Conservation Education Day approaches! CED is the Tennessee Chapter's single largest political activity of the year. Scheduled for Feb. 27-28th, CED offers the chance to meet with your state legislators in Nashville to promote the passage of bills which preserve and protect our water, air and land, and to block those which would be harmful. It is important to establish relationships with your representatives if you don't already have one. Since we cannot schedule an appointment with a representative unless a constituent is present, we especially need more Sierra Club members from non-urban
areas to participate in CED. Many of the key committees for our bills of interest are dominated by legislators from rural districts. Join alongside fellow environmentalists for a lobbying training and education on Tuesday evening, Feb. 27, 6:00-8:00 pm in-person in Nashville and via zoom, to prepare for Conservation Education Day on Wednesday, Feb. 28th. We will know the final issue list for discussion the week before CED. Register here – the sooner the better!
Join us every Thursday evening at 5PM CST to learn about what's happening in the Tennessee General Assembly. LINK UP HERE.
Tennessee may allow coal mining in a protected forest this year. "Hurricane Creek Mining has applied for a permit to mine about 650 acres of land on a mountain in Claiborne County. The mining would occur in an area north of Knoxville that is part of protected land managed by The Nature Conservancy." The Nature Conservancy has land management rights of the property, but does not have mining rights. Read more by Caroline Eggers - WPLN - Jan. 16, 2024.
Oh, so close! Fundraising Update:
Hats off to our fabulous Sierra Club Defenders, who are supporting our lobbyist, Scott Banbury, in his important work with the Tennessee legislature. We set a rather ambitious goal of $15,000 for 2023, and we are currently at $14,393 and counting! Many, many thanks to those who have contributed. And if you meant to but just haven't gotten around to it yet, it's not too late! Simply go to this secure link, or make a check payable to TN Chapter Sierra Club with “Defenders” in the memo line. Mail to TN Chapter Sierra Club, PO Box 113, Powell, TN 37849 - Submitted by Susan Johnston.
Sierra Club hiring for Tennessee Chapter Director. Sierra Club Tennessee isstill accepting applications until Feb. 5th for the position of Chapter Director. Contact Bill Moll (firstname.lastname@example.org@aol.com) with any questions.
2020 Conservation Education Day attendees smile while holding banners of participating organizations. Last year, approximately 50 constituents met with about 50 of the 132 total legislators. Despite the hostile political climate in DC, the Tennessee legislators are friendly and engage in real conversations, and that is the purpose of our day on the hill. Photo credit: Todd Waterman.
An overlooked climate solution unfolds in Memphis’ energy challenges. "With all-time power demand and conservation alerts, a decades-old energy framework could help Memphis and other cities respond to climate impacts...Weatherization programs have a longstanding presence across the nation. It’s a strong policy framework that MLGW has adapted into a program that is uniquely its own, some of which comes down to Memphis grit." Read more by Ashli Blow - Tennessee Lookout - Jan. 23, 2024.
Federal regulators put communities, climate at risk by rubber-stamping TVA’s proposed Cumberland Pipeline. Sierra Club, the Southern Environmental Law Center and Appalachian Voices issued a press release
blasting FERC for “rubber-stamping” the approval of the Cumberland Pipeline. Amy Kelly, Sierra Club Field Organizing Strategist, said: “Last year was the Earth’s hottest year on record. It is irresponsible and regressive to permit new fossil-fueled power plants and pipelines that will worsen the climate crisis, create more energy vulnerabilities, and increase electric bills." Sierra Club and allies have already challenged the state permit for this pipeline. Read full press release from Jan. 18, 2024.
Environmental officials nix controversial sewage plant along pristine creek in Hickman County. "Plans called for importing sewage from neighboring Williamson and Dickson Counties, outraging local residents." Rodes Hart, co-founder of Friends of Lick Creek, said, “We are relieved and pleased, but I guess also very disgusted that it took as much time, effort and money to battle with a proposed treatment plant and effluent dump that wasn’t going to benefit our county at all.” Read more by Anita Wadhwani - Tennessee Lookout - Jan. 5, 2024.
Celebrate the wild! 60th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.
