Sierra Club Home Page   Environmental Update  
chapter button
Explore, enjoy and protect the planet
Click here to visit the Member Center.         
Take Action
Get Outdoors
Join or Give
Inside Sierra Club
Press Room
Politics & Issues
Sierra Magazine
Sierra Club Books
Apparel and Other Merchandise
Contact Us

Join the Sierra ClubWhy become a member?

Planet Main
Back Issues
Search for an Article
Free Subscription
In This Section
Table of Contents
The Planet
June 1999 Volume 6, Number 5

Club Beat

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 Dan Becker.

Heavenly Staffers Get Their Wings

Four stellar Sierra Club employees were honored by their peers on April 21 - John Muir's birthday.

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 or contact Sandy Scales at ; (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 Club's chairman.

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 Act.

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".

Up to Top