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"In the end, our society will be defined not only by what we create, but by what we refuse to destroy." John Sawhill



 
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LNG Heating Up in Alabama

While GRN and our two collaborations with unlikely partners, the Gumbo Alliance and Gulf Fisheries Alliance successfully stopped many of these fish-killing, open-loop, liquefied natural gas terminals, the fight is not over. Alabama Governor Riley has until October 10th to veto the last remaining terminal proposed by TORP Technology. The Mobile Register has an update on this week's hearing in Mobile, read it here.

Please Take Action now to remind Governor Riley that scientists, fishermen and conservationists all agree - Open-Loop is a Bad Idea for the Gulf! After you take action, make sure to ask 5 friends to weigh in as well. 

You may also want to check out this article from the Baton Rouge Advocate on why other permitted LNG terminals are not moving forward.

Send the message: Open-loop LNG is a bad bet for the Gulf

http://action.healthygulf.org/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=25392

Water Wars

In a recent Birmingham News article Governor Bob Riley states: We’re not willing to let Georgia make a determination for what the flow should be into Alabama and Florida.

We applaud the Governor for continuing to fight to make sure the Army Corps of Engineers’ and Georgia’s water policies do not jeopardize Alabama’s water needs.

However, what the Governor fails to mention is that we currently have no statewide policy to determine what the flow should be in Alabama. 

There are no policies governing how much water Alabama rivers need to support the many uses of our important water resources: industry, drinking water, recreation, and the important fish, wildlife and plant species that keep our river ecosystems healthy. 

The decisions made by our state and federal officials during this time of crisis will have a major effect on our rivers as well as the downstream communities that rely on healthy ecosystems, but so far no one is discussing sensible solutions to our region’s future water sustainability. 

That’s why we need you to tell Governor Riley to make comprehensive water policy for Alabama his top priority. Alabama cannot wait a moment longer to start developing a statewide water policy! 

Please write letters to Governor Riley and letters to the editors of your local papers letting them know that the long term solution to the water wars lies in the state’s ability to create sound, sustainable water policy. 

Governor’s Riley’s Address:

Office of the Governor
State Capitol
600 Dexter Avenue
Montgomery, Alabama 36130

Or click here to email the Governor

Our rivers cannot afford to be destroyed by the lack of water policies in Alabama any more than they can afford to be damaged by misguided Army Corps and Georgia policies.  We need policy that encourages conservation and balances all the uses of our water resources to the best extent possible, and Governor Riley can lead that charge. 

Please take action now on behalf of Alabama’s rivers and help give our rivers a fighting chance in the water wars!

The Alabama Rivers Alliance, along with the Southern Environmental Law Center and our many watershed partner organizations have been advocating for healthy instream flows as part of the Alabama Water Agenda.  For more information visit: www.alabamawateragenda.com.

Thank you for caring about Alabama’s rivers!

(from The Alabama Rivers Alliance)

Protect Our Cypress Forests

Cypress forests are the Gulf Coast’s best natural storm and flooding defenses ,  , and they provide habitat for important wildlife. Comparing the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the importance of wetlands as a natural buffer to storm surge, hurricane force, and flooding was remarkably clear, and cypress forests stand out as the best natural storm protection. Unlike the 217 square miles of wetlands that were destroyed by the two storms , cypress forests were almost completely unaffected and, if not logged, will remain as valuable protection from future catastrophes . In addition to protecting people, these forests are important habitat for threatened and endangered species like the Louisiana black bear, the Florida panther, the bald eagle, and the recently rediscovered ivory-billed woodpecker. Each year, nearly the entire system of migratory neo-tropical songbirds, and many of the western neotropical species, migrate through Louisiana’s wetlands. These swamps also support more than 100 species of fish and shellfish.

Download letters (in Microsoft Word Format) encouraging Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Lowe's to help us stop hurting our Cypress forests:

Lowe's
Home Depot
Wal-Mart

Old Alerts:

Help Reduce the Risk of Cancer in Alabama

We have less than three weeks to reduce the risk of cancer in Alabama.

