florida Republican Party.

This campaign finance report calls into question if key pieces of DeSantis’s environmental platform can be taken seriously given that his policies are adamantly opposed by the special interests supporting him. Desantis says he will push to ban fracking but AIF has been one of the most visible groups lobbying against legislation to ban fracking over the last two years. DeSantis says he will also ensure offshore drilling doesn’t occur near Florida, but AIF supports drilling off the coast, even going as far as opposing Amendment 9 that would ban offshore drilling within state waters. Energy utilities like Florida Power & Light also rely on natural gas obtained from fracking.

Voters have become acutely aware of how corporate special interests play a disproportionate role in influencing water, energy, and environmental policy. News reports in the past weeks have described how DeSantis has pledged not to take money from Big Sugar, a major culprit in the algal blooms that have been contaminating Florida’s water. But AIF has meanwhile been receiving sugar industry money that has also benefited DeSantis’ campaign.

Food & Water Action is calling on DeSantis to show he’s committed to his policy positions by asking him to renounce AIF money and any other funds from the energy industry.

DeSantis’s opponent, Andrew Gillum, has signed Food & Water Action’s pledge against accepting any Big Oil & Gas campaign funding. If DeSantis wants to show he is honest in his promises to ban fracking and stop offshore drilling, he must give the money back and stand up to special interests like Florida Power & Light and Associated Industries of Florida that stand to benefit from oil and gas drilling.

Note: The five AIF affiliated PACS have given almost all their money to republican candidates: from 2013 to 2018, 89% of campaign contributions from AIF-controlled PACS went to Republican candidates ($328.5K to GOP candidates of $370.5K total contributions). In 2018, contributions have been slightly more Republican leaning, with 93% going to GOP ($135.5K to GOP of $145.5K total contributions).  These numbers do not include money spent on advertising, scorecards, events, staff, and other political spending.

Now Even Ultra-Conservatives Want to Ban Fracking

September 14, 2018
 Climate  Florida

Earlier this week, Ron DeSantis laid out his environmental platform. 

Before evaluating one of the key pieces of his platform — banning fracking– it should be noted that while in Congress, Ron DeSantis has racked up an abysmal voting record on the environment. The League of Conservation Voters has given DeSantis a lifetime voting score of 2%. So 98% of the time, DeSantis has voted against environmental protections. DeSantis even refuses to admit that climate change is an issue and denies that human activities play a role in the warming climate. He also repeatedly accepts campaign funds from Big Oil & Gas. It is difficult to believe any of his campaign promises to ban fracking and offshore drilling when the very industry that is pushing the ‘drill baby drill’ mentality is bankrolling his campaign. 

The bright spot: After several years of pushing for a statewide fracking ban in the Sunshine State, it is clear now fracking has grown past its partisanship and become an issue that people of all political identities are behind. Ultra conservative gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis has not only declared his support for banning fracking, but has stated that he’ll advocate for a fracking ban starting on day one, if elected. Before the primary election on August 28th, Food & Water Action recorded all seven major Republican and Democratic candidates expressing concrete support for a statewide fracking ban. This was unprecedented, not only in Florida but across the country. Banning fracking has been mostly seen as a progressive issue, but this election season has proven that is no longer the case. 

This sends a strong message nationwide that fracking is too dangerous for our water, our communities, and climate — not just for Florida, but everywhere. This is a far cry from President Trump’s frack-at-any-cost mentality. The Trump Administration has lowered environmental standards for the fracking industry, allowed the industry to send more methane into the atmosphere, and even opened up more public lands to fracking. Big Oil & Gas has a stronghold on our top level public officials, so it’s up to us to make sure our state and local governments respond to the will of the people and protect the environment.

President Trump should take heed: the movement to ban fracking is growing. We are excited to work to make sure Florida will be the fourth state to ban fracking. We’re sending a message nationwide that the drilling practice is too dangerous for Florida and too dangerous for America.

Donate to Keep Your Community Safe from Fracking!

Florida’s Next Governor Supports A Fracking Ban

July 10, 2018
 Climate  Florida

You can’t stop an idea when its time has come. All seven of Florida’s potential next governors — Democrats and Republicans alike — have gone on the record to support a ban on fracking.

