COVID-19 Update: Read about the most recent Sierra Club guidelines here.
Fall Retreat approaches: October 13-15th! Join the Tennessee Chapter for our Fall Fun Retreat at Pickett State Park. See article below for more information.
TVA's plans to build natural gas plants ignite fiery debate. "Amy Kelly of the Sierra Club blamed the rolling blackouts last December on unreliable natural gas plants that froze up during Winter Storm Elliott. Kelly questioned why TVA is spending 11 times more on new gas generation than on solar and battery storage, and she asked the TVA board to delay any further investments in natural gas plants and pipelines until a new integrated resource plan is completed by TVA next year." Read more by Dave Flessner - Times Free Press - August 23, 2023.
TVA raises rates, ends pandemic credits as higher inflation, interest rates and power demand push up costs. "The Tennessee Valley Authority will raise its base electric rates this fall for the first time in four years and end a pandemic credit program that helped EPB and other local power companies limit their rate increases." Read more by Dave Flessner - Times Free Press - August 24, 2023.
Nashville developer sued over pollution; residents say that's just the tip of the iceberg. "The environmental group behind the lawsuit accuses developer Ardavan Afrakhteh of skirting environmental laws for the sake of profits, while muddy runoff from the site pollutes a tributary of the Cumberland River. The group says that it's a common problem across Nashville at construction sites...But area residents say the story of the Sky Nashville development is about more than environmental concerns, which they say are just the tip of the iceberg." Read more
by Evan Mealins - Nashville Tennessean - August 12, 2023.
Chapter and Group ExCom candidates wanted! Ballots for the 2024-2025 Executive Committee (ExCom) positions will be in the November-December Tennes-Sierran. The Chapter ExCom activities include but are not limited to: financial management, membership services, production of publications, outings, and conservation and political programs. Authority may be delegated to carry out such activities. The Group ExComs manage those activities at the Group level. If you would like your name on the list of candidates, contact Cris Corley (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Bill Moll (email@example.com
) for the Chapter ExCom, or your Group Chair for the Group ExCom positions. You must be a Sierra Club member to run.
You're Invited: Chapter Retreat!
The Middle Tennessee Group cordially invites you to the Tennessee Chapter’s Fall Fun Retreat at beautiful
Pickett State Park. This retreat will focus on community connections, outdoor adventures, and interesting encounters. (Have you tried forest bathing?) And you won't want to miss the silent auction and Saturday evening live music, bonfire, s’mores and fun. Families and children of all ages are welcome! Join others who share your love and respect for the environment.
Pickett CCC Memorial State Park is located within Pickett State Forest and is adjacent to the massive 125,000-acre Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Between 1934 - 1942, the area was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). They constructed hiking trails, five rustic cabins, a recreation lodge, ranger station, and a 12-acre lake. Pickett was the first state park in the southeast to be listed as a certified dark sky viewing location!
Some sad news: The Tennessee Parks Department has recently decided that they will not rent out this facility during the fall for the foreseeable future. While the Tennessee Chapter has been holding our Fall Retreats at this location for many years, this may be our last chance for a while. Come and enjoy it with us while you still can! Register now at Tennessee Chapter Fall Retreat.
Early bird reservation by October 5th is $60 for the weekend: dorm style lodging, 2 breakfasts and Saturday evening dinner. If it's your first time attending a retreat, you get an even more discounted rate!
Big South Fork overlook near Pickett State Park as the leaves begin to change. Photo credit: Todd Waterman.
Take Action! Help Pass the TN Waste and Reduction Recycling Act. "Packaging waste is a significant part of waste that consumers throw away. Much of it ends up in landfills instead of being recycled or reused. The Tennessee Waste Reduction and Recycling Act
(TWRRA) seeks to reduce the overall amount of packaging and increase the amount that is recycled and reused by requiring packaging producers to take an active role in solving our waste problems. Packaging producers will be financially incentivized to reduce the amount of their packaging and design their packaging to be more recyclable. Show your support here!
Federal funds for Great Smoky Mountains National Park invest in repairs and local economy. “'I think there may not be a park in the country that is a better place to talk about investing in our public lands than this park,' [Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks] Shannon Estenoz said on Aug. 25 along the Foothills Parkway in Townsend. The parkway was repaved this summer
thanks to the Great American Outdoors Act. 'This park is within an eight-hour drive for half of the U.S. population, (and) it makes it very easy to explain the return on investment in a place like this,' she continued." Read more by Devarrick Turner - Knoxville News Sentinel - August 25, 2023.
