Sierra Club Applauds Obama for Bringing Millions From the Shadows to Security

Coming Clean: The blog of Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune

Michael Brune

November 21, 2014

From Shadows to Security

Last night, President Obama announced that he will use his executive authority to take the first significant steps toward fixing what has become an increasingly dysfunctional national immigration policy. As with climate and energy policy, he has not done all that is needed, but as much as he believes he can. In the face of a Congress that routinely passes on opportunities to do anything constructive, and political ideologues who cry foul before the ball is even in play, Obama is determined to do his job.

Why should the Sierra Club care about this latest announcement? For the same reasons anyone should care. Because (again, just as with climate disruption) fixing this problem is both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do. What kind of society forces millions of people — people who are essential to its functioning — to live in the shadows?

Policy debates tend toward abstraction and depersonalization. One side talks about “illegal aliens” and the other about “undocumented workers.” Really, though, we’re talking about people. People just like us. They are moms and dads. They’re uncles, aunts, and grandparents. They may love to dance, to hike, or to spend Sunday afternoons at a big family picnic. Their kids play with ours in the schoolyard. We sit together in the same movie theatres and at our churches, mosques, and synagogues.

One thing is different for them, though. When we look to see who is being hurt most by pollution, our nation’s immigrants are the people we usually find on the front lines. Their communities are not only among the most exploited and abused by polluters but also among the most vulnerable to the consequences of climate disruption and extreme weather. Yet they have been denied even the most basic protections that would allow them to speak up and seek justice.

That millions of families in this country should never feel truly safe is both unconscionable and un-American.

Beyond the issue of justice, though, Obama is helping to restore something that has always been essential to the character and achievement of our nation. Immigrants do not want to be a burden — they want to contribute. In the past, we were proud of that fact and those contributions. When the Sierra Club was founded 122 years ago, at least 20 of our 182 original members were immigrants — including, of course, John Muir himself. Some of them had come to the U.S. because it was a land of opportunity. Some were fleeing political upheavals. All of them, though, were proud contributors to their adopted country.

After six years of waiting in vain for Congress to act, President Obama has taken an important and necessary first step toward offering temporary relief for undocumented families. In doing so, he is enabling millions of people to make their own contributions to this country by removing the threat of deportation and family separation. The result will be an America that is more diverse, more fair, and all the stronger for it.

Thank President Obama for taking action here.

NC Sierra Club Footnotes Online – November 2014

North Carolina Chapter Sierra Club

Dear Sierran,

With Thanksgiving coming next week, we at the NC Sierra Club would like to take a moment to express our appreciation for all of the hard work done by our volunteers. From working to elect conservation-minded candidates to celebrating our wilderness areas, Sierrans have shown time and again what people can do to preserve and protect our state’s natural heritage.

We hope you enjoy the upcoming holidays, and as always, it’s a pleasure working with and for you.

Your staff at the NC Sierra Club

Take Action: Protect Our Forests

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The U.S. Forest Service is currently in the process of revising the management plans for North Carolina’s Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests, which determines the future of our forests for decades to come. These plans only get revised once every 15-20 years and this is a critical time to let your voice be heard!

The Forest Service is proposing a large proportion of the landscape for “timber production”, rather than a balanced plan that will provide for recreation, natural resources, sensitive ecosystems, wildlife, wilderness protection and timber harvesting.

Click here to send in your comments to the US Forest Service and let them know that we should protect our forests!

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2014 Annual Report

The NC Sierra Club’s 2014 Annual Report & Ballot has been mailed to all members! It should arrive at homes across the state this week.

Aside from updates on our work this year, the annual report includes a Message from the Chair, recognition of our financial supporters, information about electing local and state volunteers to leadership positions in the Sierra Club, and more!

But you don’t have to wait to receive your report from the Postal Service to check it out. Click here to read the 2014 Annual Report online!

 

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Electing Today’s Environmental Leaders

Every Sierran in North Carolina can vote in Chapter elections. This year, there are five candidates running for three open seats on the NC Sierra Club’s Executive Committee. Chapter elections information can be found by clicking here: https://nc2.sierraclub.org/2014Ballot

Also, every Sierra Club member in North Carolina belongs to a local group, and these local groups are holding their elections now, as well! Click here for information about electing your local Sierra Club leaders:  https://nc2.sierraclub.org/2014LocalBallots

All elections are open now and close on Dec. 15th. Don’t miss your chance to vote!  Click here to vote now!

Not a member yet?  Click here to become a bona fide Sierran today!

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Wilderness Spotlight: Croatan National Forest

The 160,000-acre Croatan National Forest lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Neuse River and contains a variety of ecosystems, which are further protected within four separate wilderness areas set aside in 1984. The forest is cherished for its pine forests, salt estuaries, bogs, and pocosins. Being suitable for hiking, camping, hunting, and trail biking make these wilderness areas great places to explore and connect with nature.

