Mystery Meat II

New Investigation Identifies Companies Responsible for Massive Dead Zone in Gulf of Mexico

Tyson Foods, America’s Largest Meat Company, Leads Those Found to be driving massive Manure and Fertilizer Pollution

Read the Report

Mapping data links top meat companies to regions experiencing worst pollution from meat

Washington, D.C. — A new report, released by Mighty Earth, identifies the companies responsible for the widespread manure and fertilizer pollution contaminating water from the Heartland to the Gulf. Much of this pollution comes from the vast quantities of corn and soy used to raise meat animals, and has caused one of the largest Dead Zones on record in the Gulf of Mexico this year.

To identify the companies responsible, the investigation maps the supply chains of the top meat and feed companies, and overlays it with data showing elevated nitrate concentrations in waterways that are experiencing high levels of fertilizer pollution. The report also mapped where these supply chains are driving destruction of natural grasslands, including native prairies, putting new regions at risk for fertilizer pollution.

America’s largest meat company, Tyson Foods, stood out for its expansive footprint in all the regions suffering the worst pollution impacts from industrial meat and feed production. Tyson produces one out of every five pounds of meat produced in the United States, and owns brands like Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm, Ball Park, and Sara Lee, in addition to selling to fast food retailers like McDonalds. The company is consistently ranked among the top polluters in America, although Tyson’s new CEO has declared that a focus on sustainability will be at the center of the company’s future plans. The report found:

    • Tyson is the only meat company with major processing facilities in each of the states listed by the USGS as contributing the highest levels of pollution to the Gulf;
    • Tyson and Smithfield have the heaviest concentration of meat facilities in those regions of the country with the highest levels of nitrate contamination;
Map of nitrate levels by watersheds, 2016 overlaid with Tyson and top feed supplier facilities (View Larger Map)
    • Tyson’s top feed suppliers are behind the bulk of grassland prairie clearance, which dramatically magnifies the impacts of fertilizer pollution, with Cargill and ADM clearly dominating the market for corn and soy with their network of grain elevators and feed silos in all the states with the highest losses.
Map of grassland conversion by county, 2016 overlaid with Tyson and top feed supplier facilities (View Larger Map)

 

“Americans should not have to choose between producing food and having healthy clean water”, says Mighty Earth campaign director Lucia von Reusner. “Big meat companies like Tyson have left a trail of pollution across the country, and have a responsibility to their customers and the public to clean it up.”

“As the public has gained awareness of the major impacts of industrial meat production, many consumers have been trying to find more sustainable options,” said von Reusner. “This report shows that our nation’s largest meat companies shape our food system on a massive scale, and can implement the solutions needed to make meat less polluting.”

A recent analysis from the Environmental Working Group of 2015 public water utility data found that 7 million Americans are exposed to unhealthy levels of nitrate contamination in their drinking water. The Tap Water Database “provides information on the most widespread and potentially harmful contaminants and their sources – including agriculture, a leading source of pollution in the U.S. that is largely exempt from federal laws designed to protect drinking water,” according to the Environmental Working Group.

Researchers recently announced that so much pollution has run into the Gulf of Mexico this year that is has created one of the largest dead zones on record. Fertilizer pollution flowing down the Mississippi River from the American heartland is the cause of this dead zone, by causing toxic algae blooms where marine life cannot survive. This fertilizer pollution comes mostly from industrial corn and soy fields. Last year the USGS reported that around 1.15 million metric tons of nitrogen pollution flowed into the Gulf of Mexico. As comparison, the BP oil spill was 670,800 metric tons, and is not an annually occurring event.

*The report was amended to clarify the proportion of U.S. soy that goes toward animal feed. The rest of the report remains unchanged.

Take action! Sign the petition below calling on Tyson’s CEO to clean up this pollution from meat.

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About Mighty Earth

Mighty Earth is a global environmental campaign organization that works to protect forests, conserve oceans, and address climate change. We work in Southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa, and North America to drive large-scale action towards environmentally responsible agriculture that protects native ecosystems, wildlife, and water, and respects local community rights.  Mighty Earth’s global team has played a decisive role in persuading the world’s largest food and agriculture companies to dramatically improve their environmental and social policies and practices. More information on Mighty Earth can be found at http://www.mightyearth.org/.

 

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Mighty Earth Workshop Lays Groundwork for Growth of Sustainable Rubber

In September, Mighty Earth, Rainforest Alliance, einhorn ProductsEarthnet Foundation, and the Prince of Songkla University, hosted a workshop in Thailand which brought together 100 rubber farmers, traders, processors, NGOs, government representatives, and consumer brands that use rubber—like Goodyear tires and Converse shoes—to discuss one thing: sustainable natural rubber.

The workshop, Sustainable Natural Rubber: Pathways, Policies, and Partnerships, brought together stakeholders from across the rubber supply chain, who rarely interact directly, to share knowledge and learn about sustainable rubber and potential solutions to environmental, social, and economic challenges in the industry.

Throughout the week, actors from across the supply chain engaged in conversations about best practices, laid the groundwork for new partnerships, and discussed their sustainability journeys. These sessions included presentations and brainstorms about the cost of rubber, the opportunities in multi-stakeholder initiatives, the nuts and bolts of implementing a No Deforestation, No Exploitation policy, and farming techniques that are best for people and planet.

One key constituency that attended the workshop was rubber farmers, who are rarely included in rubber conferences. Farmers from Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka shared their experiences using sustainable rubber practices on their farms and expressed their concerns about pricing and earning a living. Through these interactions, processors and traders were able to connect with the farmers who grow their rubber, and rubber end users learned about agroforestry and its ability to positively impact the both the environment and the lives of rubber farmers around the world.

