Tag Archives: Sierra Club

The Climate Movement Gets a Boost from 50,000 Protestors in D.C.

Feb17rally

That’s 350.org‘s estimate of how many people attended the Forward on Climate rally in DC on Feb. 17 . The Sierra Club, another core organizer, says there were at least 40,000. Either way, that’s a large number to brave the cold weather to demonstrate, and it’s a sign of how committed people are to stopping the Keystone Pipeline. A million more showed their support for the action online, and polls show that a majority of Americans are eager for real leadership on climate change. President Obama was the focus, because he will make the crucial decision on Keystone very soon, and many in Washington lofted signs reminding him that his legacy will be defined by his actions on the climate, beginning with this all-important decision. (See previous posts on why tar sands oil must be left in the ground and the pipeline must be stopped here and here.)

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3 Groups Plan Presidents Day Action to Stop the Keystone Pipeline

The Sierra Club, 350.org, and the Hip-Hop Caucus have joined together to call for a huge action on Presidents Day weekend. The plan is to form a massive human pipeline in the streets. The goal: to stop President Obama from approving the Keystone pipeline that would bring dirty, hard to extract, unneeded oil from the tar sands of Alberta Canada, through the U.S. heartland, to Gulf refineries and ultimate export. That’s right–not only would it create only temporary jobs for US workers, as the builder admits, it won’t help the U.S. move toward energy independence. (For my May 2012 post explaining why the oil should be left in the ground, click here.)  As someone suggested, if Canada is so determined to extract the oil, why don’t they build the pipeline west toward their own refineries? The reason is that Canadians have stopped it; they don’t want the pollution and spills that will inevitably occur. So why should we allow it to pass through our country with no benefit to us?

Here’s the email from these three groups (I belong to the first two, and I’m going to join the Hip-Hop Caucus if they’ll have me). It includes a link where you can sign up to participate

The last time we stood up against Keystone XL, thousands of us surrounded the White House – and it worked. Right when every political and energy “expert” said the tar sands pipeline was a done deal, we beat the odds and convinced President Obama to take a year to study it.

Now that year is over, and Mother Nature has filed her public comments: the hottest year in American history, a horrible ongoing drought, and superstorm Sandy. And still Big Oil is pushing as hard as ever for their pet project, looking for even more private profit at public expense.

There is also good news: Together, we’ve proven time and time again that grassroots voices can speak louder than Big Oil’s dollars. So this Presidents Day, the Sierra Club, 350.org, and other environmental groups are working with our partners across the progressive community to organize the biggest climate demonstration yet.

Our goal for Presidents Day is to form a massive human pipeline through Washington, and then transform it into a giant symbol of the renewable energy future we need – and are ready to build, starting right away.

You can make this a Presidents Day that the president can’t ignore and won’t forget – sign up to join the rally, bring your friends, and stop the climate-killing Keystone XL pipeline.

We’ll have more details soon about the rally and how you can make your voice heard, but for now, start making travel plans and circle Presidents Day weekend on your calendar. Together, we can show the president that the year’s delay didn’t lull us to sleep. Instead, we’re more fired up than ever, and determined to help him do the right thing.

See you in February,

Allison Chin, Sierra Club President
Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director
Bill McKibben, 350.org co-founder
May Boeve, 350.org Executive Director
Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Hip-Hop Caucus President
Liz Havstad, Director of Civic Engagement and Strategic Growth for the Hip- Hop Caucus

Letters to the Editor

Sierra Club Hawai‘i’s Capitol Watch asked us not only to write testimony in support of the bag bill under consideration at the legislature but to consider writing a letter to the editor of the Star-Advertiser. It’s been on the receiving end of considerable media attention and the team wants to make sure positive responses overwhelm any negative ones. I was inspired by a brief but eloquent letter in the Honolulu Weekly by Diana Sellner, entitled “Protect our ‘aina”:
The time is now to pass plastic and paper bag legislation on Oahu. Plastic and paper bags are not only a nuisance but an eyesore. The bags are so light, they are easily swept up by the wind and blown all over the city, into our streets, parks, streams and onto our beaches.
      “Ua mau ke ea o ka ‘aina I ka pono.” We need to preserve our precious ‘aina, and get rid of these bags!

Mine is somewhat longer, as I tried to suggest that in a cost-benefit analysis, the benefits would predominate:
We need SB 2511, which levies a 10-cent fee on plastic and paper bags, to become law.
       The benefits? Less litter, which looks bad and costs taxpayers to clean up. Fewer plastic bags fouling streams and ditches, causing backup and flooding. Fewer bags to entangle marine animals. Money saved by retailers because people won’t switch to paper bags, which cost more to produce and use up more resources.
       The costs? Produce bags aren’t affected, so you can clean up after your pet for free. You don’t have to pay–you can bring your own, as you do at Costco, and as we used to do before plastic bags were the norm. If you want a few to line your kitchen waste can, the fee is affordable. Besides, the fees will go toward restoring and protecting our valuable watersheds.
        Sounds like a win-win for everyone but the bag manufacturers, who fight throwaway-bag bills everywhere they are proposed.
It’s easy to send a letter to the paper. Email directly or fill out a form online so that you don’t forget to give your name and a daytime telephone number.

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How to get a throwaway bag bill passed (we hope)

How to get a throwaway bag bill passed (we hope)

Four hundred plastic bags on the lawn at the Hawai’i State Capitol got lawmakers’ attention–will the legislature pass the first statewide bill to “bag the bag”? Click on the photo to read the story of the bag bill.

Hawai’i’s Single-Use Bag Law Gains Momentum

Bringing it home to Hawai'i legislators

A coalition of environmental groups held a rally at the state capitol Feb. 9 before a senate committee heard testimony in favor of a bill aimed at drastically reducing both plastic and paper bags by charging 10 cents (an “offset fee” rather than a tax or levy) on all single-use bags at checkout. Read about it and see a picture of the plastic-bag monster on the Sierra Club Scrapbook blog. Volunteers littered the Capitol lawn with 400 bags, representing the average number one person uses annually (for less than 15 minutes, on average). It certainly got legislators’ attention (“What’s up with the bags on the lawn?”), and about 50 people testified at the hearing.

As with plastic-bag laws elsewhere, the goal is to change people’s mindset, so that they get used to bringing reusable bags to the grocery store or ABC store. If  they forget their bags, they will take fewer  because of the fee–and refuse all double-bagging. Because this is not a bag ban, revenue will be generated by those who use bags provided by merchants–perhaps as much as $20 million per year, which would go toward restoring and protecting the state’s much-threatened watersheds and rainforest areas. As the  Sierra Club’s Robert Harris points out, if people get used to bringing their own shopping bags, there won’t be as much money available, but that will  be a sign that the law is working and that plastic pollution is being significantly cut. This helps the environment, but in a different way. The law could come to a vote in a few weeks; if it passes, it could become a national model.

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Bill McKibben on Colbert Nation & in Honolulu

Bill McKibben on Stephen Colbert in 2009

Bill manages to stay on message as he explains the purpose of 350.org, the global movement he co-founded, despite Stephen’s irreverent interruptions.

Called “the world’s best green journalist” by Time, McKibben will appear via video at Sierra Club Hawai’i”s Forces for Good Symposium on January 7, 2012.