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We Need a Champion at the EPA!

When she was Governor Mitt Romney's environmental advisor, the people of Massachusetts knew Gina McCarthy as a pragmatic and bipartisan problem solver. After President Obama chose her to lead the EPA's clean air division four years ago, she made her mark by standing up for the health and safety of our communities.

From historic new fuel efficiency standards for cars that save us money at the pump to life-saving safeguards against soot, mercury and other toxic pollution, Gina McCarthy has been on the front lines of our most critical public health battles. She has proven that she has what it takes to stand up for clean air, safe water, and the health of our communities. It's time for the Senate to confirm her as the new head of the EPA. (take action today!)

Birmingham Loses Glass Recycling Center

(from the Alabama Environmental Council) Our longtime glass recycling partner, Argos (formerly LaFarge NA), is no longer able to accept glass from the Downtown Birmingham Recycling Center. Due to chemistry changes in their raw materials, glass cannot be used as an aggregate for their cement manufacturing for the near future. As a result, we are no longer able to accept glass for recycling at the Recycling Center until further notice. 

HOW YOU CAN HELP: This whole setup was created out of a citizen making some connections and we hope that might happen again this time! Options could be: 1) another local industrial facility that could use glass in their process; 2) transportation company willing to haul glass to Atlanta to the closest recycler; 3) someone in Birmingham area with warehouse or paved surface and loading equipment that can help transfer from roll-off bins to trailers for transport. (read more)

Don't Frack with California

AUBURN, Ala. Last month, over 100 participants from across Alabama crowded into a packed auditorium at Auburn University’s Comer Hall to attend a symposium on the formation of a comprehensive water management plan for Alabama. Mitch Reid, program director for the Alabama Rivers Alliance, began the day by discussing the environmental needs for water management policy. 
“We have a lot of water in Alabama, but this environment was designed for that amount of water and we have built industries based on that amount of water,” stated Reid.  “Our challenge is to keep this water flowing for future generations.” 
Alabama is the only state among its neighbors that does not have such a plan, and in April of 2012, Governor Robert Bentley directed the Alabama Water Agencies Working Group (AWAWG), made up of the five state agencies with responsibility over the State’s water resources, to recommend a plan for the state.

The Alabama Rivers Alliance, which has long advocated the development of such a plan, is working with partners across the state to host symposia to gather stakeholder input. There have already been symposia in Birmingham and Mobile, and the next symposium will be in Huntsville on June 28, 2013.

Each symposium concentrates on a specific water management theme. The Auburn Symposium, co-sponsored by Auburn University Water Resources Center, Alabama Water Watch, and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, focused on the importance of science-based information to be used in the formation of Alabama’s water management plan. Auburn University faculty presented about how recent Auburn University water-based research projects can guide the development of Alabama’s plan. The research is compiled in a new publication titled Auburn Speaks On Water.

read more (from the Alabama Rivers Alliance)



June 2013

Alabama Chapter Recent Messages

(Take Action: Mail a version of the letters below and substitute YOUR NAME!)

Letter to the Alabama Water Agencies Working Group

I am writing to you on behalf of the Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club, with approximately 2500 members. All residents of the state are stakeholders who should have access to safe, affordable, and reliable water for personal use, and for recreational opportunities in clean, unpolluted natural waterways. As a major environmental organization in Alabama, we are dedicated to the protection and conservation of our diverse natural areas in the state, including our abundant rivers, streams, and lakes. We are pleased that your agencies are now developing a water management plan for the state. As you know, Alabama is blessed with an abundance of water, but our water supplies are not unlimited. We wish to voice our support for producing a water management plan and also provide comments as to important issues that need to be addressed in the plan.

A major priority should be to maintain natural flows in our rivers and streams in order to protect populations of our diverse aquatic fauna. Our abundance of water also contributes to a rich biodiversity, among the richest in North America. Of the 50 states of the U.S., Alabama ranks fifth for biodiversity (behind four much larger western states - California, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico). The greatest diversity is associated with our aquatic habitats.

Maintaining natural flows in our waterways is necessary to prevent further loss of our biological diversity. Alabama leads the nation in number of species of several aquatic groups. Alabama and Tennessee have traditionally competed for top ranking for number of freshwater fish species, but Alabama is the unchallenged leader (with more than 330 species) if the many marine and estuarine species that move up into freshwater rivers are included. In addition, Alabama has more species of aquatic turtles (23), mussels (190), snails (195), crayfish (77), and caddisflies (342) than any other state. Many other invertebrate groups and some habitats (such as the numerous cave systems) have never been adequately studied but also contribute to our aquatic diversity. (read more)

Letter to the U.S. Forest Service Regarding Fracking in the Talladega National Forest

The Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club requests that the U. S. Forest Service immediately withdraw its proposal to allow lease sale of 43,000 acres in the Talladega National Forest.  We have reached this decision because of the arbitrary basis on which these areas were selected and the overwhelmingly negative impacts oil and gas exploration would have on the environment and the State's economy. 

