‘You’ll Never Even Know We Were Here,’ Sunoco Told Ginny. They Lied.


When Ginny Marcille-Kerslake looks at the damage to her community, what’s most upsetting is how Sunoco/Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) lied to her.

“You’ll never even know we were here,” is what the fossil fuel corporation said, according to residents who were talked into getting on board with their underground drilling plan for the Mariner East 2 and 2X pipelines, which would transport highly explosive liquids right through their community.

It’s become something of a sick punchline now that time has shown the havoc ETP would wreak on residents’ homes, yards, safety, and property values, not to mention their time, energy, and peace of mind. Initially, Ginny and her neighbors were willing to give the company the benefit of the doubt that drilling could be done safely. But then a chain of events occurred that proved how unsafe it really was, and Ginny credits Food & Water Action with teaching their community how to organize and grow their collective power.

Sunoco Causes Disaster Upon Disaster In Pennsylvania And Creates An Activist

The first time it became apparent that Sunoco had lied was when the trees got cut down across from Ginny’s yard. What was supposed to be a few trees suddenly turned into clearing the entire swath that had once offered shade, habitat, cleaner air, and beauty to Ginny’s neighborhood.

Then on June 22, 2017, Sunoco/ETP hit the aquifer underneath their neighborhood with their drilling. It caused copious amounts of water to flow down the hill, destroying the private wells residents rely on for drinking, cooking, and bathing.

Ginny, who had spent much of her career as a soil scientist, had a lot going on in her life with a new home textiles business (she says folks around town were starting to refer to her as “the apron lady”) and sons who still needed her presence. But when she saw how difficult it was to get straight answers from Sunoco/ETP, and how likely they were to keep dangerously drilling, Ginny knew she had to take on a new role — as an activist against the Mariner East pipelines.

Their Community Responds To Sunoco’s Blatant Disregard For Their Wellbeing

As Ginny reached out and assembled with other community members, she learned about how the pipeline was keeping them awake at night too. Parents of small children were terrified because the pipeline would run right underneath their play areas in the yard. Some neighbors had functional parts of their property, like sheds, cut off from their use for what would become years. The really sobering fear was how densely populated the area was and how many people would be hurt or killed if a pipeline explosion happened — which happened recently west of them in an area less populated, avoiding fatalities only by sheer luck. How would one hospital’s burn unit handle 500 children at once if they needed to? If an explosion occurred, how would they evacuate the senior living residents with a pipeline running directly alongside their windows?

So Ginny and her neighbors got to work. They worked with Senator Andy Dinniman to get temporary halts to the drilling. They pursued longer-term moratoriums, too. They bird-dogged ETP every time something went wrong — like the times ETP didn’t self-report as they’re required to do when sinkholes occurred on Lisa Drive. As community member Caroline Hughes retells it, a resident recorded the accident and reported it to the Public Utility Commission (PUC) after ETP had been given a chance to self-report and did not. When the resident spoke to a representative at Sunoco, they reportedly said, “Sunoco isn’t going to shut down Mariner because you asked them to.” Twenty-four hours later, the PUC forced them to shut it down temporarily.

Even now, it’s hard to get straight answers from ETP. Shortly after the corporation began hydrostatic testing in mid-2018 to look for leaks, Ginny found a strange accumulation of water in front of her yard. She had a representative from ETP out to look at it. He told her that if it had been a leak from the testing it would have appeared green. Ginny pointed to the green-tinged water and asked, “You mean like this?” He then outrageously claimed it had to be algae — even though it was only about a day after the water appeared. So Ginny and her neighbors keep fighting to get ETP and this drilling out of their community. The residents cannot trust them — period.

Stopping this dangerous pipeline is also about stopping the fossil fuel industry from turning Southeastern Pennsylvania into “Houston on the Delaware.” They’re planning for a major build-out of toxic infrastructure that will make entire communities sick and further destabilize our climate.

