South Carolina Chapter

Ben Jealous visits Congaree Nat'l Park in South Carolina

   Ben Jealous visits with South Carolina Sierrans and residents of Lower Richland Community, Congaree National Park, October 25, 2023.



February 2024: two Calls to Action- Do something about the climate crisis and  Sierra volunteer Ellie Taylor's  Food Journey


  What you can do to mitigate, adapt and be resilient to the climate  crisis.

 As part of the effort to do something about the climate crisis, the Midlands Group of the South Carolina Sierra Club has been working on a project called  Greening Affordable Rental Properties since 2020.   One of the efforts involved with this project is to provide energy efficiency workshops for renters and owners of multi-family housing in underserved areas.   The workshops provide instruction from local experts and elected officials about the best way to reduce energy usage for both renters and homeowners.   South Carolina Sierra Club c3 funds can be used to purchase energy efficiency devices such as led bulbs and door sweeps to distribute to residents who attend the workshops.    These workshops can include presentations about weatherization funds available and  energy efficiency workforce development.   Ideally before and after data can be gathered to measure the amount of greenhouse gas reductions.     


·         Start planning an energy efficiency workshop for your group  and community (Contact Priscilla Preston 

·         Get involved with  the Energy Efficiency workshop being planned for the Foothills Group -- contact Eunice Lehmacher (  

·         Contact your local Community Action Agency for the Weatherization Program contact person for your county (    Ask him or her to explain the program at an Energy Efficiency workshop and make appointments for people who qualify.   Note that weatherization funds are available for both renters and homeowners.  

·         Contact Byran Cordell ( ) or Mitch Houck (  at the Sustainability Institute for more information about weatherization and critical home repair.     

·         Share information about the IRA Toolkit    The IRA (Inflation Reduction Act) is the federal legislation that provides funds for people, organizations, companies, and governments to respond to the climate crisis.  The IRA Coordinating Group is a good mix of environmental groups, solar installers, retired folks, volunteers, and social justice / organizing groups.  The group has been working to categorize available funding opportunities for those in NC and SC.  To request a presentation for your group, email or contact Jessica Finkel at

·         Contact Grant Scheffer at for a presentation about energy efficiency workforce development.






My Food Journey by Ellie Taylor:

 Growing up my family ate meat and drank whole milk three times a day because my mother believed that we needed the protein.  Despite my career as a Public Health Nurse, I continued to follow this diet from my childhood.


Later as a new mother, I finally awakened to new ways of thinking about food and nutrition. With support from various groups, I not only successfully breastfed three children, but I followed their concepts for a diet high in whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables.  I made our own baby food and became increasingly aware of the power of natural foods: breastmilk followed by a largely plant-based diet including peanut butter as a protein.


Later I earned an MS Degree in Family Health Nursing and became director of a hospital-based Wellness Center. There I learned the root causes of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases: too many calories and too much saturated fat largely from animal products, and never enough fruits or vegetables.  And the southern tradition of deep-frying doubles and triples calories in food.


My understanding of how food choices impact not just our bodies, but our entire eco-system continues to grow. For example, cattle are major emitters of methane, a gas 28 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in warming the earth. A plant-based diet also has a positive impact on protecting our water resources and lessens the need for deforestation.


 Climate change is now viewed as a planetary emergency.  Our Standard American Diet (SAD) is hard on both personal health and our only Earth.  The best way to change is having positive experiences trying new foods.   We have a plant-based food group that meets to share a meal and exchange ideas. It’s often the actual tasting of delicious foods that changes both hearts and minds.



January  Call to Action: Our Food Journeys

 Food needs to be grown, harvested, processed, packaged,  transported, distributed, prepared, consumed, and waste disposed of. Each of these steps creates greenhouse gases  and contributes to climate change. About a third of all human -caused gas emissions is linked to food.

Three times a day at your meals and as many times as you snack (we are not judging), the choices you make impact the environment. Throughout 2024,  we  will be  sharing   the stories of Sierra Club volunteers who made or who are trying to make a journey to a sustainable and environmentally friendly diet as part of our  monthly Call to Action initiative.

 We believe, and research backs this up, that shared stories make an impact and encourage  people to make changes. If you have a story to tell, send it to Kathleen at 


My Food Journey-The persimmon tree in the front yard by Ron Sobczak 

A man picking persimmons from a tree

We love our yard. We have had, over the years, a wildflower meadow and a huge vegetable garden. It was a lot of work. As we have gotten older, we needed to rethink the yard. We switched  to fruit trees, blueberry bushes, raspberries, and blackberries. I decided to plant a Fuyu persimmon tree  in our front yard.

 The tree produces  delicious fruit and lots of it. Kathleen makes cobblers spiced with cardamom or allspice. As the neighbors walk by, they ask about the fruit and we  give them a few to try. And now every year, they  know when to stop by and try out this year’s crop.  We also have friends who are on our list to call when the persimmons are ripe. In fact, the demand is so big, we had to plant another tree.