The term agroforestry refers to the planting of multiple complementary crops on a farm to increase biodiversity and sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere, while providing additional sources of income or subsistence to farmers. Well- managed, diversified agroforestry systems can be a real solution for producing sustainable natural rubber and serve as an alternative to harmful practices that devastate the environment. It allows farmers to be protected against market fluctuations for a single commodity, helps store more carbon and rebuild the soil, increases species habitat, and reduces the use of pesticides. To educate participants about agroforestry, the workshop visited a few rubber farms that showcased rubber planted alongside other crops including pepper, fruit trees, and wood products. During the visit, farmers discussed the advantages associated with agroforestry systems, and participants were able to see the viability and productivity of these practices.

As demand for natural rubber increases in the coming years, widespread deforestation is likely to follow, as landowners clear primary forest to plant more rubber trees on large expanses of monoculture plantations. This trend has held true across many commodities, with demand for palm oil, soy, and cattle threatening primary ecosystems and tropical forests around the world. Future expansion must be done sustainably. If farmers, traders, producers, and rubber end users push for responsible rubber production and agroforestry on land already in use for rubber, the industry can sustain and even increase rubber production without new forest clearing.

The workshop provided a forum for stakeholders to engage in open and honest dialogue about the challenges and opportunities that exist when pursuing sustainable growth. At the end of the 2.5 day event, participants created calls to action for the rubber industry and brainstormed about what each person, company, and sector of the supply chain could accomplish to ensure that all rubber is sold for a fair price and farmed sustainably and ethically for people and the planet. Calls to action from across sectors included learning more about and bringing transparency to their supply chains, rethinking producer trainings, piloting agroforestry on farms, creating networks to share knowledge among farmers, and engaging with actors across the supply chain from farm to market.

Moving forward, it will be important that all companies in the rubber industry set clear goals and commitments, work diligently and proactively to improve sustainability, and continue to collaborate with one another. With greater supply chain transparency and knowledge, along with restorative and environmentally sound on-farm practices, the rubber industry can ultimately create the systems needed to move forward and meet the global demand for rubber in a sustainable and responsible way.


Investigation Finds Papua's Largest Palm Oil Operator Destroyed Vast Areas of Endangered Rainforest, Cheated and Abused Indigenous People

Despite significant censoring, newly released findings from the Forest Stewardship Council show Korindo Group destroyed over 30,000 hectares of rainforest in the past five years, systematically manipulated and underpaid indigenous landowners

BONN, GERMANY – Today, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a global certification body for responsible forest management, released summaries of its findings from a two-year investigation prompted by a complaint filed by Mighty Earth against the Korindo Group, a notorious Korean-Indonesian logging and palm oil conglomerate.

“The severity of Korindo’s wrongdoing revealed in these reports is just devastating, even with FSC and Korindo covering up more than 110 pages of the findings,” said Deborah Lapidus, Senior Campaigns Director at Mighty Earth. “Korindo has long justified its destruction of vast areas of pristine rainforests on the basis of ‘development’ but the reality is just the opposite. These investigations exposed how Korindo went to great lengths to manipulate, intimidate, and cheat local communities. There is no justification that the FSC has gone along with Korindo in burying the full report, as these sorts of practices are all too commonplace in Papua and rarely exposed. Remediation for communities is long overdue, and a full and honest disclosure of the FSC’s findings would do a lot of good.”

For years, even as Korindo engaged in deforestation on a massive scale in Papua and North Maluku, Indonesia, as documented by Mighty Earth, the group has been benefiting from FSC’s prestigious eco-forestry label to sell timber, plywood, pulpwood, biomass, and newsprint to customers such as Asia Pulp & Paper and APRIL (Indonesia), Sumitomo Forestry, Oji Corporation, and Marubeni (Japan), and News Corps Australia.

The FSC commissioned a Complaints Panel to conduct an investigation, and subsequently conducted two additional investigations into Mighty Earth’s allegations against Korindo.

Mighty Earth has consistently called on the FSC to release its findings in full. The main Complaints Panel report, which was originally at least 110 pages in length and scheduled to be released on September 5, was pulled after FSC received a “cease and desist” letter from Korindo. The document released by FSC today has been reduced to a mere one-page summary. The summaries of the two additional investigations include a number of redactions that FSC states are “due to a disagreement with Korindo”.

But even these partial reports paint a damning picture, concluding that Korindo was guilty of flouting FSC standards by violating indigenous peoples’ rights, carrying out significant conversion of natural forests, and destroying significant areas of High Conservation Value (HCVs). The reports detail Korindo’s destruction of over 30,000 hectares of rainforest and endangered species habitat in just the past five years (more than 50,000 overall), multiple failures of Korindo to obtain the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) of local indigenous communities to development on their lands, irreparable damage to ecosystems and watersheds that has led to communities being deprived of basic needs including land, food, water, and livelihoods, and the severe underpayment to communities of revenue from their forest resources. As a result of these findings, the Complaints Panel recommended that "Korindo should be disassociated from the FSC due to the clear and convincing evidence of violations of THR [Traditional and Human Rights] (as well as significant conversion)," as stated in the Social Analysis report released by FSC today (page 41).

Despite this recommendation, the FSC Board decided to reach an agreement with Korindo on improvement and remediation measures. In July 2019, the FSC Board announced that Korindo’s continued association with the FSC would be “dependent on Korindo’s complying with strict requirements towards social and environmental reparations and remedy.” Today, the FSC elaborated on those requirements.

“The remedial measures unveiled today are not proportionate to the extreme violations revealed in the investigative reports,” Lapidus said. “Notably, they fail to include restoration and remedy for Korindo’s clearing of over 50,000 hectares of rainforests and damage caused to the rivers and ecosystems, which violate FSC standards. It is also notable that Korindo’s first act after reaching the agreement with FSC was to bully FSC into censoring the details of its wrongdoing and its liabilities to communities. Korindo simply isn’t serious about accepting full responsibility for its violations of FSC standards.”