‘The Pipeline Lady’ Shares How Food & Water Action Made A Difference

These days, because of her relentless work, Ginny is also known around town as “the pipeline lady.” Ginny says Food & Water Action gave her and other community members the skills they needed to maximize their fight against ETP, like when they teamed up to elect officials in the local legislature who would fight back against the pipelines. She recalls:

Last year one of the townships on the pipeline route realized that they would have to change their local government in order to get representation for the community against Mariner East and they didn’t really know how to do that until Food & Water Action came in and helped them organize their community, recruit volunteers, and get people out to vote. As a result of what Food & Water Action helped them do, the community was wildly successful on Election Day. It really couldn’t have been possible without Food & Water Action and their organizing abilities.

One of the organizers, Sam Rubin, recently asked me to tell someone what he does for a living.

I said, “Sam, you get people to do things without them realizing you’re getting them to do it.”

And that’s how we were able to flip that township.

And that was just the start. Building from that momentum, Ginny managed the campaign of Danielle Friel Otten for State Representative, one of her neighbors and new friends in this fight. Danielle decided to run after meetings with her state representative left her feeling that her voice and that of her community were not being heard. She learned her representative and others in Harrisburg accept large donations from the oil and gas industry. With Ginny managing her campaign, and Food & Water Action lending people power and consulting to the campaign, Danielle Friel Otten successfully won the seat and will represent her community’s interests from that powerful position.

We’re In This Together, In Ginny’s Neighborhood And Beyond

Ginny and her neighbors are fighting back, and have carved out important wins along the way. It’s still a David vs. Goliath kind of battle, though, and they’ll need support along the way — just like communities all over America that Food & Water Action empowers to stand up to corporations like ETP.

These fights don’t just affect one person — they affect entire communities, states, and the future of our country. And though Ginny’s story involves the Mariner East 2 pipeline, it reflects the kinds of fights going on all over the country. We’re in this together and we’re making lasting changes that will secure safe climates and environments for our future generations.

UPDATE: In the years since we first published this story, Ginny has come to work with Food & Water Action as a part of the staff. It’s incredible to see how passionate people fighting polluting corporations grow stronger in their tenacity to win.

Will you chip in to help our work with fighters like Ginny? Your contributions are what support these true heroes on the ground with the tools they need to fight the fossil fuel industry.

Every donation helps us fight for a livable future.

Corporate Greed: Two Industries That Used Global Crises To Rob Us


by Angie Aker

It’s not your imagination. If everything seems to cost more lately it’s because it does. Think about the things you usually buy at the grocery store or retail shop. Add up your utilities and gasoline. Since the pandemic started, prices have gotten higher and higher for nearly everything we need to live. Some industries (ahem, oil & gas!) even used the war in Ukraine as a pretense for “scarcity” price gouging. 

Unchecked corporate greed affects every person and every family in the country. And voters are sick of it.

Corporate Greed Showed Itself In The Supposed “Meat Crisis”

In 2020, as coronavirus killed millions and crumpled small businesses across the country, corporate titans saw a chance to profit. Smithfield and Tyson are prime examples. Then-President Trump hyped their PR about a “meat shortage.” Meat-packing plants pressured staff to work regardless of illness, in conditions that were even more unsafe than usual. Vice President Pence appealed to meatpacking workers, telling them how vital they are — because lobbyists told him to. Even with that stunning, unethical pressure, production fell — but from already unsustainably high levels.

Because overproduction was the status quo, and demand fell when consumers curtailed dining out, there was plenty of meat in cold storage. In fact, the U.S. was so flush with meat supply that exports carried on as usual. All while giant food corporations issued fake warnings about food shortages so they could jack up prices. We actually filed suit against Smithfield for lying about the situation. 

The corporate motto? Never let the truth get in the way of a good story, especially if that story multiplies your profits. That mindset has spread from the food sector to touch every consumer. 

But blatant price gouging is now facing a backlash. 

Oil & Gas Industry Uses An Old Tactic To Gouge Consumers During Ukraine War

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine became another convenient pretense for profit, this time for a prolonged spike in gasoline prices. Despite adequate supplies, desperate politicians wanted corporations to increase supplies with more drilling, but shareholders were making billions in profit. CEOs, who personally profited, were in no hurry to do anything that even looked helpful since their Wall Street investors were benefiting from a fake ‘shortage.’

