VIDEO: Joe Biden Needs To Commit To A Fracking Ban

May 20, 2020
 Climate Democracy

Joe Biden says he would take steps to regulate fracking emissions, but we know he can and must do better. What we really need is for him to pledge to ban fracking everywhere. 

URGE CONGRESS!

Tell members of Congress you want a ban on fracking. Fight like you live here! 

Our Grassroots Brigade Is Taking Action On Coronavirus

March 20, 2020
 Climate Democracy Water
In times of crisis, we look to our leaders to take bold actions to protect us. Food & Water Action has built the organizing power and our members are using it to push those leaders and protect people. 

When the coronavirus started sweeping the world, we understood that one of the crucial underpinnings of our work would be a huge focus — access to water. We also knew that fossil fuel corporations would try to use this moment as an opportunity to enrich themselves. 

We quickly started planning a two-pronged approach with one simple idea: it’s time to protect people over profit. 

Without Water, How Can You Stop A Virus?

You can’t stop the spread of disease if millions are unable to wash their hands. It is that simple. 

Though we’ve fought over the years to shed light on the water shutoff crisis in America and to combat it, the start of the COVID-19 crisis has been a crucial time for us to double down on our work. 

That’s why we’re demanding a national ban on water shutoffs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Because of all the hard work of our organizers, members, allies and other across the country in the last two weeks:

  • 13,223 people have co-signed our demand for a national ban on water shutoffs
  • 289 municipalities and states have stopped water shutoffs
  • More than 128 million Americans have been protected because of these actions

It is work like this that makes us proud of our members and our team. You can add your name now, too

BAN SHUTOFFS NOW!

Help Food & Water Action ban water shutoffs to protect the public from coronavirus.

Hey Fossil Fuels! Get Your Hands Off The Taxpayers’ Emergency Funds

Predictably, as the need for travel plummeted and sunk the already flailing profits of the oil and gas industry to new lows, billionaire fossil fuel execs started cozying up to Trump hoping for a government handout. 

Relief money belongs to the taxpayers — to everyday Americans who are sacrificing so much to stop the pandemic — and it needs to go to initiatives like economic stimulus packages, tests for sick Americans, and vaccine research. The last thing the taxpayers need is to subsidize an industry whose business is already putting us in danger by depleting our water, poisoning our air and soil, and contributing to climate change. 

That’s why we quickly acted to send a message to Congress: No Bailout For Fossil Fuel Companies! 

15,736 of our members agree, and the number is growing by the day. Will you sign on?

ADD YOUR NAME!

The Moment Is Here To Work Harder Than Ever To Protect People

We’ve been growing Food & Water Action’s team and membership for 15 years. We’ve seen a lot of wins, and we’ve developed scrappy, smart strategies to defeat the corporations that want to steer our legislators. 

Everything we’ve learned in these fights has brought us to this moment, when we are all able to band together and be truly useful in the fight to protect the public from disease and opportunistic predators like the fossil fuel corporations. 

Will you join us by making a monthly donation so we can continue this imperative work to protect our food, water, and climate?

I’LL CHIP IN!

Fight like you live here. 

See How Virginia’s Law-Making Session Did On Climate In 2020

March 19, 2020
 Climate Democracy
This year, Virginia’s legislative session was the most climate-oriented it’s ever been. But that doesn’t mean it was all good climate action. Here’s how it shook out.

In this year’s Virginia legislative session, the environment was a central focus. While the energy industry had more of a hand than they should in shaping new climate law, there were still a few good first steps for Virginia’s public health, communities, and environmental movement. We have a lot to be proud of, and a lot to keep fighting for.

The Virginia Green New Deal Act Gained Grassroots Support

This session started with a groundswell of grassroots activity. Food & Water Action, Sunrise Virginia, the Green New Deal Coalition and others rolled out Virginia-specific Green New Deal legislation. The Green New Deal Act, authored by Delegate Sam Rasoul, set ambitious but necessary goals to bolster an equitable transition to 100% clean and renewable energy in Virginia by 2036. 

