Over 300 Groups Oppose Duckworth Water Privatization Bill
By Eoin Higgins
Over 300 groups on Monday urged Senate leadership to reject a bill currently under consideration that would incentivize communities to sell off their public water supplies to private companies for pennies on the dollar.
"This bill is an egregious handout to giant water corporations which would embolden them to manipulate and fleece struggling communities—particularly communities of color," said Food & Water Action executive director Wenonah Hauter. "The fact that this bill is being touted as an 'environmental justice' measure makes it all the more nefarious."
Food & Water Action led the demand in a letter taking aim at the "Voluntary Water Partnership for Distressed Communities Act," described in the document as "inappropriate, unjust, and unreasonable."
"From California to Montana to New Jersey, we've seen how privatizing water harms communities, whether it's higher bills or dirtier water," Donald Cohen, executive director of In the Public Interest, said in a statement. "It's simple: water is a basic human right, which means let's keep it in public hands."
The bill was introduced by Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and acts as an amendment to the America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2020. Critics charge the legislation induces poor communities to sell off their water rights.
Water in Illinois is overwhelmingly public. Why is Tammy Duckworth sponsoring a bill that aims to change that? https://t.co/1V36Kkd99s— The American Prospect (@The American Prospect)1594249201.0
As the American Prospect's Robert Kuttner explained, doing so would likely spell disaster for affected communities:
Privatized systems are typically less reliable, far more expensive, and prone to corrupt deal-making. The average community with privatized water paid 59% more than those with government supplied water. In New Jersey, which has more private water than most, private systems charged 79% more. In Illinois, they charged 95% more. Private water corporations have also been implicated in environmental disasters. The French multinational, Veolia, issued a report in 2015 certifying that Flint, Michigan's water system met EPA standards, but neglected to mention high lead concentrations.
"We know that Wall Street actors target Black and brown communities in moments of crisis to enrich themselves and Wall Street-backed water companies see opportunity in this moment," Maurice BP-Weeks, co-executive director of letter signatory Action Center on Race and the Economy, said in a statement.
BP-Weeks added that incentivizing water privatization at such a vulnerable moment for poor communities in the country is exactly the wrong move for what the crisis demands.
"As communities across the country search for relief from the ongoing pandemic, it would be short sighted and misguided to pass a bill that encourages the privatization of water systems," said BP-Weeks. "It is our government's job to protect our most vulnerable communities, not put them up for sale."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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A Game of Jenga<p>Think of it as a game of Jenga and the planet's climate system as the tower. For generations, we have been slowly removing blocks. But at some point, we will remove a pivotal block, such as the collapse of one of the major global ocean circulation systems, for example the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), that will cause all or part of the global climate system to fall into a planetary emergency.</p><p>But worse still, it could cause runaway damage: Where the tipping points form a domino-like cascade, where breaching one triggers breaches of others, creating an unstoppable shift to a radically and swiftly changing climate.</p><p>One of the most concerning tipping points is mass methane release. Methane can be found in deep freeze storage within permafrost and at the bottom of the deepest oceans in the form of methane hydrates. But rising sea and air temperatures are beginning to thaw these stores of methane.</p><p>This would release a powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, 30-times more potent than carbon dioxide as a global warming agent. This would drastically increase temperatures and rush us towards the breach of other tipping points.</p><p>This could include the acceleration of ice thaw on all three of the globe's large, land-based ice sheets – Greenland, West Antarctica and the Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica. The potential collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is seen as a key tipping point, as its loss could eventually <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/324/5929/901" target="_blank">raise global sea levels by 3.3 meters</a> with important regional variations.</p><p>More than that, we would be on the irreversible path to full land-ice melt, causing sea levels to rise by up to 30 meters, roughly at the rate of two meters per century, or maybe faster. Just look at the raised beaches around the world, at the last high stand of global sea level, at the end of the Pleistocene period around 120,0000 years ago, to see the evidence of such a warm world, which was just 2°C warmer than the present day.</p>
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The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation has a major effect on the climate. Praetorius (2018)
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