It’s a rarity in America to find bipartisan agreement on any issue. Defying the odds, fracking has become an issue that garners critics across party lines. Sensing that opposition to fracking was spreading so widely, Food & Water Action set out to record each and every one of Florida’s seven major gubernatorial candidates publicly declaring they are in favor of a fracking ban. We were 100% successful.

How Did This Happen?

There has been sweeping support for a fracking ban across Florida for a while now. But over the past few months, leadership in Florida have responded. Beginning on June 9 at a gubernatorial debate, the first four candidates proclaimed support for a fracking ban. These are influential and powerful leaders in the Sunshine State and included Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Congresswoman Gwen Graham and Orlando entrepreneur Chris King.

After this massive anti-fracking expression from leadership, one of Florida’s most powerful politicians followed suit. Adam Putnam, the Commissioner of Agriculture, went on the record in support of a fracking ban, quickly followed by Jeff Greene and then the ultra-conservative Congressman Ron DeSantis. Food & Water Action volunteer Ginger Goepper finagled some face time with the Trump-aligned candidate last week and directly asked him whether he supports a ban on fracking. His response, while not confidence-inspiring, was clear. “Yup. Yes. Yeah.”

What Does This Mean?

Fracking has been a hot topic in Florida for a while now, but this new tide toward public commitments in support of a fracking ban is especially revealing about what the next lawmaking session has in store. Oil and energy companies will continue to line the pockets of candidates in hopes of profiting from fracking, but Floridians care more about their environment, public health, and the local economy. They know fracking would threaten each of those. This outpouring of support for a fracking ban from each next potential governor just reiterates: you can’t get elected in Florida if you don’t support a ban on fracking. If Florida is any indication, fracking is about to become as politically toxic across the nation as it is to our future.

Donate to Keep Fracking Out of Your State!

Ultra Conservative Congressman Ron DeSantis Announces Support for Fracking Ban in Florida

July 3, 2018
 Climate  Florida

Amidst a Sean Hannity led rally in Tampa, Florida, Food & Water Action volunteer Ginger Goepper spoke briefly with Congressman Ron DeSantis about his stances on offshore drilling and fracking.

Congressman DeSantis has stated his support for an offshore drilling ban in Florida, but has never spoken publicly about his support for a ban on fracking in Florida. As a major candidate for Governor, Floridians are eager to know his plans to protect Florida’s aquifers and water resources, if elected.

The Congressman acknowledged his support for a ban on offshore drilling. When asked whether or not he also supports a ban on fracking, Congressman DeSantis said “yes.”

As the self-proclaimed most conservative major candidate in the Florida Gubernatorial race, Congressman DeSantis’s stance against fracking displays the growing bipartisan support for protecting Florida from the risks of fracking and offshore drilling.

You can watch this exchange here:

Congressman DeSantis is the last of the seven major gubernatorial candidates to now be on the public record as being against fracking in Florida. We now must ensure that whomever is elected as Florida’s next governor will live up to their campaign pledge and pass an executive order to ban fracking in our Sunshine State.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is Great on Climate. And She’s Not Alone.

June 28, 2018
 Climate  New York

The talk among progressives and the Democratic establishment this week has centered largely on the stunning upset victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over party stalwart Rep. Joe Crowley in a Congressional primary in a working-class district of New York City on Tuesday. Ocasio-Cortez’s solidly progressive, impressively ambitious platform has rightly been heralded by pundits and the media as a new marker for equality-minded leadership in Congress. Particular attention has been paid to her bold climate and energy agenda.

Ocasio-Cortez’s climate agenda is based on a strong, clear, and unambiguous call for 100% clean, renewable energy in America by 2035, and a “green new deal” of economic and environmental justice. We need more voices like hers in the next Congress. Fortunately, we may soon have them.

Support for Full Renewable Transition Growing

There is already a growing movement in Congress to pass legislation that would give America completely clean energy by 2035 – the platform Ocasio-Cortez campaigned on – and there are dozens of Congressional candidates aligned with the movement waiting in the wings to join her in D.C. in January.