2024 has arrived, and with it, the 60th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, originally signed into law on September 3, 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson. The Wilderness Act established America’s National Wilderness Preservation System. Today, that wilderness system has grown to 806 areas in 44 states plus Puerto Rico—with stewardship by all four federal land agencies. Plenty of reason to celebrate—and to work for even more! How will your Chapter or Group celebrate and use public interest in this anniversary to promote wild nature and wilderness preservation, in this crisis era of species extinction? During 2014, for the 50th, many Chapters conducted outings in honor of wilderness, held joint events, published descriptions of nature trips and outings, hosted
speakers, held photo contests, or put up nature photo exhibits. Part of the celebration this year will be the 12th World Wilderness Congress, taking place in Rapid City, South Dakota, on August 24 - 31, 2024. To join the Sierra Club’s nationwide effort in YOUR chapter, contact Vicky Hoover, Wildlands Team Sixtieth co-coordinator, email@example.com. -Submitted by Vicky Hoover [edited].
Health & Justice
Report: ‘Forever chemicals’ in northeast TN pose longterm risk to region’s drinking water. "So-called 'forever chemicals' linked to disease, infertility and death have been detected in 60% of rivers and lakes tested in Northeast Tennessee, findings that 'cast into question the long-term safety of drinking water supplies for the region,' a report released Monday by the Sierra Club said...The report noted a pattern: chemicals were found at higher concentration in more urbanized stretches of water, particularly downstream from industrial and municipal wastewater treatment plants, military sites, and places where sewage sludge is spread on agricultural lands for disposal."
Read more by Anita Wadhwani - Tennessee Lookout - Jan. 8, 2024.
Between wind and water: How the Health Department could help the environment.
"On a muggy morning last August, a modest crowd trickled into an office building on Jefferson Avenue. The group wanted to know, definitively, if the Shelby County Health Department could use its emergency powers to stop a local company from releasing toxic chemicals into the air...The parties had already waited six months for the August hearing...and they were destined to wait even longer." In the end, "the matter was dropped altogether because the company at the center of the dispute decided to relocate instead. It might be considered a win, but for Amanda Garcia, senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, the air pollution issue was an example of the Health Department skirting its responsibility."
Read more by Keely Brewer - Daily Memphian - Jan. 22, 2024.
The surprisingly simple way to convince people to go green. "Scientists have observed again and again that what we do and don’t do are profoundly influenced by how others act...While policy, regulation andclean technology are essential to reduce emissions, they aren’t sufficient...If you’re interested in helping curb global warming, that means becoming a mirror for others to see themselves." Read more by Michael J. Coren - Washington Post - Dec. 5, 2023.
LISTEN: New Sierra Club podcast "Let's Take It Outside" hosted by Chief Conservation Officer Chris Hill. This brand-new podcast will tell the stories of the people working to protect wildlife, safeguard nature, and expand access to the outdoors. On the first episode you'll hear from Garrett Dempsey, Program Director at Detroit Outdoors, who worked with a coalition of organizers to reopen the long-abandoned Scout Hollow campground, Detroit's only urban campground. Listen here.
Icy branches twinkle in the winter sunlight in Chattanooga, Tenn. Photo by Mari Smith, January 2024 [edited].
Report Back from The People's Voice on TVA's Energy Plan on Jan. 25th
Submitted by: The Organizing Team (Appalachian Voices, Center for Biological Diversity, Climate Reality Project: Memphis and Nashville chapters, Energy Alabama, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Sunrise Nashville and Vote Solar)
Today was an amazing day of solidarity for people across the Tennessee Valley as we came together to envision a better future with our communities during The People’s Voice on TVA’s Energy Plan. We are incredibly proud of the work everyone contributed to this event as we discussed pathways to a clean and more democratic energy future — a better future than what Tennessee Valley Authority is offering in its current plan. If you were unable to join us,
you can watch the recording of the live event on Youtube.
Some of the events that occurred over the day:
Expert witnesses shared compelling testimony on TVA’s Integrated Resource Plan process, energy source decisions, energy justice and how to put TVA on a path to 100% carbon-free energy.
Several congressional representatives gave powerful statements on the need for TVA to clean up its power supply and include more public input.
Tenn. State Rep. Justin J. Pearson gave a moving speech about the harm TVA has caused to the communities impacted by its over-reliance on fossil fuels.
People from across the Tennessee Valley gathered in person to share their ideas about TVA’s long-term energy plan and built new relationships, or strengthened existing ones.
We are also very excited to announce that Rep. Steve Cohen is introducing new legislation called the TVA Increase Rate of Participation Act, which establishes a new Office of Public Participation and requires TVA to meaningfully involve the public in its energy planning. The bill also requires TVA to take into account extreme weather, public health and energy reliability in its plans.
We are truly grateful for everyone's participation throughout the day, and look forward to continuing to build this movement together.
Representative Pearson gave a powerful speech on Jan. 25, 2024, before the Community Discussion.
