Sierra Club: The Planet--1996
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The Planet
Club Beat

Sierra Club Reaches Out Coast to Coast

Instead of going on vacation this summer, Sierra Club activists went to work getting the word out about protecting America's environment.

The medium was the message this June in Maine, where, at the Great Kennebec Festival Race, Club members held Rep. Jim Longley (R) accountable for his anti-environmental votes. Longley had chosen this race a year ago to announce that the Clean Water Act should be repealed and that it was "inefficient use" of the Kennebec River not to allow paper companies and cities to dump more sewage into it. This year, Sierra Club activists recruited boats to fly flags emblazoned with the message, "Protect Maine's Clean Water" and educated participants about Longley's record.

In Washington and Oregon, Mark Lawler, Dick Fiddler and son Daniel, plus hundreds of other Club volunteers, distributed and erected more than 3,500 yard signs bearing the message, "Clean Water, Wild Salmon and Forests! For Our Families, For Our Future!" In July, five Seattle area weekly newspapers printed a letter from a coalition of environmentalists blasting Washington Reps. Randy Tate (R) and Jack Metcalf's (R) consistent votes against clean water and salmon protection.

And to the south, Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.) is learning the hard way that Sierra Club members are paying attention to his anti-environmental voting record.

In response to Bilbray's vote last year on the House bill gutting the Clean Water Act, San Diego Chapter volunteer Lori Saldana got creative. She set up a personal Internet home page that mocks Bilbray's self-promotion as a surfer by underscoring his support of an exemption that would allow a local sewage treatment plant to pump partially treated waste into the Pacific. In Saldana's satirical "Completely Unauthorized Brian Bilbray's Home Page" she impersonates the representative to tell us how he hides his votes against Clean Water behind his outdoor image. "Trying to keep up with Newt Gingrich is exhausting work," writes Saldana/Bilbray. Response to the Web page has been positive -- even Bilbray admitted he got a chuckle or two out of it. "People don't expect environmentalists to have a sense of humor about politics, so I thought I'd try something new to get their attention," said Saldana. (The Web page address is http://www.netconnection.com/~lsaldana/bilbray.html)

Back in the Southeast

Club activists are using a new angle to hold their elected officials responsible. Volunteers Greg Lytle, Molly Diggins and Kathy Dixon helped produce radio ads to promote the Club's Clean Rivers Campaign in North Carolina. The ads were narrated by Capt. George Becwith, and focused on how animal waste spills killed fish in the state's coastal rivers last year. Becwith, a well-known fishing guide whose business was hard- hit by these spills, urged citizens to tell legislators to clean up the rivers and the hog industry. By Aug. 3, the legislature passed the single largest environmental package in state history -- $500 million over 10 years by virtue of a trust fund set up to protect rivers and restore wetlands.

Two New Activist Tools

The Sierra Club's campaign booklet, Winning With the Environment: A Guide for Pro-Environment Candidates and Activists, is now available to Sierra Club leaders. The 56-page handbook is a valuable resource for grassroots campaign coordinators who are working to elect both challengers and incumbents with proven track records on the environment.

It outlines strategies for incorporating environmental issues into a campaign and shows how a candidate can demonstrate commitment to protecting public health, public lands and dwindling natural resources. It also includes sections on debunking anti-environmental horror stories, allaying the jobs- versus-environment scare and linking anti-environmental votes to polluter contributions. To get a copy, contact the Activist Desk at (415) 977-5747.

Want to help dispel the myth that environmental protection is bad for the economy? Then get your hands on the Sierra Club Handbook on Economics and the Environment, which offers a plethora of economic facts in a user-friendly format, and can help you prepare media messages, fact sheets, letters to the editor and public testimony. To get your copy, call Patricia Glick at (202) 675-6272.

Sierra Club of Canada Sponsors Forest Forum

This fall (Sept. 26-29), the Sierra Club of Canada and other non-governmental organizations will be hosting the North America Forest Forum in Manitoba, Canada. This event will precede the World Commission on Forest Hearings (Sept. 29-Oct. 5). Members of organizations involved with forest campaigns, forest trade issues, local decision making and social justice issues are invited to share campaign information and plan cooperative strategies for the forests and forest users of North America. For more information contact Karl Hansen at (204) 958-7743; e-mail: <khansen@iisdpost.iisd.ca> or Victoria Kellet at (204) 958-7732; e-mail: <vkellett@iisdpost.iisd.ca>


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