A Bridge Through the Park: SAY NO!
You can see the article about building a bridge over Gulf State Park along with reader comments here:
And this is the full statement I submitted to the paper:
Anybody who thinks this "bridge" won't mar the park should take a stroll along the gash the elevated I-165 has cut through Prichard. The "superslab", as it's called there, has sliced the city in half and created an abandoned wasteland beneath and beside it. This overhead highway through the park will do the same. It is a fitting counterpart to the plans for converting choice sections of the park into a high-rise, high-price convention and resort hotel complex. And it is in keeping with the ongoing schemes to rescue the Foley Beach Express investors by increasing auto traffic to increase toll receipts through the expenditure of public funds on increased connecting highways. Instead of paving the park's surviving bit of paradise, tax money should be spent only for creation of a public transit system, including biking and hiking paths, that keep cars on the mainland and off the island.
Mobile Bay Sierra Club
Legislative Update from Adam Synder, Conservation Alabama
Budget cuts. Revisions to the immigration law. Job creation. Charter schools. Government efficiency. And that's just what's already expected for the legislative session, which starts next week.
Throw in the primaries and Bingo Trial II, there are plenty of storylines that could dominate the next three months in Montgomery. But where does the environment fit into the mix for this year?
When we left last session, the environment enjoyed the beginning of winning under the new Republican-controlled legislature. The renewal of the state land preservation program Forever Wild is on the ballot this fall. A two-year moratorium on landfills was passed. Life-cycle budgeting was adopted. And the disposal of coal ash is now regulated.
However key issues such as transportation, energy, and water policy need more focused attention. As Alabama's only fulltime environmental lobby organization, Conservation Alabama will be hard at work this session to protect the health of our citizens, economy, and environment. read the full article on Conservation Alabama's blog.
THIS VIDEO WAS IN LAST MONTH AS WELL. IMPORTANT ENOUGH TO WATCH AGAIN (and share with friends) The Sierra Club encourages partnering with other environmentally oriented organizations. Last year the chapter executive committee authorized a $5000 contribution to the newly formed Coosa Riverkeeper in order to investigate coal ash issues on the Coosa River. That investment has been validated we think. Please watch the very informative video that has been produced by this partnership with Alabama Sierra Club and the Coosa-Riverkeeper. We think that this is information that every one who believes in defending the environment should see. Please distribute this far and wide among your circle of acquaintances.
Coosa Riverkeeper presents an educational video about the impact of coal burning on the Coosa River in Alabama. Staff Riverkeeper Frank Chitwood narrates the video, which is part of Coosa Riverkeeper's study on coal ash. This project is in partnership with the Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club. Music written by Emily Y. Horton. Become a member of Coosa Riverkeeper today at www.coosariver.org
A Book of Interest: That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back
by Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York. 380 pages (2011)
Thomas Friedman, the widely read award winning author and columnist for The New York Times, is back with yet another serious message concerning the needs of the U.S. This time he has help from noted academician Michael Mandelbaum, an author of prominence and specialist in foreign policy.
“This book is [their] effort to explain how we got into that [unhealthy] state and how we get out of it. . . . [A]lthough this book’s perspective on the present is gloomy, its hopes and expectations for the future are high.”
The authors cite four causes for our condition: 1) inadequate recognition of, and response to, globalization; 2) failure to address major problems, e.g., education, fiscal (budget) affairs, and climate change; 3) lack of adequate attention to our infrastructure; 4) paralysis in our political system.
The authors also state: "The only way around all these ideological and structural obstacles is a third-party or independent candidate, who can not only articulate a hybrid politics that addresses our major challenges and restores our formula for success but--and it is a huge but--does this in a way that enough Americans find so compelling that they are willing to leave their respective Democratic and Republican camps and join hands in the radical center." They point out that earlier candidates, Theodore Roosevelt (1912), George Wallace (1968), and Ross Perot (1992), influenced the political agenda of the nation.
In addition, the authors report we should update the "formula for enlisting the government in selected ways to help foster a dynamic private sector." The five parts of that formula that require attention are "education, infrastructure, immigration, research and development, and regulation."
"[T]oday, the history books we need to read are our own and the country we need to rediscover is America."
Submitted by David Newton
Don't drill to drive build a 21st century transportation system without new drilling
This week Congress will move forward with transportation bills that would fund our nation's roads, bridges, and transit systems in the coming years. This is an opportunity to reduce our dependence on oil by building safe, convenient transportation options like transit, biking, and walking, while improving the system we have. However, some in Congress have pushed to cut funding for transportation choices such as biking and walking and to tie funding for public transit to oil drilling on public lands, even in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and off the Florida coast.
Here is a sample letter you can send to our congressmen.
We need a new transportation vision for the 21st Century. Our transportation system remains dependent on oil and is in dire need of investment and reform. Roughly one-quarter of our bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, nearly half of the lane-miles on our highways are in less than good condition and almost half of Americans lack access to public transit.
It is critical that Congress pass a 21st century transportation bill that repairs our existing infrastructure and helps reduce our dependence on oil by providing Americans with more transportation options, such as transit, biking and walking.
We must invest in transportation, but we should not endanger our environment to do so. It is misguided to sacrifice our wildest places, such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Florida's Gulf coast with expanded drilling, or pushing through the dirty and dangerous Keystone XL pipeline to generate revenue. Nor can we afford to roll bedrock environmental review laws that ensure the public has a voice in major projects.
I urge you to support a transportation bill that reduces our dependence on oil by expanding transportation options such as transit, biking and walking, and ensures our system is safe and in good repair, and to strongly oppose efforts to link our nation's transportation program to expanded oil and gas drilling or gutting environmental review.
Protect Forever Wild
On November 6, 2012, a major election will take place in Alabama. Of course there is the all-important presidential election, but Alabama voters will also be voting on the 20-year extension for the Forever Wild program. Since Forever Wild was first approved 20 years ago (by an overwhelming 83 percent of voters), Forever Wild has protected thousands of acres for the benefit of Alabamians. Some of the state's most visited natural areas, such as the Walls of Jericho in north Alabama and the Mobile Tensaw Delta in south Alabama, are open to the public because of Forever Wild. Many Sierra Club outings involve hikes or other activities on Forever Wild lands.
The Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club is a member of the Protect Forever Wild Coalition, dedicated to the protection and reauthorization of Forever Wild funding. This coalition of conservation, environmental, hunting and angling, outdoor recreation, and business entities recognizes Forever Wild’s success in securing public lands for outdoor recreation for our citizens and protecting the ecological integrity of Alabama’s landscape. We are working to insure that Forever Wild is reauthorized for another 20 years.
You can help by publicizing the benefits of Forever Wild, and by voting in favor of Forever Wild reauthorization in the 2012 election.
Additional information is available at http://www.protectforeverwild.org/
Alabama Chapter Winter 2011-2012 Report In the Mail
In case you missed it in the mail last month, download a copy below: Inside this issue: great information on the Inner City Outings program led by Margo Rebar; an update on Forever Wild; and several additional pieces that you won't find on the website, along with several articles also available here. You can download a copy of the newsletter here.