We went on a hike with the Sierra Club at Ninety  Six  National Historic Site and we brought our persimmons to compare with the SC native persimmons  that grow along the trail. It was interesting  to compare the two.

 There is so much plant diversity on this planet but  we tend to eat and grow just a few of the many plants available to us.  To protect   diversity and to give yourself a treat, try something  new. At the very least, get on my persimmon list.







        • December  “Call to Action”: Do something about climate change now.


    Do you believe you  need to do something about climate change? Do you believe you need to act quickly? Then you need to be involved in the implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Together these are our  national plan with funding to address  climate change. If fully implemented, we can meet our climate change goals. Unfortunately SC is behind other states in using these major environmental pieces of legislation. Here are three ways to quit talking about what we can do and start doing:


     Action One: Get involved with The IRA Coordinating Group  ( Contact Priscilla Preston

     The IRA Coordinating Group is an informal collection of individuals that came together in May 2023 to educate themselves about all aspects of IRA implementation in North and South Carolina. The group shares information and ideas about helping underserved areas access IRA funding.  Our goal is to help individuals, groups, and municipalities apply for funding for climate-related projects.

     The group is creating a website that will bring all this information together in one place in a “toolkit” that will walk people through the process of accessing these funds:



    Action Two: Calling All Electric School Bus Advocates

     The EPA has just released a timeline and application information about how school districts across the country can access $5 billion from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for school bus fleets to go electric. Half of this funding could be used on propane or “natural” gas buses, so it is critical that advocates ensure schools are applying for all-electric buses.

    If you are  interested in learning more about how to effectively target school districts, and/or about the EPA's application process for funds. Fill out this survey (link is external) and the national Sierra Club will  get you connected! Or contact Larisa at


    Action Three: Stop burning fossil fuels in our homes

    Ron Sobczak and Kathleen Kempe have prepared a short 10 minute power point on easy steps to take to stop using your gas stove .  They are available to present this  as part of any  meeting. Schedule with Kathleen at



    A hand dipping a strawberry into melted chocolate on a stove




    November Call to Action

    Stop Forever Chemical (PFAS) Pollution of Our Iconic Black River

    The Sierra Club has been actively engaged in education and advocacy regarding the problems caused by PFAS 'forever chemicals' in our water bodies and our human bodies. South Carolina has strong ties to recreation and subsistence on its lakes and rivers. Evidence of these forever chemicals have been discovered in every environmental source tested in SC: biological tissue, surface water, groundwater, and drinking water. It is the Forever Everywhere Chemical. Notably, the highest concentration of PFAS in surface waters in the state occurs within the rural watershed of the Black River, where subsistence fishing is a common practice, making this not only a threat to recreational resources (notably the new Black River Water Trail and Park Network), but also a critical environmental justice issue. It is imperative that we take action to identify and stop systemic pollution of PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ which have been found at alarming levels in the tissue of our local fish, crabs, and oysters.

    Save the date

    Let's experience the beauty of the place we are protecting:

    Outing - Saturday May 4th, 2024

    Kayaking the Black River - led by Bill Turner

    Contact  your state senator and representative.

    To find out who they are, go to
    and use the sample talking points below:

    PFAS, also known as the  "forever chemicals", have been discovered in every environmental source tested in SC: biological tissue, surface water, groundwater, and drinking water. There is a good chance that  PFAS in your blood, in your representative’s  blood and the blood of his constituents.

    PFAS has been linked to cancer, disrupts the endocrine/hormones system, and interferes  with  reproduction and fetal development.

    You want  additional funding for SCDHEC’s fish tissue monitoring program so that people know if there is PFAS in the fish they catch to eat.

    You want   SCDHEC  to continue to monitor and identify possible sources of PFAS contamination, notably on the upper Black River Watershed, where the highest surface water PFAS levels in the state have been detected. DHEC needs this information to stop PFAS from entering the environment.

    You want  strict regulation of industrial sewage sludge on agricultural fields. The sludge leftover from industrial waste water treatment can have high PFAS levels, and becomes a non-point source pollutant when applied to agricultural fields, infiltrating groundwater and contaminating surface water via run-off. It is also one of the ways that PFAS enters the food supply.