“The evidence could not be any clearer: The fossil fuel giants are cashing in on the global energy crunch, pinching American families and sending excess profits back to shareholders and Wall Street speculators. This demands a policy response – namely, a windfall profits tax like the one introduced by Rep. Ro Khanna and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, that would recover much of these ill-gotten gains and return them to struggling households. Lawmakers who complain about corporate concentration and inflation should do something about it – like tackling the damage being caused by polluting profiteers. Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer should bring this legislation forward for a vote.”

— Mitch Jones, Food & Water Watch Managing Director of Advocacy Programs and Policy

Gasoline prices nearly doubled during since the start of 2022. Even though they’re leveling off, they’re still significantly higher per gallon than before the spike. It’s doubtful prices will return to pre-Ukraine-invasion levels since consumers seem grateful to be gouged even a little less. Big Oil & Gas is still getting away with stealing from us, just a little less obviously.

In fact, Big Oil has used the Ukraine crisis to rally for a host of items on their wishlist:

The International Energy Agency warned in 2021 that fossil fuel production must stop growing immediately to avoid the worst effects of climate chaos. We all know we have to move to renewable energy right away, and that we can do it now. We also know now that fossil fuel executives will use every new crisis as a tool to prevent it. 

Corporate Greed Has Gone Unchecked For Too Long

So many corporations are guilty of the tactics the factory farm and fossil industries have perfected. These are just two examples in industries that our work centers on. We can’t let corporations keep robbing people, and it starts by rallying everyone we know to get mad as hell! This is how we build the power to fight back.

We the people are not corporations’ piggy bank!

Manchin Reconciliation Deal Fails to Truly Address Climate Change and Locks in Fossil Fuel Use


Washington, D.C. – Tonight a deal between Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Democratic leadership was announced. While the full details are yet unknown, the agreement is being touted as a climate deal that purports to cut carbon emissions 40 percent by 2030. 

In response, Food & Water Action Executive Director Wenonah Hauter issued the following statement:

“After dragging his feet for more than a year, Senator Manchin announced an agreement that won’t solve the crisis, and may make it worse. The few details released this evening suggest this deal will prop up fossil fuels and promote the various false climate solutions beloved by industry.

“Streamlining permitting for natural gas pipelines and exports is not climate action, it is the opposite. More subsidies for dirty hydrogen, carbon capture, and nuclear energy are not climate action, they are the opposite.

“This so-called deal forced by Senator Manchin is what we would expect when Congress is so closely divided and friends and beneficiaries of the fossil fuel industry have effective control over ‘climate’ policy. It proves we need to elect more climate champions so that we can pass the policies actually needed to confront the crisis we all face. Until then, we should not accept deals that strengthen the oil and gas industry to the detriment of us all.”

Fighting For Communities & Climate in PA’s Battleground Midterms


by Sam Bernhardt and Mia DiFelice

Nestled between three rivers lies Pittsburgh, the steel capital at the heart of Southwest Pennsylvania. Once, the mills belched pollution into the air, blackening the shirts of steelworkers and steel magnates alike. Though the air has begun to clear, the region faces the legacy of that pollution and the growing threat of fracking development. Now, in this year’s midterm elections, it will be a battleground in our fight for a greener future. 

From Company Towns To A Green New Deal For Southwest PA

Southwest PA has a long history of extractive, polluting industry and environmental racism. The region is dotted with old steel towns that were once standard-bearers for U.S. production. When the steel industry left in the 1980s, it bled jobs and abandoned polluting infrastructure. The region still suffers from abysmal air quality and an outsized asthma problem.

In more recent years, the fracking industry has set its crosshairs on Southwest PA. Across the state, the industry has targeted Black and brown communities for siting their dangerous operations. In 2017, it was announced that Beaver County would become the home of a massive ethane cracker plant that will turn fracked gas into plastics, spewing more pollutants into the air and water.

These threats, old and new, make Southwest PA one of the most important places in the country for building a movement behind the Green New Deal. The Deal will bring clean energy jobs for the folks steel left behind. It will hold industry accountable for the public health crises it’s caused. And it will bring long-overdue environmental justice to all who call Southwest PA home.

Over the years, Food & Water Action has worked with local communities to stop fracking, town by town. In 2022, we’re taking that people power to the ballot box for the midterm elections. We won’t stop until we have the Green New Deal that Southwest PA demands.