Rasoul’s bill would end the buildout of fossil fuel infrastructure in Virginia and emphasize equity by prioritizing the communities already most impacted by climate change and fossil fuel pollution. It also guarantees assistance for transitioning to green energy jobs for all current fossil fuel workers, calming fears that curbing the fossil fuel industry would lead to an economic downturn.

While the Virginia Green New Deal ultimately hit snags that tabled it for this year’s session, the momentum it gained in such a short period, and the grassroots environmental coalition that rose up around it, show the staying power a fair and just environmental movement has in Virginia.

The Virginia Clean Economy Act Is A Red Herring

This loophole-riddled competitor to Green New Deal legislation set some climate benchmarks, but not nearly enough when we consider what Virginia needs to prepare for the future. For instance, it aims for a transition to clean energy by the year 2050 — even though IPCC scientists have told us this transition needs to take place 15 years earlier, at the latest, to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. In addition, the Clean Economy Act provides loopholes through which dirty fuels can stay in the “clean” energy mix, and it doesn’t push fossil fuel corporations or utilities beyond the minimal goals they’ve already set for themselves.

Food & Water Action’s advocacy against the Virginia Clean Economy Act aimed to amend the bill to include stronger protections for ratepayers and environmental justice, more ambitious goals, and fewer loopholes. This resulted in some shallow changes, but the drafters still failed to fix the bill’s many problematic shortcomings. However, lawmakers became keenly aware of how this bill would harm ratepayers, which led to many of them supporting Delegate Rasoul’s eleventh hour amendments to improve it. Unfortunately, House leadership prioritized industry profits over ratepayers and failed to pass Rasoul’s changes. Now the Clean Economy Act is headed to Governor Northam’s desk. He has the power to make changes to significantly strengthen it, though this seems unlikely.

Bans on Fracking & Offshore Drilling Are Clear Wins

Last week, after passing through the Virginia House, a bill banning hydraulic fracturing in certain parts of the state also passed through the Senate. This is an excellent start to what could hopefully turn into a statewide ban on fracking, which puts communities at risk and contaminates drinking water. The forward advance of a bill like this shows that fossil fuel monopolies no longer have the stranglehold on Virginia’s politics that they once had. 

Additionally, a bill prohibiting offshore drilling 50 miles or more off Virginia’s coast was signed by the Virginia House Speaker and Senate President last week. It removes policy supporting federal efforts to allow offshore oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic, and protects Virginia’s coastline from the all-too-familiar disasters that accompany offshore drilling. It is a win, to be sure.

Dirty Nuclear Gets a Seal of “Clean” Approval & A Bad Idea Gets Floated

In spite of mounting evidence that nuclear energy is not clean, safe, or equitable, both the Virginia House and Senate moved forward in recognizing it as a “clean” source of power this session. This unfortunate move is particularly dangerous because it could derail investments in truly clean and renewable energy — like wind and solar — in favor of subsidies to prop up aging nuclear facilities and pay for extractive mining of nuclear materials. 

A separate bill moved to recognize clean energy specifically as any energy source that is “carbon-free” — once again, a loophole that could include nuclear. Instead of committing to phasing out nuclear, Virginia is digging itself deeper into that ditch.

Yet another bill showcased the misguided vision that Virginia’s delegates have for energy: more natural gas as “transition fuel,” as well as new carbon sequestration techniques, which, if used, could allow fossil fuel plants to stay open for decades. The reason? Climate legislation in 2020 ran with the goal of making things “carbon-free” or “carbon-neutral,” which concerns itself with carbon emissions and not many of the other problems inherent with fossil fuel production. Carbon sequestration is a harebrained solution without any technological viability, and treating it as a long-term “solution” enables corporations to continue with business as usual.