      October Action Alert:  2023 Farm Bill 

    Contact  your  members of Congress ( Senator Graham,  Senator Scott, and your representative) and tell them what is important to you in the Farm Bill 2023.  Now is the time for investment in sustainable, climate-resilient agriculture that builds strong farms and rural communities. Everyone  should have access to food that is good for their health and the health of our soil and water.   We ask for:

    •  additional funds for Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS);
    •  $20 billion investment from the Inflation Reduction Act in agriculture and conservation technical assistance programs protected in this Farm Bill;
    • increased baseline funding for conservation programs and the hiring of more NRCS and FSA staff to support farmers in accessing conservation programs and implementing environmentally sustainable projects
    • expansion of the Conservation Technical Assistance Program to provide support through NRCS or other contracted service providers to PFAS-impacted farmers to update their farm management practices;
    • investment in family-sustaining jobs that protect the environment and our communities by expanding the Civilian Conservation Corps.
    • Improve and increase funding for conservation programs, promote regenerative organic agriculture, and reduce water pollution. This includes moving away from funding industrial corn, soy, and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs)
    • Lower barriers to SNAP benefits, boost funding for local food promotion, sourcing programs, and procurement
    • Support small, BIPOC, and beginning farmers and ranchers through land access, debt relief, support for PFAS-impacted farmers, and integrating the Justice 40 Initiative into the USDA's programs.
    • Improve water quality and soil health by encouraging farmers to plant cover crops, prioritizing the protection of drinking water, and driving climate-smart agriculture practices through new soil health initiatives to sequester carbon.
    • prioritize protecting mature forests and old-growth trees from the impacts of climate change and commercial logging, and help mitigate the impact of climate change and pollution on frontline communities by supporting urban tree canopy and forestry projects such as the Neighborhood Tree Act.
    • Learn from indigenous scientific and ecological prevent wildfires;
    • Put together a bipartisan package of wilderness designations and lands protection bills
    • Modernize our domestic sugar industry to promote justice for all.

    See details here on

    For more info Sierra Club priorities:


    Chapter and Group Elections 

    Schedule for 2023

    Friday, November 3 - Nominating petitions due to Chapter Coordinator,

    Petition candidates: please provide a brief statement and a photo at the same time the petition is submitted.

    Monday, November 6 - ExCom appoints Elections Committee ((3 or more members, 1 non ExCom, no candidates)

    Friday, November 10 - Election starts; Ballots mailed and/or posted to a secure website. (link to come)

    Friday, December 8 - Election closes, ballots counted by Elections Committee

    Tuesday, December 19 Last ExCom meeting of the year- new members seated, officers elected

    *Thursday, January 25, 2024 - First ExCom meeting of 2024 

    September Action Alert! 

     Environmental Justice Summit hosted by Rev. Leo Woodberry

    Please join Rev. Woodberry as he hosts the 7th Annual Global South Summit in New York, NY on September 22, 2023.  

    New Alpha Community Development Corporation will be hosting this 7th Annual Global South Summit at James Chapel, Union Theological Seminary 3041 Broadway, New York, NY 10027, on September 22 2023, at 10:00 am to 12:00 pm eastern time. The hosting organization is the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary.   See the following for details and how to register:

    The New Alpha Community Development Corporation and its partner organizations have hosted the Global South Summit since 2017. The importance of the Global South coming together has increased exponentially with climate change and its impacts. Some of the same companies that are major polluters in the southern United States are the same corporations that pollute in developing countries around the world. Many of the same impacts that have been felt in places like the United States, have also
    been felt throughout the Global South.

    Join Virtually!

    Topic: Global South Summit in New York
    Time: Sep 22, 2023, 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
    Join Zoom Meeting
    Meeting ID: 854 8668 6684


      August Call to Action: Learn about PFAS forever chemicals and what you can do about them

      • PFAS: Forever Chemicals • Thursday, August 24th, 7:00 PM [Google Meets Online]

      Join with Google Meet

      Join by phone ‪(US) +1 423-788-6964‬ PIN: ‪482 358 069‬#

      A chart of 8 sources of PFAS
      Join the Bartram Group’s longtime Sierra Club members Ron Sobczak, retired chemistry professor USC Upstate and Kathleen Kempe, retired attorney for an informative overview of PFAS, “The Forever Chemicals”. We will learn how they enter the environment and our bodies, why they are harmful, ways to avoid them and how we can take action to regulate them. 
      Reverend Leo Woodberry opened the South’s first Environmental Justice Training Center in the historic Britton’s Neck community of South Carolina on Friday, April 21, 2023. (Click here for the article)



      "Oppenheimer Legacy:

      South Carolina the Center of the

                New Nuclear Arms Race"

      Bikini Atoll test


      • Click Here for a link to the recorded program!

      • Join us for a discussion with an experienced panel,  followed by audience Talk-Back (Q & A) about facts, myths, and ethics faced by Oppenheimer, and us today, concerning nuclear weapons
      • Three Guest Panelists: Tom Clements, Director of Savannah River Site Watch in South Carolina; Jay Coghlan, Executive Director, Nuclear Watch New Mexico; and David Matos, President, Carolina Peace Resource Center
      • A major focus will be the Department of Energy’s (DOE) proposed facility for plutonium pit production at Savannah River Site to make the plutonium cores for new nuclear weapons and the environmental impacts

      Our next Conservation Committee meeting is

      Tuesday, November 14 at 6:30pm

      Click HERE to join via Zoom.

      Meeting ID: 976 0839 1278

      Future dates in 2023:
              Dec 12, 2023 



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