Click here to read Nancy Card’s full blog post about this national forest and the four wilderness areas within it.

 

 News Worth Sharing

Coal Ash

The newly formed Coal Ash Management Commission (CAMC) held its first meeting last week. The meeting itself mostly provided the commissioners with information about coal ash in North Carolina.

The website for the CAMC has the presentation from that all day meeting and is chock-full of useful information. Click on the link to keep an eye on CAMC and their upcoming work: http://www.camc.nc.gov/meetings.html.

Offshore Drilling

Earlier this month, state officials hosted a closed door meeting about potential offshore drilling off the Eastern Seaboard. And even though elected officials, federal agencies and state bureaucrats attended the meeting, the public was shut out. The federal government is currently evaluating whether to allow drilling off our coast in federal waters. Governor McCrory is an advocate for opening up the Atlantic coast to offshore drilling.

The NC Sierra Club was instrumental in pointing out the lack of transparency. Hopefully future meetings will allow public participation. Read our response to the closed door meeting in the Associated Press story here: http://wapo.st/1vqbbDT.

Solar

North Carolina is a national leader in solar power; however, uncertainty around several solar policies have many businesses and solar supporters worried. Dave Dewitt at WUNC produced a great story about the solar policies in our state and the challenges they face. Click the link to read and listen to his story:  http://wunc.org/post/solar-business-booming-nc-how-long.

And find out more information about our Solar Is Rising campaign at SolarIsRising.org!

Want to know the latest? Join us on Facebook or Twitter!

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Natural Gas Pipelines: Regulation and Risk for North Carolina

Big thanks to Clean Water for North Carolina for this important report.

Fracking Pipelines and NCGas-Pipelines-Regulation-and-Risk-for-NC_9-24-2014

If you missed the other updates, check them out at “We Don’t Want Your Pipeline” By Robin and Linda Williams (Oct 4), Duke Energy/Dominion/Piedmont Natural Gas Pipeline – Keystone XL of the East? (Sept 17),   They’re Building A Pipeline Song – Help Protect the Wilderness (Sept 15), Duke Energy/Dominion/Piedmont Natural Gas Pipeline – Communities Voice Opposition (Sept 15), Duke Energy/Dominion Pipeline – N.C. Public Meetings, VA/WV Local Government and Community Reactions (Sept 13),  Opposition Growing in Virginia Over Atlantic Coast Pipeline (Sept 12), Update on Duke Energy/Dominion Fracking Gas Pipeline (Sept 10) and  “Fracking boom prompts $5B Dominion gas pipeline” (Sept 7).

Senate votes on Keystone XL tomorrow! Take action now!

Keystone XL Urgent Senate vote

Take Action

Big Oil-backed members of Congress are obsessed with Keystone XL. They’re so obsessed, in fact, that their very first priority after coming back to Washington is to try to derail the ongoing environmental review process and force approval of that dirty tar sands pipeline in Congress.

Why? Because that’s what Big Oil wants them to do.

The Senate will vote TOMORROW on approving Keystone XL. Take action now to urge your senators to vote NO on Keystone XL!

It’s astounding that while President Obama is hammering out a historic international climate deal with China, polluters and their political allies are still desperately chasing their climate-killing pipedream. It’s clear whose interests they are serving — and it certainly isn’t America’s.

The federal review process is in place to make sure new pipelines serve our national interest, and that includes protecting our climate, land and water. Approving Keystone XL would open the floodgates of climate-killing tar sands crude flowing through the U.S. It would ensure more disastrous oil spills, threaten sources of drinking water for millions, disrupt wildlife, and increase rates of cancer and other health problems in Canada and in refinery communities here in the United States. Keystone XL is all risk and no reward.

Act now to remind your senators that our climate, our land, our water and our health are not for sale to Big Oil. Urge them to reject this attempt to hijack the review process and approve Keystone XL!

If you have any doubt who these pro-pipeline politicians are working for, consider this: The representatives who voted to approve KXL in the House last Friday received on average 10 times more money from the oil industry than those who voted against it. Clearly it was cynical money well spent.

Together, we’ve kept Keystone XL from being built for more than six years — keeping more than one billion metric tons of carbon pollution out of the atmosphere to date. We’ve come too far to have Big Oil write a fat check and buy the approval of this dirty tar sands pipeline from the U.S. Senate.

It’s critical that your senators hear from you before it’s too late. Take a minute right now to stop the approval of Keystone XL!

Thanks for all you do for the environment,

Michael Brune
Sierra Club Executive Director

America’s Solar Boom, in Charts

Here are some great numbers and news about the solar growth in the U.S.! Spread the word that we need to grow solar in N.C. one rooftop at a time to protect our water, air, land and our health!

Here Comes the Sun: America’s Solar Boom, in Charts
It’s been a bit player, but solar power is about to shine.