The Year Ahead For Virginia’s Climate Solutions

Next year, lawmakers need to prioritize real climate solutions that don’t give way to industry interests. The Green New Deal Act was the only solution proposed this year ambitious enough to combat the climate crisis. Virginia had the chance to be a bold leader in the climate fight, but legislators wasted their opportunity. As a result, ongoing and new anti-fossil fuel fights which the act could have supported, will only get harder as more projects are proposed like the Virginia Natural Gas Header Improvement Project, C4GT and Chickahominy gas plants. 

Virginia’s lawmakers can’t rest on their puny laurels. There is still a ways to go and until legislation as bold as the Green New Deal Act is passed, the General Assembly is failing the state. In the meantime, Food & Water Action and our members will continue to fight like we live here!

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Chipping in helps work like this happen — your help is crucial!

Where Does Joe Biden Stand On Banning Fracking?

March 16, 2020
 Climate Democracy
Joe Biden surprised everyone by implying he supports a ban on fracking. While his campaign quickly walked it back, a ban is a necessary step in the fight to stop climate chaos.

Where does Joe Biden stand on banning fracking?

At the March 15 presidential debate, former vice president Joe Biden appeared to endorse a ban on fracking, which would have marked a dramatic shift in his policy and away from his record on the subject. 

The shift was short-lived. Just minutes after the conclusion of the debate, the campaign was telling reporters that he did not mean what he said.

Confusing? Here’s how it went down: During the one-on-one debate, Bernie Sanders said. “I’m talking about stopping fracking as soon as we possibly can.” Biden responded by saying, “So am I.” This appeared to surprise Sanders, who followed up by saying, “I’m not sure your proposal does that.” But Biden appeared to double down, declaring: “No more… no new fracking.”

After the debate, reporters were told by the campaign that Biden meant to refer only to drilling on public lands. 

From the very beginning of his campaign, Biden has faced tough criticism of his climate policies. to which he has often responded by saying that his record speaks for itself. What that record says, especially when it comes to fracking, is shocking. 

Joe Biden Was Selling Fracking as Vice President

The Obama administration was keen on ramping up fossil fuel production. One way it sought to do that was by wholeheartedly embracing fracking, touting gas drilling as a bridge to clean energy. This disastrous move delayed the shift to clean energy, setting back efforts to combat the climate crisis. But the administration was not just supporting new drilling at home; they also pushed other countries to embrace fracking, in part to undercut Russian gas exports. 

Vice President Biden was one of the most prominent public faces associated with that drive; in one high profile case, he went to Ukraine to underscore the need for the country to expand its shale drilling operations.

Biden’s Campaign: Personnel and Policy Linked To Fossil Fuels

One doesn’t need to rely on the Obama administration’s record to evaluate Biden’s climate platform. His campaign’s plan features weak timelines on renewable energy, vague pollution pricing schemes, and relies on non-existent technologies like carbon capture and new nuclear plants to achieve ‘net zero’ emissions. His overall vision has been scored by a variety of advocacy groups, and the results are clear (Sunrise Movement: 75 out of 200; Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund: C+). 

Campaigns aren’t just about voter interactions or policy proposals, though; a lot can be learned by the company a candidate keeps. One of the first major scandals to hit the Biden campaign came last September, when the former vice president attended a fundraiser co-hosted by Andrew Goldman, a co-founder of the fossil fuel company Western LNG. When pressed on how to reconcile this with the campaign’s decision to sign the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge, Biden downplayed Goldman’s role at the company, claiming he was not technically an ‘executive.’

Biden’s industry connections run deep. His campaign’s climate policy advisor is Heather Zichal, who was recently on the board of the natural gas company Cheniere Energy, while the campaign’s co-chair is Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, one of the fossil fuel industry’s most loyal Democrats in Congress. And prominent pro-Biden super PAC “Unite the Country” boasts several officials with ties to corporate interests and fossil fuel companies.

