Uniters, Not Dividers

The Sierra Club builds bridges to a greener 21st century.

No matter your political leanings, you still want to breathe clean air, drink fresh water, and enjoy unspoiled parks. So over the years the Sierra Club has forged alliances with groups that don’t fit the tree-hugger stereotype. They include fiscal conservatives, the religious community, sportsmen’s associations, unions, and–in one instance–even the National Rifle Association. We don’t agree with them in all cases, but sometimes our interests overlap. These alliances show the broad, nonpartisan appeal of environmental issues. Here’s a sample of organizations that have worked with the Club in recent years and some of our joint efforts.

WHO: PACIFIC COAST FEDERATION OF FISHERMEN’S ASSOCIATIONS, the largest trade association of commercial fishermen on the West Coast.
HOW: Intervened with the Sierra Club in lawsuits to defend Endangered Species Act protections for coho and chinook salmon critical habitat.

WHO: TROUT UNLIMITED, a nationwide group of recreational anglers united to conserve and restore trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.
HOW: Joined with the Club to challenge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s sanctioning of the Rock Creek Mine development adjacent to bull trout habitat in Montana, and in efforts to protect national-forest roadless areas.

WHO: NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION, the nation’s largest and most powerful gun owners’ group.
HOW: In the late 1990s, the Club and the NRA’s Texas chapter forged a rare alliance to protect the Katy Prairie, a winter home for millions of waterfowl that nest in the Midwest and Canada.

WHO: NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES, a coalition of 36 Protestant, Anglican, and Orthodox denominations representing 50 million people in more than 100,000 congregations. Its Eco-Justice Working Group, organized to "protect and restore God’s Creation," provides resources to congregations involved in environmental-justice issues.
HOW: In 2002, the Sierra Club and the NCC teamed up to produce TV and newspaper ads calling on Americans to "keep our promise to care for creation."

WHO: NATIONAL RELIGIOUS PARTNERSHIP FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, a coalition connecting 100 million Protestants, Catholics, Jews, and Evangelicals with a mission of "integrating care for God’s creation throughout religious life" and a focus on climate change and energy conservation.
HOW: The NRPE has worked with the Sierra Club to promote conservation, renewable energy sources, and an increase in vehicle fuel economy. The group’s efforts included the popular "What Would Jesus Drive?" campaign sponsored by the Evangelical Environmental Network, a partnership member.

WHO: TAXPAYERS FOR COMMON SENSE, a national budget watchdog organization.
HOW: Joined with the Club and other conservation groups to produce the annual Green Scissors report on wasteful, anti-environmental federal subsidies. TCS has also worked with the Club to highlight the environmental and economic damage done by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects.

WHO: NATIONAL TAXPAYERS UNION, a group formed in 1969 to "protect every American’s most fundamental right–the right to keep what they have earned." The NTU targets politicians beholden to special-interest groups.
HOW: Aided the Club and other conservationists with a letter of support for the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act–because its passage would prevent losses to taxpayers that result from current management of wildland in the Rockies.

WHO: CATO INSTITUTE, a libertarian think tank.
HOW: Cato’s goal of "limited government" prompted it to work with the Sierra Club to publicize the $20 billion in tax breaks and production subsidies to well-connected energy producers in the Bush administration’s energy bill.

WHO: UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA, a union representing 1.2 million active and retired workers in the metals and mining industry, manufacturing, healthcare, utilities, and the public-service sector.
HOW: In November, the USWA joined Club activists and other labor groups in Miami to oppose the Free Trade Area of the Americas. The union also supports the "New Apollo Project," which promotes investment in clean energy, transportation, manufacturing, and construction.

WHO: CALIFORNIA ALLIANCE FOR JOBS, a construction-industry lobbying group.
HOW: Formed an alliance with the Sierra Club in 2000 to back a county transportation tax measure that today funds efforts to promote mass transit and fight urban sprawl and pollution.

WHO: JUDICIAL WATCH, a conservative government-accountability group.
HOW: Joined with the Sierra Club to sue the Bush administration over its refusal to disclose documents relating to the White House’s energy-policy task force. The Supreme Court heard arguments in April and is expected to deliver a decision in July.