Alabama Green Rebuilding Project
From June 2-5, two dozen volunteers gathered in Coden, Alabama, near Mobile, for a green rebuilding project supported by the Sierra Club’s Alabama Gulf Coast Restoration Task Force. The goal was to rebuild a home for someone displaced by Hurricane Katrina, using low-cost, green rebuilding methods, and make the project a model for other rebuilding projects. The home belonged to Nancy McCall, who has been living in a FEMA trailer since Katrina. Alabama Sierra Club organizer Peggie Griffin says the project was such a success that another has been planned for later in the summer. Also in ‘Bama, the Club organized a caravan of 16 hybrid cars carrying members of the Alabama Chapter and other local conservation groups to the opening night of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” in Birmingham. The cars arrived with American flags flying, a police escort, and onlookers waving.
Schwarzenegger Joins Sierra Club
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger joined a Sierra Club teleconference on July 24 to announce his opposition to the offshore oil bill that passed the Senate a week later. The governor echoed the Club’s concern that passage of the bill could “lead to the weakening of the moratorium that has protected our California coasts for 25 years.” Find out what you can do to help protect our coasts at sierraclub.org/wildlands/coasts/. A week later, Schwarzenegger and British Prime Minister Tony Blair signed a nonbinding agreement to share technology and research aimed at reducing global warming.
Monterey Pines Saved
The Club’s Great Coastal Places campaign won a victory in June when the Pebble Beach Company withdrew plans to cut down 17,000 Monterey pine trees on California’s Monterey Peninsula for another golf course, a driving range, and more resort and luxury home development. Over the last year, campaign organizer Owen Bailey arranged meetings between Sierra Club members and California Coastal Commissioners up and down the coast, recruiting activists through chapter newsletters, mailings, phone banks, and e-mail alerts. Last December, members hand-delivered more than 1,200 notes to the Commission in the shape of holiday ornaments, all hung on potted Monterey pine trees. In all, more than 2,000 notes and 5,000 postcards were sent, and the final stack was accompanied by a 12-inch cookie in the shape of a pine tree, decorated with the words “I am ESHA” (Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area). The developer pulled the plan the day before the Coastal Commission’s decisive hearing.
National Solar Tour
The National Solar Tour, now in its 11th year, will kick off around the country on October 7. Hosted by the American Solar Energy Society, the tour has grown from 5,000 tour takers in 1996 to nearly 70,000 in 2005. The tour, with a theme of “real places for real people,” opens thousands of homes and buildings throughout the country so visitors can see real examples of renewable energy and energy-efficiency. Many Sierra Club members are helping organize this year’s event. For tour locations, see ases.org/tour/.
Supremes Weaken Water Protections
A June 19 Supreme Court ruling threatens the federal government’s power to enforce the Clean Water Act and puts more than half of America’s river miles at risk by making it harder for agencies to determine what bodies of water qualify for protection. The ruling puts enforcement of the Clean Water Act on a case-by-case basis that works in favor of polluters. It will also likely slow protective action and lead to endless delays and challenges in the courts. However, five of the nine justices recognized the importance of protecting wetlands and other waters, rejecting the narrow interpretation put forth by Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Roberts. Read more at sierraclub.org/cleanwater/.
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