Southwest PA Could Change The Climate Game On Multiple Fronts

There’s a lot at stake in the midterms. Time is running out to act on climate change, while Republicans and conservative Democrats have stalled the legislation we need. After a Supreme Court session that, among other blows, kneecapped the EPA’s powers to regulate power plant emissions, we can’t afford to lose in the midterms. Every single vote counts, and Southwestern PA is home to millions of those votes. 

In a single election, voters will see critical races for governor, state House and U.S. Senate on their ballots. These races could open new doors for climate legislation. We have the opportunity to elect a 51st Democratic Senator to make Joe Manchin irrelevant. We can also elect a majority-Democrat state House that could block attempts to hand over electoral college votes to the Republican candidate in 2024’s presidential election. 

Finally, we can elect a new governor who will actually hold the fracking industry accountable. The Democratic nominee for governor, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, has brought several lawsuits against the industry. Meanwhile, his opponent, Republican State Senator Doug Mastriano, personally attended the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol. Mastriano also promises to ban abortion in Pennsylvania and encourages more fracking in our state and throughout the country.

In a battleground state like Pennsylvania, this race could be decided by just a handful of votes. That’s why we’re going all in on Southwest PA.

We’ve already had one major victory. In May, Summer Lee won the Democratic primary for the U.S. House seat in our 12th District. A community organizer and state representative, Lee faced millions of dollars in attack ads from corporate SuperPACs. But Food & Water Action mobilized volunteers to send thousands of letters and phone calls to drum up support. She won her primary by 978 votes — every vote mattered.

Working Toward a Greener Future For Southwest PA

Our work doesn’t end in 2022. After we win in November, we’ll pass ambitious climate legislation in Allegheny County. If county officials can’t step up, we’ll empower voters through a ballot measure. And we’ll continue to support communities to win local fights against fracking wells and pipelines. 

Southwest Pennsylvania has been a casualty for polluting industries for too long, and we’re fighting back. Food & Water Action is leveraging our long history of grassroots organizing and our relationships with communities on the ground. We will continue empowering communities here until we have a Green New Deal and a green new future for Southwest PA.

We’ll win this fight with your help.

Big Oil’s Bet On Plastic Is Gambling With Our Future


CC BY 2.0, Dying Regime / Flickr
by Mia DiFelice

Although we have a long fight ahead of us to transition off fossil fuels, the tide is turning. Consumers around the world are demanding greener power and more action on climate change. 

Big Oil has read the writing on the wall and has added a new tool to its arsenal — plastics. While public opinion turns against dirty energy, corporations are pushing petrochemicals to keep us hooked on fossil fuels.

Big Oil Is Betting Billions On Plastic

In the 2010s, the fracking boom created such a glut of natural gas that the industry scrambled to find new markets for it. Petrochemical companies were happy to step in. Ethane, a main raw material in many plastics, has doubled production in the U.S. from 2013 to 2021. Desperate to offload the surplus, U.S. companies send it around the world, often at bargain-bin prices. Ethane exported from the U.S. has gone from nonexistent to 300,000 barrels a day. The result — an explosion of plastic. Now, experts expect plastic production and consumption to triple by 2060.

The construction planned to expand the industry needs to stay in the blueprints. From cracker plants to pipelines, this infrastructure is expensive and dangerous. If all the planned projects are completed, emissions from plastics will double by 2050. These projects include 350 chemical plants that would introduce health risks to nearby communities. But since 2010, petrochemical companies have already spent $200 billion to expand plastics manufacturing infrastructure. 

At the same time, public opinion is getting hip to our plastic problem. Cities and states across America are banning certain kinds of single-use plastic. On a global level, Canada, India, France, and many other countries have placed their own bans just this year. Such measures predict shifting prices and future failure. Big Oil’s bet on the industry will entrench billions of dollars into infrastructure that will likely become unprofitable in a few years. 

Plastic Pose Growing Public Health Problems

If allowed to grow, the plastics industry stands to harm our families and communities in so many ways. For one, plastics release toxic chemicals all throughout their life cycle. From volatile organic compounds emitted during fracking, to heavy metals released during recycling, we absorb these toxins by breathing, eating or simply touching them.