The FSC statement claims that the exact remedial measures will be determined in a forthcoming, FSC-led stakeholder consultation “roadmap” process. To date, no further details of this process have been released by FSC.

In September, when the FSC initially postponed the release of these materials, Mighty Earth’s call for accountability and transparency was echoed by community organizations working in Papua:

“Korindo has destroyed community lands and livelihoods without peoples’ consent, robbed communities of their natural resources, subjected people to violence and intimidation, and polluted their rivers – all while hiring mainly workers from outside Papua. Korindo is also not taking its corporate social responsibility seriously,” said Pastor Anselmus Amo from SKP-KAMe Meruake, a Papuan human rights organization. “FSC should consult directly with affected communities to better understand Korindo’s egregious actions and the communities’ views on what fair compensation and remediation measures would be. We stand ready to help resolve this long-standing conflict.”

“For two decades, Korindo has gotten away with violating indigenous peoples’ land rights without exposure, while selling itself in the media as a savior to the Papuan people,” said Franky Samperante of Yayasan Pusaka, which works to defend indigenous land rights in Papua. “Therefore, it is important that the world knows the reality of what has transpired in Papua and North Maluku.”

“Korindo has previously attempted to spin the FSC conclusions as exoneration, but the findings released today prove that claim to be utterly dishonest,” Lapidus said.  “If Korindo is serious about cleaning up its heavily damaged reputation, it must stop denying its culpability, embrace transparency, heed the FSC’s requirements for compensation and remediation, and resolve community grievances—including by returning customary lands. Until it does, no companies should be doing business with Korindo.”

“The FSC must stop acting like an industry apologist and release its findings in full. Affected communities and Korindo customers mustn’t be left in the dark. The FSC should immediately commence the process of securing remedy for the severe harms caused, in full consultation with affected communities,” said Lapidus.

Revealing excerpts from the public reports (emphasis added) include:

“The recommendations of the CP were set out clearly in the executive summary of their report (pp.8-9): that Korindo should be disassociated from the FSC due to the clear and convincing evidence of violations of THR [Traditional and Human Rights] (as well as of significant conversion).”

"The conversion was deemed to be significant among others due to its scale of more than 30,000ha in the last five years, due to the failure to protect adequate areas of natural vegetation, and due to the impact that it has had on local communities and in particular the failure to compensate landowners adequately for the timber taken."

“The only possible conclusion that can be drawn is that extensive abuse has occurred of the rights that are part of the FSC system, as well as all similar standards…these are land rights, FPIC rights, and rights relating to the fulfillment of basic human needs.”

"As a result of these violations, the affected communities have suffered considerable harms. These range from the threat and in some cases use of violence, in an ongoing atmosphere of intimidation (and above and beyond that associated with the prevailing local security setting); the inability to exercise their right to oppose the concession; and the highly disproportionate compensation payments, received by a minority of community members only, and with little knowledge or any participation on the part of many. Just as the CP [FSC Complaints Panel] concluded, this additional analysis thus also finds beyond any doubt that there are strong and sufficient grounds for the disassociation of all the companies associated with these serious violations."

“Korindo’s activities involved the clearing of substantial areas of Southern New Guinea Lowland Rain Forest which is considered endangered/critical in the Global 200 classification…In addition, the conversion most likely destroyed some areas that provided critical resources for local communities.”

“The evidence is clear and convincing that these HCV’s were for all intents and purposes, destroyed. Rehabilitation efforts would stimulate recovery, but in an ecological context, the landscape has been irreparably altered by Korindo’s commercial activities.”

The clearing of the riparian areas (streams, rivers, springs, and adjacent to lakes) is not consistent with Indonesian law.”

“The nearly complete transformation of the southern peninsula of Halmahera Island from a mixture of Moluccan moist forest interspersed with shifting cultivation and small coconut groves to large-scale production of oil palm monocrop has had a profound impact on the landscape. The evidence and chronology of the immutable changes to the landscape is very clear and conciseThe loss of HCV 1 should be considered destruction because it is not feasible to restore/rehabilitate the area. The conversion of the PT GMM concession presents unique circumstances because it has changed the landscape of entire southern end of the island which also dominates the entire upper portion of the watershed.”

It is also recommended that the companies should also initiate a formal process of remedy with the communities concerned. The CP [Complaints Panel] report has clearly and in great detail verified and elaborated on both the broader patterns and the various individual acts of violation, as had previously also been described and compiled with much supporting evidence in the original reports and in the complaint. There is no more room for reasonable doubt that these multiple violations have occurred.’ ‘There is thus no reason for any further delay in starting the process of remedy that is now required, to be based on engagement with the affected communities in response to all the various violations that have been repeatedly identified, in relation to land acquisition, FPIC processes and HCV protection. A remedy process should be initiated with all the affected communities referred to in these documents as having expressed unhappiness, ongoing grievances and frustration with the outcomes of the operations, and/or well-substantiated allegations of violations of their THR [Traditional and Human Rights]’. 

Read more excerpts and background here

 


The trouble with chocolate

The Washington Post | October 29, 2019

A decade after Mars and other chocolate makers vowed to stop rampant deforestation, the problem has gotten worse.

Read more


Indonesian court fines palm oil firm $18.5m over forest fires in 2015

Mongabay | October 28, 2019 

An Indonesian court has fined a palm oil company $18.5 million for fires that destroyed 970 hectares (2,400 acres) of forest on its concession in Borneo in 2015.