Reduce Cancer Risk Petition Before the Environmental Management Commission on June 29, 2007

On Friday, June 29, 2007, the Environmental Management Commission (EMC), which oversees the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), will vote on a proposal 18 environmental and citizen organizations submitted to reduce the risk of getting cancer from water pollution in Alabama from 1 in 100,000 to 1 in 1,000,000.   An editorial from The Birmingham News with more info is attached. 

This measure is a straightforward protection of human health, yet two commissioners voted in a subcommittee June 1 to deny the measure. We need your help now more than ever to ensure we are able to convince four of the seven commissioners to vote to protect Alabamians’ health on June 29.

This week, we are asking you to write letters to the commissioners to overturn the subcommittee’s decision and to vote to decrease the amount of cancer-causing chemicals that are released into Alabama’s streams.  Below are some talking points to help you with your letter, but please make the message in your own voice and include your personal concerns about Alabama being among the few states having the highest cancer risk level in the country.

Alabama has 6th highest cancer mortality rate in the country.

Nearly 10,000 Alabamians died of cancer in 2005.

Alabama is one of only two states in the Southeast that use the least-protective “cancer risk level” in the formula that calculates permissible water pollution levels.

The majority of states and 2/3 of the population in the United States enjoy a more protective 1 in 1,000,000 cancer risk level.

The 1 in 1,000,000 rate is the recommended cancer risk level by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

We need the more protective level because this considers only the risk from individual pollutants. The combined risk from exposure to many pollutants is greater.

More than 900 industrial sites around the state pollute one or more of the 58 chemicals EPA has determined can cause cancer in humans.

The Business Council of Alabama and the Alabama Coal Association have come out against reducing the risk of cancer in our state. They claim that the profits of their members are more important than protecting the health and lives of Alabamians from cancer. They have not substantiated claims that higher standards would shut down businesses.

Business is healthy in states like Georgia and North Carolina that have the lower cancer risk rates and higher protection for human health we seek in Alabama.

Please write the seven members of the EMC and ask them to restore our faith in ADEM by putting human health first. You can write the commissioners at the contact information below to tell them to vote to support the 1 in 1,000,000 cancer risk level.

Mr. W. Scott Phillips, Chair
Dr. Kathleen Felker, Vice Chair
Mrs. Anita Archie
Dr. Laurel Gardner
Mr. Kenneth Hairston, Esq.
Dr. John Lester
Mr. Sam Wainwright

Alabama Environmental Management Commission
c/o Debi Thomas
P. O. Box 301463
Montgomery, AL 36130-1463
Fax: (334) 279-3052

Email: DST@adem.state.al.us

Please also write letters to the editor of your local paper about the cancer risk petition.  While we want the commissioners to hear from you this week, please use the above talking points to write letters to the editor. This issue impacts every Alabamian and we need everyone to know that we have our best opportunity in years to reduce the risk of getting cancer in Alabama.

If you would like to learn more about the petition for the 1 in 1,000,000 standard, visit the environmental attorney David Ludder’s website at
www.enviro-lawyer.com
. David researched and drafted the petition in representation of the following organizations:

The following organizations submitted the petition:  Alabama Rivers Alliance, Conservation Alabama (formerly AlaLEAVs), Black Warrior Riverkeeper, Cahaba River Society, Episcopal Diocese of Alabama-Task Force for the Stewardship of Creation, Flint River Conservation Association, Friends of Little Cahaba River, Friends of the Locust Fork River, Friends of Hurricane Creek, Friends of Rural Alabama, Lake Watch of Lake Martin, Lookout Mountain Heritage Alliance, Mobile Baykeeper, North Alabama Citizens for Environmental Protection, Save Our Saugahatchee, Sierra Club-Alabama Chapter, Southeastern Alabama Group-Sierra Club, and Wolf Bay Watershed Watch.

from the Cahaba River Society

 

Make Our Cities Cool Cities

The Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club has developed some materials to help you--yes YOU--talk to your mayor about Cool Cities, the Sierra Club program designed to encourage communities around the U.S. adopt better policies relating to global warming. Information is coming out in the July issue of the Alabama Sierran, but you can get a head start on all the other groups by downloading the information and getting started TODAY. Just visit the following site and download the information. You'll be moving Alabama toward Cooler Cities in no time!

