The Sierra Club Bulletin: News For Members
By Jennifer Hattam
If youd attended a parade in Zumbrota or Stillwater or Eagan, Minnesota, this summer, you probably would have heard the marching band, waved at the local politicians, and smiled at the adorable children. You might also have encountered Asphalt Annie, three-eyed Tom the Toxic Trout, or Mike the Mutant Frog. With their "guerrilla theatre," these costumed creatures aim to highlight the poor environmental voting records of legislators from towns across Minnesota. And theyve got the lawmakers running scared.
"We get some boos, but a lot of applause," says Sam Garst, the Toxic 12 Campaign coordinator for the Sierra Clubs North Star Chapter. The Land of 10,000 Lakes is increasingly threatened by air and water pollution, urban sprawl, and poor management of state-owned forests. Frustrated by attempts to repeal environmental laws in the 1999 to 2000 legislative session, the chapter decided to fight back.
First, they identified a dozen state senators and representatives who had opposed the Sierra Club on legislation more than 90 percent of the time over the past few years. Next, the chapter held press conferences, sent letters to editors, rolled out a series of print ads, and, for maximum impact, made the parade appearances.
The result? Three environmental "zeros" were defeated by green candidates in the 2000 election, and another three were taken off the list after they began changing their votes. (Three more Toxic 12 members have announced their retirement.)
"One representative, Jim Abeler [R], had a zero percent rating in his freshman year. Now hes above sixty percent, and he led efforts to ban school-bus diesel and get tougher on pesticides," says Garst. "He changed so much we decided to endorse him this year."
Abeler may be off the Toxic 12 list, but a dozen new legislators are being targeted, including House Speaker Steve Sviggum (R). "Some people call it a negative campaign," says Garst, "but if were beating up on the legislators, its because theyve been beating up on our environment."
Our Ears Are Burning
U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Capitol Switchboard
Contact President Bush at:
The White House
Comment line (202) 456-1414
Fax (202) 456-2461
By Reed McManus
Ten percent may sound small, but the norm for many developers is "scorched earth" bulldozing. And the grandest trees are often among the first to fall because theyre inconvenient to build around.
Between preservation and planting, Roti hopes that every subdivision will one day have 50 percent tree cover. Then theyll resemble the regions leafy older neighborhoodswhose stately shade trees also provide low-energy air conditioning.
But that all changed this spring, when legal notices placed in small newspapers announced the largest sale of mineral rights in state history. After a public uproar, the state postponed the sale and held six "outreach sessions." It soon received some 4,500 comments, 90 percent opposing the gas leases. From their booth at Earth Day festivities in Redding, Phila Back and other Sierra Club volunteers generated more than 800 comments alone.
In late June, state officials halved their ambitious plans and added new environmental protections to the leases. Among the areas spared from this summers auction was Pine Creek Gorge. Now Back and her colleagues are working for legislation to ensure that Pennsylvanias public lands wont be managed for private interests.
Spotlight Sierra Club activism in your area by contacting Reed McManus at Sierra, 85 Second St., 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105-3441; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; fax (415) 977-5794.
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