Read more


Palm Oil: Report 20

Rapid Response Monitoring System

Palm Oil, Report 20 | October 2019

Prepared with support from MapHubs

Additional Cases Identified Using Filtered GLAD Alerts:

Shanghai Xinjiu Chemical Co Ltd: PT Sebaung Sawit Plantation, Unknown Group: PT Citrapermata Serundung, Unknown Group: PT Lestari Subur Indonesia, Pipit Group: PT Nunukan Bara Sukses, Green Yield Pte Ltd: PT Tri Investama, PT Shield of Service TBK: PT Perwita Citra Nusantara, Mitra Jaya Group: PT Mitra Sawit Makmur, Unknown Group: Koperasi Berkat Mumpa Bersatu, Unknown Group: Permodalan ASSAR Sdn Bhd, Kwantas Corporation: Miracle Harvest Sdn Bhd.

Sources for supply chain information: 

Supply chain information included in Rapid Response reports is based on the latest public versions of mill disclosures, recent export data and grievance logs. Mighty Earth encourages companies to send updated versions of mill disclosures as soon as they become available and to share any decision to suspend relations with a given group/company listed in those mill disclosures; please send to [email protected].

View Report PDF


Soy and Cattle: Report 6

Rapid Response Monitoring System

Soy and Cattle, Report 6 | October 2019 

Based on August 2019 alerts

Prepared with

View as PDF















The New Makers of Plant-Based Meat? Big Meat Companies

The New York Times | October 14, 2019 

Tyson, Smithfield, Perdue and Hormel have all rolled out meat alternatives, filling supermarket shelves with an array of plant-based burgers, meatballs and chicken nuggets.

Read more


NYC Activists call on Cargill to Stop the Amazon Fires & Embrace Regenerative Agriculture

“Hey Cargill, you can’t hide--we charge you with ecocide.” 

Converging for an early morning action, over 40 New Yorkers chanted, sang, and held handmade signs as Cargill Senior Vice President Ruth Kimmelshue arrived at the Intercontinental Monday morning for an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

The action was sponsored by 30 organizations, including SumOfUs, Friends of the Earth, Amazon Watch, Defend Democracy in Brazil, and a variety of Sunrise Movement chapters.

The Wall Street Journal covered the demonstration in an article this week, noting:

Environmental groups also staged protests, targeting Cargill Inc. The supplier of agricultural commodities missed a deforestation target earlier this year.

“We engage with all those voices to create more sustainable supply chains,” said Ruth Kimmelshue, Cargill’s sustainability chief.

She said Cargill is also feeling pressure from consumer-food companies, which have heightened expectations around environmental practices and the impact of agriculture. “Their brands are on the lines,” she said.

Kimmelshue is right. Consumer-facing brands can continue sourcing from Cargill, or they can maintain a reputation as environmental leaders, but they can’t do both.

Mighty Earth staff and volunteers will next converge on the Consumer Goods Forum in Berlin later this month to mobilize consumer-facing companies and call on them to take swift action to eliminate deforestation-driving commodities from companies like Cargill from their supply chains.

 

Outside of Ruth Kimmelshue’s interview Todd Fernandez, a leader of 350NYC, rallied the crowd with an inspiring speech. “We cannot wait for Congress to act. We have to pressure these corporations” Fernandez said. “Everyone is on notice. There is no escaping the responsibility.”

The action caps off an eventful two-month period, which included a mass die-in at the Cargill Gallery of the Minneapolis Institute of Art, a vigil against deforestation at the Consumer Goods Forum, and an action at Cargill’s Women in Ag conference.


UK fast food ‘linked to Brazilian forest fires’

BBC | October 9, 2019 

Some of the UK's largest fast-food chains have been selling meat from animals fed on soya beans linked to Brazil's forest fires, campaigners say.

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Global Architecture Community Sets Ambitious New Target: Zero Emissions by 2040

In response to Architecture 2030’s ambitious new carbon positive targets that were previewed at the Carbon Positive Summit in Chicago and publicly announced this week, Mighty Earth Campaign Director Margaret Hansbrough, who attended the summit and was present for the rollout of the targets, released the following statement:

“This is a historic moment in the fight against climate change. It is inspiring to see the global architecture community coming together to embrace a vision of zero emissions by 2040. But what Architecture 2030 has laid out is more than a vision, it’s also a much-needed framework that outlines the steps we must take to decarbonize some of the hardest to abate materials on the planet: steel, concrete, and aluminum.

“Construction material companies need to be looking at the targets outlined by Architecture 2030, including the near-term embodied carbon targets of 50 percent reduction by 2025 and 65 percent reduction by 2030. These companies – like Arcelor Mittal, Nucor, US Steel, Tata Steel, POSCO, and many others– must begin calibrating their own decarbonization plans accordingly or risk being left behind.

“For the steel industry, this is a critical demand signal from key customers. About half of all steel ends up in the built environment, and customers embracing these new targets will be looking for lowest carbon steel possible. The market for decarbonization is booming, and every steel company in the world should be looking at these targets and figuring out how they will meet the coming demand.

“These new targets and the companies that are rushing to embrace them are an encouraging sign and proof that the private sector can play a significant role in addressing climate change -- even in the absence of government action.”


Home to the screaming hairy armadillo: the forest the world forgot

The Guardian | October 5, 2019 

The deforestation of the Gran Chaco is dangerously overshadowed by its neighbour, the Amazon


Stop the Attack on Public Lands - Statement of Principles

Recent efforts from the Trump administration to roll back federal public lands protections and weaken bedrock environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act, the Antiquities Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act to allow expanded industrial activity are highly controversial among the American public and pose irreparable risks to the American landscape. They also pose the risk of stranded assets to companies that seek to exploit these rollbacks.

