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Sierra Club InsiderSeptember 19, 2005

A Government Search for Scapegoats

wetlandsAs the scope of the unprecedented environmental catastrophe in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast widens, the Sierra Club is focusing on real solutions that could help prevent future tragedies. Sadly, our government has instead been focused on trying to pin the destruction of New Orleans on others. The Mississippi Clarion-Ledger reports that a leaked Justice Department e-mail reveals attempts to target environmental groups for blame. Although the Sierra Club has responded to the resulting smear campaign, it is more important now to help the people and communities that have been devastated by the environmental negligence that compounded Katrina's consequences.

You can help by supporting the Sierra Club's Gulf Coast Environmental Restoration Project. Your gift will help the Sierra Club in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama work with our neighbors to rebuild local communities, clean up pollution, restore devastated wetlands, and ensure that rebuilding plans call for hurricane and flood protection, conservation, and other green building and planning approaches.

"Don't Let the Crime Scene Grow Cold"

Arrianna HuffingtonKatrina was much on the minds of both speakers and attendees at the Sierra Summit in San Francisco last week. Columnist Arianna Huffington told her audience that, although Katrina was a tragedy, it has provided an opportunity to teach the American people about the environmental crimes -- such as wetlands destruction and failure to clean up Superfund sites -- that turned a natural disaster into something much worse: "What we've learned from television shows like CSI and Law and Order is that you don't let the crime scene grow cold."

Al GoreFormer Vice President Al Gore also addressed the Summit -- ironically, he had been scheduled to speak about global warming and hurricanes to a meeting of state insurance commissioners -- in New Orleans. Gore blasted the Bush administration for its willful ignorance of the scientific evidence about global warming.

The good news, said Gore, is that to respond to global warming "we have every thing we need -- save perhaps political will -- and in our democracy, political will is a renewable resource."

Darryl Malek-WileyThe Sierra Club's Darryl Malek-Wiley, at left, a New Orleans resident, and now an evacuee, was also at the Summit and shared his concerns about how, as in many environmental disasters, the most vulnerable population bears the biggest burden, and about whether the city will be cleaned and rebuilt equitably.

Aaron MairBefore Gore's speech on Friday, Sierra Club President Lisa Renstrom announced the launch of the Club's Gulf Coast Environmental Restoration Project and passed the hat (white sacks, actually) to raise more than $40,147 from attendees. That's Aaron Mair from the Atlantic Chapter collecting donations at right.

(Though Katrina was clearly in the forefront, the Summit featured plenty of other highlights as well, such as Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s barn-burning speech.)



Hop on the Bus to Protect the Arctic


Arctic RallyOn Tuesday, September 20, thousands of concerned citizens will gather on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol to tell Congress to keep the Arctic Refuge off-limits to oil drilling. Congress is expected to vote early this fall on a bill that would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, and it needs to see the faces of those who favor protecting the Refuge. We need you to be one of those faces.

Chartered buses from cities up and down the Northeast corridor are heading to D.C., so it's easy to join fellow activists and make your voice heard.

After decades of being told "no," Big Oil and its allies in Congress -- in the face of overwhelming public support for protecting this national treasure -- have buried the controversial Arctic drilling measure deep in the budget. And in recent weeks they have exploited the Hurricane Katrina tragedy as an excuse to drill in the Arctic and off our coasts. Don't let them get away with these tricks!

Sign up for the Arctic Refuge Action Day now!



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   EXPLORE
Every Day Matters

Leslie Hugo spent the first weekend in August camping with women from her Unitarian Universalist church in Homer Glen, Illinois.

When she moved a few years ago from Nebraska to Illinois, and joined the Sierra Club's Sauk-Calumet Group, she became friends with group leader Anne Kawaters, who passed away from ovarian cancer this past May.

"Anne was like a mother to all of us, and she took me under her wing. It wasn't long before we were having a discussion about spirituality and environmentalism, and she suggested I come to her church some Sunday for a service. I went the next Sunday and knew I was 'home.'"

Leslie's story is just one of hundreds of "Every Day Matters" stories of Sierra Club members and friends about how their environmental interests touched their lives. Read more. And add your voice.

Leslie Hugo
 ENJOY
Take My President...Please!

If you love President Bush, Bill Maher might not be your favorite entertainer. Maher, host of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, performed as part of Sierra Summit and took his audience on an insightful -- and, yes, raunchy -- guided tour of just how much environmental damage the Bush administration has inflicted on the country.

How clueless is the President about the environment? Well, says Maher, "George Bush thinks 'Kyoto' is the guy his father threw up on."

Bill Maher

 PROTECT

Giant Sequoia Safe for Now

A federal judge has shut down a 2,000-acre commercial logging project in Giant Sequoia National Monument because the federal government relied on outdated science to justify a controversial timber sale. The timber industry and U.S. Forest Service had argued that the logging was urgently needed for fire prevention, but the Sierra Club and other environmental groups charged that the Forest Service had not taken a hard look at the likely environmental harm that the extensive logging will cause.

Pat Gallagher, Sierra Club Director of Environmental Law, said, "This decision helps ensure that the Giant Sequoia Monument will be protected and can continue to inspire visitors for generations to come."

sequoia
Photos: Arianna Huffington (Time Lesle) | Al Gore (Tim Lesle) | Bill Maher (Jon Zilber) | Darryl Malek-Wiley (Pat Joseph) | Aaron Mair (John Byrne Barry) | Leslie Hugo (Leslie Hugo) | sequoia (National Park Service)