The Newsletter of the
Angeles Chapter, Sierra Club Email items or articles to Editor: Robin Ives, Publisher/Webmaster: Lori Ives
The Conservation Committees provide forums for Club members to discuss impending conservation issues and to coordinate efforts of conservation subcommittees with groups and sections. They meet monthly every third Tuesday Orange County) and third Wednesday (Angeles Chapter). Contact the Conservation Committee Chairs by the end of the previous month for a place on the agenda. Deadline or newsletter articles is 10 days before the first meeting.
Index - December 2004
Adam Werbach's Twenty Theses
Angeles Chapter Priority Campaigns
BOD Votes to Eliminate RCCs
Link Between Ozone Smog and Death Risk
Mountain Bikes Banned from Many Rancho Palos Verdes Trails
Moyers' Essay on Right Wing Religious Beliefs and their Environmental Consequences
Oil on Ice
Proposed Tax on Miles Driven instead of Gasoline Purchases
RCC Replacement Proposals
RCC Elimination Discussed by CGC Chair
RCC Elimination Resolution
Secret Drilling Agreement for Oil Under National Parks
Southern California Forests Committee Draft Agenda
Triple Fence ManueveringPROPOSED RESOLUTION (Orange County):
Grading of Indian Site Challenged Legally (PROS AND CONS DELETED)
Votes to Eliminate RCCs
By Dan Sullivan
I had the misfortune of witnessing the Board discussion of the RCC future last Friday. Below are my notes from the discussion. I was not privy to any of the pre-meeting dialogue about this issue, so I only saw what went on in the public session. Prior to the meeting I had no idea that there would be a serious move to eliminate the RCCs, or that Chuck would lead it, or that Carl Pope would strongly advocate for the elimination of the "regional lens" as part of the Club's conservation program.
Both Jim Dodson and I have been involved with the California Nevada RCC in various capacities for about 30 years. It was stunning for me to hear Chuck dismiss the entire existing RCC structure as "not working."
BOD Budget discussion of RCC funding 11/19/04
[Note: These notes are limited to comments that relate to the specific issue of funding for the RCCs. This is *not* a complete summary of the Board's budget discussion.]
Preliminary context—The Conservation Governance
Committee (CGC) budget proposal to the Finance Committee (Fin Comm) included
$215K for regional conservation work, including $100 in chapter voucher funding.
The Fin Comm proposal to the Board of Directors (BOD) reduced the funding
line for the CGC by $235K, without expressly stating how the CGC should allocate
the $235K reduction. In the initial discussion of the budget, several Board
members said that they wanted the CGC budget to take less of a hit.
During the initial discussion, Chuck McGrady raised the question whether the Board wants the RCCs to be at the top of the CGC's cut list.
Carl Pope commented that "we have created more program aspiration than we can fund—we need to shrink our program aspiration to match our funding. We need to make choices about program reductions."
The Board took a break after about a half-hour of initial discussion. After the break, Chuck proposed a five-part resolution to amend the Fin Comm's budget proposal. Part one was to "add back $160K in c4 funding for the Conservation Gov Comm, while eliminating the RCC structure but putting in place an appropriate amount of funding for regional projects."
According to my notes, Chuck proposed to add back "c4" funding, but I think he either mis-spoke or I misunderstood him. I think he intended to restore $160K in c3 funding. The remaining four points in his motion made budget adjustments in SC Books, SC Productions, and the Office of Development to offset the restoration in funding for the CGC.
After some initial discussion and clarification of the non-CGC parts of Chuck's resolution, Marcia Hanscom proposed a substitute motion to eliminate funding for SC Productions, saving $420K, and using that savings to restore the full $235 for the CGC, restore a second meeting of the Council of Club Leaders, fund a Galapagos program and a Glen Canyon campaign, and add another $60K for the national priority campaigns. Jennifer Ferenstein and Robbie Cox spoke in favor of maintaining the proposed funding for SC Productions. Marcia's substitute was rejected. (Hanscom, Watson, and Force in favor; Zuckerman and LaFollette abstaining; all others opposed; the Chair not voting.)
Roy Hengerson raised questions about the practicalities of eliminating the RCCs. He suggested that the CGC should have the authority/responsibility to make the budgetary allocations.
Bernie Zaleha noted that the CGC had originally proposed $215K for regional conservation work. Under Chuck's proposal, the net reduction would be $75K, so it would provide $140K for regional conservation work. [i.e., the Fin Comm proposed a reduction of $235K; Chuck would restore $160K, so the net reduction would be $75K from the CGC proposal.] Bernie said that if the RCCs are eliminated but the RCST is retained, this would allow chapters to come to the RCST for funding for specific projects. He expects that chapters that are currently doing good work would come together to request funding for continuing projects. He added that he has his own ideas about how the RCCs could be revived. (He did not describe his ideas any further at the BOD meeting. He did afterwards, in a Nov 22 message to the CCL-Discussion list.)
Lisa Renstrom said it was inappropriate to make structural decisions in the context of adopting a budget. She was also concerned that the elimination of the voucher program would redirect influence from chapters to the national CGC structure.
Jim Catlin offered an amendment to eliminate the clause about "while eliminating the RCC structure..."
"Carl Pope commented that the Club now plans its conservation work through three lenses -- chapter, regional, and national. When three different levels do planning, this leads to too much conservation program. We need to eliminate some governance level of the Club—we need to make choices and be disciplined.
Chuck said that the budget forces us to make structural changes based on our finances. The RCCs are not functioning well. The Club needs some regional structure, but this one is not working.
Moreover, the Board needs to give direction to the CGC on this issue.
Dave Karpf agreed that tough decisions need to be made during budget decisions.
Doug LaFollette supported Jim Catlin's proposal to allow the CGC to have discretion. He would prefer to wait and think through carefully about the structural change, and then act next year.
Jim Catlin said his amendment was not intended to end the discussion of fixing the RCCs. However, he sees significant problems in how the RCST can implement the proposed action.
Robbie Cox said the problem is not the amount of money, but whether the Board is making long-term changes and savings. We need to consider savings in volunteer travel and administrative costs vs savings in conservation program. We need to deliver on the conservation work that we bite off.
