The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Darcey Rakestraw, 202-683-2467;

FERC Commissioner Heads to Private Water Lobby

Statement by Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch


Yesterday it was reported that Robert Powelson is leaving FERC as one of the five commissioners to lead the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC), the trade association for the private water industry.

In response, Food & Water Watch issued the following statement from executive director Wenonah Hauter:

"It's not surprising that Powelson is leaving FERC to aggressively lobby on behalf of water corporations.

"Powelson has well established cozy ties with the oil and gas industry. As head of Pennsylvania's Public Utility Commission, he famously referred to communities fighting pipeline development as jihadists. He has also served as the president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, which has recently lobbied on behalf of private water operators by supporting the Voluntary Water Partnership for Distressed Communities Act. The bill would have essentially coerced struggling communities to privatize their water systems without ensuring any improvements to those systems.

"This is a stark example of the revolving door between state regulators and the corporations that they are supposed to regulate. While head of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, Powelson helped regulate the prices of the water corporations that he now represents as the head of NAWC.

"NAWC's job is to help pave the way for private water companies to capitalize off of struggling public water systems. And private water operators have a history of working with the oil and gas industry to devise ways to profit off of our dwindling clean water supplies.

"Given his existing close ties to the fossil fuel industry and corporate water sector, we expect Powelson to feel right at home at NAWC. What's more, we expect his leadership to lead to more aggressive messaging from this lobbying group to undermine the public's trust in their local public water providers. NAWC will likely try to exploit the serious water challenges facing communities from Flint, Michigan, to Martin County, Kentucky, to lobby for legislative and tax code changes that facilitate profits for their corporate members - at the expense of the public and community access to affordable water service."

Food & Water Watch champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people's lives and protects our environment.

Food & Water Watch mobilizes regular people to build political power to move bold and uncompromised solutions to the most pressing food, water, and climate problems of our time. We work to protect people's health, communities, and democracy from the growing destructive power of the most powerful economic interests.

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