Then, there are the pipelines. To make plastics, companies first extract ethane from natural gas liquids. Moving those NGLs requires miles of new pipelines. But NGLs are volatile and flammable, meaning pipelines have a host of health, safety and environmental risks. Yet, most of these lines aren’t regulated, sited or permitted by the federal government. Many states don’t step in, so miles and miles of hazardous pipelines have no oversight at all.

On top of that, the petrochemical industry has a long history of environmental racism. Companies have often cited polluting plants near low-income communities and communities of color. In Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley,” dozens of petrochemical plants dapple the shores of the Mississippi for 80 miles. The emissions from those plants rain yellow droplets of pollution and kill birds mid-flight. The mostly black and brown residents in the region have some of the greatest risks for cancer in the country.

Despite What Big Oil Tells Us, Recycling Doesn’t Work

For decades, petrochemical companies — often owned by the same oil and gas giants — touted ad campaigns (to the tune of $50 million a year) to keep us buying more plastic. They funded projects and created regulations, signaling that we could solve our plastic problem with some blue bins. But most of what we throw in those blue bins will never see a recycling facility. Only 1 in 10 plastics made from 1950 to 2015 have been recycled. In 2021, that number dropped to 1 in 20. 

Even the plastics that make it to a recycling center can’t be properly recycled. Instead, they’re downcycled, or turned into a lower-quality plastic. After that, they can only be downcycled once or twice more before they have to be tossed into a landfill. 

The newest flavor of the recycling myth goes by “advanced recycling,” which uses chemicals and high heat to break down plastics. The process, which is expensive and emissions-intensive, usually just results in a low-grade fossil fuel. Advanced recycling actually creates more greenhouse gasses than sending the plastic to a landfill or incinerating it. 

Yet, the plastics industry has pushed several states to loosen advanced recycling regulations, or even subsidize them. Taxpayers are funding Big Oil’s schemes to make plastic socially acceptable — when in fact, they’ll just create more problems and worsen climate change. 

We Can’t Let Big Oil Get Away With Plastics

Plastics are a danger to human health and climate. While they have a few important uses, Big Oil is pushing way more plastic than we need. The lie of consumer demand needs to be unraveled. In reality, packaging makes up 40% of produced plastics — which consumers have little say in.

The more Big Oil builds out its infrastructure and floods the market with plastics, the bigger the problem becomes. 

We can stop them in their tracks, starting with:

  1. Banning single-use plastics. These include water bottles, packaging and utensils, and they make up most of plastic waste. They end up in landfills, incinerators and our waterways. Like all plastics, they break down into microplastics, where they move much more easily and stealthily. Now, we find plastic in our sea salt, seafood, beer, honey, sugar and so much more.
  2. Banning fracking and new petrochemical facilities. We’ve known for years that fracking does irreparable damage to our environment and our communities. Petrochemical facilities are just as harmful. They’re also feeding the plastic problem, and stand to make it much, much worse. 

We need all hands on deck to stop Big Oil’s Plan B.

Drilling Won’t Lower Gas Prices. Here’s What Will.


by Mia DiFelice

It’s the hallmark experience of summer 2022. You’re rolling down your local street, heat waves shimmering off the asphalt, breeze blowing through open car windows. But when you stop at the light, an impossible number catches your eye. Huge and stark, the sign proclaims “REGULAR: $4.95.” It was $4.70 just last week!

Gas prices have been rising for months. Experts first pointed to an unexpected, rapid demand as global COVID lockdowns lifted. Oil and gas corporations saw bankruptcies and negative gas prices in the worst months of the pandemic. But rather than respond to returned demand, industry titans doubled down on profits.

When Russia invaded Ukraine, countries around the world began sanctioning Russian oil. Eye-watering gas prices have piled onto a seemingly endless list of crises and pain points for consumers. 

So of course, gas has become a political tool that Republicans use to condemn the climate policies of the Biden administration. Pointing at the president is a convenient pretense as they defend the interests of fossil fuel corporations.

But media coverage of gas prices swings between incomplete, misleading and downright false. The truth is, gas prices have little to do with White House decisions, and there are few quick fixes.