Biden Has Consistently Rejected Calls to Ban Fracking

The March 15 debate was not the first time that Biden has faced questions about a fracking ban. On several occasions on the campaign trail, he has told activists that he does not support banning fracking, or that it simply “cannot be done.” Disingenuous attempts to make it seem like Biden supports a ban led one of his supporters to pen a letter to the Wall Street Journal headlined, “Joe Biden Does Not Support a Fracking Ban.”

Many of us were surprised to hear Biden say he wanted to ban fracking. 

It was not surprising to hear his campaign explain that he didn’t actually mean it. 

If Joe Biden really does want to champion serious climate action, there are some things he should do: He could start by really supporting a ban on fracking, as well as fossil fuel exports, and new fossil fuel infrastructure projects. He should reject advisors and financial supporters who are aligned with the fossil fuel industry. And to underscore his commitment, he could join Bernie Sanders in signing our #UnfrackTheCabinet pledge, which would show that he considers climate action a serious priority.

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These Are California’s Best Climate Candidates For 2020

February 28, 2020
 Climate Democracy
As climate change becomes a top electoral issue, Food & Water Action reveals its top candidate choices to win in California.

As California prepares to vote by March 3rd, Food & Water Action is proud to endorse and support worthy candidates. These candidates share our vision for a clean energy future, and will represent the values of people impacted by dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure from L.A. City Hall to the halls of Congress. 

Positions On Oil & Fracking Heavily Influenced Our Decisions

When weighing candidates in these races, we looked at their positions, their records and their ability to organize communities and coalitions to win. Like all our work, our fights are rooted in local communities. We believe winning local electoral races will lead to political power we can leverage to stop oil drilling in California and ban fracking nationally. 

We are proud to present our endorsements for the races where we organize and live. Get out and vote by March 3rd in California!

L.A City Council

Nithya Raman – District 4 

Nithya Raman has emerged as a bold community leader with a clear vision for guiding L.A. forward on its toughest issues: homelessness, housing affordability and climate action. Nithya will undoubtedly stand up to fossil fuel interests and support a 2500-ft. health and safety buffer zone between oil drilling and homes, and will stand behind a transition to 100% clean energy by 2030. Nithya is the best person to lead the district forward on these challenges.

Nithya’s campaign began knocking on doors in October, prioritizing relationship building with voters on the biggest issues in the district. No other campaign has acted with this much focus on rebuilding trust and connection with voters. 

Aura Vasquez – District 10

Aura Vasquez has been a part of environmental action since the early days of mass climate action in L.A. In 2019, as a member of the five-member Board of Commissioners at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Aura stuck her neck out to oppose building three gas-burning power plants in vulnerable communities. This move aided existing organizing efforts to block the plants, and potentially saved ratepayers billions of dollars.

Aura’s opponents don’t share her vision for a sustainable Los Angeles, and most of L.A.’s political establishment has lined up behind them. But she remains the strongest candidate in the race poised to lob a wrench into the status quo, and push City Hall further on its climate commitments.

Loraine Lundquist – District 12 

Loraine Lundquist has defied all convention in her meteoric rise from a San Fernando Valley community organizer to viable frontrunner for the last conservative-held seat on L.A. City Council. The reason is pretty clear — long-term grassroots organizing builds strong roots. We met Loraine over four years ago in the midst of the Aliso Canyon Gas Blowout. Her family was sickened by the gas, and Loraine immediately got involved. She brought her science background and inquisitive mind to our community meetings. She helped organize demonstrations, attended advocacy visits with government officials, and she and her husband knocked on doors to collect public health surveys from their neighbors. Her involvement in her community grew from there as she took on issues of homelessness, housing, and clean energy with the same passion. When government inaction became a roadblock, Loraine decided to run for office.