We oppose the opening of protected or previously protected federal public lands and waters to development. We strongly urge companies involved in mining or other extractive activities, and the banks that fund them, not to conduct or finance any new or expanded commercial activity on any public lands and waters that were formerly or are currently under legal or administrative protections, or that would impact these lands and waters, and to adopt a clear policy clarifying this position.

Public lands are managed in trust by the federal government for current and future generations. Since taking office, the Trump administration has taken the unprecedented action of removing protections from more than 150 million acres of public lands, and trying to remove protections for more than 119 million acres of public waters-- areas that have been put into protection for their cultural, ecological, or recreational value. The administration has also offered up nearly 500 million acres of public land and water for oil and gas development. *

Some of the most controversial rollbacks and proposed changes by the administration to federal public lands and waters -- changes that we urge companies to ignore and oppose -- include:

  • modifying Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments in Utah
  • opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and previously protected areas of the Arctic Ocean to oil and gas exploration
  • reducing protections put in place to safeguard sage-grouse habitat spanning 7 western states
  • abandoning the recommended mineral withdrawal for Minnesota’s Boundary Water Canoe Wilderness Area
  • proposing to lift the ban on uranium development near the Grand Canyon
  • unraveling National Roadless Rule protections in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska 

We also want to urge against developing or expanding operations surrounding protected or formerly protected lands that would significantly damage the integrity of those lands. 

Many of these projects  are mired in litigation, challenging the legality of any current or future industrial activity initiated in these regions and providing evidence of the risks associated with conducting commercial development on lands that the American public has deemed valuable for protection.  There is good reason to expect these lawsuits will succeed based on recent court defeats to major environmental decisions made by the administration because of an inadequate public process, tribal consultation and/or environmental review.

Even if properly approved, these projects also face severe public scrutiny. Protecting public lands for future generations has enjoyed broad bipartisan public support for decades. A 2016 Hart Research Associates Poll showed that 91% of voters across political parties ranked the protection and maintenance of national parks, public lands, and natural places as an important goal for the federal government. Facilities and associated infrastructure that would be developed to support resource exploration and extraction on public lands fragments habitat, displaces wildlife, increases pollution, endangers public health, damages culture resources and scars the landscape.    

For these reasons, we are gravely concerned that companies seeking to exploit the Trump administration’s recent efforts and recommendations to roll back protections on public lands and bedrock environmental laws puts them and their investors at significant risk of public backlash and stranded assets, should these actions be legally challenged or protections be restored by the courts or by future administrations. 

Consequently, we strongly urge all companies that engage in or finance extractive activities not to initiate any new or expanded industrial or commercial activity -- including participating in lease sales -- that is on either protected or formerly protected lands or waters, or that would significantly impact protected or formerly protected lands and waters, and to issue public statements clarifying their policy on this issue.

* Since Trump took office, his administration has offered 436,392,125 offshore and 19,261,339 onshore acres to the oil and gas industry.


New Coalition to Protect Public Lands from Trump Administration's Giveaways to Industry

After 150 million acres lose protections under Trump, more than a dozen groups join forces to pressure companies that conduct or fund extraction to stay out of previously protected areas

WASHINGTON, DC -- Today, in response to recent efforts by the Trump administration to roll back federal public lands protections and weaken bedrock environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act, the Antiquities Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act to allow expanded industrial activity, more than a dozen organizations have joined together to urge companies involved in mining or other extractive activities, and the banks that fund them, not to conduct or finance any new or expanded commercial activity on any public lands and waters that were formerly or are currently under legal or administrative protections, or that would impact these lands and waters, and to adopt a no-go policy clarifying this position.

The coalition’s statement of principles can be found here. Sign the petition here.

“The Trump administration has thrown open the doors to its friends and allies in the fossil fuel and mining industries,” said Amanda Hurowitz, a spokesperson for the coalition. “But today we are standing up on behalf of the large majority of people in this country who support protections for our public lands.”

Federal protections for public lands have enjoyed bipartisan support for decades, and available polling shows that attacks on public lands are highly controversial. A 2016 Hart Research Associates Poll showed that 91 percent of voters across political parties ranked the protection and maintenance of national parks, public lands, and natural places as an important goal for the federal government.

Public lands are managed in trust by the federal government for current and future generations. Since taking office, the Trump administration has taken the unprecedented action of removing protections from more than 150 million acres of public lands, and trying to remove protections for more than 119 million acres of public waters, areas that have been put into protection for their cultural, ecological, or recreational value. The administration has also offered up nearly 500 million acres of public land and water for oil and gas development.

“The last thing people want is more public lands privatized, strip-mined, or destroyed,” said Hurowitz. “These are beautiful places that we want our children and grandchildren to enjoy. Handing them over to dirty industry just as we need to be addressing the climate crisis is both irresponsible and unpopular.”

The Trump administration has already eliminated protections for public lands across the country, targeting varied ecosystems, treasured lands, and fragile habitat. These rollbacks include dramatically cutting down the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments, opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and previously protected areas of the Arctic Ocean to oil and gas exploration, and reducing protections put in place to safeguard sage-grouse habitat spanning seven western states.

In the weeks ahead, the coalition plans to mobilize both their grassroots members and a wide array of investors to urge companies to adopt no-go policies for developing in protected or previously protected public lands and waters, or in areas that could impact protected or previously protected areas.

Members of the coalition include:

  • American Hiking Society
  • Alaska Wilderness League
  • Animal Wellness Action
  • Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters
  • Center for Biological Diversity
  • Defenders of Wildlife
  • Endangered Species Coalition
  • Friends of the Earth
  • League of Conservation Voters
  • Mighty Earth
  • National Audubon Society
  • Sierra Club
  • Sitka Conservation Society
  • The Wilderness Society
  • Utah Diné Bikéyah

 

Quotes from Coalition Members:

Davis Filfred (Diné), Chairman, Utah Diné Bikéyah Board:
“As Indigenous People of America, we are stewards of ancestral landscapes like Bears Ears and other cultural landscapes currently under threat from corporate hands. We ask the broader American public to stand with us to protect public lands - which starts with the recognition that Indigenous Peoples have always protected and will continue to protect their homelands.”