http://alabama.sierraclub.org/coolcities/

Annual Chapter Meeting Scheduled for October 19-21, 2007

The annual chapter retreat will be held jointly this year with the Mississippi Chapter at Plymouth Bluff Environmental Center on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway just outside Columbus, MS. This is approximately 1 hour west of Tuscaloosa, just across the stateline. The weekend of Oct 19-21 will be filled with interesting speakers from both states, covering a variety of topics. A number of outings are also being planned. There will be ample time to network with various Sierra leaders and to form new alliances with groups working on similar issues on the other side of the state line. A star gazing session is planned for Friday night and attempts are being made to have our meals prepared using locally and sustainably grown foods--a long term project of the Alabama Chapter.

Plymouth Bluff Center is located in a secluded area on a high bluff overlooking the waterway. There are 4 miles of walking trails on site as well as canoeing on a small pond. Nearby parks offer more hiking, boating, biking, fishing, golfing and birding opportunities. The city of Columbus, as well as nearby Starkville, are both known for antiquing and their historical antebellum homes.

Motel type lodging and campingwill be available at Plymouth Bluff. Other lodging options are also available in Columbus, less than 10 minutes away. The conference building offers a number of rooms of varying size for different presentations. Some presentations may be made at the outdoor amphitheater or teaching pavilion if the weather cooperates. Registration information should be available next month.

HOG BILL LIVES...AGAIN!

Once again ALFA  is sponsoring the  “Family Farm Preservation Act”, SB 285, which is better known as the “Hog Bill”. As you probably know, the bill is named to make the public think that the purpose is to “protect” small family farms. However, the truth is that this bill would provide a legal shield for hog factories and their huge cesspits.
In our experience, most agricultural lawsuits are aimed at the big factory farms, not small family farms.
We need your help in two ways!
1) This bill has been assigned to the Senate Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Committee.  Look at the members of this committee (at the end of this article).  If your Senator is on this committee, please contact them and ask them not to let this bill get out of committee.
2) A hearing has been set for this bill for 9 AM, May 2, in the State House.
We need as many folks as possible to attend this hearing!  Please contact Peggie Griffin at 256-538-3885 or Peggie.griffin@sierraclub.org, if you can go. We will work to set up car pools (or even a bus) if there are enough folks from your area.

Below is information about the bill:

SYNOPSIS
The proposed bill has historically stated that the farm or expansion of the farm could not be found to be a nuisance or to be in violation of county or municipal ordinances if the farm has been in operation for one year or more and is operated in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.  The bill would also authorize the owner of a farm to recover legal fees, if the litigant is not successful in proving that the farm is a nuisance.  This would essentially keep members of rural communities from being able to protect themselves from factory “farms” that locate in their area.

THE FACTS:

  1. Hog factory farms cause loss of property value to their neighbors.
  2. Persons living near large hog factories suffer significantly higher levels of upper respiratory and gastrointestinal ailments than people living near small family farms.  Hog factories also pose a hazard to drinking water.
  3. The industrial odor from a hog factory is often intense and greatly decreases quality of life for the neighbors.  The gases and particles emitted by hog factory operations are ammonia, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, methane, dust, organic dust, and endotoxins.
  4. Neighbors of hog factory farms often suffer from large swarms of disease-carrying flies that hover around their doors and find many ways of entering their homes.
  5. While corporate growers claim to bring economic growth to small rural communities, the truth is that they tend to hamper economic growth.  For every 3 jobs created by corporate agriculture, 7 rural agricultural jobs are lost.  The big profits end up in out-of-state corporate headquarters.