Ben Zuckerman observed that the Board was divided on this issue. However, no one has stated any alternative to the proposed cuts, so he sees no alternative to Chuck's proposal.
Carl Pope commented that both proposals (Chuck's and Jim Catlin's) have about $160K for regional conservation work. He has no doubt that the Club's four major priority campaigns and its chapters can come up with $160K worth of regional conservation projects. These projects will be more closely integrated with the Club's chapter and national priorities.
Carl apparently assumed that the full $160K restoration would be for regional conservation projects. As noted above, Bernie Zaleha used different math to conclude that there would be $140K for regional conservation projects.
Catlin's motion was supported only by Jim Benson and Lisa Renstrom. Marcia abstained; all others opposed; Fahn did not vote.
Hanscom said she would vote against Chuck's proposal, because she thought it did not provide enough funding for the CGC. In addition, she thinks that the governance of the conservation program needs to be back in the hands of the volunteer leadership.
Chuck's motion was approved by 11 in favor, 3 opposed (Catlin, Watson, Hanscom), Fahn not voting.
The overall budget was then adopted by 13 in favor, Hanscom opposed, Fahn not voting.
The Board of the Sierra Club during its budget setting meeting on November
19, 2004 eliminated the Regional Conservation Committee regional governance
component of the Sierra Club as a cost saving measure. In a declining revenue
environment, the Board felt that the Club's regional conservation work could
be accomplished in a more cost effective fashion through the Regional Conservation
Strategy Team (RCST). The Board left the Conservation Governance Committee
with the discretion to fund regional conservation work at the same level
as would have occurred within the RCC structure. Under the new structure,
two or more chapters who desire to collaborate with one another on regional
conservation work can submit a proposal to the RCST to fund a regional conservation
campaign. As a practical matter, Sierrans now working on regional conservation
work through the former RCC structure can, with their chapters concurrence
and support, request a continuation of their work by submitting a work plan
to the RCST for approval and funding, something they would have done in
any event under the former RCC structure.
The Board recognizes that this will come as an abrupt change for many Sierra Club leaders who have long been working through the Club's RCC structure. The Board acknowledges the discomfort that will come with the transition to this new approach for funding regional conservation work. It is the Board's belief that this change will, after a hopefully short period of adjustment, enable the effective continuation of the Sierra Club's regional conservation work.
If you have questions about how this new program will
work, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dexter Perkins,
Chair of the RCST, at email@example.com.
Bernie Zaleha, Vice President for Conservation
RCC Action and Proposal for the Future
In response to Vivian's comment that "RCCs ... have just been cut off at the knees," I'd like to share the following comments. It is important to remember that we did not eliminate regional conservation work within the Club. We are still going to do regional conservation work. I am going to ask the CGC to restructure our budget to provide the full $215,000 funding for regional work that was in the CGC's proposed budget, and ask that the $75,000 hit to the CGC's budget come either from INCA or somewhere in the Conservation department's budget. Given the shock of the elimination of the former RCC structure, I believe it is important to send a clear message that we will potentially spend just as much money on regional conservation work as if the old RCC structure was still in place. Chapters that value their regional work can still do it, presumably with the same folks (if they are still willing) that are now doing it. If chapters don't value the regional work a given RCC was planning, that may be a strong signal that that work lacked sufficient chapter support to go forward effectively. The new structure may allow more effective regional work by allowing Chapters to organize around regional issues without regard to RCC boundaries. For example, now the Cascade, Oregon and Northern Rockies Chapters can (and I believe will) come together around the Columbia and Snake Rivers Salmon issue; the Montana, Northern Rockies and Wyoming Chapters can come together around Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem; and the Toiyabe, Northern Rockies and Oregon Chapters can come together around the Owyhee Wildlands; three Northwest issues that I am particularly familiar with.
As I made clear at our Board meeting, my decision to go along with the motion to eliminate RCCs was not one I did enthusiastically. I have been a member of two RCCs (Southern California and Northwest) and had great admiration for the work that was accomplished on both. However, I made my vote knowing that I have listened to a 10-year drumbeat of opposition to the RCCs emanating from the Chapters through the CCL. Twenty years ago, when the RCCs had regular budgets and the Council (the predecessor to the CCL) never engaged in conservation issues, the RCCs were where the power was at the sub-board level. Indeed, it is where the chapters went in their quest for additive resources. Immediately upon restructuring in 1995, the CCL began weighing in on conservation issues and became successful in channeling and re-directing more Club resources to the Chapter level. The mega-chapters have always been powerful. EPEC, EVEC and now BEC have greatly strengthened a number of other Chapters. Chapters across the board are now much stronger and exert more influence within the Club than they did even 10 years ago. And, from what I've observed over the last 10 years, a significant group of these Chapters have resented the continuing existence of RCCs as impairing their growing influence. This is the internal political background against which we acted.
I indicated when the board voted that I would come back with a proposal to resurrect the RCCs in a new and streamlined fashion. Here's my idea. The chapter chair by default or one individual appointed by a Chapter ExCom from the chapters within the former boundaries of the RCCs shall comprise the RCC. The idea is for there to be an automatic default entity to facilitate regional coordination on regional conservation issues when the need arises, but without all the structure and overhead of the former structure. The new entities could meet regularly by conference call if they desire, but in areas where chapters see no need to act on regional issues through the particular structure of a RCC would be free to act in other ways.
These are my initial thoughts and suggestions. What are your thoughts?
Bernie Zaleha, Vice President for Conservation
Sierra Club California passed the following resolution.
If other chapters agree, they could pass similar resolutions. Alan Carlton,
Sierra Club California (SCCal), is opposed to the Board’s elimination of the Regional Conservation Committees. The California Nevada Regional Conservation Committee has been an essential and effective entity conducting and coordinating regional work in California and Nevada. A California Conservation Committee, which has been one of the functions of the CNRCC, is necessary to the functioning of the Sierra Club in California, where there are 13 chapters. There has to be statewide meetings of representatives from all chapters to make California conservation policy and political endorsements.
SCCal is also aware that many of the other RCCs have done valuable regional conservation work.
SCCal will continue a California Conservation Committee without the RCC structure and will work with Nevada on regional issues.
