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Sierra Club Sierra Club Want to Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet? Join the Club!
Sierra Club InsiderNovember 29, 2005
Joining the Club Today Makes Us Stronger Tomorrow
Joining the Club Today Makes Us Stronger TomorrowOur air, water and lands remain under relentless pressure from polluters and their allies in Washington. And there is little doubt that 2006 will be our most challenging year to date.

We need your help to protect the Arctic, keep development out of our National Forests, safeguard the Endangered Species Act -- and for so much more.

Please help us in the year ahead.

Join the Sierra Club for just $15! Your membership gift today will make an enormous difference in protecting our natural heritage and preserving our environmental protections for future generations.

Going Somewhere on the Bridges to Nowhere
Ketchikan FerryThey say there's no such thing as bad publicity, but try telling that to Alaska Representative Don Young and Senator Lisa Murkowski, whose now infamous "Bridges to Nowhere" have become embarrassing example of fiscally irresponsible pork-barrel spending projects.

Young bragged that he stuffed the 2005 federal transportation bill "like a turkey," with $223 million for the proposed Gravina Island bridge from Ketchikan to an island of 50 people, and the proposed Knik Arm Bridge, from Anchorage to a sparsely populated port. But due to mounting criticism and a backlog of existing roads and bridges in need of repair, especially along the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast, Congress removed the "earmarks" for the bridges in mid-November. (The ferry, pictured above, which would be "replaced" by the proposed Gravina Island Bridge, takes seven minutes to go from Ketchikan to the airport.)

Mary GriscoAnd now, as the result of some sleuthing by Ace Detective Carl Pope, a.k.a. the Sierra Club's exective director, Senator Lisa Murkowski faces ethical scrutiny because her family owns 33 acres of undeveloped land on Gravina Island three-quarters of a mile from where the bridge would touch down.

Local Sierra Club groups in Anchorage and Juneau have been fighting these proposed bridges for almost as long as Young and his allies have been touting them. Sierra Club's Knik Group, based in Anchorage, has opposed the Knik Arm Bridge since the 1980s.

Mary Grisco, at right, a longtime volunteer from Anchorage, says the Knik Arm Bridge "is a really stupid idea, but you have to keep reminding people how stupid."

Find out more in Tim Lesle's story in the Planet.

Your Votes Are In -- Washington, D.C.'s Top Turkey Is...
Pombo TurkeyIn the last edition of the Insider, we asked readers to vote for the biggest turkey in Washington, D.C. The winner, Congressman Richard Pombo, grabbed more than a third of the 3,700 votes cast. (But Tom DeLay made a respectable second place showing.)

Speaking of turkeys, Pombo's latest scheme was to sneak a provision into the budget bill that would open 270 million acres of public lands to mining interests. He says it's to raise revenue, but because these lands, as Carl Pope says in his blog, "are essentially given away to mining companies, this is akin to trying to balance your household budget by selling a Rembrandt at a garage sale."

Tell your representative to oppose this massive giveaway of public land giveaway to the mining industry.

Katrina Patina
Ellis AndersonWhile they're recovering and rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina, residents of the Gulf Coast are also creating a new language.

Check out volunteer Ellis Anderson's colorful dispatch from Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, about "Katrina Patina," the man sleeping in her driveway, and more in one of the dozen-plus reports in our Gulf Coast Update.)

View previous editions of the Sierra Club Insider at the Insider Archives.

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All Over the Map

How many of these have you heard about?

-- The ski resorts with the best and worst environmental records
-- The new movie Bill O'Reilly loves to hate
-- A new screensaver that you can use to help scientists better understand climate
-- The wonders of walking
-- Eco-comedy from Larry David
-- Satellite images of America's lawns

If you didn't know what you've been missing, let Compass be your guide. Compass -- a new section of the Sierra Club's Web site -- gives you a quick daily tour of all things environmental.

George Clooney Wants to Change Your Oil

We're addicted to oil. Everyone agrees that it would be good for us to kick the habit, right?

Not everyone, if the new George Clooney film, Syriana, is to be believed. Reducing America's dependence on oil is also going to threaten some oil companies' dependence on money, and we can't have that.

Syriana launches alongside an online campaign called Oil Change. The Sierra Club is a partner in the project, which advocates a new energy policy for America -- one that would lessen our dependence on oil by investing in clean, renewable sources of energy and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks. Nothing very radical. Just pragmatic, commonsense stuff.

The Sierra Club will host a Washington, D.C., sneak-peek screening of Syriana for Members on December 7, the same evening the Oil Change campaign partners are presenting it to the National Press Club.

It opens nationwide December 9. See the movie. Then "change your oil" at Oil Change.



Save the Yellowstone Grizzly

Since it was first listed under the Endangered Species Act as a "threatened" species in the Lower 48, the grizzly bear has made a strong recovery, mostly in the wild area in and around Yellowstone National Park.

But now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to "delist" it, claiming it no longer merits federal protections.

Restoring grizzly bear numbers to their current levels has taken 30 years and tremendous public investment. Removing federal protections for the bear right now is far too risky, as threats to its habitat from sprawling development, oil and gas drilling, logging, roadbuilding, and off-road vehicles mount.

Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service it is too soon to lift Endangered Species Act protections for the Yellowstone grizzly bear, one of America's most magnificent creatures.

Photos: Mary Grisco (Saul Bromberger and Sandra Hoover) | Pombo turkey (Tim Lesle) | Syriana (Warner Bros.) | Grizzly (National Park Service)