Sierra Club: The Planet--1996
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The Planet
This Summer, Club Keeping the Heat On

Well, you did it. Your relentless organizing, mobilizing, door-hanging, birddogging, whistle-blowing and all-around championing of the environment stopped the 104th Congress in its tracks. Not only have the leaders of the War on the Environment dropped many of their most destructive ideas from the current bevy of budget bills, they're even pushing a Safe Drinking Water Act reauthorization the Sierra Club can support.

So what now? Time to declare victory, grab your surfboard and start enjoying some hot summer fun? Abandon the beachhead and head for the beach? Not quite.

Needless to say, the Gingrich-Lott 104th Congress is not a whit greener than the Gingrich-Dole 104th was - just a whole lot closer to Election Day. Having had the War on the Environment blow up in their faces, new Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and House Speaker Newt Gingrich are doing whatever it takes to hang on to Congress for an other two years. That includes running away from their shameful "War" records, and planting something green in the remaining days of this Republican-controlled Congress.

Of course, we won't stand in the way of any decent measures the GOP leadership might deign to bring up, whatever their reasons. But we do need to be on the alert for (more characteristic of this Congress) bad ones. We also need to remain on guard against the leadership's tendency to load up popular measures with anti-environmental provisions that couldn't pass on their own. It's up to us to make sure that on Nov. 5 the voters know the difference between their friends and their foes when it comes to the environment. And that means it's going to be a long, active summer. "Our main task ahead is to tell compelling stories about all the ways Congress and the state legislatures would endanger our families and our future," said Bruce Hamilton, the Club's national conservation director. Throughout the country, in key media markets and targeted legislative districts, Club volunteers will be focusing attention on a place or resource put at risk by the reckless behavior of elected officials.

For example, in South Dakota -- where 85,000 residents drink water that fails to meet federal health standards - activists will be reminding voters that Sen. Larry Pressler (R) voted not only to further weaken those standards, but also to limit the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to enforce existing drinking-water protection programs.

No matter where you live, you'll undoubtedly have your own stories to tell. To get involved in this summer's activities, call your regional field office. For more information, contact the Office of Volunteer Services at (415) 977- 5747 or e-mail: activist.desk@sierraclub.org


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