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The Planet
Club, Cheney Face Off at Supreme Court

You Go, Girls (and you, too, Bryan…): In its Earth Day issue, Creative Loafing, an Atlanta alternative newsweekly, touted Georgia staffers Natalie Foster, Colleen Kiernan, Kate Smolski, and Brooke Brandenburg, pictured above, as among the Peach State’s environmental heroes. The four have started a monthly gathering called Sierra Club & Beer, held at Teaspace, a hip Atlanta eatery. The April gathering attracted 150 people to play environmental trivia games, listen to speakers, and, of course, drink beer. "Maybe the coolest thing about the Sierra Club these days" Creative Loafing opined, "is its wonkish leader, [Georgia Chapter Director] Bryan Hager, who led the Club’s successful fight against the Northern Arc [a proposed 59-mile freeway around Atlanta’s far-northern suburbs]. Hager has been a steady, thoughtful advocate for smart growth for years." Cheers!

Don’t Just Take It From Us Department:
After more than a year of covering the Bush administration’s attempts to weaken the Clean Air Act, we thought we’d seen the worst. But Bruce Barcott’s New York Times article, "Changing All the Rules," shocked even those of us who have been chronicling Bush administration misdeeds almost daily. Among the many well-researched stories in Barcott’s expose is that by late 2000, the EPA was on the verge of legal settlements with several major utilities that would have reduced air pollution by 4 million tons annually. But the talks broke down as soon as Bush took office, when it became apparent that the White House was drafting new rules that would gut key sections of the Clean Air Act. One by one the companies just walked away. "The message to the power industry was clear," writes Barcott. "Don’t settle the cases, change is coming." To read "Changing All the Rules," click here. (The New York Times charges a fee to read the whole article.)

Leading With His Chin: In April, former California Secretary of State Bill Jones, campaigning to unseat incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer, touted his green credentials and charged that Boxer’s environmental record was more talk than action. In a San Francisco Chronicle story on Jones, the Club’s Carl Zichella quipped, "For Jones to suggest that he’s the environmentalist in this race is like a .195 hitter announcing to the world that he’s a better slugger than Barry Bonds."

Something’s Fowl Here: Sierra Club media staffer Annie Strickler called in during the Cheney v. Sierra Club case being heard by the Supreme Court in April to report that a duck had landed in the fountain where she and dozens of reporters were waiting. You know an event has touched a mass nerve when it becomes fodder for Jay Leno. So it was with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s January duck-hunting trip to Louisiana with Vice President Cheney, for which the chums winged their way to the Bayou State together aboard Air Force Two. In February, Leno quipped: "Embarrassing moment today for Vice President Dick Cheney—as he went through the White House metal detector this morning, security made him empty his pockets and out fell Justice Antonin Scalia!" Quack.

Speak Softly, and… In April, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a feature story on two-time Sierra Club President Dr. Edgar Wayburn. The soft-spoken Wayburn, now 97, has generally avoided the limelight, but when you add up the acres, he has probably helped protect more wilderness than any person alive. A Georgia native and a Club leader since the 1940s, Wayburn is a lifelong Republican—now if only the current GOP leadership shared a few of his conservation values. To read "The Quiet Conservationist," click here. If you’d like to dig deeper, Dr. Wayburn’s new book, Your Land and Mine, is just out from Sierra Club Books. To order a copy, go to sierraclub.org/books.

My Encounter With Cheney: En route to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for a late-season ski trip, this reporter’s arrival into the Jackson airport was delayed in mid-approach when the pilot announced that the vice president was flying in on Air Force Two, and we would have to circle for 30 to 40 minutes because no other flights could land until the Veep was on the ground. On hearing this, a nearby passenger asked her seatmate, "Do you think Cheney skis?" "Naw," came the reply. "He’s probably here to go snowmobiling in Yellowstone."

Got a noteworthy tidbit about a Club member?
Let us know at planet@sierraclub.org

Tom Valtin


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