June 1999 Volume 6, Number 5
by Jenny Coyle
'Bubba' Anti-Nuke Ads Don't Bomb
A fictional character named "Bubba" grabbed the attention of South Carolina
residents in April with a series of Sierra Club radio ads objecting to the state's hunger
for other states' nuclear waste.
South Carolina takes nuclear waste and plutonium from 41 other states, according to
South Carolina Chapter Executive Director Dell Isham.
In one of three ads, Bubba - a Georgia convenience store clerk played by actor and
teacher Kerry Maher - explains how the Department of Energy wants to use the plutonium to
make fuel for reactors, like the one near Rock Hill, S.C. "It's a little
experimental, but the Department of Energy doesn't think it will be too dangerous . . .
and it's gonna make more deadly radioactive waste, but y'all already got so much down
there, what's a little more gonna matter?" Bubba rocketed to celebrity status with a
series of political ads that helped elect Jim Hodges as governor. Isham knew a good thing
when he saw it, and recruited Maher for the anti-nuke campaign. "Many residents are
unaware of the state's appetite for nuclear waste," says Isham. "They had no
idea we're the pay toilet of the country."
That's probably how Bubba would put it, too.
We Couldn't Have Said It Better
It's gratifying to see the media push a Sierra Club position further than we believe is
prudent for us to do ourselves.
Randy Cohen, who writes "The Ethicist" column for The New York Times
Magazine, did that in May when a reader complained that his friends act like he's a
criminal for buying a sport utility vehicle. (SUVs have become the poster child for the
Club's Global Warming campaign.)
"It depends where you drive," Cohen began, suggesting that the
"unforgiving lunar surface" is acceptable, but paved American roads are not.
After describing - quite eloquently - the safety and pollution issues with SUVs, Cohen
concluded with this: "So if you're planning to drive that SUV in New York, pack a
suitcase into your roomy cargo area, because you're driving straight to hell."
"It's refreshing to be reminded yet again by the Times just how moderate and
restrained Sierra Club's global-warming advocacy campaign is," says campaign director
Heavenly Staffers Get Their Wings
Four stellar Sierra Club employees were honored by their peers on April 21 - John
Debbie Sease, legislative director in Washington, D.C., received the Michael McCloskey
Award. Named for the Club's chairman and former executive director, it's given to people
whose work has reflected and strengthened the meaning, purpose and mission of the Sierra
Club. In her 18 years with the Club, Sease has built the legislative program into a
powerhouse in the nation's capitol, where Congress recently rated the Sierra Club the most
effective environmental organization (See story in November 1998 Planet).
The Special Achievement Award, which acknowledges an employee's efforts to benefit or
streamline the work of the Club or enhance its public image, went to Ozark (Missouri)
Chapter Director Ken Midkiff. His dedication and effectiveness have helped to elevate the
chapter to the most successful environmental organization in the state.
Receiving the Virginia Ferguson Award was Annette Henkin, office manager in the
Washington, D.C., office. Named for the Club's first paid employee, the award honors a
staff member who has demonstrated consistent and exemplary work. Henkin, with 11 years of
service to the Club, is known as a problem solver in the D.C. office.
Dina Perez-Neira, who works in the office of Development and Major Gifts, received the
Community Service Award for her commitment to helping others through a non-Sierra Club
cause. Perez-Neira and her husband, Alfredo Neira, founded Helping Hands International,
which provides medical supplies and other materials to needy people in 17 countries.
Honored for serving as a Sierra Club employee for more than 20 years was Ellen Byrne,
assistant public information manager. Club volunteers will be honored at the annual
banquet in September. To nominate someone, check out the Club Web site at http://www.sierraclub.org/history/awards
or contact Sandy Scales at firstname.lastname@example.org
; (415) 977-5500.
Four Decades Later, McCloskey Retires
When retiring Sierra Club Chairman Mike McCloskey first became active with the
organization as a law student in Oregon, he had a feeling that "clean air, clean
water and wildlands were worth protecting, and that fighting those battles was far more
enjoyable than the prospect of practicing law," he says.
On April 30, after 38 years with the Club, McCloskey retired. He will be honored at the
Club's annual banquet on Sept. 24 in San Francisco.
McCloskey was recruited as the Club's first paid field-staff member by David Brower,
and later replaced Brower as executive director in 1969, until 1985, when he became the
During his first decade with the Club, he worked alongside environmental pioneers like
photographer Ansel Adams. He helped establish Washington's North Cascades National Park
and headed the lobbying campaign to establish California's Redwood National Park. He also
was a key force in passage of the Wilderness Act and the National Environmental Protection
More recently he has been a leader on global environmental policy, writing the basic
drafts that became the United Nation's Charter for Nature.
Go on to the next article, " Earth Day Splashes".
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