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The Planet

Energy Bill Redux - Election Reform Task Force Appointed - Mexican Trucks - GMO Summit Draws Protests - Missing the Train - California Leads on Warming

Energy Bill Redux
On June 15, the Republican-controlled House for a third time passed the flawed Bush administration energy bill. Nearly identical to the measure the House passed last year, it would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, undermine key clean air and clean water standards, funnel billions of dollars in government giveaways to polluting industries, and do virtually nothing to promote conservation or the development of alternatives to fossil fuels. The bill is widely regarded as dead on arrival in the Senate, prompting some to dismiss its passage as election-year showboating and a symbolic way for Republicans to try to blame Democrats for rising gas prices. Energy analysts say the bill would have little or no effect on gas prices.

Election Reform Task Force Appointed
In June, Sierra Club President Larry Fahn appointed an election reform task force to make recommendations on such internal election issues as whether chapters, groups, or other Club entities be allowed to endorse Board candidates and whether candidates be required to have some membership longevity or Club experience. "The challenge," Fahn said, "was finding a mix of folks representing all of the Club factions and stakeholders, who have wide Club experience, an understanding of how the Club works, and the temperament to work productively in spite of disagreement." The task force consists of Susan Heitman, Sanjay Ranchod, Jim Bensman, Marianne Dugan, Chuck McGrady, Charles Brousse, Ed Dobson, and Lane Boldman. Contact Chair Susan Heitman with input at or go to for more information.

Mexican Trucks
NAFTA’s latest blow to the environment came on June 7 when the Supreme Court ruled to allow the Bush administrations’ plan to permit outdated and polluting Mexican trucks on American highways to move forward. Because Mexican freight trucks are generally older and are not subject to the Clean Air Act and other U.S. clean air laws, they emit more dangerous particulate matter and nitrogen oxides than U.S. trucks. "The Bush administration has basically told these old, polluting trucks that they can go ahead and mess with Texas, New Mexico, Arizona—and the rest of the country," says Sierra Club International Program Director Steve Mills.

GMO Summit Draws Protests
Protestors demonstrating outside the world’s largest biotechnology convention took over a downtown San Francisco intersection on June 8. But most of the protests during the 4-day conference were peaceful, and much actual dialog took place between activists and conference attendees. Activists contend that corporations are being improperly awarded patents for plants, microorganisms, and animal and human genes, and that some biotechnology solutions are being rushed to market. The Club advocates labeling genetically modified foods that are already on the market. For more, see

Missing the Train
The Club’s Challenge to Sprawl Campaign Committee has released a new report, "Missing the Train: How the Bush Administrations Transportation Proposal Threatens Jobs, Commutes, and Public Transit Ridership." Since 1998, when Congress last passed a major transportation funding bill, public transit ridership in the United States has increased 21 percent, underscoring the fact that public transit fuels economic growth and jobs, without the smog and other drawbacks of building single mode transportation systems that put more cars on the road. Bush administration proposals would take us in the opposite direction. Read the report at

California Leads on Warming
A new draft rule released by the California Air Resources Board on June 14 would cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases linked to global warming by as much as 30 percent over the next decade. Seven Northeastern states plan to implement the California rules when they become final. As The New York Times editorialized, "given federal indifference, California cannot be expected to refrain from acting on its own to address global warming. …Washington [is] bringing up the rear of a parade it ought to be leading." To learn more, go to

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