SCCal recognizes that there is funding for regional work left in the budget and SCCal intends to apply for it. However, SCCal also understands that the funding is C3 only and that leaves SCCal short of the necessary C4 funding to conduct its meetings and do the necessary Sierra Club business.
SCCal asks the Board to reconsider its decision to eliminate the RCCs and to consult the elected representatives of the RCCs and the Council of Club Leaders before making significant changes to the structure of the regional conservation organization.
SCCal notes that the decision was made without adequate notice and in the context of a budget discussion, not a structural discussion, and that the decision actually only resulted in a budget reduction of some $50,000 to $60,000.
SCCal is concerned that the Sierra Club is moving in an unhealthy manner each time it reduces the levels of volunteer structure that provide for face to face contact and dialogue, especially in the instance of regional leadership where its contribution to discussion of the broader conservation mission of the Club has not been replicated by other structures.
Wednesday December 1, 2004
I accept this award on behalf of all the people behind the camera whom you never see. And for all those scientists, advocates, activists, and just plain citizens whose stories we have covered in reporting on how environmental change affects our daily lives. We journalists are simply beachcombers on the shores of other people's knowledge, other people's experience, and other people's wisdom. We tell their stories.
The journalist who truly deserves this award is my friend, Bill McKibben. He enjoys the most conspicuous place in my own pantheon of journalistic heroes for his pioneer work in writing about the environment. His bestseller "The End of Nature" carried on where Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" left off.
Writing in Mother Jones recently, Bill described how the problems we journalists routinely cover—conventional, manageable programs like budget shortfalls and pollution—may be about to convert to chaotic, unpredictable, unmanageable situations. The most unmanageable of all, he writes, could be the accelerating deterioration of the environment, creating perils with huge momentum like the greenhouse effect that is causing the melt of the artic to release so much freshwater into the North Atlantic that even the Pentagon is growing alarmed that a weakening gulf stream could yield abrupt and overwhelming changes, the kind of changes that could radically alter civilizations.
That's one challenge we journalists face—how to tell such a story without coming across as Cassandras, without turning off the people we most want to understand what's happening, who must act on what they read and hear.
As difficult as it is, however, for journalists to fashion a readable narrative for complex issues without depressing our readers and viewers, there is an even harder challenge—to pierce the ideology that governs official policy today. One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the oval office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a world view despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.
Remember James Watt, President Reagan's first Secretary of the Interior? My favorite online environmental journal, the ever engaging Grist, reminded us recently of how James Watt told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In public testimony he said, "after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back."
Beltway elites snickered. The press corps didn't know what he was talking about. But James Watt was serious. So were his compatriots out across the country. They are the people who believe the bible is literally true—one-third of the American electorate, if a recent Gallup poll is accurate. In this past election several million good and decent citizens went to the polls believing in the rapture index.
That's right—the rapture index. Google it and you will find that the best-selling books in America today are the twelve volumes of the left-behind series written by the Christian fundamentalist and religious right warrior, Timothy LaHaye. These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theology concocted in the 19th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a narrative that has captivated the imagination of millions of Americans.
Its outline is rather simple, if bizarre (the British writer George Monbiot recently did a brilliant dissection of it and I am indebted to him for adding to my own understanding). Once Israel has occupied the rest of its 'biblical lands,' legions of the anti-Christ will attack it, triggering a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon. As the Jews who have not been converted are burned, the messiah will return for the rapture. True believers will be lifted out of their clothes and transported to heaven, where, seated next to the right hand of God, they will watch their political and religious opponents suffer plagues of boils, sores, locusts, and frogs during the several years of tribulation that follow.
I'm not making this up. Like Monbiot, I've read the literature. I've reported on these people, following some of them from Texas to the West Bank. They are sincere, serious, and polite as they tell you they feel called to help bring the rapture on as fulfillment of biblical prophecy. That's why they have declared solidarity with Israel and the Jewish settlements and backed up their support with money and volunteers. It's why the invasion of Iraq for them was a warm-up act, predicted in the Book of Revelations where four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates will be released to slay the third part of man. A war with Islam in the Middle East is not something to be feared but welcomed—an essential conflagration on the road to redemption. The last time I Googled it, the rapture index stood at 144—just one point below the critical threshold when the whole thing will blow, the son of god will return, the righteous will enter heaven, and sinners will be condemned to eternal hellfire.
So what does this mean for public policy and the environment? Go to Grist to read a remarkable work of reporting by the journalist, Glenn Scherer—The Road to Environmental Apocalypse. Read it and you will see how millions of Christian fundamentalists may believe that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed —even hastened— as a sign of the coming apocalypse.
As Grist makes clear, we're not talking about a handful of fringe lawmakers who hold or are beholden to these beliefs. Nearly half the U.S. Congress before the recent election—231 legislators in total—more since the election—are backed by the religious right. Forty-five senators and 186 members of the 108th congress earned 80 to 100 percent approval ratings from the three most influential Christian right advocacy groups. They include Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Assistant Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Conference Chair Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Policy Chair Jon Kyl of Arizona, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, and Majority Whip Roy Blunt. The only Democrat to score 100 percent with the Christian coalition was Senator Zell Miller of Georgia, who recently quoted from the biblical book of Amos on the senate floor: "the days will come, sayeth the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land." He seemed to be relishing the thought.
And why not? There's a constituency for it. A 2002 TIME/CNN poll found that 59 percent of Americans believe that the prophecies found in the book of Revelations are going to come true. Nearly one-quarter think the Bible predicted the 9/11 attacks. Drive across the country with your radio tuned to the more than 1,600 Christian radio stations or in the motel turn some of the 250 Christian TV stations and you can hear some of this end-time gospel. And you will come to understand why people under the spell of such potent prophecies cannot be expected, as Grist puts it, "to worry about the environment. Why care about the earth when the droughts, floods, famine and pestilence brought by ecological collapse are signs of the apocalypse foretold in the bible? Why care about global climate change when you and yours will be rescued in the rapture? And why care about converting from oil to solar when the same god who performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes can whip up a few billion barrels of light crude with a word?"
