For five years, Food & Water Watch has worked to ban fracking because we've determined that it presents unacceptable risks to our water supply. We've worked alongside grassroots activists across the country—including in the states of New York and Maryland—to pass bans and other ordinances against fracking.
Wenonah Hauter is the executive director of Food & Water Watch and Food & Water Action Fund. She has worked extensively on food, water, energy and environmental issues at the national, state and local level.
Maryland's fracking ban is the latest milestone in a strong and growing movement to resist fossil fuels throughout the country. This is a huge victory for public health, common-sense environmental protection, climate stability and, not least, the power of grassroots organizing. This bold turn will reverberate nationally at a time when the Trump administration seeks to decimate environmental protections for the sake of corporate polluter profits.
A quick overview of the Trump administration's pro-fossil fuel agenda and its roster of climate-denying oil and gas cronies in cabinet seats could lead anyone to believe that matters of energy policy are more partisan than ever. And indeed, it's clear that at the national level, the Republican Party as a whole is still largely committed to an antiquated and thoroughly dangerous plan to keep the country hooked on fossil fuels indefinitely.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approved the deal without requiring the merged firm to divest a single inch of its 38,000-mile oil and gas pipeline network. The company will be able to exert market power to reduce output and raise prices on consumers. As with other industries, this mega-merger only benefits company shareholders, not communities.
The Trump administration is quickly fulfilling the fossil fuel industry's wish list. The American people will pay the price for gargantuan gas giveaways—higher prices, a dirtier environment and climate chaos. Approving this deal is a bad omen for future antitrust enforcement. It seems as though the White House has pulled the cops off the antitrust beat entirely, much to Wall Street's delight.
After years of campaigning against the fatally flawed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the deal appears dead.
The TPP represented the latest in a string of trade deals that put corporate interests ahead of communities, workers, public health and the environment. The broad-based, cross-border campaign tirelessly pressed elected officials to reject the TPP, preventing Congress from passing it this year. Without the environmental, labor, consumer, farm, faith, development and so many other groups that highlighted TPP's shortcomings and organized in their neighborhoods and communities, the TPP would have sailed through Congress before the early presidential primary ballots were cast.
Food & Water Watch was proud to be an integral part of this movement to block the passage of the TPP. Today, there is no path forward to pass the TPP in 2016. Late last week, the White House and House Speaker's office effectively conceded that the TPP's proponents lack the votes to pass the trade deal. We will remain vigilant to ensure that the corporate lobbyists that support the deal do not make one last try to pass it during the remainder of the lame duck congressional session or in the next Congress.
The lobbyists who are streaming into the Trump administration supported the TPP and the corporate trade model. We will reject the same corporate trade model masquerading as new trade policy under the next administration. There must be a moratorium on pending trade deals—including those covering the services industries, various investment treaties and the pact with the European Union. Instead, we must craft trade policies for the 21st Century.
We will continue to campaign to build a trade policy that works for everyone—both here and abroad. We need trade deals that put people before profits, communities ahead of corporations, workers ahead of Wall Street and farmers ahead of food companies. It's time for a transparent, inclusive and equitable trade model that prioritizes human and labor rights, environmental protection and consumer safety. The success of our campaign to stop the TPP shows that the people's movement can deliver real victories when we are united.
[For the latest on this case, click here.]
North Dakota has charged journalist Amy Goodman and filmmaker Deia Schlosberg for doing their jobs: reporting and documenting the peaceful protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. This string of arrests constitutes nothing less than a war on journalism and a victory for fossil fuel interests that have banked on the pipeline.
We call on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to act to protect the first amendment rights of those attempting to tell the stories of the water protectors fighting the risky pipeline. The DOJ must investigate the arrests of Amy Goodman and Deia Schlosberg at the hands of North Dakota police.
The first amendment is not only a cornerstone of our bill of rights, but the right to free speech and freedom of the press is critical to addressing our climate chaos. We need brave journalists to tell the stories of injustice that are occurring at the hands of the banks and fossil fuel companies seeking to extract every last drop of fossil fuels for profit—no matter the cost.
We applaud Goodman and Schlosberg for courageously documenting the peaceful actions at Standing Rock and call upon Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate their arrests and act to protect the first amendment rights of those attempting to tell the stories of the water protectors fighting this risky pipeline.
A new study out today from Johns Hopkins in Environmental Health Perspectives revealed associations between fracking and various health symptoms including nasal and sinus problems, migraines and fatigue in Pennsylvanians living near areas of natural gas development. The study suggests that residents with the highest exposure to active fracking wells are nearly twice as likely to suffer from the symptoms.
A natural gas rig side by side with homes in Washington County, Pennsylvania. B. Mark Schmerling
This is the third study released by Hopkins in the past year that connects proximity to fracking sites with adverse health outcomes. Last fall, researchers found an association between fracking and premature births and high-risk pregnancies, and last month, found ties between fracking and asthma.
What's more, a 2014 investigation revealed how health workers in Pennsylvania were silenced by the state Department of Health (DOH) and told not to respond to health inquiries that used certain fracking "buzzwords." Documents obtained by Food & Water Watch last year indicate the DOH was inundated with fracking-related health concerns ranging from shortness of breath and skin problems to asthma, nose and throat irritation, which were ignored or pushed aside.
While the industry will no doubt continue to refute the expanding science about the dangers of fracking, we can't afford to ignore it. The public health and climate impacts of extreme fossil fuel extraction requires bold leadership to keep fossil fuels in the ground and transition swiftly to renewable energy.