Members of the Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Committee

Kim S. Benefield (D) 334-242-7874 Phone, 334-353-8277 Fax (District 13, Chambers, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Lee, and Randolph) Committee Chair

Henry E. “Hank” Erwin, Jr. (R) 334-242-7873 Phone, senatorerwin@aol.com (District 14 Bibb, Chilton, Jefferson, Shelby)

Tom Butler (D) 334-7854 Phone, 334-353-9777 Fax (District 2 Limestone, Madison)
Charles Bishop (R) 334-242-7844 Phone, 205-221-4950 Fax (District 5 Jefferson, Tuscaloosa, Walker, Winston)

 W.H. “Pat” Lindsey (D) 334-242-7843, 205-459-2480 Fax (District 22 Baldwin, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Escambia, Mobile, Monroe, Washington)

Hinton Mitchem (D) 334-242-7876 Phone, 256-582-7049 Fax (District 9 Blount, Madison, Marshall)

Myron C. Penn (D) 334-242-7868 Phone, 334-775-9779 Fax (District 28 Barbour, Bullock, Henry, Lee, Macon, Russell)

Bobby Singleton (D) 334-242-7935 Phone, 334-242-2210 Fax (District 24 Bibb, Choctaw, Greene, Hale, Marengo, Perry, Sumter, Tuscaloosa)

Harri Anne Smith (R) 334-242-7879 Phone, 334-886-2364 Fax (District 29 Dale, Geneva, Houston)

“Walking” Wendell Mitchell (D) 334-242-7883 Phone, 334-386-7223 Fax (District 30 Autauga, Butler, Crenshaw, Elmore, Lowndes, Pike)

Zeb Little (D) 334-242-7855, 256-775-7709 Fax (District 4 Cullman, Lawrence, Winston)

Rusty Glover (R) 334-242-7800 Phone, 251-666-1438 Fax (District 34 Mobile)

 

Global Warming Concert

Friday 4/13.
Global Warming Concert. Sheryl Crow, Laurie David visit campus Friday 4/13: University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, Bartow Arena, 7:30pm Environmental activist Laurie David and Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow are bringing the stopglobalwarming.org "Virtual March" to Bartow Arena Friday, April 13. The duo will visit 15 cities across the Southeastern United States in a hybrid bus to motivate college students to become part of the movement to stop global warming and demand solutions from themselves, their schools and their country. Tickets are free and the performance is open to the public. Tickets were first made available Wednesday, March 28 at the UAB Ticket Office in Hill University Center. There are 3,000 seats available and each person can get two tickets per day. Any remaining seats will be available beginning at 6:30 p.m. the day of the concert in Bartow. For information on tickets, call 934-8001. The 90-minute presentation will include remarks by David, a short performance by Crow, clips from An Inconvenient Truth, comedy segments from Earth to America! and a dialogue with students. "History proves that college students have the ability to be the driving force in large-scale social change and now - more than ever - is the time for students across the country to become global warming activists," said David, founder of stopglobalwarming.org and author of Stop Global Warming: The Solution is You! More information about the bus tour can be found at www.stopglobalwarming.org.

Alabama Water Agenda

Many of you may have seen or heard about the recent launch of the Alabama Water Agenda in local newspapers and tv and radio stations across the state.  The Alabama Water Agenda is a proactive, citizen-driven campaign for improving water policy in Alabama. The Agenda targets the biggest threats to our waters by ensuring lasting protections through improved state policy. In partnership with the Southern Environmental Law Center and with the input of watershed groups, environmental leaders, and citizens, the Alabama Rivers Alliance has been working for the past two years to develop this comprehensive strategy for improving state water policy and we are very excited that is now time to take action!

We hope that as fellow environmental/conservation organization leaders, grassroots group leaders and concerned citizens, you will let us come and share more information about this important campaign with your organization.  Even more importantly, we need your support and endorsement of the Alabama Water Agenda!  The more endorsements we can get for the Agenda, the more impact we will have when introducing our campaign and policy change initiatives to our state agencies and legislators. 

The staff at the Alliance is currently scheduling presentations around the state to share more information about the Agenda and its importance in long-term sustainable solutions for Alabama’s water policy deficiencies.  We would love to do a presentation for your organization and please feel free to share this email with any other organization that might be interested.  If you would like to schedule a presentation or have questions about the Alabama Water Agenda, please contact April Hall at ahall@alabamarivers.org or 205-322-6395.  Also, be sure to visit www.alabamawateragenda.com for the latest information about the Agenda and to download the brochure, which describes the entire Agenda in full-color detail. 

Thank you for your time and all that you do!