Because these people believe that until Christ does return, the lord will provide. One of their texts is a high school history book, America's Providential History. You'll find there these words: "The secular or socialist has a limited resource mentality and views the world as a pie...that needs to be cut up so everyone can get a piece." However, "the Christian knows that the potential in God is unlimited and that there is no shortage of resources in God's earth...while many secularists view the world as overpopulated, Christians know that God has made the earth sufficiently large with plenty of resources to accommodate all of the people." No wonder Karl Rove goes around the White House whistling that militant hymn, "Onward Christian Soldiers." He turned out millions of the foot soldiers on November 2, including many who have made the apocalypse a powerful driving force in modern American politics.
I can see in the look on your faces just how had it is for the journalist to report a story like this with any credibility. So let me put it on a personal level. I myself don't know how to be in this world without expecting a confident future and getting up every morning to do what I can to bring it about. So I have always been an optimist. Now, however, I think of my friend on Wall Street whom I once asked: "What do you think of the market?" "I'm optimistic," he answered. "Then why do you look so worried?" And he answered: "Because I am not sure my optimism is justified."
I'm not, either. Once upon a time I agreed with the Eric Chivian and the Center for Health and the Global Environment that people will protect the natural environment when they realize its importance to their health and to the health and lives of their children. Now I am not so sure. It's not that I don't want to believe that—it's just that I read the news and connect the dots.
I read that the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has declared the election a mandate for President Bush on the environment. This for an administration that wants to rewrite the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act protecting rare plant and animal species and their habitats, as well as the National Environmental Policy Act that requires the government to judge beforehand if actions might damage natural resources.
That wants to relax pollution limits for ozone; eliminate vehicle tailpipe inspections; and ease pollution standards for cars, sports utility vehicles and diesel-powered big trucks and heavy equipment.
That wants a new international audit law to allow corporations to keep certain information about environmental problems secret from the public.
That wants to drop all its new-source review suits against polluting coal-fired power plans and weaken consent decrees reached earlier with coal companies.
That wants to open the artic wildlife refuge to drilling and increase drilling in Padre Island National Seashore, the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world and the last great coastal wild land in America.
I read the news just this week and learned how the Environmental Protection Agency had planned to spend nine million dollars - $2 million of it from the administration's friends at the American Chemistry Council - to pay poor families to continue to use pesticides in their homes. These pesticides have been linked to neurological damage in children, but instead of ordering an end to their use, the government and the industry were going to offer the families $970 each, as well as a camcorder and children's clothing, to serve as guinea pigs for the study.
I read all this in the news. I read the news just last night and learned that the administration's friends at the international policy network, which is supported by Exxon Mobile and others of like mind, have issued a new report that climate change is 'a myth,' sea levels are not rising, scientists who believe catastrophe is possible are 'an embarrassment.'
I not only read the news but the fine print of the recent appropriations bill passed by Congress, with the obscure (and obscene) riders attached to it: a clause removing all endangered species protections from pesticides; language prohibiting judicial review for a forest in Oregon; a waiver of environmental review for grazing permits on public lands; a rider pressed by developers to weaken protection for crucial habitats in California.
I read all this and look up at the pictures on my desk, next to the computer—pictures of my grandchildren: Henry, age 12; of Thomas, age 10; of Nancy, 7; Jassie, 3; Sara Jane, nine months. I see the future looking back at me from those photographs and I say, "Father, forgive us, for we know not what we do." And then I am stopped short by the thought: "That's not right. We do know what we are doing. We are stealing their future. Betraying their trust. Despoiling their world."
And I ask myself: Why? Is it because we don't care? Because we are greedy? Because we have lost our capacity for outrage, our ability to sustain indignation at injustice?
What has happened to our moral imagination?
On the heath Lear asks Gloucester: "'How do you see the world?" And Gloucester, who is blind, answers: "I see it feelingly."
I see it feelingly.
A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that ozone smog pollution causes a significant increase in the risk of death for those in the 95 largest communities, where up to 40% of Americans live. Even a relatively small increase in ozone (a main ingredient of smog) is directly linked to an increase in deaths from heart and lung ailments in major U.S. metropolitan areas. With this troubling new evidence, the Bush administration and Congress must make it a priority to save thousands of lives by enforcing and strengthening the Clean Air Act and by providing Americans with better transportation choices. Currents@sierraclub.org
Schwarzenegger Appointee Calls for Abolishing Gas Tax,
Tracking All Cars by Satellite Instead
This proposal would:
Colleagues—This past weekend I was honored to help
introduce the wonderful new film Oil on Ice, by talented filmakers
Dale Djerassi and Bo Boudart, at the Film Art Foundation's Film Festival at
the historic Castro theater in San Francisco. There was a good crowd, and more
than 100 copies of the DVD were sold in the lobby following the screening.
I also got a chance to see the film for the first time myself—very impressive—and to meet Dale and Bo and dicuss political strategies for re-grouping and re-engaging on this newly perilous battle.
Oil on Ice is a vivid, compelling and comprehensive documentary connecting the fate of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to decisions America makes about energy policy, transportation choices, and other seemingly unrelated matters. Caught in the balance are the culture and livelihood of the Gwich’in people and the migratory wildlife in this fragile ecosystem.
It is narrated by Peter Coyote, and includes portions of interviews with Amory Lovins and Carl Pope, among many others. We need to act quickly to help get this film seen as widely as possible, given that the Congress is coming after the Arctic as we speak, and is planning to run some political tricks around the Senate filibuster, which has been promised by Senators Boxer and Kerry, and others. Bush has repeated his claim that drilling the Arctic must be the centerpiece of a new energy policy, and has been getting traction by citing our energy security and national security as justification. I hope we can discuss ways to counter this and re-energize the majority of Americans who agree that there is a better way—and soon!
