What's the Sierra Club Been up to Lately?

Alerts, campaign updates, and victories from Sierra Club volunteers and staff

By Lindsey Botts

March 13, 2024

montage of Sierra Club signs: Environmental Justice, because everyone deserves a clean environment; Keep the Frack Out of My Water; Sierra Club for Gender Equity; No Drilling Where We're Living; People's Climate March; Protect Our Communities.

By the Numbers

  • 1 million: Electric vehicle sales the first 11 months of 2023, a record number.

  • 400,000: The number of homes in New England that will be powered by Vineyard Wind, the nation's first utility-scale offshore wind farm to come online.

  • 11,000: The goal in renewable energy gigawatts that global leaders agreed to pursue by 2030 at COP28, the recent climate conference in the United Arab Emirates.

  • 1.4 million: The number of acres President Joe Biden conserved in 2023 by creating four new national monuments using the Antiquities Act.

  • 0.35: The percentage of the Great Lakes covered by ice as of January 1, 2024. It is the smallest amount of ice cover since records began 50 years ago.



Salmon Revival

The White House, two states, and four Pacific Northwest tribes have reached an agreement to save salmon in the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Dams on the rivers are driving culturally significant fish species toward extinction, but removal of the dams has been caught up in decades of legal battles and negotiations. The newly formed Columbia Basin Restoration Initiative provides a way forward. Now the Biden administration needs to follow through on the initiative's recommendations.

» Take action: sc.org/save-salmon

Breaking Up With Plastic

Plastic is everywhere—in the oceans, in our food, and even in our bodies. Americans generate roughly 40 million tons of plastic waste each year and ingest 240,000 bits of nanoplastic with every bottle of water. Democratic leaders in Congress are trying to pass the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act of 2023, which would help keep plastics out of our landfills by holding the companies that make them accountable. Ask your representatives to support the law.

» Take action: sc.org/no-plastic


Halt on LNG Terminals

In a huge win for the Sierra Club and Gulf Coast residents, the Biden administration called a stop to new gas export terminal approvals until the Department of Energy can assess their climate impact. The move will pause a dozen terminals—including CP2 in Louisiana, which would be the country's largest—possibly for more than a year. "We will heed the calls of young people and frontline communities who are using their voices to demand action from those with the power to act," said President Biden in a statement.

» Read more: sc.org/lng-win

New Law for Old Growth

In December, the Biden administration released a first-of-its-kind proposal to update all 128 US Forest Service management plans. The new rule is aimed at protecting ancient trees by creating old-growth standards across the national forest system. Federal officials have two years to create the standards after the rule is finalized, which will likely happen by the beginning of 2025.

Early Retirement

With New Mexico's blessing, a settlement between the Sierra Club and the Southwestern Public Service Company can move forward. Under the agreement, Southwestern must retire its Tolk coal plant by 2028, three years before the previous deadline. Advocates hope Tolk's owners will replace coal with renewables like wind and solar. The early closure is expected to save New Mexico consumers nearly $100 million.

Make Your Voice Heard

The Sierra Club is a democratic institution. Members like you help decide the direction of the organization by voting in our annual board of directors election. Eligible voters should receive a ballot by early March. Completed ballots must be returned by April 24. For more information, and to read candidate statements, visit sierraclub.org/board/election. To vote online, go to bit.ly/sc-board-24.

Chapter Corner

Poisoned Water

The Sierra Club's Tennessee Chapter has found concerning levels of PFAS in 60 percent of water tested throughout northeastern Tennessee. The findings are the result of a 2023 project that took samples across a watershed that includes six public water systems. PFAS—or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances—are synthetic chemicals that don't break down in the environment, earning them the nickname "forever chemicals." One of the tested areas already had a form of PFAS so toxic that it may require physical removal. "We recommend that the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation immediately assess the threat that current and historic use of PFAS pose to Tennessee rivers, water resources, and agricultural lands," the report concluded.

Buzzworthy News


The Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club celebrated the passage of the Birds and Bees Protection Act, signed into law by New York governor Kathy Hochul. Supporters are buzzing about the first law in the country that prohibits the use of seeds treated with neonicotinoid pesticides, which have devastated bee and other invertebrate populations. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that neonicotinoids threaten more than 200 federally protected species. "Using sound science as a backbone for the policies that protect New York's pollinators, water, and soil health will ensure our communities are safer for generations to come," said Caitlin Ferrante, the chapter's conservation program manager.

» Read more: sc.org/neonicotinoids

Campaign Updates

Let's Take It Outside

The Sierra Club's Conservation & Outdoors campaign has launched a podcast. Hosted by Chris Hill, the Sierra Club's chief conservation officer, the first season includes seven episodes that air every Wednesday. Let's Take It Outside will "tell the stories of the people working to protect wildlife, safeguard nature, and expand access to the outdoors, from urban camping in Detroit to tribal nations in the Pacific Northwest and everywhere in between," Hill said in announcing the podcast.

» Hear more: sc.org/take-it-outside

Ditching Diesel

The Biden administration announced nearly $1 billion for cleaner school buses—a major step forward in electrifying the nation's fleet. At present, at least 90 percent of school buses run on diesel. Electrifying these large vehicles will benefit kids and school bus drivers and help mitigate the climate crisis. Sierra Club staff and volunteers across the country have been behind this project at every step, starting from helping in the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (the source of the federal funding) to getting word out to school districts about applying for grants and rebates. "These grants will deliver electric school buses to school districts in every region of the country, while prioritizing low-income, tribal, and rural areas," said Katherine García, director of the Clean Transportation for All campaign.

» Read more: sc.org/better-buses