Canada Adopts Clean Car Standards
In a hugely significant move, on April 5 the Canadian government and automobile manufacturers signed a historic agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles by more than 15 million tons by the end of 2010. In meeting these limits, vehicles sold in Canada will achieve a 25 percent increase in fuel efficiency using existing cost-effective technologies such as more efficient engines, smarter transmissions, and better aerodynamics. The agreement is similar to the California Clean Car Law, also known as the Pavley Law. California and seven eastern states have adopted clean car laws. "With the addition of Canada," says Sierra Club global warming specialist Dan Becker, "one-third of the North American auto market will have to meet California's tougher emissions rules. The automakers will find it financially impossible to make one clean set of cars for eight states and Canada, and a dirty set for the rest. Eight plus one equals 50."
Senate Committee Upholds Clean Air Act Protections
On March 9, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee blocked efforts by the Bush administration and committee chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) to replace the Clean Air Act with something more favorable to big energy companies. The proposed new regulations would have allowed two to three times more soot, smog, and mercury pollution than strong enforcement of the current law, and delayed cleanup for a decade longer. The move was a cornerstone of President Bush's so-called Clear Skies proposal-"really nothing less than a repeal of the Clean Air Act as far as older power plants, factories, and refineries are concerned," according to Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope. But Senators James Jeffords (I-Vt.) and Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) joined the committee's Democrats in turning down Inhofe's efforts to bring the bill to the Senate floor.
RFK, Jr., to Speak at Sierra Summit
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., president of Waterkeeper Alliance and author of the bestselling "Crimes Against Nature," will be a featured speaker at Sierra Summit 2005. Kennedy was recently named one of Time Magazine's "Heroes for the Planet." The summit, scheduled for September 8-11 in San Francisco, will feature speakers like Arianna Huffington and Alice Waters, educational seminars and workshops, networking opportunities, entertainment, and an exposition hall with more than 150 outdoor and green exhibitors. For more on the Sierra Summit, go to sierrasummit2005.org.
Alabama Sustainable Farms Task Force Created
Following a sustained Sierra Club postcard campaign, in February Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture Ron Sparks appointed a Small Sustainable Farms Task Force to advise him on the needs of small sustainable farms. The Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network and the Sierra Club worked together to recommend farmers from across the state to serve on the task force, and the state Agriculture Department accepted all the recommendations. Club organizer Peggie Griffin represents the Alabama Sierra Club Sustainable Agriculture Program on the task force.
Bush Farm Rule Threatens Public Health
On February 28, the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York held that a 2003 Bush administration farm pollution rule violates the Clean Water Act by allowing large-scale livestock farms to apply animal waste to land without federal or state oversight or public input. The ruling resulted from a lawsuit filed by Waterkeeper Alliance, the Sierra Club, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, charging that the Bush rule shielded factory farms from liability for damage caused by animal waste pollution.
Los Angeles Youth Wins Solis Award
Born in Mexico and raised in South Los Angeles, Juan Martinez faced peer pressure to join gangs, but when he was 15 an outdoor science school in Wyoming's Teton mountains changed his life. "I saw that the world was not just concrete, streetlights, or smog-infested cities." He became the first member of his family to graduate from high school, and has gone on to complete an 80-day Outward Bound course and found the Youth Advisory Council, which uses the environment to mentor at-risk youth. Martinez recently won the Sierra Club's Hilda L. Solis Environmental Youth Leadership Award, named for the California congresswoman (pictured here presenting the award) who has championed numerous environmental causes. The Solis award is part of the Club's Inside the Outdoors program. Learn more at sierraclub.org/insidetheoutdoors.
Victory for National Parks and the Florida Panther
On February 22 in Miami, U.S. District Judge John Steel ruled in favor of a National Park Service plan that protects Big Cypress National Preserve, where rare Florida panthers still reside. In its plan the Park Service acknowledged the devastation caused by rampant off-road vehicle use in Big Cypress-more than 23,000 miles of swamp buggy ruts shredding the preserve. The new plan will implement a 400-mile designated trail system for off-road vehicles, designated access points, and nighttime and seasonal closures.
Photos: Photodisk, Jennifer Ruiz-Kohn, Sierra Club Everglades Slideshow; all rights reserved.
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