As many of you know, Sierra Club Productions has become the film's marketing and outreach partner. Our goal is to connect the film and filmmakers with grassroots outreach campaigns to help engage film audiences and heighten the film's impact. We are doing this through our communications channels like Sierra magazine and electronic (and paper) newsletters, as well as tying into our conservation campaigns and coordinating with local organizers. The DVD which is now being distributed, not only includes the entire film, plus an added short, but additional interviews with Carl and others, and an "activist's toolkit", put together by the Sierra Club to help spread the word and get engaged in thenever-ending battle to save the Arctic Refuge.Please check out www.oilonice.org, where you can order a copy of the DVD. The wildlife footage alone is well worth the $19.95 cost. Plan on showing it at a holiday party, or anywhere else you can. By the Way, one of our partners, Mohawk Paper, has collaborated with us to package the DVD with plastic-free packaging, and using 100% post-consumer waste paper, and printing with soy-based ink. We really need to spread the word and create a new groundswell of support for this precious piece of the earth's most fragile wilderness.
Oil on Ice has been showing here in Alaska—to full auditoriums so far. Since our nearly elected junior Senator says "opening ANWR" is on the top of her list, education is critical.
Alaska Chapter, CCL ExCom Chair
Sierra Club Exposes Secret Drilling Agreement in National Parks
New Documents Reveal Bush Administration Allowed Drilling Under National Park Service Areas
Rules Made in Secret Would Affect More Than a Dozen Park Service Areas
Washington — The Sierra Club on November 17 released documents showing that the Bush administration gave special treatment to Texas-based Davis Brothers Oil Producers Inc when it reversed a longstanding policy in order to allow oil and gas drilling underneath certain national parks, preserves and refuges regardless of potential environmental impacts. More than a dozen National Park Service areas could be impacted by the rule, including Big Thicket National Preserve and Padre Island National Seashore in Texas, New River Gorge in West Virginia, and Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida.
Documents obtained by the Sierra Club through the Freedom of Information Act show that the Bush administration changed the rule specifically at the request of Ross Davis, who runs Davis Brothers Oil Producers. Moreover, the administration made its decision in secret and bypassed the regular rulemaking process, which allows for public input and a high degree of transparency.
"These documents show that the Bush administration bent over backwards to help its friends in the oil and gas industry even when the facts showed that its policy would harm national parks," said Brandt Mannchen of the Sierra Club's Lone Star Chapter, who has been tracking drilling problems around Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas. "This administration seems to think there are two sets of rules, one for oil and gas companies and one for everyone else."
In an effort to right the wrong, the Sierra Club today took legal action to overturn this new rule, asserting that the Bush administration broke the law by cutting the public out of a back-door process of adopting a new rule. The group filed a complaint in federal district court arguing that the Bush administration adopted the new rule in blatant disregard of its obligations to protect America's National Parks.
In November 2003, the National Park Service (NPS) issued a new policy that allows private companies unrestricted access to oil and gas underneath NPS units so long as they drill for it at an angle from outside park boundaries using "directional drilling." This new rule ties the National Park Service's hands, forcing them to turn a blind eye to the destruction that may occur around the Park Service areas as a result of the drilling. Prior to the new rule, the National Park Service required oil and gas companies to prove that proposed drilling would not harm the National Park Service unit.
"The Bush administration broke the law. Now they must reinstate the Park Service's authority to require full environmental review and approval of oil and gas companies' drilling operations adjacent to park boundaries," said Pat Gallagher, Sierra Club legal director.
Private oil and gas development is generally prohibited within the National Park system. However, more than a dozen specific areas are unique in that the Park Service only owns the surface rights, while private entities hold title to the subsurface minerals.
Areas that are affected by the new rule include:
Gulf Islands National Seashore (Alabama)
Big Cypress National Preserve (Florida)
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve (Kansas)
Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area (Kentucky)
Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve (Louisiana)
Aztec Ruins National Monument (New Mexico)
Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio)
Obed Wild and Scenic River (Tennessee)
Big Thicket National Preserve (Texas)
Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument (Texas)
Lake Meredith National Recreation Area (Texas)
Padre Island National Seashore (Texas)
Gauley River National Recreation Area (West Virginia)
New River Gorge National River (West Virginia)
Southern California Forests Committee Draft Agenda
Southern California Forests Committee, Saturday, December 11, 2004
Angeles Chapter Office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320, Los Angeles
Please note: Don Bremner will be using his key card from 8:45 to 9:15 am at the underground parking garage.
Those who arrive later will need to make other parking arrangements or use mass transit.
9:15 am Introductions, Announcements, Minutes
A. Intro of Angeles Chapter Forest Task Force members (Don Bremner)
B. RCC Meeting (Fred Hoeptner)
C. California Wild Heritage Campaign (Ilysia Shattuck)
10:00 am Southern California Forests Plan Campaign (John Monsen, Bill Corcoran)
12:00 Noon Lunch Please either bring a sack lunch or make a quick trip to a local take-out restaurant.
1:00 pm Forest Reports
A. San Bernardino NF (Ann Bellis, Joyce Burk, Kim Floyd, Peter Jorris, Tom Walsh)
B. Angeles NF (Angeles Chapter Forest Task Force members, Kim Floyd, Fred Hoeptner, Robin Ives, Don Tidwell)
C. Cleveland NF (Cindy Buxton, Paul Carlton, Gene Frick, Janice McKaulson, Jay Matchett, Jack Paxton)
D. Los Padres NF (Alan Coles)
3:00 pm Adjourn
Our March meeting is scheduled for March 12. Please bring along a 2005 calendar so we can set our June meeting date.
Priority Campaigns — Draft
The Angeles Chapter will focus it resources, staff, publicity and funding, toward the following major objectives:
1. The preservation of the remaining open spaces and
wild places of Orange County.
2. The preservation of the 500 year flood plain of the Santa Clara River.
3. The restoration of the San Gabriel River from the Angeles Forest to the ocean.
In the process of this campaign, we will stress those environmental programs that emphasize “smart growth.” Most importantly, we will stress urban infrastructure that facilitate a high quality of life in the built-up urban areas.
1. Clean air.
2. Parks, green open space and clean beaches.
3. Mass transit, both for people and goods.
4. Adequate sewage treatment and watershed based flood control.
Adam Werbach Posts Twenty Theses on Door
of Democratic Party Headquarters
If you're like me, the results of this election opened your eyes to the extent to which the leadership of the Democratic Party is mismanaging our political future. At some point, people like you and me have to get together and communicate these profound misgivings.
We worked hard. We got out the vote. And we still lost by four million votes.
Yes it was close. Yes, we didn't have the best candidate. Yes, the campaign made serious tactical errors.