Athan Manuel, Director of Public Lands Protection, Sierra Club:
“People value public lands and they support companies that do too.  There’s an opportunity now for corporations and financial institutions to speak for public lands with their actions—to make clear they won’t pursue dirty fuel development in special natural places.”

Tom Landwehr, Executive Director, Save the Boundary Waters:
"No bank should want to be known as the financier of the project that destroyed the Boundary Waters Wilderness. People love the Boundary Waters, and as they increasingly vote with their pocketbooks are watching closely what companies stand for. We're excited to join this effort to help financial institutions understand the many risks associated with participating in the destruction of America's special places."

Kristen Miller, Conservation Director, Alaska Wilderness League:
“For the past year, the Trump administration has been barreling forward with an aggressive plan to lease the fragile coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This process has ridden roughshod over science, silenced expert dissent, shut out indigenous communities, and ignored the law.  The end product will turn the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge into the latest casualty of Trump’s plan to sell out our public lands and waters to the highest bidder, giving Big Oil everything it wants in its continued quest to do Trump’s bidding.

Those oil companies now considering exploiting this national treasure should think twice. With the support of two-thirds of the American public, $2.5 trillion worth of investors, and major banks like Barclays, the House of Representatives has already taken decisive action against the rush to drill. As the impacts of our warming climate continue to become more and more real, this opposition will only grow. Companies should simply say no to the uneconomical, dubious proposal to develop the unparalleled Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.”

Kate Van Waes, Executive Director, American Hiking Society:
“The most pressing threats to public lands are the removal of protections resulting in increased energy development. In the last three years, over 150 million acres of public lands have lost protections making them vulnerable to energy extraction. Such erosions, rather than expanding access, deprive hikers, anglers, hunters, campers, and all other permitted users the opportunity to enjoy their desired form of recreation.”

Alex Taurel, Conservation Program Director, League of Conservation Voters:
“The Trump administration’s removal of protections for public lands and waters and indigenous sacred lands is shameful and unpopular. We call on companies to publicly disavow these rollbacks and pledge not to exploit these majestic places. With the United States losing a football field of natural area to development every 30 seconds and the world facing the extinction of 1 million plant and animal species, responsible companies must step up and say no to the Trump administration’s efforts to turn our wildest areas over to big polluters.”

Nicole Ghio, Senior Fossil Fuels Program Manager, Friends of the Earth:
“Any corporation or investor looking to profit from Trump’s rollbacks of land and water protections should think again. These actions by the Administration are often illegal and regularly overturned by the courts. Meanwhile, there is massive support for protecting our public lands and waters. Companies looking to make a quick buck will likely find their corporate image ruined for nothing.”

Marty Irby, Executive Director, Animal Wellness Action:
“President Trump’s Department of Interior has been a catastrophe for our iconic American wildlife since day one. Pillaging our nation’s public lands to line the pockets of oil barons, and ranchers beholden to industrial agriculture will have disastrous consequences for generations to come.”

Leda Huta, Executive Director, Endangered Species Coalition:
“Our public lands provide millions of acres of vital habitat for wildlife and imperiled species. The Administration’s industry free-for-all on our public lands jeopardizes America’s legacy of protecting fish, plants and wildlife for our children and our grandchildren.”

Nada Culver, Vice President of Public Lands, National Audubon Society:
“Birds from every state depend on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and others like the Greater Sage-Grouse in the West are already in crisis. This administration’s actions undermining public lands’ protections is contrary to what the majority of Americans want. With three billion birds already gone, corporations and banks have an opportunity to lead and protect these special places by declining to invest in commercial development of crucial public lands before it’s too late while the courts and Congress address this unprecedented assault.”

Matt Keller, Senior Campaign Director, The Wilderness Society:
"Americans expect the government to protect our public lands, not sell them off to the highest bidder. But after opening up 150 million acres of our land and water to their friends in the extractive industry, it's clear that the Trump administration and Secretary Bernhardt simply can't be trusted. We're turning our attention to companies to make it clear that just because the Trump administration has given them permission to exploit America’s public lands doesn't mean there won't be a massive public outcry if they do."

Randi Spivak, Public Lands Director, The Center for Biological Diversity:
"The Trump administration is running roughshod over our public lands, allowing the destruction of spectacular places that should be held in trust for generations to come. Corporations intending to profit from the administration’s illegal slashing of public lands protections should reconsider. Investing in the destruction of public lands, waters and wildlife habitat is both despicable and a PR disaster."


Soy and Cattle: Report 5

Rapid Response Monitoring System

Soy and Cattle, Report 5 | September 2019 

Based on June 2019 alerts

Prepared with

VIew as PDF

















To Save the Climate, Grocery Stores Must Stop Stocking Deforestation

To Save the Climate, Grocery Stores Must Stop Stocking Deforestation

In latest corporate accountability action, letters to Costco, Ahold Delhaize, and Walmart demand companies fulfill climate pledges and protect forests

NEW YORK – As activists gather in New York for Climate Week, they are increasingly focusing their attention on corporate behemoths driving deforestation and ecological destruction around the globe. Today, in the latest action seeking to hold companies accountable for the pledges they’ve made in the past, Mighty Earth has released letters calling on Costco, Ahold Delhaize, and Walmart to take immediate action to end their links to deforestation in the Amazon and throughout South America.