Dispute over Murfreesboro’s Middle Point Landfill goes to court. "A years-long dispute over the future of Middle Point Landfill landed in a Nashville courtroom on Thursday, where lawyers for the Murfreesboro mega-dump are appealing a regional board’s decision to deny its expansion plans...Landfill operators are asking for Chancellor Russell Perkins to overturn the planning board’s rejection. Perkins said Thursday he expected to issue a ruling in two to three weeks." Read more by Anita Wadhwani - August 25, 2023.
An invasive hornet that hunts honeybees is spotted in the U.S. for the first time. "Agriculture officials are raising the alarm after an invasive yellow-legged hornet was seen near Savannah, Ga. The insects are devastatingly effective at preying on honeybees and other pollinators...The yellow-legged hornet poses a threat not only to honey producers but also to the farming industry...About one-third of the food eaten by Americans comes from crops pollinated by honey bees.."
Sierra Club Turns Out in Mass for a Monumental Tennessee Valley Authority Board Meeting in Chattanooga
By Amy Kelly, Field Organizing Strategist, Tennessee Valley Region
We had an amazing group of people with so many from the Sierra Club Cherokee Group in attendance and Sierra Club leaders from all over the state of Tennessee. We also had lots of community members directly impacted by TVA’s plans to replace coal plants with massive methane gas plants fed by large, new pipelines. Sierra Club has supported them as they form groups of opposition like Safe Affordable Good Energy (SAGE) and Preserve Cheatham County.
There were approximately 60 people in attendance for the listening session, and Sierra Club submitted 121 comments in opposition to the gas buildout. There was also a Movement Gathering hosted by the Sierra Club Cherokee Group afterward at Green|spaces.
Despite our great efforts, TVA's board voted unanimously to approve a budget that would fund gas projects and increase rates by 4.5% with no transparency in advance of this vote. Our opposition was covered in the Chattanooga Times Free Press and News Channel 9.
If you would like to join the momentum we are building to determine TVA’s energy future, please get in touch with Amy Kelly, Field Organizing Strategist: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Members of Sierra Club, Sunrise, Appalachian Voices, Tennessee Interfaith Power and Light, and Cheatham Preservation Group pose after the TVA Board Meeting on August 24. Photo: Amy Kelly.
Health & Justice
From Maui to Memphis, we are seeing extreme weather: Yes, climate change is real. "If you are one of those people who initially called global warming 'hog wash' or a 'hoax,' I can only hope that you now realize that global warming is real...Exceptionally warm oceans are making heat waves worse, disrupting marine life and destroying coral reefs. They also are increasing temperatures on land." Read more by Lynn Norment, Columnist - Tennessean - August 16, 2023.
‘Do Your Job, EPA’: Stories From the Frontlines of Coal Ash: By law, before government regulations are adopted or changed, agencies must ask the public — you — to weigh in. "Your stories are your power. Here are some of the stories [including those of Kingston cleanup workers' wives Betty Johnson and Julie Bledsoe] that the EPA heard at their in-person public hearing on June 28, 2023, in Chicago, where dozens of people spoke their comments directly to the EPA on the proposed coal ash regulations." Read more - Earthjustice - August 14, 2023.
Officials break ground on Environmental Management Disposal Facility in Oak Ridge: $550M project will allow demolition of buildings, cleanup to continue at Y-12, ORNL. "National, state, and local leaders joined the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management and its lead cleanup contractor, United Cleanup Oak Ridge, last Wednesday to celebrate the groundbreaking for the
Environmental Management Disposal Facility." Read more by - The Oak Ridger - August 4, 2023.
WATCH: Memphis mayoral candidates Environmental Forum. If you missed the forum on August 22, and want to hear from the candidates, never fear! Watch the youtube video of the event, which was co-sponsored by several Memphis and Tennessee organizations, including the Sierra Club, MICAH, Sowing Justice, Protect Our Aquifer, and more.