Tim McDonnell
Nov. 7, 2014

Last week, an energy analyst at Deutsche Bank came to a startling conclusion: By 2016, solar power will be as cheap or cheaper than electricity from the conventional grid in every state except three. That’s without any changes to existing policy. In other words, we’re only a few years away from the point where, in most of the United States, there will be no economic reason not to go solar. If you care about slowing climate change or just moving toward cleaner energy, that is a huge deal.

And solar energy is already going gangbusters. In the past decade, the amount of solar power produced in the United States has leaped 139,000 percent. A number of factors are behind the boom: Cheaper panels and a raft of local and state incentives, plus a federal tax credit that shaves 30 percent off the cost of upgrading.

Still, solar is a bit player, providing less than half of 1 percent of the energy produced in the United States. But its potential is massive—it could power the entire country 100 times over.

So what’s the holdup? A few obstacles: pushback from old-energy diehards, competition with other efficient energy sources, and the challenges of power storage and transmission. But with solar in the Southwest already at “grid parity”—meaning it costs the same or less as electricity from conventional sources—Wall Street is starting to see solar as a sound bet. As a recent Citigroup investment report put it, “Our viewpoint is that solar is here to stay.”

Some numbers that tell the story:

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Sources

Solar growth: Solar Energy Industries Association

New solar installations: SEIA

Sunlight: Sandia National Lab, Energy Information Administration/National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Electricity generating capacity: SEIA

Carbon savings, electricity demand: SEIA, EIA/NREL

Installed PV capacity: International Energy Agency

Solar jobs: The Solar Foundation, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Solar panels on a typical house: NREL

Panel cost, VC funding: Greenpeace; Mercom Capital Group (2013 & 2014)

 

Image credits: Shutterstock (Earth, USA); Maurizio Fusillo/Noun Project (solar panel); Okan Benn/Noun Project (car); Q. Li/Noun Project (chart); Sergey Krivoy/Noun Project (coal trolley); Marcio Duarte/Noun Project (worker); Alex Berkowitz/Noun Project (cash)  

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/11/solar-energy-power-boom-charts

What’s 86 Times More Potent Than Carbon Dioxide?

Send a message to protect our air, health and planet.

Take Action: Protect Our Climate from Methane
Take Action: Big Oil Must Stop Poisoning Communities
Methane — it’s the greenhouse gas that flies under the radar. But pound for pound, methane is 86 times more potent over a 20-year period than carbon dioxide. As the oil and gas industry pushes to frack more, President Obama needs to come up with a plan for cutting this dangerous greenhouse gas. President Obama and his administration can ensure the protection of our climate and our communities by taking an important first step — regulating methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.

Take Action
Tell President Obama and his administration to step up, cut methane, and help us move toward a future where our homes, schools, and businesses are powered with clean energy.

 

Send a message to protect our treasures.

Take Action: Protect Boulder-White Clouds as a National Monument
Take Action: Protect Boulder-White Clouds as a National Monument
Boulder-White Clouds in central Idaho is filled with 150 alpine peaks that rise over 10,000 feet in the air. It is the crown jewel of Idaho wilderness and is treasured by, and outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world. But as population grows and industry looks to expand, the fate of this pristine region is uncertain. Boulder-White Clouds is the largest unprotected roadless forest landscape left in the lower 48 states. But with your help we can change that and protect Boulder White-Clouds for future generations to enjoy.

Take Action
Tell President Obama that Boulder-White Clouds should be our nation’s next national monument.

Colbert Shames GOP Climate Deniers: ‘I am Not a Scientist’

True. Funny. Scarey. We have a lot of work ahead of us!

Im Not a Scientist

Watch Colbert Shame GOP Climate Deniers: ‘I am Not a Scientist’

A favorite meme among climate denier politicians these days is “I’m not a scientist but …” Usually, the “but” is their escape hatch to say they don’t have to believe what scientists are saying about climate change.

And with their election victories Tuesday and takeover of the Senate, putting James Inhofe, author of The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, in charge of the Senate Environment Committee, we’re going to be hearing that line a lot more.

Stephen Colbert shows a video montage of Republican leaders mouthing those words, commenting to appreciative applause from his audience, “Yes, everyone who denies manmade climate change has the same stirring message: we don’t know what the f**k we’re talking about.”

He added, “I hope that these conservative leaders can inspire all the children out there watching to think to themselves, ‘Hey, maybe someday I can grow up to be not a scientist.’”

He then performed his “not a scientist” demonstration of the impacts of rising sea levels by pouring colored water over a map of the U.S., saying, “Remember, kids, if you get unhooked on science early maybe some day you could completely lack any understanding of science and then grow up to be chairman of the Senate Environment Committee!”

Anastasia Pantsios | November 8, 2014

http://ecowatch.com/2014/11/08/colbert-climate-deniers/