The burning of the Amazon and the darkening of skies have captured the world’s conscience. But while much of the blame for the fires has rightly fallen on Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for directly encouraging the burning of forests and the seizure of Indigenous Peoples’ lands, the financial incentive for the destruction comes from large-scale international meat and soy animal feed companies like Cargill, Bunge, and JBS.

Costco, Ahold Delhaize, Walmart, and other global brands that buy from these suppliers and sell to the public are creating the international markets and providing the finances for the destruction.

Ten years ago, Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) members made a commitment to end deforestation in their supply chains by 2020, with an emphasis on high risk commodities such as soy, cattle, palm oil, and pulp and paper. Five years later, at the 2014 Climate Summit in New York, 60 additional companies joined in this pledge as a part of the landmark New York Declaration on Forests.

But progress toward these lofty goals has been lacking. According to Forest 500’s 2018 Annual Report, “As the 2020 deadline approaches, not one of the Forest 500 companies and financial institutions assessed in 2018 is on track to eliminate commodity-driven deforestation from their supply chains and portfolios by next year. Yet nearly half have made commitments to do so by 2020 or earlier […] Even companies with ambitious commitments are not putting these into practice. Of the 228 companies assessed in 2017 and 2018, nearly 70% scored lower this year than last year, due to the new indicators on implementation. This reflects an implementation gap – companies are not executing their commitments.”

“Costco, Ahold Delhaize, and Walmart have called for change and asked for supply chain reforms,” said Mat Jacobson, Senior Director for Forests at Mighty Earth. “But these polite requests have been ignored. Money talks, and the grocery stores’ calls for change aren’t making a difference because they continue to buy from the suppliers driving deforestation. Cargill, Bunge, and JBS shrug off the bad press and keep cashing checks. It’s time for that to end. We want these grocery stores to stop doing business with the companies driving deforestation in the Amazon.”

The letters, delivered late last week, call on Costco, Ahold Delhaize, and Walmart to:

  • Immediately cease purchases and financing of any company responsible for destruction of forests and other native ecosystems or the theft of Indigenous and local community lands, and adopt an immediate supplier suspension policy for future violations.
  • Require suppliers to establish industry-wide mechanisms to monitor and stop destruction of native ecosystems across South America.
  • Establish and implement a zero-tolerance policy for attacks on environmental and human rights defenders and civil society advocates.
  • Move rapidly towards only buying from countries that are increasing their natural forest cover and protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples, including Free Prior and Informed Consent.
  • Work with civil society to actively and publicly support government efforts to protect native ecosystems and the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities through stronger regulatory frameworks and enforcement.
  • Require suppliers to implement regenerative agro-ecological farming practices that verifiably improve soil health, water quality, and biodiversity.
  • Set a public, science-based target to rapidly shift a significant portion of protein sales towards plant-based options.

Read the full letters here.

These new letters are just the latest in a series of actions seeking to hold corporations accountable for their climate action pledges. Monday, Mighty Earth joined dozens of NGOs in asking members of the Consumer Goods Forum “to take bold and urgent action to halt deforestation, species loss, and human rights abuses within supply chains.” Activists from several organizations gathered outside a meeting of the Consumer Goods Forum on Monday night to hold a “vigil for the Amazon” and demand that member companies immediately cut all ties to deforestation.

The letters and vigil plainly caught the attention of CGF, as they invited Mighty Earth Senior Campaign Director Etelle Higonnet into the meeting to present Mighty Earth’s concerns to many of the top executives as well as the presidents of the Tropical Forest Alliance and CGF.

A follow-up protest will be held on October 7, as activists will converge on the InterContinental New York Barclay – where Cargill’s Senior Vice President is speaking – to call for rapid changes.

“We don’t have the luxury of trusting corporate pledges anymore,” said Jacobson. “We applauded when these companies pledged to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains by 2020, and that promise is now literally going up in smoke. It’s time for real, concrete action. Not one year from now, not 10 years from now. Right now.”

See also:


World Green Building Council Sounds the Alarm on Embodied Carbon

Today, the World Green Building Council released its new report, Bringing Embodied Carbon Upfront. In response, Mighty Earth Campaign Director Margaret Hansbrough released the following statement:

"Today's report from the World Green Building Council is a seismic shift toward sustainable construction. WGBC has done the critical work of convening industry stakeholders, forging consensus, and pushing forward a bold collective vision for how to reduce the embodied carbon in construction materials like steel and cement.

"When we released our Construction Destruction report last year at USGBC's Greenbuild conference, our aim was to shake up the construction industry into acting as fast as possible. Today is a welcome sign of forward momentum from the global construction industry's leading climate voice.

"The impressive list of industry endorsements WGBC has garnered suggests this is a watershed moment. Each of these companies must now develop a public plan and commitment for how they will work to achieve the net zero building future in the near, mid, and long term. It is estimated that, without urgent action immediately, embodied carbon will be responsible for at least half, if not more, of total new construction emissions between now and 2050. There is no time to lose."