Loraine has enjoyed a surge of grassroots support in the 2019 cycle with historic results. She beat the entire field in the 2019 primary, including the Republican establishment favorite John Lee. Loraine has a vision for getting L.A. off fossil fuels toward a robust clean energy economy that can revitalize our communities, clean up our air, and provide thousands of jobs. She will be a breath of fresh air in the San Fernando Valley. 

City of Glendale

Dan Brotman for Glendale City Council (at-large seat)

Dan Brotman has been an environmental campaigner and advocate in Glendale for many years and was heavily involved in a successful campaign to stop the expansion of the Grayson Power Plant. He will bring experience and vision to Glendale City Hall. 

 

 

L.A. County Board of Supervisors

Holly Mitchell – District 2 

Ca. Senator Holly Mitchell is a fighter — she was one of the first elected officials in the California legislature to stick her neck out on banning fracking, even when her colleagues warned her against it. Since that time she’s been an ally in the fight against the spread of more oil drilling in Los Angeles, and wants to ensure that proper measures are taken to protect L.A. communities for oil drilling.

Darrell Park – District 5

Darrell is a proven leader on local environmental issues. From the early days of the Aliso Canyon Gas Storage Facility blowout on the west end of County District 5, Darrell has been a tireless voice demanding accountability, public health and safety, and the permanent closure of Aliso Canyon. His opponent, Katherine Barger, campaigned hard on supporting the Valley community on this issue, but immediately after her election closed her doors to ailing community members, and only revisited the issue as her election came near.

Ventura County Supervisors 

Carmen Ramirez – District 5

Carmen Ramirez has a long-standing record for environmental and social justice in Ventura County, most recently as the Mayor pro tem of Oxnard. In her position, she voted to stop the re-powering of the Puente gas-fired power plant in favor of renewable energy. Carmen also voted to pass and re-extend a moratorium on drilling in Oxnard Tar Sands to protect drinking water. It’s no wonder she’s caught the ire of the fossil fuel industry—she’s not afraid to stand up for communities over their profits. 

Kim Marra Stephenson – District 3

Kim Stephenson is a school principal in Oxnard running in a swing district to replace an incumbent heavily funded by oil interests. Her opponent has already benefited from Big Oil spending to the tune of $825,000. Kim is the clear choice for a district riddled with oil drilling, fossil fuel projects because she’s not afraid to stand up to that industry. 

Santa Barbara County Supervisors

Joan Hartmann – District 3

Joan Hartmann has a long track record for environmental advocacy in Santa Barbara. As supervisor she is battling to keep her seat against a Big Oil supporter. The District includes Isla Vista – home to UCSB, the Santa Ynez valley, and rural communities along the coast. Joan brings passion to her environmental work and told us in an interview that she wants to leave a world that’s better off for future generations. 

Congressional

Adam Balaños Scow – 20th District 

Adam Scow California CD-20Adam is running for Congress in California’s 20th district, located in what’s known as the salad bowl of the world, to represent Monterey and part of Santa Cruz County. Formerly the Ca. Director of Food & Water Watch, Adam is a proven fighter for clean air, clean water and healthy communities. His track record speaks for itself. He stood up to fossil fuel interests and banned fracking in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties to protect communities, farmworkers and groundwater. Adam currently serves as senior strategist for the Public Water Now campaign, which is actively pursuing public ownership of the Monterey Peninsula’s water system. Adam’s commitment and track record in solving the climate crisis easily makes him our top pick. 

As we continue to fight our local campaigns and build on our electoral successes, we are going to need more resources to win. With your support, we believe we can sustain these efforts and shift politics away from fossil fuel interests across California. 

Will you become a monthly supporter of our growing electoral work at Food & Water Action? Together we can elect more community leaders ready to become food, water and climate champions to give California a cleaner future.

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Bloomberg Is Not A Climate Champion

February 24, 2020
 Climate Democracy
Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg is betting that he can buy the Democratic nomination. With a voting base that’s increasingly savvy about climate catastrophe and fracking, it may not be that easy.