It has come to our attention that the selections were neither industry-driven nor based on science.  You admitted, in an interview captured on video at a public meeting  in Montgomery, Alabama, that you alone chose the areas included in the proposed lease sale (map attached) without consultation with geology experts. Kemba Anderson-Artis with the Bureau of Land Management confirmed your statement. In the same video, Dr. David E. Bolin, deputy director of the State Oil and Gas Board of Alabama, explained that virtually all of the areas outlined in the maps are underlain with igneous and metamorphic rock with no potential for oil and gas production. (read more)


by Mallory Flowers, UAB

About the author:  Mallory Flowers was recognized by the Alabama Chapter as the 2012 "Student Activist of the Year."  She became a member of Sierra Club just a few years ago when another student encouraged her to attend a SPROG training program.  And here is her story…..

Here's a little more about what youth in Alabama are up to these days!  

As a senior this year at UA, it's incredible to see the sudden flurry of environmental action pop up all around us here in Sweet Home Alabama.  When I first arrived, there was little organized function among student groups, but look how far we've come!  From community education and engagement, to hard-hitting campaigns that win, young people in Alabama are showing that the environment is something not forgotten, and that they're willing to go to great lengths (and in some cases, literally astounding distances) to explore, enjoy, and protect our natural surroundings.  Here are some of the highlights:

Shepherds Bend: Proposed strip mining along the Black Warrior River has gone from presumed act to controversial thought thanks to ongoing efforts by our statewide network of like-minded students, the Coalition of Alabama Students for the Environment (CASE).  We've rallied behind a common cause, defending citizens and the environment at the same time, and combined forces to enhance each campus' member base, skill repertoire, and momentum to be forces of change.  The jury is still out to see if the mine will go forward, but already we have changed the way that many view the destructive mining practice and its potential impacts on nature and human life.

SPROG: The Sierra Student Coalition put on yet another successful Summer PROGram, training, networking, and empowering young people from across the Southeast for the third year in a row.  Thanks to support from the Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club students were able to attend for an affordable price.  Alabama SPROG 2010 was the birthplace of CASE, and the program has developed leaders for Alabama and beyond ever since.

SIP: CASE is celebrating victory on several campuses as we push Sustainable Investment Programs, or Green Funds, for our campuses' long-term environmental friendliness.  UA, Auburn, and Montevallo have seen success in getting long-term funding options for environmental sustainability.

COP18: Two Alabama students represented the Deep South at this year's UN Framework Convention on Climate Change!  Jackson Wilke, a Maryland native and recent transfer to UA, joined me and 12 other Sierra Student Coalition members from across the nation to push our nation's negotiators towards a binding, just, and universal climate deal strong enough to tackle the challenges we will face in the coming years.  We learned a lot, met people from all over the world, and got to see how environmental issues are handled at the global scale!

More: We continue to make efforts towards sustainability across many realms -- setting up bike shares, advocating local and organic food, and connecting like-minded people all over the state to help each other keep up the hard work!  We're looking forward to another year of progress in the fight for clean air, water, and land.

Alabama PSC President Twinkle Cavanaugh is the George Wallace of her generation

(article from by columnist John Archibald) History will tell the story of Alabama's recalcitrance. Again. This time around, Public Service Commissioner Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh will play the role of George Wallace, standing defiantly in the Greenhouse door.

It's not about race this time. It's about humanity.

Wallace's populist poison of "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" has given way to Cavanaugh's "jobs, jobs, jobs." The way she uses it, it's just as toxic.

. link to article on

No New Fracking on Federal Lands

Fracking is dirty and dangerous, and the new Bureau of Land Management rules regulating it are woefully inadequate. We cannot allow gas companies to continue expanding fracking operations on federal lands and puttting thousands of communities at risk.

The new BLM rules do not include even the most basic recommendations of the president's own shale gas advisory committee and would allow companies to drill without public disclosure of toxic chemicals, baseline water testing or setback requirements of wells from homes and schools. This is unacceptable.

Send a letter to Interior Secretary Jewell today telling her we want no new areas opened for fracking on federal lands. (take action now!)

LNG Exports: The Wrong Side of History

Most Americans have probably heard about the "boom" in natural gas, with U.S. production up by one-third since 2005. Besides historically low natural gas prices, one consequence is that companies like Exxon Mobil are now pushing the federal government to approve permits for more than 20 liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals. Big fossil fuel's goal is to sell U.S. natural gas overseas, where it can fetch a higher price. Is that really such a good idea?

Future generations will be incredulous that we ever debated the wisdom of increasing LNG exports. The permits that the Department of Energy is considering would export as much as 45 percent of current U.S. gas production. Once the terminals are built, trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership currently being negotiated could make it difficult to impossible to limit how much gas we actually export. The result will be higher domestic prices as well a lot more drilling for natural gas -- primarily by fracking.

So far, the Department of Energy has failed to consider the environmental and health consequences of such a radical increase in natural gas drilling. They really should, because both the potential risks and the known harms are enormous. Here are five environmental reasons why LNG exports are a very bad idea:

1. The current shale-gas rush has already had serious effects on our air quality. As the Department of Energy's own Shale Gas Subcommittee reported: "Significant air quality impacts from oil and gas operations in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Texas are well documented, and air quality issues are of increasing concern in the Marcellus region (in parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York)."

read the full post from Michael Brune here

Sierra Club Outings

Summer is here!! It may be hot; it may be warm. It's time to get out! Take a great hike. Or just enjoy gathering with friends to discuss environmental issues! Come join us on the trail or just out for a stroll down the mountain! more>>>