But the bottom line is this: the Democratic Party is today in the hands of people who have failed to articulate a moral-intellectual vision for America and the world, and who can't win the confidence of the electorate without a vision.
I feel complicit in these failures. I have spent the last 15 years of my life trying to organize the public towards social and environmental change. It's not working.
It's time for a bit of healthy debate.
To that end, I will be going to the Democratic National Committee Headquarters on Monday, November 15 to paste the November 3rd theses on the front door. I'm hoping to find a few other people who will stand with me on that cold morning.
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."
THE TWENTY THESES
I. The 2004 presidential election
was lost not by John Kerry over the last several months but by the Democratic
Party over the last several decades. Democrats have lost control of all three
branches of government for the foreseeable future. We are now a minority party.
II. When the Senate Democratic leader is defeated while spending $16 million attempting to get the majority of 500,000 votes, the problem is not a lack of funding or effort.
III. The failure of the Democratic Party to connect with America's desire for fulfillment is political death.
IV. Democrats are now history's spectators, Republicans its actors.
V. The obsession with denouncing the radical conservative project as a "lie" has become a useful substitute for vision.
VI. Renovating Democratic politics is not a question of moving to the right or talking more about religion. It is about creating a framework that once again communicates to the core needs of the American people.
VII. America is not now, and never was, simply "the economy, stupid." What the American people want is a deeper sense of personal meaning, a national mission, and passion in times of fear.
VIII. Returning the Democratic Party to majority status will require a political realignment no less sweeping than that which was accomplished by conservatives over the last 40 years.
IX Only the breath of a serious and new moral-intellectual vision will be sufficient to resuscitate the Democratic Party.
X. Democratic candidates will continue to lose as long as they treat Americans as rational actors who vote their "self-interest" after weighing competing offers for healthcare, jobs, and security.
XI. Conservatives have spent the last 40 years getting clear about the values they represent. They have even developed a "family values" brand to represent a framework that coheres traditional prejudices around prayer in school, gun rights, restricting abortion, and restricting gay rights.
XII. By contrast, liberal or "progressive" groups and Democrats have spent the same period of time defining themselves against conservative values, even "morality" in general.
XIII. If resources continue to flow to the same leaders who have failed to construct a new vision and have thus left the Democratic Party in ruins then we can expect more of the same. And worse.
XIV. Those who resist the process to create a new vision will be left behind.
XV. Candidates who intend to win should no longer hire consultants who repeatedly lose. Those who counsel caution when dealing with the indifferent, the disaffected, and the undecided do not understand American history. Consultants who advise their clients against offering a clear and compelling vision in fear that it will be attacked should find themselves without a home in the Democratic Party. The sooner they retire, the better.
XVI. Unconnected at a values level, the Democratic Party's laundry list of policy proposals is a confusing and alienating hodgepodge of special interests bound together by a vague sense that "we're all on the same side." Such a conflation demands no critical self-examination of the interest groups whose turf, and very identities, are treated as inviolable by Party chieftains.
XVII. The progressive vision must be a direct challenge to fundamentalism in all of its forms: political, religious and economic. It must match fundamentalism's power without replicating its authoritarianism. It must appeal to the values of liberty, equality, community, justice, unconditional love, shared prosperity, and ecological restoration, among many others.
XVIII. Democrats serious about returning to majority status must:
• Retire any leader who believes that we are currently on a winning path that simply needs more money and effort.
• Define and articulate a coherent set of values of our base, and be willing to lose those allies who do not share these values.
• Fight battles, win or lose, that define and advance our values and expand our political base.
XIX. In despair and defeat lie the seeds of triumph and victory.
XX. In that loss lies the opportunity to define a new progressive politics for the new century.
Adam Werbach is the former President of the Sierra Club, co-founder of the Apollo Alliance and now executive director of Common Assets.
Rancho Palos Verdes Bans Mountain Bikes from Many Trails
City Council ditches plan that was years in making for a more conservative one concerning the Forrestal property. But the decision won't take effect yet.
By Nick Green, Daily Breeze
Mountain bikers who use the 160-acre former quarry known as the Forrestal property in Rancho Palos Verdes will soon find themselves banned from more than half the hilly trails there that they currently enjoy.
The Rancho Palos Verdes City Council made the surprise
decision Saturday at the conclusion of an all-day workshop, attended at its
peak by more than 100 people, that was held in part to determine trail usage
on the tract.
The unanimous decision stunned local cyclists and the staff of the nonprofit Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy, which is managing the land for the city. About 45 meetings over the past three years have been held to carefully craft a plan for trail usage that balanced the competing concerns of hikers, conservationists, cyclists and equestrians.
Such a drastic reduction in trails mountain bikers could use was not contemplated in the usage plan a steering committee had recommended.
Instead it was adopted from an alternate plan pushed by the local Sierra Club chapter.
"I don't know how we're supposed to manage it," snapped a frustrated Barbara Dye, the conservancy's executive director, after the meeting. She declined to elaborate.
Local members of the recently formed Palos Verdes chapter of the Concerned Off Road Bicyclists Association, quickly left the meeting before they could be asked for their reaction.
"We're not anti-mountain bike," Councilman Larry Clark said. "But we do have concerns over the safety and stability of existing trails."
Officials said they would re-evaluate the ban on a trail-by-trail basis once repairs were made. Those safety improvements would be given priority although it's unknown how much they will cost or how long they will take.
"It's backwards to allow multiple (trail) uses just because they are there now when we know there are deficiencies that need to be corrected," Councilman Tom Long said.
The decision came at the end of a seven-hour meeting where participants had collectively patted themselves on the back for holding a cordial and thoughtful discussion over what has been a hot-button issue. In part, that's because the general perception is that the accepted trail uses on the Forrestal property, that is a cornerstone of a proposed nature preserve, will become a blueprint for the hundreds of acres of open space in the Portuguese Bend area the city has spent years trying to acquire.
The meeting was intended to resolve several major issues, including a general management plan for the property, but much of the discussion centered around whether mountain biking was an acceptable activity in a nature preserve.
The recommended plan allowed walkers, bicyclists and horse riders to use 12 of the 21 trails, with seven designed for pedestrian and bicycle use only and two restricted for just hikers.
