Oregon activists, including the Alaska Coalition Polar Bear, right, had a simple message for Senator Gordon Smith: Don't waffle on your promises to protect the Arctic Refuge. Senator Smith didn't keep his promise, but enough moderate Republican House members did to get Arctic and coastal drilling removed from the House version of the Budget bill -- for now, at least.
A big thanks to all of you Insider readers who signed our petition to protect the Arctic Refuge, wrote a letter or called your Senators or Representatives, attended a rally, or told your friends to tell their friends.
Unfortunately, drilling proponents won't give up easily. Senators Ted Stevens and Pete Domenici, members of the House-Senate conference committee that will reconcile the House budget bill (without drilling) and the Senate bill (with drilling) have stated they will not agree to any budget that doesn't contain Arctic drilling. As the Sierra Club's Melinda Pierce says, "For them, they win once, and it's all over. For us, we win, and we just live to fight another day."
Need a way to show your friends why the Arctic Refuge must be protected? Our brand new Google Earth maps of the Arctic can help you make a powerful case for preserving the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Sometimes our message comes from unexpected places. Club staffer Carl Zichella reports that Prince Charles, visiting the San Francisco Bay Area last week, delivered a well-informed speech touting sustainable development and smart-growth practices.
"We simply cannot go on as we are," said the Prince. "The environmental crisis we face is another situation in which I believe the United States could use its power and its influence to help create a sense of unity in a common cause among disparate peoples and sectors of society." You can
read Prince Charles' entire speech on his website.
(That's Prince Charles above talking to Helge Hellberg, Executive Director of Marin Organic, at the Point Reyes Farmers Market.)
Wal-Mart Watch, a coalition of more than 400 faith groups, women's rights groups, environmentalists, labor unions, and others, has dedicated this week to highlighting the impact of Wal-Mart on communities. "Big box" stores can threaten our landscape, our communities, and the environment by building on the fringe of town, paving vast areas for stores and parking lots, and undermining the economic health of existing downtown shopping areas. Learn more about "Higher Expectations Week" at WalMartWatch.com.
The centerpiece of "Higher Expectations Week" is the premiere of Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, a documentary that "uncovers a retail giant's assault on families and American values." More than 6,000 screenings are already scheduled this week, in churches, living rooms, union halls, and somewhere near you. Visit the film's website for clips that range from poignant to bitingly satirical.
Wal-Mart filmmaker Robert Greenwald is currently producing a new series that will debut in January called Sierra Club Chronicles about the extraordinary environmental efforts of ordinary Americans.
Lynn Henning, a small family farmer from rural Michigan, and Rhonda Anderson, a single mother from Detroit might not at first appear to have a lot in common. But they're both Sierra Club activists fighting pollution -- Henning from massive animal-feeding operations that have poisoned creeks with untreated animal waste, and Anderson from an oil refinery in an area of Detroit known as "Cancer Alley."
Henning and Anderson recently learned a lot more about each other's worlds when they organized a "Common Justice Tour." They rented a bus and picked up Detroit residents for a tour of a rural south-central Michigan community impacted by polluting animal-feeding operations and then brought the rural residents to get a closer look at industrial pollution in Detroit.
One possible next step, says Anderson, is a joint lobby day in which representatives from both communities talk to public officials together. "It's going to be very powerful when a white farmer is accompanying a black community leader into a meeting with a legislator to say, 'Their issues are our issues too, and we're going to keep coming back here with them until you start listening to the people instead of the polluters,'" said Anderson.
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