Palm Oil: Report 19

Rapid Response Monitoring System

Palm Oil, Report 19 | September 2019

Prepared with support from MapHubs

New Cases: Unknown Group: Cambridge Alliance Sdn Bhd, Unknown Group: KUD Restu Bersama, Lee Ling Timber Group: Lima Jaya Timber Sdn Bhd (Limbang), Lee Ling Timber Group: Lima Jaya Timber Sdn Bhd (LPF/0038 – part 2), Pelita Holdings Sdn Bhd: Pelita Holdings Sdn Bhd (LCDA-OT/9137), First Borneo Group: PT Berkah Sawit Abadi, Unknown Group: Selangor Oil Palm Industries Corporation Sdn Bhs, Unknown Group: Telliana Enterprise Sdn Bhd, Unknown Group: Titanium Management Sdn Bhd (Part 1), Unknown Group: Titanium Management Sdn Bhd (Part 2), Unknown Group: PT Wanapura Agraraksa, Unknown Group: PT Inti Palm Sumatra, Unknown Group: PT Artanusa Agrindo, Unknown Group: PT Multidaya Fortuna, Unknown Group: PT Sumber Madu Bukari

Additional Cases Identified Using Filtered GLAD Alerts: Unknown Group: Formerly Ekran Bhd, Unknown Group: PT Bumi Tani Jaya, Unknown Group: PT Fliel Green Power,Unknown Group: PT Sumber Rahmat Sentosa, Mulia Sawit Group: PT Persada Era Agro Kencana, Anglo-Eastern Plantations: PT Kahayan Agro Plantation, Unknown: PT Kayan Plantation, Samling: LPF/0007 Samling Jelalong (OP), Samling: LPF/0007 Jelalong OP (Glenealy) Part 1, Double Dynasty: Mutiara Pelita Genaan Plantation Sdn, Bhd Samling: LPF/0006 Samling Lana

Sources for supply chain information: 

Supply chain information included in Rapid Response reports is based on latest publicly versions of mill disclosures and grievance logs. Mighty Earth encourages companies to send updated versions of mill disclosures as soon as they become available and any decision to suspend supplies with a given group/company listed in those mill disclosures; please send to [email protected].

View Report PDF


Palm Oil: Report 18

Rapid Response Monitoring System

Palm Oil, Report 18 | August 2019 

Prepared with support from MapHubs

VIew as PDF

New Cases: Unknown Group: Cambridge Alliance Sdn Bhd, Unknown Group: KUD Restu Bersama, Lee Ling Timber Group: Lima Jaya Timber Sdn Bhd (Limbang), Lee Ling Timber Group: Lima Jaya Timber Sdn Bhd (LPF/0038 – part 2), Pelita Holdings Sdn Bhd: Pelita Holdings Sdn Bhd (LCDA-OT/9137), First Borneo Group: PT Berkah Sawit Abadi, Unknown Group: Selangor Oil Palm Industries Corporation Sdn Bhs, Unknown Group: Telliana Enterprise Sdn Bhd, Unknown Group: Titanium Management Sdn Bhd (Part 1), Unknown Group: Titanium Management Sdn Bhd (Part 2), Unknown Group: PT Wanapura Agraraksa, Unknown Group: PT Inti Palm Sumatra, Unknown Group: PT Artanusa Agrindo, Unknown Group: PT Multidaya Fortuna, Unknown Group: PT Sumber Madu Bukari

Additional Cases Identified Using Filtered GLAD Alerts: PT Sawit Sumbermas Sarana Tbk: PT Sawit Mandiri Lestari, Mulia Sawit Group: PT Persada Era Agro Kencana, Unknown Group: PT Kayan Plantation, Yuwang Group: Empresa (M) Sdn Bhd (OT/0351), Shin Yang: Dataran Linau OP (SY) (Lot 1 Block 14 Murum LD), Woodman Group: Woodman Group (Adong Estate, part of LPF/0004), Woodman Group: Woodman Group (Liku Estate, part of LPF/0004), Double Dynasty: Hua Seng Plantation Sdn Bhd, Asian Agri (RGE): PT Usaha Sawit Unggul, Unknown Group: PT Agro Lintas Nusantara, First Borneo Group: PT Wahana Hamparan Hijau, Double Dynasty: Mutiara Pelita Genaan Plantation Sdn Bhd, Samling: LPF/0006 Samling Lana, Samling: LPF/0007 Samling Jelalong (OP), Samling: LPF/0007 Jelalong OP (Glenealy) Part 1, Pundi Group: PT Pinang Witmas Abadi, Henan Jiujiu Chemical Co. Ltd: PT Palem Segar Lestari, First Borneo Group: PT Borneo Estate Sejahtera, TH Plantations Bhd: Ladang Tabung Haji, Anglo-Eastern Plantations: PT Kahayan Agro Plantation, Salim/IndoGunta: PT Rimbun Sawit Papua, Pactra Group: PT Arjuna Utama Sawit (area 1), Pactra Group: PT Arjuna Utama Sawit (area 2)

Sources for supply chain information: https://bit.ly/2MfYZo6 

Supply chain information included in Rapid Response reports is based on latest publicly versions of mill disclosures and grievance logs. Mighty Earth encourages companies to send updated versions of mill disclosures as soon as they become available and any decision to suspend supplies with a given group/company listed in those mill disclosures; please send to [email protected].


Deforestation Continues Because Companies Aren't Trying

A new assessment released by Climate Focus has found that an area of tree cover the size of the United Kingdom was lost every year between 2014 and 2018. The assessment suggests that achieving the 2020 New York Declaration on Forests targets is now likely impossible. In response to the new report, Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz released the following statement:

"Forests are burning in large measure because the big companies that committed to save them are not actually trying to do so. Companies like Ahold Delhaize, McDonald’s, and Mars are, despite all their pledges, continuing to do business on a vast scale with the very companies most responsible for this deforestation, such as Cargill and JBS. Not only are these companies directly financing deforestation, they have repeatedly lobbied governments to stop basic environmental protections. Nobody doing business with Cargill and JBS can credibly say they are concerned about deforestation.

"The tragedy of these findings is that they also demonstrate that success is possible. Companies can achieve dramatic progress when they actually make an effort. These same companies have largely, though imperfectly, enforced their no deforestation polices in the palm oil industry, and the results on the ground show it: deforestation for palm oil has declined from 1 million acres a year to 200,000 acres per year. This is, of course, still 200,000 acres of deforestation too many, but it also shows real progress is possible."

Additional resources: