Environmental Working Group

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WARNING! Sewage sludge is toxic. Food should not be grown in "biosolids." Join the Food Rights Network.

Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a national public interest organization co-founded by Ken Cook and Richard Wiles. Its mission, according to its Web site, is "to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment."[1]

View EWG Muckety Map

EWG's Role with Chez Panisse Foundation in the San Francisco Toxic Sludge Controversy

Ken Cook and Alice Waters. Source: EWG

On March 3, 2010, Alice Waters, a member of the EWG Advisory Board, appeared with Ken Cook and Drummond Pike at a gala event in San Francisco. "EWG staff and key supporters gathered ... to introduce the audience of environmental stalwarts to the increasing convergence of EWG’s two major fields of work -- how common toxic chemicals find their way into the bodies of America’s children and the impact of modern agriculture on the environment and human health. ... Alice Waters (pictured with Mr. Cook), celebrated chef, advocate, author, mother and pioneer of “The Edible Schoolyard” program in Berkeley, Calif, attended the Earth Dinner event. Mr. Cook payed homage to her impact on cuisine and the food system as a whole in his presentation." [2] The San Francisco Chronicle would report, "EWG President and co-founder Ken Cook welcomed new EWG advisory board member Edible Schoolyard founder Alice Waters and City Attorney Dennis Hererra as he unveiled EWG's 2010 Right to Know Campaigns. [3]

On March 17, the SFPUC would write EWG and Cook into its PR management plan of the toxic sludge issue, titled "Draft Biosolids Compost Strategy." [4] Tyrone Jue proposed to utilize the Environmental Working Group when the SFPUC launched its media campaign around the test results, writing: "Contact Environmental Working Group (Becky Sutton - soil scientist in East Bay; Ken Cook - Washington)." PDF of PUC 3/17 Draft Strategy

On April 1, EWG released a statement defending Francesca Vietor and Alice Waters of the Chez Panisse Foundation from criticism regarding their failure to publicly oppose growing food in toxic sewage sludge. Francesca Vietor is no longer with the Chez Panisse Foundation. The EWG report relied upon and repeated false claims in an April 1, 2010 statement by the Foundation.[5] Their release admitted, however, "advocacy organizations have been right to oppose the distribution of composted sewage sludge from the SFPUC for use on Bay Area gardens and farmland." (emphasis added) [6]

The Food Rights Network released a major investigative report on July 9, 2010 titled: Chez Sludge: How the Sewage Sludge Industry Bedded Alice Waters. [7] It examines collusion between the Chez Panisse Foundation and the SFPUC based on an extensive open records investigation of the SFPUC internal files. (To view the internal documents see: SFPUC Sludge Controversy Timeline.)

In the winter of 2010/2011 Francesca Vietor left her position at Chez Panisse Foundation, rose from Vice President to President of the SFPUC, and took a position on the Board of Directors of the Environmental Working Group.

EWG Board of Directors

This information below is from the EWG website. [8]

  • David Baker "is the founder and executive director of Community Against Pollution (CAP). David is also a member of the NAACP and the Coalition for Black Trade Unionists. David has a degree in Labor Management from Cornell University. He is married to Lisa Cooley-Baker and has four children."
  • Rev. Sally Bingham "is the Environmental Minister at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. She is the founder and executive director of The Regeneration Project, a nonprofit ministry deepening the connection between faith and the environment. Sally currently lives in California with her three children, Sarah, Stephen, and Lock."
  • Jeff Blattner "is currently president of Legal Policy Solutions, LLC. From 2006-08, Blattner was Senior Vice President, Public Policy and Special Counsel of XM Satellite Radio Inc. From 2001 through 2005, Blattner was a partner at the Washington, DC law firm of Hogan & Hartson, LLP.He lives with his family in Bethesda, Maryland."
  • Sandy Buchanan "is the executive director of Ohio Citizen Action—the state’s largest environmental organization—where she has worked with community organizations across Ohio to win pollution prevention campaigns. She is a graduate of Cornell University. Sandy currently lives in Cleveland with her husband, Bill Whitney, and their two sons."
  • Ken Cook "is the co-founder and president of the Environmental Working Group. Both Ken and EWG have been the subject of profiles in the New York Times, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the Chicago Tribune, and many other publications. Ken earned degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife, Deb Callahan."
  • Steven Damato "has been involved in the organic agriculture and food industry for the past thirty years. He is an active partner in Changing Seas, LLC, a seafood company dedicated to sustainable and organic seafood. Steven is the co-owner of Restaurant Nora, the first certified organic restaurant in the nation."
  • Dr. Harvey Karp "is a nationally renowned pediatrician and child developmentalist, and a leading advocate in the field of children's and environmental health. Dr. Karp lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Nina and their daughter."
  • Carol McDonnell "is a dedicated environmentalist and parent activist who has worked in numerous capacities to educate consumers and organizations about the impact of their daily choices on individual and planetary well-being. Carol divides her time between Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay and Mill Valley, California, where she lives with her husband John and three children, Jack, Grace and Declan."
  • Nina Montée Karp "is a producer, director and an environmental activist. Nina is a founding Board Member of Healthy Child Healthy World – one of the nation's leading environmental non-profits dedicated to protecting young children from harmful chemicals and promoting healthier environments. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband, Dr. Harvey Karp, and she is the proud mother of their daughter, Lexi."
  • Drummond Pike (Chair) "is the founder and chief executive officer of Tides Network, a collaborative group of social justice organizations."
  • Francesca Vietor is the President of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. According to EWG's website she "has more than twenty years of experience working for environmental and social change in the United States and internationally. She has served as President of the Urban Forest Council (2003-2005), Chair of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s Environmental Transition Team (2003), President of the S.F. Commission on the Environment (1997-1999) and Director of the S.F. Department of the Environment (1999-2001). Vietor has worked for many non-profit organizations, including most recently as Executive Director of the Chez Panisse Foundation. Francesca lives in San Francisco with her five-year-old daughter Chiara."
  • Meredith Wingate "is a Program Officer in the Power Utilities Program at the Energy Foundation since 2008. She co-manages the Foundation's grants portfolio in the areas of utility energy efficiency and opposition to new unabated coal fired power plants. Prior to this, Ms. Wingate was a Program Director at the Center for Resource Solutions (CRS) and led CRS’ Clean Energy Policy Design and Implementation business line, which is focused on providing expert assistance to state regulators on renewable policy design, certificate tracking, and voluntary renewable markets. Meredith has a Masters of Environmental Management in Resource Economics and Policy from Duke University and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Colorado at Boulder."

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