In the July/Aug issue of the Planet, we've got the skinny on sewage and nutrient pollution, an interview with an American soldier who's written a book on his birdwatching experiences in Iraq, and a story about how state governments are tackling mercury pollution and global warming, and a vacation slide show masquerading as a report on the Club's newest chapter, in Puerto Rico.

Enjoy. And let us know what you think.

--John Byrne Barry, managing editor, the Planet

Sewage 101

States Take Lead on Mercury,
Global Warming

In the absence of federal leadership, states are taking the lead in combating mercury emissions and global warming pollution. Late last year, seven northeastern states announced their participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to reduce power plant emissions of carbon dioxide. Eight states and Canada have now adopted “clean car” legislation, calling for reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

This April, eleven states, the District of Columbia, and three environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, sued the EPA for not regulating carbon dioxide. The same month, Idaho adopted a two-year moratorium on coal-fired power plants. And in May, Minnesota signed into law a mercury emission standard for its six biggest coal-fired power plants. Read more about how states are taking aggressive stances on environmental protection.

Sewage 101

More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Sewage and Nutrient Pollution But Were Afraid to Ask

Many of us tend to think of water pollution as toxic substances like mercury or PCBs. But while these threats are real, the most common threat to the health of waters across the United States is nutrient pollution from a variety of sources, including animal waste, fertilizers, human sewage, and stormwater runoff.

In “Sewage 101,” we examine how nutrient pollution affects our nation’s waters, and look at what some Sierra Club groups, chapters, and staff organizers are doing to keep water-quality standards high and improve the way we handle sewage. Also for the basics of nutrient pollution, check out our colorful infographic, "How Nutrients Poison Waterways."

Postcard from San Juan

I Went to Puerto Rico on Vacation and
All I Got Was Wonderful Hospitality from
the Sierra Club's Newest Chapter

by John Byrne Barry

When Planet Managing Editor John Barry went to Puerto Rico this spring on vacation, he hoped to attend an excom meeting of the Sierra Club’s newest chapter and maybe go on a chapter outing. What happened instead, he says, turned out to be far better: a dinner party with chapter leaders at the chapter chair’s house and a personal tour of the only tropical forest in the U.S. National Forest System by the chapter newsletter editor. Read this first-hand account of how the Puerto Rico Chapter is progressing, one year in.

The Birdman of Baghdad

Jonathan Trouern-Trend, a national guardsman from Connecticut, recently served a year-long tour of duty in Iraq. While there, the avid birder started a birdwatching blog that is excerpted in the new Sierra Club book, “Birding Babylon.”

Not only did the blog allow him to interact with birders back home, it also fostered contact with Iraqi birders and provided a way to keep in touch with his kids back in the States. “I think the blog [also] helped soldiers see things with new eyes,” Trouern-Trend says. MORE

I Want My MPG

Had Congress raised fuel economy standards to 40 mpg in 1990 -- a move that came within a handful votes of happening -- we’d now be using barely half as much gas as we do today. This spring, with gas prices climbing above $3 a gallon and the buzz about global warming turning into a national conversation, it seemed like the moment was ripe for Congress and/or President Bush to take meaningful action to raise vehicle fuel economy standards. It didn’t happen…yet.

The Sierra Club continues to lobby Congress and call on automakers to use currently available technology to make all cars, SUVs, and light trucks go farther on a gallon of gas. To learn more about these efforts, sign a petition to the automakers, and find out how much you could save if fuel-economy standards were modernized, see "I Want My MPG."


Family Planning in Madagascar and the Philippines

Stop I-3

Who We Are: Ken Smokoska • Larry & Vicky Patton • Claudia Hilligoss


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