Friends of the Earth 2019-2020 Accomplishments
Friends of the Earth (FoE) has seen significant victories as a result of our work over the past year, including:
• Friends of the Earth members joined the fight to protect the Arctic, submitting over 78,000 comments opposing oil leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In a substantial victory, BP announced it would sell its Arctic assets, effectively canceling 2019 lease sales.
• Our Climate-Friendly Food Campaign introduced a first-of-its-kind bill in California to help school districts serve more climate-friendly plant-based meals. Our efforts led to a historic $80 million proposal for school food in the state’s 2020-21 budget that will help schools serve healthier, climate-friendly food.
• Our Genetic Engineering Team persuaded the National Organic Standards Board to exclude six to eight different genetic engineering and synthetic biology techniques from certified USDA Organic food.
• We helped persuade Vermont to pass a bill restricting the use of bee-killing neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides. After a year-long effort, New York joined California in banning chlorpyrifos. We helped advance bills to ban chlorpyrifos or restrict neonics in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Oregon.
• We released a groundbreaking, peer-reviewed study on the insect apocalypse by showing that U.S. agriculture is 48 times more toxic to insects than it was before the introduction of neonics two decades ago. We released a study showing that organic works: levels of pesticides in the bodies of four American families dropped by as much as 95% after just one week on an organic diet.
• We published a new peer-reviewed study which found that levels of glyphosate dropped 70% in families’ bodies after just one week on an organic diet. The most widely used pesticide in the world, it has been linked to cancer, kidney toxicity, endocrine disruption, reproductive problems, and other serious health problems.
• In 2019, we helped pass four bills in Washington State to preserve the health of the Salish Sea, home to critically endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales.
• Friends of the Earth successfully shut down the federal government’s plans to operate an industrial ocean fish farm for non-native steelhead trout off the coast of New Hampshire.
• Following our work with Arctic Indigenous leaders, environmental NGOs and Native organizations to establish Indigenous representation in the Arctic, in 2019 the Inuit Circumpolar Council agreed to apply for an independent seat at the International Maritime Organization.
• Thanks in part to the work of Senior Oceans Campaigner Verner Wilson, the Army Corps of Engineers denied the permit for Pebble Mine under section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The proposed mine threatens Bristol Bay, Alaska, home of one of the last great wild salmon runs and Indigenous communities who rely on it.
• We scored a hard-won victory when BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, announced it would put climate change and sustainability at the center of its business, pledging to divest from thermal coal.
• In an important precedent, we convinced Congress to introduce and vote on legislation that would restrict fossil fuel financing by the Export-Import Bank. We worked with congressional allies to introduce a bill that would ban most U.S. overseas support for fossil fuels.
• Friends of the Earth is a key environmental leader in the movement to establish public banks—a critical solution helping cities to divest from Wall Street banks that finance fossil fuels. In October, the California legislature approved AB 857, the Public Banks Act, a landmark bill that allows up to 10 public banks to be created across the state.
• We won a huge victory in July 2020 when Dominion Power and Duke Energy announced that they were ending efforts to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Friends of the Earth’s Senior Fossil Fuels Campaigner, Donna Chavis, worked to organize tribes in North Carolina to bring a tougher advocacy edge to the campaign effort against the ACP.
• When the Tesoro Anacortes Refining and Marketing Company (Marathon) tried to expand its refinery to produce and export mixed xylene, a dirty new petrochemical product, in Anacortes, Washington, our legal team and allies filed litigation over permit approvals. We forced a favorable out-of-court settlement, stopping this dangerous proposal in its tracks.
• The coronavirus pandemic brought about rapid response opportunities for Friends of the Earth. We initiated an aggressive campaign of education, accountability, and advocacy against Big Oil and its attempts to exploit the coronavirus stimulus. Ensuring that these resources go to people, not polluters, is our priority. We will continue to make the case that any stimulus funds must be fossil free.