Cindy Lowry
Watershed Leadership Coordinator
Alabama Rivers Alliance
2027 2nd Avenue North, Suite A
Birmingham, Alabama 35203
(205)322-6395 ext. 100
877-862-5260 toll free
(205)322-6397 fax

Jefferson County Does Away with SWMA

Another late, late notice, but I guess the Jeffco Commission would rather NOT have too much light shed on their plan to vote tomorrow to withdraw from Stormwater Management Authority.  For whomever this is possible on such short notice, please consider jotting a line to or calling your county commissioner TODAY to state your support of SWMA.  List of e-addresses and phone #s below and below that some sample wording, if that helps any.  Please route around to anyonw who might have time to send the sample note or make a phone call this afternoon.  Thanks!!!  And sorry for such short notice again! (from Peggy Gargis)

Jim Carnes carnsj@jccal.org  Phone: (205) 325-5503Fax: (205) 325-5960

Bettye Fine Collins collinsbfine@jccal.org or 325-5070 (fax) 325-4881

Bobby Humphreyes humphryesb@jccal.org 
(no phone/fax given yet:  switchboard, 325-5300)

Larry Langford langfordl@jccal.org or 325-5504 Fax: (205) 325-5950

Sheila Smoot smoots@jccal.org or 325-5074Fax: (205) 325-4878

Dear Commissioner ____: 

I understand that the County Commission will introduce a resolution at tomorrow's meeting at the BESSEMER Courthouse to withdraw from StormWater Management Authority (SWMA).  Please record my staunch opposition to such a resolution and my support of the County continuing its current agreement with SWMA. 

As a homeowner, I know that a minute portion ($5 a year) of  my property taxes provide for SWMA's operating budget.  I did not object to the $7 increase that the authority requested, and I certainly believe that SWMA provides a terrific return on my $5 annual investment.  I cannot understand why the County would even entertain the idea of withdrawing from the authority.

I reiterate:  I DO NOT want the County to withdraw from Stormwater Management Authority!
Respectfully,
Your name
Your address
Your phone #

Hearings to be held regarding proposed elevated roadway for U. S. Highway 280

Since about 1981, various groups have worked to ease the problems caused by the sprawl of the US 280 corridor.

However, plans to build a 10-mile elevated highway above U.S. 280 are drawing objections from some residents and environmental groups. Residents cite property devaluation and a loss of aesthetics of their neighborhoods, and increased noise and lights. Environmentalists are concerned about increasing the rate of sprawl along the corridor, and the incredible impact on air quality, water quality, gasoline consumption, loss of habitat and public health issues.

On the other side, the Progress 280 Task Force is pushing the elevated roadway as the only solution.

In question is the 11.5-mile portion of Highway 280 extending from the Elton B. Stephens Expressway near the former old Shades Valley High School eastward to Eagle Point Drive on Oak Mountain.

At the same time discussions are being held regarding this massive building project, the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce has—for the past five years—backed a plan for legislative funding to build a mass transit program to serve this area. However, no funding for this project has been passed by the County or by the Alabama legislature.

In September, the Progress 280 Task Force held a meeting at the Vestavia Hills Civic Center. Approximately 200 people showed up, including Governor Riley, several mayors and state legislators. At the meeting, Governor Riley offered to make this project his “top transportation priority” if the demand for it was forthcoming from the community at large.

As citizens, we are now presented an opportunity to voice our concerns about this massive project. A series of public hearings will be held this month, and your attendance will shape the future and scope of this project. This is a chance for your voice to make a huge difference in the future of Birmingham. The meetings will be held at the Cahaba Grand Conference Center on Highway 280, in the old HealthSouth Building.

Two hearings to discuss the eastern section of the proposed elevated lanes from Eagle Point Parkway to I-459 are scheduled for Monday, January 22. One will be from 2 until 4 p.m.; with a second being held that evening from 6 until 8 p.m.

Meetings for the western section from I-459 to the Elton B. Stephens Expressway are scheduled for Tuesday, January 23. One will be from 2 until 4 p.m. and a second session will be from 6 until 8 p.m.

If you cannot attend any of these sessions, but would like to help on this project, or if you have questions, you can contact Conservation Chair, John Latham, at (205) 870-8974 or jlatham_us@yahoo.com.

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