Is Your City a Cool City?
The Sierra Club’s Cool Cities campaign kicked off on October 1 in Chicago, the start of a fall tour of 20 Midwestern, Southeastern, and New England cities whose mayors have signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection agreement. Impatient with federal inaction, local leaders are moving forward with solutions like cleaner car fleets, energy efficiency, and renewable energy that reduce pollution and save taxpayer dollars. More than 180 mayors representing 40 million Americans in 38 states have pledged to reduce carbon pollution in their cities.
To accompany the campaign, the Club has produced a “Guide to Local Global Warming Solutions.” To read or download the guide, go to sierraclub.org/globalwarming/coolcities.
To receive a copy of the “Cool Cities Activist Manual,” contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Endangered Species Act Endangered
On September 29, Congress took the first step toward gutting the 30-year old Endangered Species Act, voting 229 to 193 in favor of legislation by House Resources Chairman Richard Pombo (R-Calif.). The bill eliminates habitat protections for fish and wildlife facing extinction, creates an exemption for pesticide approval, and establishes a new entitlement program for developers and polluters. According to the Congressional Budget Office, implementation of the Pombo bill will cost U.S. taxpayers $2.7 billion over the next five years. The bill also risks bankrupting existing wildlife conservation programs that aid landowners and rural businesses. For more, go to sierraclub.org/wildlife/species.
Smithfield Shareholder Resolution
On August 26, the Sierra Club’s Shareholder Action Task Force gained the support of nearly 1 in 4 investors in hog giant Smithfield Foods, Inc., in calling for a closer look at the environmental impacts of the company’s contract farms. Glen Besa presented the Sierra Club resolution at Smithfield’s annual shareholder meeting in Richmond, Virginia. The vote—representing millions of shares—prompted the Richmond Times-Dispatch to declare, “Shareholder desire is growing for Smithfield to report on the environmental performance of farms that raise hogs for the company.” For more on Shareholder Action Task Force activities, go to sierraclub.org/cac/shareholder.
Owens Valley Victory
In a victory for the Toiyabe Chapter, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power was ordered to restore flows to eastern California’s Owens River or be barred from using an aqueduct that daily transports millions of gallons of water to Southern California. The lower river has been depleted by LADWP water diversions since 1913. The Inyo County Superior Court imposed a $5,000-per-day fine, starting September 5, and ordered major reductions in groundwater pumping until the agency completes a long-delayed plan to restore a 62-mile stretch of the river. Chapter leader Mike Prather credits local activists—notably Mark Bagley of the Range of Light Group—and “huge generosity and encouragement” by the Angeles Chapter. “Our rallying cry,” he says, “is ‘No dehydration without representation.’” For more, see www.ovcweb.org.
New Energy Bill Exploits Katrina
A disappointing vote occurred on October 7 when the House of Representatives passed a bill eliminating a wide range of environmental standards that protect public health, including standards placed on the oil industry, which will receive huge subsidies at a time when it is raking in record profits. Faced with losing the vote, the House leadership held the vote open until enough arms were twisted to produce a razor-thin 212-210 majority, eliciting chants of, “Shame! Shame!” from opponents. However, the leadership was forced to remove a scheme to gut the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review program. For more, see sierraclub.org/vision/energy.asp.
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