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Sierra Club Insider August 9, 2005
"This Isn't Democracy -- It's a Mugging."

Congress waited until the week before its August recess to do its worst damage: passing an energy bill that lavishes billions of dollars in subsidies upon the oil, gas, nuclear, and coal industries -- more than even President Bush asked for. It also instructs the Department of the Interior to prepare to lease the entire coastline of the United States for oil and gas drilling. As Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope wrote in his blog: "This isn't democracy -- it's a mugging."

caribouFortunately, drilling the Arctic Refuge was not included, but a critical vote on that issue is coming in September. Because Bush administration allies in Congress snuck projected revenues from Arctic drilling into the $2.5-trillion budget reconciliation bill, the Arctic Refuge may not get a vote on its own merits. This puts some members of Congress in a terrible bind.

For example, Maine's two senators, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, consider themselves champions of the Arctic and have voted several times against drilling for oil there. But because the budget bill also includes provisions supporting Maine's struggling shipbuilding industry, Collins and Snowe could end up tipping the balance in favor of drilling.

But Sierra Club grassroots activists in Maine and all over the country are fighting to make sure that doesn't happen.

Delicious Revolution

Alice WatersYou might think that founding Chez Panisse (named the "Best Restaurant in America" by Gourmet magazine), and writing eight cookbooks might be enough for renowned chef Alice Waters. But she has even bigger fish to fry (if indeed she ever fries fish). She wants to change the role food plays in our culture.

Waters, who talks about her Edible Schoolyard project, the importance of eating locally grown food, and the "delicious revolution" in an interview in Sierra magazine, will be one of the featured speakers at Sierra Summit 2005. (She's just one of dozens of stimulating speakers and workshop leaders who'll be at the Summit.) You can get a taste of Waters and other Summit speakers -- as well as register for the Summit -- at

Charlotte Fleet Goes Green

Hybrids are hot. Charlotte, North Carolina, and surrounding Mecklenburg County have agreed to purchase at least two dozen new hybrid cars over the next year, more than tripling the city-county stable of hybrids. Fleet managers say this not only will mean less pollution but also will save money in the long run. Many of the new hybrids will go to the air-quality staff. "They're not going to show up at some organization to do a clean-air presentation driving a 1992 Chevy Cavalier anymore," says Mecklenburg County fleet manager Jim Cathey.

Happy Birthday Alaska Wildlands

Ed WayburnFormer President Jimmy Carter, Sierra Club Honorary President Edgar Wayburn, and about a thousand other conservationists gathered in Anchorage earlier this month to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which protected 100 million acres of wildlands in the nationís 49th and largest state.

Wayburn, now 98, was arguably the most influential Club leader in securing protection for these Alaskan wildlands. "The campaign for Alaska's lands reached an important plateau in 1980, but a campaign like this never really ends," he said. "Wildlands must always be defended against those who would encroach against their ecological integrity."

Read his full speech here.

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Kicking Back in the Sierra

Want to get away to a mountain wilderness without having to carry your whole house on your back? Check out our Autumn Adventure at the Tamarack Lodge -- six nights in comfortable accommodations, with day trips into the Carson-Iceberg and Mokelumne wildernesses. October 2-8.

Or find out about our more than 350 other national and international Sierra Club outings.

And don't take our word that the trips are wonderful. Check out the testimonials from these happy campers (and bicyclists, birdwatchers, backpackers...)

One Small Step = 24 Tons Less Trash

When Jan Klippert hiked along a remote coastline in Washington's Olympic National Park in 1997, he was surprised by the volume of garbage that had washed ashore -- huge chunks of Styrofoam, broken fish hampers, tires, and more. After talking to some people he knew in the Park Service, he's now spearheading annual beach cleanups with hundreds of volunteers. "A guy needs a project when he retires," he says. Last year, 500 people collected 24 tons of trash. Read Klippert's story in Sierra magazine's "One Small Step" feature.

"I worry, plan, and organize for the spring cleanup during the winter," Klippert says. "Then I can go hiking in the summer with a clear conscience." Jan Klippert


Back the Front

The Rocky Mountain Front's wildlife habitat is in the top one percent of wildlife habitat in the U.S, says Montana's Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department. With the exception of bison, every species of mammal that roamed the area when Lewis and Clark passed through can still be seen here.

But the Lewis and Clark National Forest is developing a travel plan for the Front regarding motorized and nonmotorized use. Whether the Front remains a haven for wildlife and hikers and equestrians or becomes a playground for dirt bikes and off-road vehicles and snowmobiles depends on citizen input.

"Motorized use is becoming increasingly popular throughout the West," says Montana volunteer (and former Sierra Club president) Jennifer Ferenstein. "So it's important the Forest Service hear from those of us who value quiet recreation and want the natural beauty of the Front protected for our family and friends to enjoy for generations to come."

The deadline for input is August 16. Please register in our Take Action Network -- it's quick and easy -- and send a letter TODAY. Tell the Forest Service to support Alternative 3, which would uphold the long tradition of horse and foot travel along the Rocky Mountain Front, while protecting wildlife and water quality.

Rocky Mountain Front
Photos: Caribou (Ken Whitten) | Alice Waters (Sierra Summit) | Dr. Wayburn (Maribeth Oakes) | Sierra stream (John Byrne Barry) | Jan Klippert (Dan Lamont) | Rocky Mountain Front (Jeff Van Tin)

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