But naturalist Martin Byhower, representing the local chapter of the Audubon Society, complained that sharing many of the trails with participants in the extreme sport of mountain biking would "ruin my experience" of hiking in the area. "This (recommended plan) allows mountain bikes on (almost) every single trail and that to me isn't balance," he said.
But mountain bikers, who in recent months have sought to rehabilitate their rather wild image by repairing trails on the property and participating in the political process, argued that restricting trail uses breeds ill will and territoriality.
Members of the local CORBA mountain bike chapter had also planned to create a volunteer Educational Trails Unit with a horse-riding group to monitor trail usage. It's unclear whether that will occur now, Dye said.
Multi-use trails mean that all users can share the philosophy that boils down to "expect one another, respect one another," said Jim Hasenauer, a CORBA co-founder and board member with the International Mountain Bicycling Association.
"A shared-use system allows people to disperse in the best kind of way," said the Woodland Hills resident. "If people are acting responsibly, the nature of the (mountain biking) activity is that it's very much a low-impact sport."
Council members disagreed though and adopted a plan much more restrictive toward the sport than the recommended version. Dye, of the Palos Verdes Land Conservancy, said mountain bikers will be able to use only about a half-dozen trails.
But bicycle riders won't have to give up their trails immediately. The council failed to get around to adopting a comprehensive management plan that included directing staff to adopt code amendments restricting bicycle use.
Triple Fence Manuevering
I learned today (December 6, 2004) that there is a "triple border fence" amendment being proposed in the 9-11 bill conference committee by Reps. Dreier and Hunter. Rep. Jane Harman (D-El Segundo), is ranking member on Select Intelligence and a member of the Homeland Security Committees. She is the Democrat lead negotiator in the conference committee and she is opposed to this language. Senator Boxer's staff confirmed for me that the Senator is working with Senator Lieberman (lead senate negotiator) to prevent the language from making it into the conference report. So far the language does not appear in the bill. We have every reason to be concerned that it will be included and that in the crush to adjourn for the year it could pass. The vote could happen today or tomorrow!
As you know this calls for leveling the border for miles, filling in canyons and creating an enormous physical barrier wide enough for a jetliner to park between the fences, with high speed roads in between. It's a sort of Berlin wall on our southern border. The ecological harm would be enormous. Enough fill would be used to accomplish this construction as was used for the Hoover Dam.
Sierra Club World Wide Web: http://www.sierraclub.org
Angeles Chapter site:http://angeles.sierraclub.org
Angeles Chapter Conservation Newsletter: http://angeles.sierraclub.org/newsletter/
Sierra Club California: http://www.sierraclub.org/ca/
Sierra Club Vote Watch Website: http://www.sierraclub.org/votewatch/
National site main page: http://www.sierraclub.org/
National Clubhouse activist resource site: http://clubhouse.sierraclub.org/
Need help contacting your US representatives or finding out about legislation?
US House of Representatives: http://www.house.gov/
US Senate: http://www.senate.gov/
California State Assembly: http://www.assembly.ca.gov/
California State Senate: http://www.sen.ca.gov/
California State: http://www.ca.gov/state/portal/myca_homepage.jsp
California Legislative Information: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/
California Secretary of State voter information: http://www.ss.ca.gov/elections/elections.htm
This Electronic Conservation Committee Newsletter is sent free, automatically, on email to all activists who hold any of the following positions in the Angeles Chapter or its entities: Executive Committee Member; Entity Chair or Conservation Chair, Political, and Newsletter Editor, Conservation Subcommittee or Task Force Chair. In addition, many activists throughout the Chapter and state receive it free by email, either by request or by position. Distribution is approximately 350 by email, and 45 by postal hard copy. If you no longer hold the Club office with the automatic pull and wish to continue to receive it, email firstname.lastname@example.org. If we do not have your email address - please let us know. If you wish (and tell us), it will be tagged "private" and not printed or given out. The Newsletter (without upcoming resolutions) is available on the Chapter website at http://angeles.sierraclub.org/home.html Paper postal copy is available ($20/year payable Angeles Chapter, Sierra Club) for those who are technically challenged or simply don't want to be bothered. To receive The Newsletter by first class mail, send a donation of $20 to (almost) cover printing/mailing costs to Conservation Newsletter, 112 Harvard Ave PMB 297, Claremont CA 91711
National's GoldBook provides information to chapters and groups on the differences between 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) funds; how to utilize and access charitable 501(c)(3) funds; how to get a project approved; fundraising plus much, much, more material on the Sierra Club. It is now available at the Clubhouse website. Go to http://www.clubhouse.sierraclub.org/; follow the instructions for obtaining the password. The GoldBook can be found by clicking on A - Z List of Materials box, then on "G" under A-Z List of Documents, then on GoldBook, Educational Project Guidelines.
The California/Nevada Directory (RedBook) is now available online. It also includes the Handbook of Sierra Club California Bylaws and Standing Rules (GreenBook). Contact Lori Ives for the online address and password. Send your membership number, your position in the Club, and your reason for needing the information. The paper edition ($20) is available on special order. Contact Lori for information.
E-Mail Lists: There are four important discussion lists for Angeles environmental activists:
Angeles Chapter Cons Listserve mailto:<email@example.com>and
Angeles-Alerts Listserve firstname.lastname@example.org
California/Nevada Listserve email@example.com (moderated list for announcements)
California/Nevada Listserve firstname.lastname@example.org (unmoderated discussion list)
Subscribe to California Activists: email@example.com
Subscribe to California Activists Forum: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
For either list, send your name, email address, Sierra Club membership number, your position in Club (how are you active?)
Subscription is processed by one of the list owners, usually the same day.
Subscribe to Angeles-Alerts: email mailto:email@example.com with the message "subscribe angeles-conservation"
or "subscribe calif-activists" or "subscribe angeles-alerts" Note: it's "listserv," not "listserve."