White House said to delay decision on enormous natural gas export terminal. "Before deciding whether to approve it, the Energy Department will analyze the climate impacts of CP2, one of 17 proposed LNG export terminals." Sierra Club, Third Act, and others fought hard for this DOE pause in approving new liquified natural gas (LNG) shipping terminals, in order to consider their climate change impacts.
Read more by Coral Davenport - The New York Times - Jan. 24, 2024.
US oil lobby launches eight-figure ad blitz amid record fossil fuel extraction. "Campaign pushes the idea that oil is ‘vital’ to global security and capitalizes on war in Gaza to escalate production, climate advocates say." Read more by Dharna Noor - The Guardian - Jan. 10, 2024.
Large-scale carbon capture an ‘illusion’ for oil and gas companies: The International Energy Agency wants the fossil fuel industry to cut production and emissions and invest in renewable power. "Assuming that fossil fuel consumption continues under current projections, the oil and gas industry would need to capture and store an 'entirely inconceivable' 32 billion tonnes of carbon and remove 23 billion tonnes via direct air capture by 2050 in order to stop the global temperature rising 1.5C above preindustrial levels. This would require more electricity than is used by the entire world today." Read more
by Danny Halpin, The Standard, Nov. 28, 2024.
Statewide environmental events listed chronologically.
Do you have an event you'd like publicized?
Send it to Enews.firstname.lastname@example.org.
February is Black History Month. What we now know as Black History Month began as "Negro History Week" in 1926 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). It was originally established during the second week of February because of the proximity to the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. While both men were great American symbols of freedom, Dr. Woodson never wished to confine Black history to one week, or even a month: "His life’s work and the mission of ASALH since its founding in 1915 represent a living testimony to the year-round and year-after-year study of African American history."
Tues. Feb. 6 from 1-2 pm EST - Webinar with PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility). This webinar, titled "Climate and Environmental Impacts of Agriculture: Solutions for a Healthier Planet," will focus on "exposing the true environmental impacts of animal agriculture, dispelling myths surrounding the meat and dairy industries, discussing industry greenwashing, and recommending ways to reduce chemical exposure in our diets. We will also share recommendations on how you can help improve U.S. agriculture!" Register here in advance for the free webinar.
Feb. 27-28th - Conservation Education Day. Register here
to participate in important conversations with your representatives in Nashville to promote the passage of bills which preserve and protect our water, air and land, and to block harmful bills. Training will be held on zoom and in-person on Tuesday evening, February 27, 6:00-8:00 pm. Conservation Education Day will follow, on Wednesday, February 28th.
March 1st - “Let Justice Roll Down”: Faith and Environmental Fairness. This free lecture at First Unitarian Church of Memphis will feature guest speaker Rev. Dr. Patricia K. Tull, environmental theologian and author of Inhabiting Eden: Christians, the Bible, and the Ecological Crisis.
March 2nd from 10 am - 3 pm: Healing a World of Wounds.
This free workshop at First Unitarian Church of Memphis will be led by Rev. Dr. Patricia K. Tull. "According to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, the vast majority of Americans now believe that climate change is happening, and most recognize that it’s caused by us. Emotional responses run from fear, anger, and sadness to interest and even hope. We live in a moment ripe for both modeling changed actions and for speaking up for these changes. In this workshop we will discuss what we as individuals, families, and congregations can say and do to promote environmental and human healing. Topics will include: Speaking Lament and Urgency, Electrifying Everything, Restoring Our Land, and Finding Our Unique Contributions.
This month's featured species is: Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
"Red bird came all winter / Firing up the landscape / As nothing else could..." (excerpt from poem "Red Bird," by Mary Oliver).Photo credit: "Female cardinal in the snow," by Wendy Mitchell in Chattanooga, Tenn., January 2024 [edited].
Northern Cardinals, often called redbirds, are abundant year-round in Tennessee. They are non-migratory, and often spend their whole life within one mile of where they hatched.
In late February or March, redbirds start defending their territory using song, displays, or aggression. April is a good month for nest-building.
Both males and females have bright red beaks. Males are bright red with a mask of black on the face. Females are gray-brown with reddish wings, crest, and tail.
Cardinals have around two broods per year, with a clutch size of approximately three. Both males and females care for babies, which are old enough to leave the nest after 9 to 11 days.
Cardinals are considered granivorous, meaning their diet consists of grains and seeds. Their red plumage is actually the result of eating fruit and berry seeds that contain carotenoids which create the tones of red, orange, yellows, and pinks. Sources include wild grapes, mulberries, or dogwood berries.
The redbird is the state bird of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The views expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Sierra Club.
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