Bloomberg Is Not A Climate Champion

Billionaire Michael Blooomberg has stormed his way into the Democratic presidential race, thanks to his campaign pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into advertising across the country. This approach appears to be paying off; some national polls put him in second place in the crowded field, and he’s even leading in some states, despite skipping the first round of primaries and caucuses. 

Part of Bloomberg’s appeal is that he has fashioned himself as a climate champion. A closer look at that record, however, reveals a meager, middle-of-the-road approach that is totally out of touch with what is needed to combat the climate crisis.

Michael Bloomberg Is Propping Up Fracking — And Profiting From It 

Bloomberg’s climate reputation rests on his financial support for the Sierra Club’s campaign against coal power plants. But these campaigns cannot make up for his long record supporting fracking and fracked gas. While he boasted on the Nevada debate stage that these efforts have ‘shut down’ coal facilities, the reality is that the industry has faced mounting financial obstacles, much of it due to a shift towards cheaper fracked gas-fired electricity generation. And that is why this approach fails as climate advocacy: Supporting the switch from one form of dirty fossil fuel pollution to another puts us on a climate-threat treadmill. 

Bloomberg didn’t “accidentally” support the fracking boom. He’s long been a champion of the industry. He opposed the fracking ban movement in New York state (we know because we led the movement), and hypes fracked gas as a ‘bridge fuel’. In an op-ed he wrote with fracking CEO George P. Mitchell in 2012, he called fracking “the most significant development in the U.S. energy sector in generations.” 

And Bloomberg has a financial stake in the fracking boom, too. As documented by Derek Seidman, the Bloomberg fortune is managed by the firm Willett Advisors, which is invested in oil and gas companies. Willett’s CEO Steven Rattner also makes appearances in the media as a pundit, like this New York Times op-ed where he criticizes Elizabeth Warren for supporting a ban on fracking.

And Bloomberg has long championed corporate trade pacts like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would drive additional fossil fuel exports and sabotage global efforts to combat the the climate crisis.  

Bloomberg Hasn’t Evolved With The Times

The evidence that fracked gas is a climate disaster continues to mount. But has this caused Michael Bloomberg to change his tune? Based on his comments at the Nevada presidential debate, it seems not.

“We’re not going to get rid of fracking for a while,” he said at one point. “It is a technique, and when it’s done poorly, like they’re doing in too many places where the methane gets out into the air, it is very damaging. But it’s a transition fuel.”

He’s wrong, by the way. Of course, the gas industry has spent decades propagating this ‘bridge fuel’ myth. But to make matters more confusing, Bloomberg also acknowledged that the climate crisis is much worse than previously thought: “We want to go to all renewables. But that’s still many years from now… The world is coming apart faster than any scientific study had predicted. We’ve just got to do something now.” If Bloomberg actually believes that, then he would have to conclude that fracking cannot be part of that future.

And it’s important to understand that Bloomberg’s pro-fracking position is in keeping with his overall climate vision.  When The Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund evaluated the candidates’ climate policies, Bloomberg received a score of 1 out of 10 — tied with Amy Klobuchar for last place.

Things Bloomberg Could Do If He Cared About Climate

If Bloomberg really wanted to do something about climate change:

  • He could be spending the $464 million he has dropped on his campaign so far helping to elect real climate champions to Congress. 
  • He could have paid to install over 250 megawatts of wind energy. 
  • He could have paid to install 20 kilowatt rooftop solar systems on more than 8300 homes. 

Instead, he’s standing on the debate stage continuing to promote dangerous, climate destroying drilling.

Back in that 2012 op-ed, Bloomberg wrote: “We can frack safely if we frack sensibly. That may not make for a great bumper sticker. It does make for good environmental and economic policy.” He’s wrong on almost every count. Fracking can’t be done safely, and it’s been an environmental policy disaster. Bloomberg might be able to buy his way into the presidential race, but he cannot purchase a remotely adequate climate plan. 

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