And the Award Goes to... The environment is the big winner at the Sierra Club's annual ceremony.
Since Allan Laird's story was published in Sierra, the links between his former employer, Echo Bay Mines, and terrorist groups have come under federal scrutiny.
Politicians, engineers, and activists alike were honored with 2004 Sierra Club national awards for using their diverse skills in the service of the environment. Most of the awards were presented at a September ceremony in San Francisco.
Two Golden State public servants, Peter Douglas, the executive director of the California Coastal Commission, and State Senator Byron Sher, were feted with Distinguished Service Awards for their longtime commitment to conservation. Former U.S. interior secretary Stewart Lee Udall was the latest politico to win the Edgar Wayburn Award for government officials.
There were also dual recipients of the Distinguished Achievement Award: Michael Parker, who fought Pentagon bureaucracy to create safer ways to destroy the nation's chemical-weapons stockpile, and mining engineer Allan Laird, who blew the whistle (in the May/June Sierra) on his company's funding of terrorists, triggering a Department of Justice and FBI investigation.
Also honored was columnist Molly Ivins, who won the David Brower Award for environmental journalism. Ken and Gabrielle Adelman of Corralitos, California, who are documenting the state's entire 1,100-mile coastline, took home the Ansel Adams Award for conservation photography. Chemical engineer Ross Vincent's efforts to bring labor, environ- mental, community, and religious groups together in Pueblo, Colorado, earned him the Environmental Alliance Award. And the Club's highest honor, the John Muir Award, went to Vicky Hoover for her three decades of work on behalf of wilderness protection.
Other winners include: Roger Beers (William O. Douglas Award for environmental law); Greg Casini (William E. Colby Award for administration); Sierra Student Coalition member Paul Dana (Joseph Barbosa Earth Fund Award for young activists); Inner City Outings leader Mark Walters (Madelyn Pyeatt Award for working with youth); Antarctic activist James Barnes (EarthCare Award for international work); marine-mammal defender Judy Olmer (Raymond Sherwin International Award); Brad and Katy Cristie (Oliver Kehrlein Award for service to the Outings program); David Simon (One Club Award for combining conservation and outings); Keith Schue (Special Achievement Award for a single initiative); the Hoosier Chapter and the Indian Peaks Group of the Rocky Mountain Chapter (Newsletter Awards); the Angeles Chapter (Electronic Communication Award); Mark Collier and Charles Oriez (Susan E. Miller Awards for service to Club chapters); the Cumberland Chapter (Denny and Ida Wilcher Award for excellence in fundraising); and Sam Booher, Ruth Caplan, Sherm Janke, and Gwen Nystuen (Special Service Awards for longtime commitment to conservation).
"The [Honda] Civic Hybrid is, for all intents and purposes, a Civic, which is one of the best- selling cars in the country. With good reason. And now Honda has added, as an option, a hybrid power plant that increases mileage, lowers emissions, and gets you dates with anyone with a Sierra Club window decal."
— "Test Drive Notes" on the Web site for NPR's popular radio show Car Talk
Read All About It
Two new Sierra Club reports show how the Bush administration has failed to protect Americans from pollution:
Pollution and Deception at Ground Zero A comprehensive look at federal agencies' failure to assess toxic hazards, issue adequate health warnings, or enforce worker-safety requirements after the attacks of 9/11. See www.sierraclub.org/ groundzero.
California: Sucess in the Shell Game
Slow and steady wins the endangered-species race. Sierra Club activists in Southern California have been working for more than two decades to protect the desert tortoise and its habitat (see "The Sierra Club Bulletin," July/August 2001, page 67).
In August, a federal judge sided with them and struck down permits issued by the Bush administration that allow livestock grazing and off-road vehicles in the venerable reptile's California territory. According to U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston, the Department of Interior hasn't done enough to protect the tortoise on 4.1 million acres in the California Desert Conservation Area.
"Conservation means more than survival," the judge wrote in her succinct defense of the Endangered Species Act. "It means recovery." Elden Hughes, chair of the Sierra Club's California/Nevada Desert Committee, was elated by the decision. "This ruling will force the Bush administration to follow the law," he says.
But opponents of habitat protection aren't backing off. The American Motorcyclist Association quickly announced that it would appeal the court's decision. (It contends that tortoise populations are at risk because of respiratory ailments, not unregulated, fast-moving vehicles.) Environmental activists can't afford to relax their efforts, either. The day after the ruling, a 50-year-old desert tortoise adopted by a nearby Bureau of Land Management office was found dead of suspicious causes in its outdoor enclosure. A reward has been offered to help track down the culprits.
Maine: Bogged by Blueberries
They're sweet yet tangy, as much a part of the Pine Tree State's appeal as lobsters, loons, and moose. But Maine's blueberries are also big business, with 60,000 acres in production and an annual take of 7.9 million pounds, almost all of the nation's "low bush" blueberry crop.
Agriculture operations that large can generate big problems. In August, the Sierra Club's Maine Chapter and three other environmental groups filed a lawsuit against Cherryfield Foods, the state's largest blueberry processor. During the past five years, they say, Cherryfield has sprayed aerial pesticides on its fields without permits, a violation of the Clean Water Act. The company's fields are next to or near bodies of water that could be contaminated. "The spray always drifts," Joan McMurray of Columbia, Maine, told the Bangor Daily News. "I've been concerned for 20 years, ever since my whole family got sick from swimming in the Harrington River."
Instead of monitoring all growers, Maine randomly surveys self-reported records of a few each year. In 2002, its Board of Pesticides Control peered into the data of 9 farms-out of a statewide total of 500. Now they may get a helpful nudge from Sierra Club activists.
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