Last September, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) introduced the Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future (OFF) Act, which among other things would ban all new fossil fuel extraction and move the country to 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2035, all while prioritizing environmental justice and ensuring a just transition. This is by far the strongest, most comprehensive, most aggressive climate and energy legislation ever introduced. Currently, 35 members of Congress have co-sponsored the bill, formally adding their voices to the call for its passage into law.

Food & Water Action Leads on Climate Change

Last year, Food & Water Action stood with Rep. Gabbard and original co-sponsors Reps. Nanette Barragan, Barbara Lee, Ted Lieu and Jamie Raskin as they introduced the bill and helped kick off the campaign to rally support for this critical legislation around the country. More than 400 groups including Progressive Democrats of America, National Nurses United, Democratic Socialists of America, Our Revolution, and a host of grassroots organizations from coast to coast endorse the OFF Act and are organizing to move it forward.

Ocasio-Cortez’s call for a compete energy transformation by 2035 is consistent with science and follows her pledge to co-sponsor the OFF Act when she is in congress. In fact, she was one of the very first Congressional candidates to do so. And she’s not alone. More than 100 federal candidates have pledged to support the OFF Act – so far, 23 of them have won their primary fights and will compete in the general election in November.

A Growing Climate Caucus in the Next Congress

A handful of these candidates, including Ocasio-Cortez and Deb Haaland (NM-1), are in largely Democratic districts and are certain to join Gabbard in fighting for the OFF Act in Congress next year. Many others constitute some of the most competitive and high-profile races in the country. These include Katie Hill, who is taking on Steve Knight in CA-25, Katie Porter, who is taking on Mimi Walters in CA-45, Kara Eastman, who defeated a former congressman in her primary and will be taking on Don Bacon in NE-2, Liuba Grechen Shirley, who will be taking on Peter King in NY-2, and Gil Cisneros, who will be competing for the open seat vacated by Ed Royce in CA-39. In Wisconsin, both Randy Bryce and Cathy Myers, who are running to replace retiring speaker Paul Ryan, have pledged to support the OFF Act.

While it is not clear who will emerge victorious in all of these and other competitive races in November, what is clear is that when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez heads to Congress in January, she will be in strong company in her fight to address the climate crisis. She will be joining a growing number of fighters for climate justice in the critical struggle to protect our planet and all people living on it.

Majority of Gubernatorial Candidates Support 100% Clean Energy for Maryland

February 26, 2018
 Climate  Maryland
Food & Water Watch activists rally for 100% clean energy before the Maryland gubernatorial forum in Montgomery County.
Food & Water Watch activists rally for 100% clean energy before the Maryland gubernatorial forum in Montgomery County.

Advocates for 100% clean energy received a boost Sunday night at a gubernatorial candidates forum in Montgomery County. After a pre-forum rally where dozens of activists gathered in support of the campaign, candidates were asked if they supported moving Maryland to 100% clean energy by 2035. Five of the seven Democratic candidates — Krish Vignarajah, Jim Shea, Alec Ross, Rich Madaleno and Ben Jealous– all said yes. Kevin Kamenetz was generally supportive but qualified his answer, and Rushern Baker was not present at the forum.

“It’s great to have so many candidates for governor supporting bold climate action,” said Thomas Meyer, Maryland Organizer with Food & Water Action. “Climate change and fossil fuels represent an enormous threat to Maryland, and we’re running out of time to act. Maryland leaders, and all those asking for our votes this year, should be pushing for aggressive and justice-based policies that move our state off fossil fuels and onto 100% clean renewable energy.”

A bill introduced this year in the Maryland General Assembly would require utilities in the state to purchase all of their electricity from clean sources by 2035. The 100% Clean Renewable Energy & Equity Act, which is sponsored by 48 Delegates, also includes features designed to improve public health, protect low-income households and stimulate job growth in Maryland.

The movement to transition off of fossil fuels and onto 100% clean energy continues to grow across the country. In addition to Maryland, lawmakers in New York, New Jersey and Virginia are introducing similar legislation that would move their states to 100% clean electricity by 2035 or sooner.

Sign Up to Move Maryland OFF Fossil Fuels!

Food & Water Action has not endorsed any gubernatorial candidates in Maryland, and will continue to ask all candidates and elected officials to support moving Maryland to 100% clean energy by 2035.