Consumers — especially the most vulnerable — need relief. But that won’t come from more drilling, as many politicians are demanding. In fact, more drilling would keep us at the mercy of future oil shocks. And it would attach our economic and environmental health to an industry with a long history of volatility and corporate greed.

Let’s break it down. 

White hand pumps gas into a white car.

More Drilling Is Not A Quick Fix For Gas Prices

Citing economic principles of supply and demand, political pundits call for Biden to increase the U.S. oil supply — that is, to drill more. We need more gas than we’ve got, the logic goes. Prices have risen. If supply grows to meet demand, prices will drop.

This argument misses key facts. First, Biden is not blocking the flow of American oil. In fact, he’s opened the tap more than Trump. The current administration issued more than 3,500 drilling permits in 2020 alone; that’s a third more than during Trump’s first year. And under Biden, U.S. oil production has grown from 9.7 million barrels a day to 11.6 million.

Yet oil and gas corporations are staying away from new drilling projects. Currently, 4,400 approved and drilled wells have yet to produce oil. Oil and gas executives show no sign of ramping up production. 

High Gas Prices Are A Boon For Investors

Oil executives themselves have revealed the reason for their inaction — profits. The oil and gas industry is seeing record cash flow. In the first quarter of 2022, the five biggest fossil fuel companies made their highest profits in more than a decade. Last year, four major companies (Shell, BP, Chevron and Exxon) made $75 billion. 

Their investors are demanding more of that windfall. So, instead of investing record profits in more drilling infrastructure, oil corporations are sending money back to investors through stock buybacks and payouts. In a March poll, 59% of oil executives admitted that investor pressure for profit, not government regulation, is the real reason they’re not drilling.

But blabber about drilling misses the mark. And it’s not like we usually use lots of Russian oil that we’re now missing. Of all the petroleum products used in the U.S. in the last decade, only 2% were Russian imports. So how do Russian sanctions affect U.S. gas prices?

The Oil Market Is A Complex Rollercoaster

Oil is a global market, which means prices are set by global supply and demand. The market could be rocked by tons of factors outside of U.S. control. Factors like natural disasters near production centers, the whims of oil-producing states and war. Such events create uncertainty about the future of supply and demand, which leads to more volatile prices. On top of that, speculators and their fleet of AI routinely bet on the future of the oil market. When prices go up, investors see dollar signs — and the more money they put down, the higher prices fly. 

In 2021, the U.S. exported more oil than it imported for the first time. Our crude oil production is soaring to record highs. Yet the price we pay for oil has still fluctuated wildly over the past few years. We are still vulnerable to oil price shocks.

The additional drilling pundits have proposed are a drop in the bucket of global supply. Far more influential are international disasters that clog supply chains, worry investors and prevent new development. Domestic production won’t insulate the U.S. from the global oil market. In fact, if more of our economy ran on fossil fuels, it would make us even more vulnerable to turbulent markets.

Price Controls and Renewables Are Real Solutions to Rising Gas Prices 

In the short-term, our government can help consumers with two tools. First, price controls would keep gas prices low, especially for those who need it most. Our country’s dirty oil addiction should not hurt workers and families. Second, we need an export ban on gasoline and other fuels. Despite the current crisis, U.S. exports on gasoline and diesel are nearing record-highs. With such exports, corporations send our domestic supply to the highest bidder. This ramps up market prices for everyone — including those of us who depend on gas for daily life and work.

Looking ahead, we need long-term solutions that will get us off the oil market rollercoaster. That means ramping up renewable energy. Renewables will insulate us from global oil shocks much more than domestic drilling ever could.

But we have to pick up the pace of development while stopping new oil and gas. Our infrastructure and investment decisions today will have ripple effects for decades. More drilling won’t help struggling Americans tomorrow or even this year. But it will lock us into a future of dangerous emissions, climate disasters and high prices. 

In April, Rep. Cori Bush, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Jason Crow introduced the Energy Security and Independence Act. This legislation will send $100 billion to the renewable energy sector and to programs that lower utility bills for consumers. It will give the sector the boost it needs to help us transition off fossil fuels — a vital step toward real independence from the oil market’s rollercoaster.

Tell Congress to pass the Energy Security and Independence Act.