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!

Join us on Facebook NC Chapter on Twitter

Sierra Club Calls for Action to Protect the Internet – Send a Message to the FCC Today!

Open Internet ensures our right to petition for a greener planet.

Tell the FCC to protect the Internet now!

Take action for net neutrality!

Take action today!

What if the company that provides your Internet could block your access to this email?

Right now, when you go online, every website is sent to your computer at the same speed, whether it is Facebook, Huffington Post or SierraRise. This concept, known as net neutrality, makes the Internet a fair and democratic system. It means the website of an oil billionaire works just as well as the blog of a grassroots environmental activist.

But this year, the FCC released a plan that would divide the Internet into fast and slow lanes, and allow Internet providers to charge for access to the fast lane. [1] This plan makes it possible for corporations to slow or block access to information, or speed up access in exchange for a fee.

The FCC’s plan threatens some of our most basic civil liberties: free speech, freedom of the press and the right to petition.

Take action now: Tell the FCC to protect the Internet and protect our rights!

Earlier this week, President Obama spoke out in favor of open access to the Internet and asked the FCC to recategorize the Internet as a utility — like water or electricity — and ensure companies can’t charge for special privileges. [2] “Simply put: No service should be stuck in a ‘slow lane’ because it does not pay a fee. That kind of gate keeping would undermine the level playing field essential to the Internet’s growth.” [3]

President Obama is right: An end to net neutrality would fundamentally change the Internet and give more power to wealth at the expense of freedom of information.

What if the company that provides your internet — like Comcast, Verizon, or Time Warner — could manipulate or even block information? What if dirty energy companies could pay more to ensure their websites are easier to access than those that promote clean energy? It could happen if the FCC doesn’t listen to President Obama!

Tell the FCC to take action immediately to protect the Internet and our right to petition for clean energy and a greener planet!

Net neutrality means you can continue speaking out to protect endangered right whales, demand Google cut ties with climate deniers and stop pesticides that kill our bees.

Earlier this year, the FCC’s website was flooded with so many comments about net neutrality that it broke their website. It looks like this got the President’s attention, but now we need to ensure the FCC is listening too!

Speak up for your Constitutional rights and your right to defend the planet: Sign the petition to tell the FCC to take action to protect the Internet!

In it together,

Molly Brooksbank
SierraRise

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

Reminder – Nov Monthly Meeting on 11/19

Sierra Club Nov 19th Meeting Announcement – Movie Night

Note: This month and Dec we are meeting on the 3rd Wednesday of the month instead of the 4th Wednesday due to the holidays.

Please join us on Wednesday Nov 19th for a special viewing of the movie Aerial America: Wilderness. Produced by the Smithsonian Channel, this show presents extraordinary views of wilderness in America. “Some are vital sanctuaries for endangered species. Some can only be reached by plane. All are magnificent. These are the untamed pockets of the U.S. protected by the Wilderness Act of 1964. Take a cross-country flight over icy landscapes in Alaska’s Denali, vast wetlands in Florida’s Everglades, and over 100 million acres of badlands, deserts, and mountains where nature rules. Then learn how the nation’s wildest places are tied to America’s native history, its pioneering spirit, its extraordinary leaders, and its untouched beauty.”

Don’t miss this inspiring show.

As usual, our meeting is at the Mahlon Center in Freedom Park and begins at 6:30pm for pizza and socializing. The formal meeting begins at 7pm.

Parking is free, as is the evening presentation.

We look forward to seeing you.

David Robinson, Chair Central Piedmont Group

The Urgent Case for a Ban on Fracking

Thanks to Food and Water Watch for this excellent report.

The Urgent Case for a Ban on Fracking

September 16th, 2014

In recent years, the term “fracking” has come to mean far more than just the specific process of extracting oil and natural gas by injecting large volumes of various mixes of water, sand and chemicals deep underground, at extreme pressure, to create fractures in targeted rock formations.

Today, the term “fracking” represents the host of problems that this dangerous practice entails. This report details evidence on the many reasons why fracking should be banned, including:

  • Producing massive volumes of toxic and radioactive waste. The disposal of this waste is causing earthquakes and putting drinking water resources at risk.

  • Pumping hazardous pollutants into the air. Fracking utilizes over 100 dangerous chemicals known to cause life-threatening illnesses, including cancer.

  • Destabilizing the climate. Fracking wells release large amounts of methane gas, which is known to trap 87 times more heat than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and contributes greatly to global warming.

  • Disrupting local communities. Fracking presents a broad number of consequences for people living in areas where it is occurring, including damage to public roads, declines in property value, increased crime and an increased demand on emergency services.

  • Turning homes into explosive hazards. Contaminating water wells with methane and other flammable gases from fracking puts families’ health, safety and property at high risk.

  • Causing thousands of accidents, leaks and spills. More than 7,500 accidents related to fracking occurred in 2013, negatively impacting water quality in rivers, streams and shallow aquifers.

Urgent Case Fracking Banurgent_case_for_ban_on_fracking

The “We the People Amendment” won in this election

Some good news from the election. If we want the next election to be different, we need to End Corporate Personhood and Demand Real Democracy!

The National Campaign to End Corporate Personhood and Demand Real Democracy!

Move to Amend

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 5, 2014

Move to Amend Wins Big at the Ballot: Americans Ready to Amend the Constitution

In Massachusetts, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Florida, citizens voted overwhelmingly yesterday for their legislators to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling and declare that only human beings – not corporations – are entitled to constitutional rights and that money is not speech and campaign spending can be regulated.

Residents in dozens of cities had the opportunity to vote on measures calling for an end to the doctrines of corporate constitutional rights and money as free speech, and in every single town the vote was supportive. Often by an overwhelming margin.

In WI where all eyes were on Republican Scott Walker’s victory, twelve communities voted in support of an amendment. Walker and Burke voters alike support amending the Constitution, as not a single measure garnered less that 70% support.

“Money in politics affects our lives everyday,” said Donna Richards, a Move to Amend volunteer of of Fond du Lac, WI. “We pay too much for healthcare. Our taxes go towards corporate welfare and wars, instead of education and protecting our environment. Our energy policy is dictated by Big Oil, and we can’t even pass reasonable gun background checks because the gun manufacturers have bought half of Congress. This isn’t what democracy looks like.”

Tuesday’s vote brings the total number of Wisconsin communities that have called for an amendment to 54. In total, 2.4 million people (41% of Wisconsinites) live in these jurisdictions. Across the country, 16 state legislatures have voted for an amendment, as well as almost 600 towns, villages, cities and other organizations.

In Mentor and Chagrin Falls, Ohio the votes were respectively 66% and 70% support. In Alachua County, Florida, voters supported Move to Amend’s campaign by 72%. The final vote count is still being tallied in the 18 legislative districts that voted last night, but the results were the same as in other states.

“Nearly all Americans share the sentiment that corporations should not have the same rights as people, and big money in politics should be removed,” stated Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, National Director of Move to Amend. “It is time for Congress to pass the We the People Amendment and send it to the states for ratification. The leadership of both parties need to realize that their voters are clamoring for this amendment, and we are only going to get louder.”

Move to Amend is a national coalition of hundreds of organizations and over 370,000 people. The organization also boasts over 150 local affiliates across the country.

# # #

This is big, William! Despite anything else that happened last night, Americans are ready to Move to Amend. It is critical you share our MOTION TO AMEND with everyone you know and ask them to sign up to be part of the campaign.

Please forward this email and ask your friends to sign the Motion to Amend: http://movetoamend.org/motion.