Celebrating success in Cheatham County. On January 5, an article by Angela Mummaw of Appalachian Voices was published in Clarksville Now,
which explained the threats of a gas pipeline proposed by Kinder Morgan Inc. The article also resulted in a large donation of $10,000 to Cumberland Preservation Group (CPG), an organization working against the pipeline. After learning of another TVA gas plant/pipeline project near Ashland City, the two organizers of the CPG — Angie Mummaw and Emily Sherwood of the Sierra Club — have built on the article's success with an overwhelming response from the Cheatham County community this summer: the TVA open house in June was packed with 150 attendees waiting in the parking lot; the community group then created resolutions against the TVA project which were subsequently passed unanimously by the Cheatham County Commission, and both the Ashland City and Pleasant View City
Councils. In addition, country singer Jonathan Singleton provided a concert in Ashland City to increase public awareness. Great efforts! WE CAN EFFECT CHANGE! Read Angie's article here if you missed it. To get involved, contact Emily Sherwood (email@example.com) or Angie Mummaw (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The proposed pipeline in Cheatham County would have crossed this lovely creek twice. With its karst bedrock, drilling or blasting could cause the creek to go underground, making it inaccessible to all. Photo by Angela Mummaw.
Statewide environmental events listed chronologically.
Do you have an event you'd like publicized?
Send it to Enews.email@example.com.
Sat. Sept. 9 and Sept. 16th - Recycling Roundup. The Tennessee Environmental Council has two community recycling events this month: Sept. 9th in Hornbeak TN, and Sept. 16th in Rutledge, TN. At these free events, participants can drop off items like: electronics, tires, certain appliances, scrap metal, textiles, mattresses, and more. Beginning last fall 2022, Recycling Roundup events are being held at pre-selected locations in the state throughout the rest of the year 2023. Learn more here.
Sept. 11-16th - Environmental Justice and Health Disparities Symposium - University of Maryland. The first two days of the event are virtual, with in-person events following. Rev. William Barber will be keynote speaker at 10 AM on Sept. 11, and Rep. Justin J. Pearson
will be keynote speaker at noon on Sept. 12th. "The Symposium theme is People, Power, & Politics, highlighting energy justice, climate change, power dynamics in environmental justice, and the use of technology in environmental justice work. Sessions with discussions on ongoing critical themes such as food sovereignty, healthcare access, community science, environmental justice mapping tools, climate justice, law, policy, and new topics in just and clean energy transitions will be covered." Learn more here.
Sept. 17th - Nashville Rally: Global Fight to End Fossil Fuels. Don’t miss out on the chance to participate in a global day of action, right in Nashville! This event is Nashville’s answer to the Global Fight to End Fossil Fuels movement taking place all over the world that weekend. Together, we will take in-the-moment actions to stand against TVA’s creation of new gas plants in Middle Tennessee on Sunday, Sept. 17th from 3:00 - 4:30 pm at Public Square. More details here.
Sept. 21-24th - Southeast Environmental Education Association Conference & Research Symposium. The event will be at Fall Creek Falls State Park. Registration closes Sept. 11th.Learn more here.
October 6th at 6:30 PM - Birds of Costa Rica. Paco Madrigal, expert birding guide and co-founder of Cotinga Tours in Costa Rica, is speaking in Kingsport, Tenn. to celebrate 25 years of Cotinga's eco-friendly bird tourism. They have expanded their services to include private, custom-made tours, eco-friendly vacations, and general wildlife tours in Costa Rica and Panama. Paco’s dynamic, fun, and engaging talk about Costa Rica and its birds is a free event at the Kingsport Center for Higher Education. Learn more about Cotinga Tours here.
Give Your Vehicle a New Purpose
Fundraising Corner with Mac Post
Did you know you can donate your used vehicle to benefit the Sierra Club's important advocacy work? Whether it’s running or not, your car, truck, boat, RV, or motorcycle could support the Sierra Club Foundation. Your donation will go towards raising awareness of our efforts to protect and improve the natural environment of our local region.
We make the process of donating your old car or unused vehicle both simple and easy. Plus, you may even qualify for a tax deduction. Just call 844-6-SIERRA (844-674-3772) or visit our vehicle donation link for easy instructions about the process.
Clean out your garage and help out the environment by making a significant contribution to our vehicle donation program. Donate your vehicle today! For other ways to support the Tennessee Chapter, browse donation options here!
