For anyone who cares about our environment, 2017 has been a rough year. Our food, water, and climate have been under assault by an industry-captured EPA, a fossil-fuel friendly Congress, and a President who could care less about ordinary people or our health.
Yet despite this, we scored a number of significant wins at the state and local level, from banning fracking in Maryland to stopping water privatization from coast to coast. And, as the political momentum continues to shift in our direction, we are poised for some even bigger wins in 2018.
Here are five big reasons we are excited about the changes we will achieve in the coming year:
1. Banning Fracking
In 2015, we banned fracking in New York. In 2017, we banned fracking in Maryland. And in 2018, we’re going even bigger. Working with our allies, we will ban fracking in the Delaware River Basin, a major watershed that provides water to over 15 million people in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.
In November, Phil Murphy was elected to replace corporate crony Chris Christie as governor of New Jersey. He campaigned on a platform calling for a fracking ban; we’ll hold him to that, and pass a ban on fracking waste in the Garden State. And we’re ramping up our campaign to ban fracking in Florida, where we are poised to move the bill in a Republican-controlled legislature.
2. Clean Water for All
Our water infrastructure is in desperate need of repair, and places like Flint and East Chicago suffer with terrible water quality problems. Water affordability is another looming threat, as more and more people simply cannot afford to pay for water, which is a basic human right. Next year we will fight back against this problem by passing water affordability ordinances in Baltimore and Chicago, ensuring that no one will have their water service cut off just because they can’t afford to pay their bill. We’ll also stop any Trump scheme to privatize our water infrastructure, which would result in less reliable service, higher prices, and increased corporate control.
And, we’ll continue to advance the long-term goal of public water for all by getting more members of Congress to support the Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity, and Reliability (WATER) Act. When we have a new Congress, this legislation will be positioned to move.
3. Launch Campaigns to Ban Factory Farms
Food & Water Watch has worked with groups across the country to battle factory farms and the harms they cause to communities and the environment. We led the way in getting toxic arsenic out of chicken feed, stopped the use of artificial growth hormones in school milk, and passed dozens of resolutions at the local level against the abuse of antibiotics on factory farms. This year we’re going to take it to a whole new level, by launching a national campaign to ban factory farms. It’s time to say, once and for all, that these dirty, unhealthy, and destructive practices must go. While we do this, we’ll be fighting for moratoriums and other measures at the state and local level with partners in Iowa, Wisconsin, Maryland and elsewhere.
4. Stop Pipelines and Dirty Energy Infrastructure
We will continue our campaigns against pipelines and other costly and dangerous fossil fuel projects across the country. In the new year, we will stop the Pilgrim Pipeline in New York and New Jersey. We will continue to fight all new fossil fuel projects in New York, including stopping the Valley Lateral pipeline which would feed the CPV fracked gas power plant, and stopping the proposed Cricket Valley Power Plant. In Southern California, we will keep working to shut down the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility, which has had devastating health impacts. And in Michigan, we will decommission Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline which runs under the Strait of Mackinac and threatens the safety of the Great Lakes.
5. Move to 100% Renewable Energy... Now!
As evidenced by the scourge of fires in the West and hurricanes in the East this year, the greatest threat to our food, water, and communities is climate change. And it is obvious that the impacts are being felt now. Millions of lives are being directly impacted, and many lost. And this problem is only going to get worse. We cannot wait until 2050, 2080, or beyond to address this crisis. We need to move to 100% renewable energy now.
This year we will introduce state legislation in Maryland, Colorado, New York, and New Jersey to move us to 100% renewable energy by 2035 at the latest, and we’ll advance a local measure to move to 100% clean energy in Los Angeles. All of this work dovetails with federal legislation we will continue to champion: The Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act. Introduced by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, it is the most aggressive piece of legislation addressing on climate change at the federal level.
This agenda is bold and ambitious, but with your support it is also achievable. Even as we continue to fight massive cutbacks and roll backs at the federal level – and work to change our national politics – we can win significant campaigns at the state and local level that will have real impacts on people’s lives and the planet.
You can help make these things happen with a year-end donation to Food & Water Watch.