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In This Issue of the Sierra Club Insider:
Feelin' the Love? Send a Sierra Club Valentine E-Card!
Watch Our New "Toast the Earth" Cartoon and Exxpose Exxon
Mercury Study Results, Quiz, and Pocket Guide
Grizzly Bears Need Your Help!
Turning Down the Heat in Detroit
Oil Addiction Relapse?
Switching from Coal to Wind in Wisconsin
EXPLORE: The Green Life
ENJOY: Sierra Club in Jeopardy?
PROTECT: Great Smoky Mountains
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Sierra Club InsiderFebruary 8,2006
Feelin' the Love?
Sierra Club E-CardYou know you are. So, go ahead, spread it around. This Valentine's Day, show someone that you really care --- about them and about protecting America's wildlife. Create and send one of our special Valentine e-cards. When you're done, take a moment to sign our petition to save the Endangered Species Act.

Toast the Earth with ExxonMobil

Connect the dots: (1) ExxonMobil announced a record $36 billion profits in 2005.

Toast the Earth(2) Sixteen years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Exxon is back in court appealing yet again to avoid making restitution to Alaskans who lost their livelihoods -- find out more about that in the next episode of Sierra Club Chronicles.

(3) Confused about global warming? You can thank Exxon, which has funded scientists to obscure the debate and to create uncertainty where there is broad international scientific consensus.

What to do? Celebrate! Watch our short "Toast the Earth" cartoon and then tell ExxonMobil's new CEO, Rex Tillerson, that you won't buy his company's products unless he changes course.

The Hidden Danger of Mercury Contamination
The largest-ever study on mercury levels in the U.S. population was released today. The study analyzed hair samples from more than 6,600 women representing all 50 states and found that one in five women of childbearing age exceeded the EPA's recommended limit.

Mercury Survival GuideThe hair samples came from public mercury-testing events sponsored by the Sierra Club and Greenpeace in more than a dozen states as well as from individuals who ordered testing kits online. The samples were analyzed by Dr. Steve Patch and fellow researchers at the Environmental Quality Institute at the University of North Carolina-Asheville. "We found the greatest single factor influencing mercury exposure was the frequency of fish consumption," says Dr. Patch. He found a direct relationship between people's mercury levels and the amount of fish they consumed.

Coal-burning power plants produce 42 percent of industrial mercury pollution in the U.S. -- mercury from their smokestacks falls into lakes, streams, and oceans, and concentrates in fish and shellfish.

Mercury contamination is especially dangerous for women of childbearing years because mercury exposure in the womb can cause neurological damage and other health problems in children. Some states -- like Illinois -- are already working on legislation to significantly cut back on toxic mercury.

Do you know enough to avoid toxic mercury? Take our quiz to find out and then download our handy pocket guide to mercury-safe fish.

Grizzly Bears Need Your Help!
GrizzlyIn recent weeks some in Congress have tried to attack the Endangered Species Act, and now the Bush administration is going one step further and proposing that the grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone Park be removed from the list of endangered and threatened animals.

Please help us prevent this! We need 120,000 names on our petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by February 15 to help keep the grizzlies on the list of endangered and threatened animals.

Please also send a generous donation to help us save the grizzly -- your donation will help the Club and our work to protect the Grizzly Bear and keep Congress from undermining the Endangered Species Act.

Delisting grizzly bears at a time when their population is still so small and their range is so limited could have devastating effects.

With your help the Sierra Club will work to protect these majestic creatures as well as other threatened wildlife and wildlands.

Turn Down the Heat
Frank ZaskiTackling global warming isn't a morning's work, but trying to get a shopping mall to turn the thermostat down can be a different story. For Frank Zaski, a retired Chrysler manager from Franklin, Michigan, sometimes all it takes is talking to the store manager. Zaski, a Sierra Club member, takes thermometers to malls in the Detroit area, records temperatures, and tries to get mall managers to lower the heat a few degrees. After all, most people are walking around in winter coats.

Zaski attended his first Sierra Club meeting in November and has quickly become one of the most active volunteers in Oakland County. "He realizes that things don't change unless people get involved and become the change," says local Club organizer Leigh Fifelski.

The WRONG Way to Kick Out "Oil Addiction"
arctic refugeIn last week's State of the Union address, President Bush, a former Texas oil man, admitted that the United States is suffering from an "oil addiction." Alas, less than one week later, he is already having a relapse. Monday, the President released his 2007 federal budget request to Congress and, once again, it includes revenues from opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to destructive oil drilling.

So much for kicking the habit. President Bush's drill-it-all approach is a tired proposal that was defeated in last year's budget. Congress and the Administration must stop wasting energy on these dead-end drilling schemes and chart a course to a cleaner energy future.

Take Action: If you haven't signed our petition yet, please do so. If you have, please tell a friend!

Switching from Coal to Wind
wind farmSierra Club field staffer Bruce Nilles reports from Wisconsin on a grassroots victory in Madison, where the local utility has announced it will stop burning coal within six years at its aging downtown coal plant and generate more electricity from wind power. Madison Gas and Electric says it will begin construction on a wind farm near Fond du Lac this year.

The Club's Midwest Clean Energy Campaign, coordinated by Jennifer Feyerherm, relied on classic organizing tactics like building alliances with community groups, knocking on doors in surrounding neighborhoods, making hundreds of phone calls, rallying concerned citizens to public hearings, and getting the story on the evening news. One hearing had the highest attendance the Environment Commission had ever witnessed. The downtown Madison coal plant is the dirtiest in the state.

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Two People. One Year. Zero Watts.

MIT student Eric Brende and wife moved to an Amish-like community in Pennsylvania to live without modern technology and to grow sorghum. They thrived, and then tried to rejoin the modern world without abandoning their minimalist ideals.

Read more about their story in Sierra magazine's "The Green Life."

Better Off
What is the Sierra Club?

Tonight's episode of Jeopardy! will feature the Sierra Club as one of its clues. Let's hope we're as well known as we think we are. Or better yet, that the contestant who gets the clue is a Member.



Stop the Road to Nowhere

The proposed North Shore Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park would cut a 38-mile swath through the largest tract of undeveloped mountain forest in the eastern United States. Intended to replace a county road submerged by a reservoir 60 years ago, only the first seven miles were built before rising costs and environmental damage halted construction.

In recent years, a growing number of local citizens, elected officials, environmental and taxpayer groups have endorsed a cash settlement to Swain County, North Carolina, in lieu of the destructive road, and the National Park Service "environmentally preferred" alternative is to scrap the proposed road. But Rep. Charles Taylor (R-N.C.), determined to spur new development in the area, secured a $16 million appropriation in 2000 to restart the roadbuilding. Now the public has a chance to weigh in during a comments period that ends March 20. Visit our website to learn more and take action!

Great Smoky Mountains
Photos: Frank Zaski (Leigh Fifelski) | Arctic Refuge (USFWS) | Wind Farm (NREL) | Better Off (HarperCollins) | Jeopardy (John Barry) | Great Smoky Mountains (NPS)