in this issue

Annual Sierra Club Retreat 2009
Save the Date: Retreat 2010!

State ExCom Cadidate Bios
Nature Notes
December on the Farm
Outings and Events
Statewide Group Notes

Feedback Please

Please let us know what you think of the changing nature of our newsletter. We've redesigned the newsletter to provide a more website friendly version. Beginning with this issue of the newsletter, we'll be providing you with information formatted more for the web--with your feedback as a critical part of the final design. Please let us know! You will no longer receive a print version of the newsletter, so be sure to check the website each month around the 20th for all the most current environmental news in Alabama! Contact Chair John Ackerman:
apac4@knology.net or
334-361-4732 to share your opinions.

Mixed news for environmental enforcement at ADEM
At the October 16 Environmental Management Commission meeting, ADEM Director Trey Glenn unveiled a penalty calculation worksheet. ADEM has been decried for the lack of transparency in when and how the agency assesses penalties against environmental polluters in the state. With the worksheet, environmental organizations hope that ADEM will begin to "show their work" when they assess penalties.

However, the worksheet comes on the heels of one of the worst enforcement years ADEM has had in some time. In fiscal year 2009, which ended September 30, ADEM assessed only $286,100 in penalties compared to $1.2 million each of the previous two years. While ADEM claims that the amount of penalties is not a good measure of enforcement, the current ADEM administration touted improved enforcement at the agency when penalty assessments increased significantly in 2005 compared to the previous administration.

Penalties for 2009 were below where they were in 2004 when Jim Warr was director of the agency.

from Conservation Alabama.



December 2009

Alabama Annual Retreat 2009!!!

The 2009 Retreat was both informative and fun! The snack foods provided by Margo was great as was the socialization and door prizes! We started with dinner, then snacks and a couple of movies, one of which was Foods Inc. This film had been released to limited theatres and offered a look at the food industry, in particular meat processing. If you get a chance to watch it you will surely find that it makes you give a second thought to the food you eat. Saturday started with yoga, then breakfast and was followed by a presentation on climate change and a brainstorming session as to how Alabama might move to a greener state. Representative Davis was unable to attend due to the special session called for the healthcare legislation vote. Gil Rogers with the Southern Environmental Law Center informed us of some of the great, albeit slow litigation actions against big industries that are compromising the Southeast's natural resources and ultimately the health of both our environment and the citizens. The afternoon was BEAUTIFUL! You couldn't have asked for a more perfect day. read more>>>

rosa mine proposed on Locust ForkAbove: Jay Hudson as he presented his talk on Alabama's Greatest Hiking Adventures.

Below: Team Building Exercises at the retreat.

Mark your calendars for the 2010 Retreat: November 5-7, 2010.
See more about the retreat>>>

Nature Notes: A Mixed Picture

by John Ackerman
The news on the environmental front can be very confusing.  Some media reports explain how things are improving for species or ecosystem X and that the outlook is bright.  Other reports detail how species or ecosystem Y is declining and that the outlook is very dim.  The following is an example of those contradictions found in our media reporting and with the uncertainty they often generate comes a subtle maxim to be remembered.  There are silver linings behind every cloud if you look for them and there are storm warnings on the horizon, if you look for them too, so plan accordingly.  Do your homework, research the issue, and find out exactly what is going on by using multiple sources of information before you make your call.  When in doubt, check it out!  Two cases in point follow. more>>>

Outings

Don't miss a chance to really get outside, meet like-minded folks and reconnect with old friends. Come join us on the trail, in the water or just out for a stroll down the street! more>>>

December on the Farm

October on the Farm: Vineyards in Alabamaby Peggie Griffin and Guest Writer Sonja Sanders
Thinking about this time of year usually makes one think of cold weather... but that also brings one to think of the things we do to keep warm – such as eating wonderful homemade soups made from the veggies preserved in the summer. When reading a recent Prevention Magazine, I discovered that my frozen tomatoes and tomato sauces that I use in making soups are even more healthy than I recognized.   Apparently tin/steel cans are lined with an epoxy resin that contains Bisphenol A (BPA) – the same chemical that makes us avoid plastic bottles.  Canned tomatoes are named as the number one food to avoid.  Before I started preserving tomatoes, canned tomatoes were the base of most of my soups. more>>>

Time to Vote!

Your ballot for electing four members of the 2010 Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club Executive Committee will be in the mail soon.  Please vote immediately instead of possibly laying your ballot down and forgetting to vote!  Show your support for these hard-working folks by voting!  Let’s break all Alabama Sierra Club voting records this year!

The Executive Committee is the governing body of the Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club.  It is often called “ExCom” in Sierra-speak.  The ExCom decides the statewide priorities and programs of the Chapter and disburses the Chapter’s funds.  The ExCom consists of one representative for each of the Chapter’s local groups and eight members elected at large.  All Alabama Sierra Club members are eligible to vote on the at-large Excom members.  Following are the bios for the candidates for the four positions which will become open in January 2010. Read all the bios: more>>>

Notes from Around Alabama's Sierra Club Groups

From Bears in the South Cumberland, Roadside Spraying in Alabama, and Members of the Mobile Bay Group participating in the annual Coastal Cleanup, find out what's happening with Sierra Club Groups all around the state! more>>>