Byron Sher Award

Rotunda ceiling

Outstanding Achievement in Environmental Protection

Every year, Sierra Club California presents two California public officials with the Byron Sher Award for outstanding achievement in environmental protection.
Former Senator Sher was one of the leading champions of progressive environmental policies in the California legislature, serving from 1980 to 2004. He promoted environmental protections and passed forward-looking legislation that helped make the state a leader in environmental policy. He did this with dignity, intelligence, persistence and humor.
The 2014 Byron Sher Awards were given to Senator Holly J. Mitchell and Senator Mark Leno for championing the effort to impose a reasonable, health-protective moratorium on fracking and well stimulation.
Senator Holly J. Mitchell with Sierra Club California Director Kathryn Phillips and Senator Mark Leno with Sierra Club California Advocate Annie Pham.

Previous award winners:


Senator Toni Atkins for her efforts to ensure that the California Coastal Commisssion has the tools it needs to protect coastal access.

Senator Noreen Evans for defending the environmental review process, particularly the public's right to know, for supporting state parks, and for championing an oil severance fee to compensate Californians for resources extracted.


Assemblymember Jared Huffman for remaining true to the planet, using his legislative skills to protect California’s air, water and natural resources.

Assemblymember Paul Fong for passing into law landmark marine conservation legislation that banned the possession, sale or trade of shark fins in California and carrying numerous pieces of water conservation legislation.


Senator Christine Kehoe for passing into law landmark water conservation legislation requiring the metering and volume pricing of water delivered by urban water supplies.

Assemblymember Mike Feuer for authoring and passing into law the California Green Chemistry Initiative, landmark legislation enhancing state authority to protect Californians from toxics in consumer products.


Assemblymember Ira Ruskin for authoring and passing into law important environmental bills including the Mercury Thermostat Collection Act of 2008, measures aimed at protecting wildlife corridors, cleaning up leaking underground storage tanks, improving enforcement of our waste laws, and assuring that toxics releases are reported to the public.

Senator Alan Lowenthal for authoring bills on coastal protection, used oil recycling, hazardous waste, and leaking underground storage tanks, and standing up for landmark laws like the California Environmental Quality Act.


Senator Fran Pavley for pioneering work in authoring and passing groundbreaking legislation, including AB 1493 and AB 32, that has made California the national leader in the effort to curb global warming.

Chair Mary Nichols, California Air Resources Board, for pioneering work in implementing groundbreaking policies that have made California the national leader in the effort to curb global warming, including overseeing the complex process of implementing AB 32, the first statewide cap on greenhouse gas emissions.


Senator Don Perata for enacting SB 1368 in 2006 to set a greenhouse gas standard for long-term electricity contracts, and SB 1379, also in 2006, making California the first in the nation to establish a program to monitor the presence of pollutants in people.