Sierra Club: The Planet--1996
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The Planet
"Oh, What a Difference a Doorhanging Can Make"

Along with allies from Green Corps, Project '96, Public Interest Research Group and Clean Water Action, Club volunteers delivered 2.3 million doorhangers bearing the message "Protect America's Environment: For Our Families, For Our Future" in more than 100 locations. The doorhangers contained two postcards, one to President Clinton, the other to a local official.

Ten days after volunteers in Tallahassee, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, West Palm Beach and Tampa distributed doorhanger postcards to Gov. Lawton Chiles (D) urging him stop Florida Power and Light from burning orimulsion fuel, the governor and his cabinet voted 4-3 to deny the utility the permit. Burning orimulsion, an inexpensive and dirty petroleum- based fuel that has never been used in the United States, has been opposed by a broad coalition of Florida environmental groups since the utility first proposed it. The postcards were one prong of a comprehensive anti- orimulsion campaign, which also included a rally on the Capitol steps the week before the vote. The governor's office received about 1,000 postcards from Florida citizens.

In Wisconsin, Earth Day volunteers braved bone-chilling weather in Racine, La Crosse, Eau Claire and St. Croix to deliver a doorhanger/postcard urging Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) to stop Exxon's plan to build a mine on the Wolf River in the northern part of the state. In May, the state Senate voted 31-2 for a Club-supported mining moratorium. And following a Club rally at the statehouse, the Assembly approved a resolution to consider the moratorium, though it is not expected to have time to act this year.

And on the other side of Lake Michigan, Club efforts to protect the Crystal River bore fruit. Public education events in Lansing and Detroit generated strong media coverage, and contributed to what a staffer for Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-Mich.), an anti-environmentalist, called a "tough Earth Week." As a result of pressure from a variety of sources, Abraham agreed to consider the Club- supported Crystal River Conservation and Property Protection Act, which would buy the contested land for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. "Oh, what a difference a doorhanging can make," said Brett Hulsey, Great Lakes Program Director.

Elsewhere around the country, results were not as tangible, but in terms of rallying volunteers, raising the awareness of communities and gaining media coverage, the Club Earth Week events were a huge success and exceeded expectations, said Club Field Director Bob Bingaman. The Club's Texas office has already received 1,165 postcards, which it will hand-deliver to Gov. George W. Bush (R). In Maryland, the Club will deliver more than 500 postcards to Gov. Parris Glendening (D). Colorado Gov. Roy Romer (D) has already received more than 700 postcards. President Clinton has received many thousands of postcards.

The public education events this spring are just a beginning. This summer and fall, many of these same volunteers will be reaching out to their communities - from staffing tables at county fairs to canvassing voters - working to make the environment an issue in the fall elections.


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