Climate change is wreaking havoc on wildlife and habitat at such a rapid pace that, without decisive action, we could lose countless species and extensive ecosystems forever. Compounding this threat is a rigorously anti-environment federal administration laser-focused on selling out the public good for the sake of private profit, leaving lands, wildlife, and communities even more vulnerable. In light of this mounting urgency, with support from the Sierra Club Foundation, the Sierra Club used its full scope of tactics and relied on strong relationships to push back, serving as a critical voice in conservation efforts across the country. The Foundation engaged as a shareholder to hold banks and investors accountable for financing fossil fuel projects, stopping the opening of pristine places, such as the National Arctic Wildlife Refuge, to oil and gas development.
Comprehensive legal campaigns exposed rampant corruption and scandal in both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of the Interior (DOI), forcing the resignations of Secretaries Pruitt and Zinke. Because of this intense scrutiny and the resulting lack of leadership or direction, the Sierra Club and allies prevented many of the administration’s worst attacks on public lands and public health. We successfully saved protections for grizzly bears after their endangered species status was unjustifiably and egregiously removed, and we have led similar campaigns to protect wildlife, ranging from panthers to polar bears.
While the Sierra Club pushed federal agencies to enforce environmental protections, it also prevented polluting industries from destroying habitat and exacerbating climate change. 2018 marked the tenth year that the Keystone XL pipeline remained unfinished, despite the Trump administration’s promise to revive the project. The Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast gas pipelines are both indefinitely delayed as a result of our legal challenges and growing public opposition, adding billions of dollars to the cost of these already expensive projects and creating doubt about their long-term viability.
THREAT: EXTENSIVE ECOSYSTEM DESTRUCTION
A smart combination of organizing, legal, and communications savvy resulted in a big win: Endangered Species Act protections were reinstated for the Greater Yellowstone grizzly bear population. The Sierra Club led litigation against the attempted removal and has long been a leader in organizing public opposition to trophy hunting of grizzly bears on the doorstep of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.
The Sierra Club’s award-winning Freedom of Information Act investigation exposed flagrant corruption within federal agencies and ultimately forced the resignation of Scott Pruitt as head of EPA and Ryan Zinke as Interior Secretary, greatly slowing and complicating Trump’s deregulatory agenda.
The Sierra Club has helped stop or delay nearly $30 billion in dirty fuel infrastructure projects, including the Keystone XL, Mountain Valley, and Atlantic Coast pipelines. These construction delays created financial uncertainty that, combined with unrelenting legal pressure, will prevent these polluting pipelines from ever being built.
Through intense legal and organizing pressure, the Sierra Club compelled the EPA to continue implementation of critical environmental safeguards, including rules to improve safety at chemical plants. We fought back attempts to weaken coal ash and smog protections and harnessed public outcry to bring national attention to the repeal of the Clean Power Plan.
SOURCE: 4. ACREAGE OF LANDS PROTECTED FROM OIL AND GAS DRILLING ONLY. DOES NOT INCLUDE NON-ENERGY AND NON-LAND RELATED MATTERS, LIKE OFFSHORE DRILLING.