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The Planet

From the Editor

Real People.
Real Consequences.
Real Solutions.

All too often our opponents knock us for not caring enough about people, for putting spotted owls or Douglas firs before human beings. This summer, the Sierra Club has been working on two projects that should belie that criticism.

In September, we released "Leaving Our Communities at Risk," a report that tells the stories of 25 communities being hurt by Bush administration changes in toxic waste cleanup and clean air policies.

Parents in Herculaneum, Missouri, hose down swingsets in their backyards to remove lead particles before letting their children play on them. Kids in Plainview, Arkansas, regularly ride their bikes on a Superfund site, stirring up toxic dust. Neighbors of a steel mill in Middletown, Ohio, have their houses and cars coated daily with black soot.

These are real people facing the very real consequences of industrial pollution.

We know how to fix these problems. We have the knowledge, technology, and laws to protect our families and communities. According to an EPA study, the Clean Air Act prevented more than 200,000 premature deaths between 1970 and 1990. The Superfund program has cleaned up more than 800 toxic waste sites in communities like Plainview and Herculaneum. But the Bush administration is attempting to weaken the Clean Air Act, making it easier for old refineries and power plants to increase pollution, and slashing funds for toxic waste cleanup.

The Planet is excerpting five stories from the Communities at Risk report, starting on page 1. You can read or download the entire report at www.sierraclub.org/communities. In a similar vein, as forest fires raged across the West earlier this summer, the Sierra Club developed a seven-part plan that calls on the Forest Service to make protection of communities its top priority. On page 7, we are reprinting the ad that ran in the Portland Oregonian rebutting the Bush pro-logging fire plan.

We're not going to stop speaking up for birds and trees. The Sierra Club's original mission was to preserve wild places. Over the past several decades, more and more we've turned the spotlight on humans, not just as victims of environmental problems, but as the stewards who take responsibility to protect the planet. People caused these problems, people can solve them.

- John Byrne Barry


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