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The Planet
ClubBeat

By Jenny Coyle

Power Plant ProtestAbout 450 residents of Wisconsin die each year from power-plant pollution. John Muir (Wisconsin) Chapter activist Cathy Rose announced that and other findings from a recent analysis when she and other speakers addressed a crowd of 300 people who gathered at Milwaukee's Veterans of Foreign Wars convention center in August to protest Bush administration policies. Rose decried Bush's energy plan proposal to build one new power plant per week, and said the plan threatens human health and security, the Great Lakes and sensitive wildlife refuges. The plan would also increase risks of water and air pollution, cancer, floods and killer heat waves.


On the Front Page

When a reporter for Wisconsin's Wausau Daily Herald called John Muir Chapter member Ned Grossnickle for a quote about President Bush's energy plan, he got a testimonial about the activist's new car.

That's because Grossnickle is very pleased to be driving a Honda Insight - a gas-electric hybrid.

"For the 7,000 miles I've driven it, it's gotten 66 miles per gallon," says Grossnickle. "It's comfortable, and it accelerates just as well as a regular small car."

The newspaper ran the story with a photo of Grossnickle in his Insight, cruising along at what looks like a high speed due to the blurred background.

"Aw, I was only going about 25," he says.

(Is Porsche making a hybrid yet?)


Stars on our Side

Before Richard Whiteford, conservation organizer for the Club's Northeast Region, became an environmental activist, he was a music agent for rock stars like Linda Ronstadt, Fleetwood Mac, James Taylor, Kenny Loggins, Heart and others.

So when Bernie Zaleha, chair of the Club's End Commercial Logging on Federal Lands Campaign, asked him to find a celebrity spokesperson for the campaign, Whiteford made some connections.

And Kenny Loggins enthusiastically agreed.

"He'll record public service announcements, and try to help us in other ways, such as linking our Web sites," says Whiteford. He added that Loggins would release a new CD next year, including a number with his old music partner Jim Messina, which should bring visibility to Loggins - and the ECL campaign.

Meanwhile, it was announced in August that actor/director Harry Shearer - known as the voice of Montgomery Burns and Ned Flanders on The Simpsons - will join forces with the Club and Charter Communications in California to record public service announcements about simple ways to save energy.

(Those who don't have televisions may remember Shearer as bassist Derek Small in the movie, "This is Spinal Tap." He also hosts a popular public radio program, "Le Show.")


'Seldom Seen' in the Spotlight

Anyone who's read Edward Abbey's "The Monkey Wrench Gang," will remember the character Seldom Seen Smith, who at one point begs God to destroy a huge dam.

The author based that character on his long-time friend and sometimes business partner Ken Sleight, who recently received the first-ever Edward Abbey Award for Conservation from the Glen Canyon Group in Utah. The presentation was made during a ceremony on the banks of the Colorado River in July.

The prize? A plaque fashioned from the decrepit radiator of Abbey's 1970s vintage pickup truck.

Sleight chairs the group's Nuclear Waste Committee and is leading the effort to stop the expansion of a nuclear waste dump near Blanding, Utah. He has been an outspoken leader in efforts to prevent development in pristine areas for decades.

"No one has done more to defend this country from the dam builders, road builders and developers than Ken Sleight," says group chair John Weisheit.


And in Court

Each semester, more than 150 students work in the Maryland Chapter office, some for course credit, some out of personal convictions - and some as a community service obligation to the Prince Georges County Court System.

When Chapter Coordinator Laurel Imlay discovered that the court system was seeking approved places for offenders to do community service, she applied to the county Department of Corrections to participate in the program.

"We said we wouldn't take violent offenders or anyone facing drug rehab," says Imlay, "so most are students caught with fake IDs trying to drink underage. A few have been caught on drunk-driving offenses, including a lawyer who provided legal aid as his community service."

In the first half of 2001, 50 people performed 600 hours of work for the chapter. They've removed invasive plants from public parks, distributed fliers at subway stations, dropped brochures at feed stores, answered phones in the office and attended rallies and meetings.

"Some feel resentful for being punished," says Imlay. "But after working for the environment - and for most, this is their first environmental activism - they get turned on. Some have come back to work in the office for class credit and returned again for internships. It's a great way of turning a negative event into a positive experience."

For more information, contact Laurel Imlay at (301) 277-7111; laurel.imlay@sierraclub.org.

Photo courtesy Rosemary Wehnes


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