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Sierra Club Insider January 18, 2005

Reasons to Be Cheerful
CincinnatiWhile precious little good news on the environment came out of Washington, D.C., in 2004, there were many local and state victories to celebrate. In our January/February issue of The Planet, Senior Editor Tom Valtin looks back at 17 of them, from passing a renewable energy initiative in Colorado to stopping a Navy landing field in North Carolina. (That mock toilet-on-a-barge addition to the Cincinnati skyline above -- a metaphor for the city's chronic sewer overflow problem -- helped win public support for $1.5 billion in sewage improvements and cleanup.)

When Good Things Happen in Not-So-Good Years
Sappingfield's PriusWe asked Insider readers before the holidays to rank the most positive environmental events of 2004 and more than 2,000 of you cast a vote. First place went to the surge in popularity of hybrid cars -- that's Angeles Chapter Vice Chair Mike Sappingfield and his wife Patty with their Hybrid Prius at left. In second place was the Supreme Court's rejection of Bush administration arguments that it can keep the workings of its Energy Task Force secret. (More on that below.)
Here's the complete list and results from our survey.

Recycle. For Good.
Bottle BillJeff Mikulina, director of the Sierra Club Hawai'i Chapter, reports that the Club teamed up with local businesses to collect empty bottles and cans last weekend and send the 5-cent deposits to UNICEF to aid victims of the tsunami tragedy. The Hawai'i Chapter led the fight to establish the bottle bill, which just went into effect on January 1, 2005. For more, see

Sierra Club Suit Against Cheney Seeks Straight Talk from Administration
Seven days after the Bush inauguration, the Sierra Club's lawsuit against Vice President Dick Cheney and his Energy Task Force gets a new hearing. Last June, the Supreme Court denied Cheney's request that the Sierra Club case be dismissed, and sent it back to the court of appeals. Now, with an appeals court hearing on January 27, the Sierra Club is insisting that the vice president come clean about Enron and Big Oil.

"Government by secret committee puts our nation's democratic tradition at risk," says Sierra Club Legal Director Pat Gallagher, "In Cheney's case, it has produced a backward-looking energy policy that fails entirely to address our reliance on fossil fuels."

Learn more about the case and how it has developed over the past months.

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  Two Bits for John Muir

Muir QuarterOn January 31, the U.S. Mint will release the new California quarter depicting Sierra Club founder John Muir admiring Yosemite Valley's Half Dome as a California condor soars above. The coin's design, by Angeles Chapter member Garrett Burke, was chosen from more than 8,000 submissions. (Below, John Muir impersonator Lee Stetson and friends show their support for the Muir/Yosemite quarter.)

Supporters for Quarter  
  Put the High Sierra on Your Desktop

Artist Tom Killion is famous for his beautiful woodcuts of the natural world -- in particular California and the High Sierra. Download this image of Evolution Valley, and you can have a touch of the California Alps as your computer's desktop background.
Killion's High Sierra  
  Stop Funding Abstinence-Only

Comprehensive sex education programs have been proven to reduce teenage pregnancy rates, yet no federal dollars are invested in these programs. Instead, funding has been poured into Abstinence Only Until Marriage programs, even though there is no evidence these programs work. And, according to a new report from Representative Henry Waxman (D-California), abstinence-only programs present false information about the effectiveness of condoms and the risk of abortion, as well as misinformation on other sexual and reproductive health issues.

Tell your Congressperson to oppose funding for the Abstinence-Only Until Marriage program.

Girls in Condom T-shirts  

toilet on barge (Andy Betts) | Sappingfields and Prius (Southern Sierran) | Empty Cans = Full Hearts (Hawai'i Chapter) | California quarter (U.S. Mint) | girls with condom t-shirts (© Population Services International, Courtesy of Photoshare) | Evolution Valley (Tom Killion)