To leave a list, send an e-mail to mailto:to<firstname.lastname@example.orgIn the text of your message (not the subject line), write: "signoff calif-activists" or "signoff angeles-conservation" or "signoff angeles-alerts"
The Angeles Chapter's website is http://www.angeles.sierraclub.org/
Angeles Chapter Conservation Management Committee
Angeles Chapter Grants Committee
Gordon LaBedz/Chair 562-494-6368; Bonnie Sharpe/Vice Chair/Grants Chair,
Jay Matchett/Treasurer, Al Sattler/Secretary, Robin Ives/Newsletter
Judy Anderson, John Ulloth, Roy van de Hoek, Rudy Vietmeier
Lori Ives, Publisher/Webmaster/Circulation (non-voting)
Johanna Zetterberg and Rachel Myers/Conservation Coordinators (non-voting)
Motions should be submitted in advance, together with objective background material and supporting and opposing arguments, both to the Committee Chair and Newsletter Editor, for distribution with the agenda. Other motions will be postponed for action at a later meeting unless the motion is submitted in writing and unless the Committee votes an exception to ordinary procedure. Motions needing further action by the Angeles Chapter ExComm or some higher level of the Sierra Club should start out: "The Angeles Chapter Conservation Committee recommends that the Sierra Club... To find out more about voting requirements and representatives, consult the Angeles Chapter website Conservation Committee.
Angeles Chapter Conservation Committee
3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320, Los Angeles CA 90010-1904
AGENDA — Wednesday, December 15 MEETING CANCELLED!
Carole Mintzer/Chair 949-714-288-2829, GaiI Prothero/Vice Chair
Chuck Buck/Secretary, Rachel Myers/Conservation Coord (non-voting)
LOCATION: Inn at the Park, 10 Marquette,
DIRECTIONS: Take the 405 to Culver and go west towards the beach. Follow Culver past Michelson and University and turn right on Harvard. Take Harvard to Marquette and turn right. It's on the corner of Harvard and Marquette on the right hand side.
Below is the agenda for the Open Spaces Wild Places (OSWP)
Campaign and the Orange County Conservation Committee of the Sierra Club.
OSWP will start at 6:00 and pizza will be ordered. If you are planning to
partake of pizza, please let Rachel Myers know so she orders enough <email@example.com>.
We also will have some end-of-year celebration treats at the OCCC meeting.
Gail has offered to bring pumpkin bread and I will bring some eggnog. If you
want other goodies, please plan to bring enough to share.
You will note that there is a draft resolution included below. Regular voting members of the OCCC will be asked to vote early on this in a separate email so it can be considered by the Chapter ExComm, which meets on Dec 12.
Task Forces and others, if you have an upcoming meeting to be listed in this calendar:
In Los Angeles County, contact Lori Ives (firstname.lastname@example.org);
In Orange County, contact Carole Mintzer (email@example.com)
|Sun Dec 12, 1:00 pm||Angeles Chapter ExComm meeting, Chapter Office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Ste 320, Los Angeles|
|Tue Dec 14, 7:30 pm||Air Quality/Global Warming/Energy SubCommittee, Chapter Office, Jan Kidwell (818) 506-8731|
|Wed Dec 15||Angeles Chapter Conservation Committee CANCELLED!|
|Wed Dec 15, 7:30 pm||
The Banning Ranch Park and Preserve Task Force, 3rd Wed, Terry Welsh (949) 548-5636
|Sat Dec 18, 9:00 am||Orange Hills Task Force, at the Carlab in Orange|
|Tue Dec 21, 6:00 pm||OC Conservation Committee
Inn at the Park, 10 Marquette. Irvine (Marquette & Harvard).
Carole Mintzer firstname.lastname@example.org
|Mon Dec 27, 7:30 pm||Transportation Subcommittee, 4th Mon, Chapter Office|
|Thu Dec 30, 7:15 pm||Orange County Political Committee, at the home of Carole and Alex Mintzer in Orange. Contact Alex Mintzer <email@example.com> for the agenda and directions|
|Mon Jan 3||Deadline for articles/calendar for February Southern Sierran, Dominique.Dibbell@sierraclub.org|
|Mon Jan 3, 7:00 pm||Saddleback Cyns TF monthly mtg 1st Mon (except Sept due to Labor Day) at the Silverado Community Ctr, Silverado Cyn Rd (on left, about 2 miles from the turnoff from Santiago Cyn Rd), Silverado Cyn|
|Sat-Sun Jan 8-9||ExComm Retreat, Eaton Cyn Nature Center. Contact Virgil Shields firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Sun Jan 9, 7-9 pm||Sierra Club PR Committee at the Acorn Naturalist, 155 El Camino Real, Tustin|
|Sun Jan 9, 2:45 pm||Harbor Vision Task Force, 2nd Sun, San Pedro Public Library, 9th and Gaffey|
|Mon Jan 10, 7:30 pm||Transportation Subcommittee, 2nd Mon, Chapter Office|
|Mon Jan 10, 7:30 pm||LA Political Comm, 2nd Mon, 7:30 pm Chapter Office. Contact Susanna Reyes (818) 242-8589|
|Mon Jan 10||OC Native American Sacred Sites TF, 2nd Mon, Rebecca Robles (949) 369-0361|
|Mon Jan 10, 7:30 pm||Santa Monica Mountains TF, 2nd Mon, Chair Mary Ann Webster (310) 559-3126|
|Tue Jan 11, 7:30 pm||Air Quality/Global Warming/Energy SubCommittee, Chapter Office, Jan Kidwell (818) 506-8731|
|Tue Jan 18, 7:00 pm|
|Wed Jan 19, 7:30 pm|
|Wed Jan 19, 7:15 pm||The Banning Ranch Park and Preserve Task Force, 3rd Wed, Terry Welsh (949) 548-5635|
|Wed Jan 19, 7:00 pm||Friends of Foothills Steering Committee. Contact Bill Holmes (949) 496-5323|
|Sun Jan 23, 1:00 pm||Chapter ExComm, Chapter Office. Contact Virgil Shields email@example.com|
|Mon Jan 24, 7:00 pm||Puente-Chino Hills TF, 4th Mon monthly, 170 Copa de Oro Rd, Brea, Eric Johnson (714) 524-7763.|
|Sat Jan 29, 9:00 am||Orange Hills Task Force at the Carlab in Orange|
RETURN SERVICE REQUESTED