Dear Eartha: Advice from an Eco-Guru
Dear Eartha, Well, the planet’s still burning and a few in the corral of Republicans running for President are admitting climate change does exist and is caused by human activity. The 24/7 news cycle doesn’t offer much hope for we humans, especially for the next generations. Can you, ma’am, offer anything worth fighting for? —Eco-Anxious in Rogersville
There is a great deal to be downcast about these days – the 1,000 wildfires burning in Canada, the hundred plus dead in Lahaina, the scorching temperatures in the South, the loss of homes and life all over the planet as the glaciers melt and the icecap diminishes and the forests burn and temperatures soar. But, yes, as a matter of fact, there is much worth fighting for – and I’m here to catalog the hope and rouse the anxious into action.
Euronews.green reports positive actions all over the planet. Here are a few from that news source for 2023:
A wild baby bison born for the first time in a thousand years in the UK
Cool Roof France (CRF) uses 130,000 tons of discarded oyster shells to make sustainable white paint for roofs to cut energy costs by keeping buildings cool
A Ukrainian woman is taking on the challenge of using “wave power” as an energy source
A Montana judge rules that children have the right to a healthy environment in a huge blow to fossil fuel producers in that state
A woman in Mexico City’s Polanca neighborhood has turned her apartment into a refuge for hurt and injured hummingbirds
India has slashed its greenhouse gas emissions rate by one-third in a 14-year time period in that country’s efforts to meet its promise to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change
France is raising taxes on air flights to help pay for its rail trains in a move to make train travel more attractive due to being less expensive
The Scottish government has given the green light to expand a hydro storage plant which will help Scotland reach its goal of net-zero targets
A group of Army veterans are helping the US government restore coral reefs off the southern tip of Florida
India, Germany, and Poland are harnessing solar power for railways
Brazil’s Amazon deforestation drops 33% under President Lula’s term, according to government satellite data
The Tennessee Environmental Council reports a plethora of tree plantings, compost initiations, new pollinator habitats, and creek litter cleanups, but not so many solar power initiatives or fossil fuel use alternatives. Still, trees and natural habitats are good news.
According to a report from WPLN (NPR), “TVA is planning to add 10,000 megawatts of solar throughout its seven-state territory by 2035, and the utility just issued a request for up to 5,000 megawatts of carbon-free energy that must be operational before 2029” (Caroline Eggers, August 15, 2022). Eggers also reported that Vanderbilt University is the biggest solar power user in Nashville, after students protested, and “the Knoxville Utility Board could become the solar leader for watts per customer in the southeast by 2025.” Not too shabby!
So, yes, Eco-Anxious, we have reasons to fear and reasons to cheer environmental changes throughout the world, and in our nation. But with these factual examples of human action and environmental policy to buoy our spirits, hope can be maintained and uplift achieved.
Despair may be the enemy always. I hope these examples provide hope in the face of anxiety going forward.
Good to know we’re all in this together. As the Brits say, "Stay Calm and Carry On!"
And a Note:
Dear Reader, This is my last Dear Eartha column for the time being. Thank you for reading and I hope to see you on our activist journey as we fight the good fight for environmental justice. A big thank you to Allie Stafford, my editor, who has supported and made this column better over the years I’ve been writing it. I wish her and you the very best.
This month's featured species is: Mourning dove (Zenaidamacroura)
The mourning dove is a medium-sized bird with a light brown body, and black marking below and behind the eye. It has black spots on the wings and long, pointed tail feathers. Males and females look similar, but the male is slightly larger and more colorful with blue on the head, or pink on the chest. Photo credit: Karol Olson from Pixabay.
The mourning dove is known by its forlorn coo, which is sometimes mistaken for an owl's hoot. Their wings make a slight whistling sound when fluttering.
Despite being a heavily hunted bird, the mourning dove is thriving and among the 10 most abundant birds in the U.S. They are frequent breeders, sometimes having up to 6 broods a year (2 egg clutch size). There is heavy nesting activity during the month of September.
Both parents are able to produce and feed the hatchlings with "pigeon milk," or "crop milk," a secretion from the lining of the digestive tract. It contains more protein and fat than cow or human milk.
The diet of an adult mourning dove consists of seeds, grains, and snails, by foraging on the ground or perching on a plant to harvest its seeds. They regularly ingest small gravel in order to aid in digestion of hard seeds.
Male mourning dove with blue and pink coloring on the feathers. Photo copyright: Ron Shrieves.
The views expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Sierra Club.
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