Alabama Sierra Club Chapter Retreat
Climate Change and Energy Efficiency:
It’s time again for the annual retreat for the Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club, Friday-Sunday, October 4, 5 and 6. This year the retreat is being hosted by the North Alabama Group and will be held at Lake Guntersville State Park. On-site registration will begin at 1:00pm Friday afternoon and the retreat will run through noon on Sunday. Cost for the retreat will be $70 (for early registration) in addition to your lodging cost at the park.
Climate change is fast becoming a hot topic in Alabama. According to the National Climate Assessment draft released earlier this year, the U.S. average temperature has increased by about 1.5*F since record keeping began in 1895; more than 80% of this increase has occurred since 1980. The most recent decade was the nation’s warmest on record. U.S. temperatures are expected to continue to rise. Because human-induced warming is superimposed on a naturally varying climate, the temperature rise has not been, and will not be, smooth across the country or over time.”
It’s projected in Alabama that by 2040, the number of hot days (95* F) will increase from 30 to as high as 70 days, with fewer colder nights. From a White House fact sheet (2013) titled ‘The Threat of Carbon Pollution: Alabama,’ “…Carbon pollution is contributing to a higher risk of asthma attacks and more frequent and severe storms, floods, heat waves, and wildfires, driving up food prices and threatening our communities.”
How do carbon emissions impact our weather, which in turn, threatens our food supply, cost of living and general well-being? What choices can we make today that will secure our grandchildren’s tomorrow? And what can we do to off-set our increasing utility costs? Let’s start a discussion at scenic Lake Guntersville State Park, where severe weather left its footprint on April 27, 2011.
Lake Guntersville State Park offers a challenging, 18-hole champion golf course; a beach area by the lake for relaxing or swimming; miles of hiking trails for the beginner or seasoned hiker that pass former whiskey stills, wildlife, rock formations and other natural beauty; a fishing pier; and boat rentals nearby where the serious fisherman can pursue a catfish the size of a car (according to local legend).
The exquisitely decorated lodge, nestled on top of a mountain, offers several sitting areas by burning fireplaces. Large balconies offer a spectacular 5-star view of the lake with photo worthy sunsets. The lodge rooms have a private balcony/patio and by request, a view of the lake. The rustic chalets, within a short walking distance of the lodge, offer sleeping for 6 to 8 in clean, cozy rooms. The campground offers both tent and RV camping, a bathhouse with hot showers, a playground and a Country Store.
The Goldenrod conference room is spacious with a large window and balcony that offer picturesque views of the lake. The buffets and lunch will offer cuisine that will satisfy a variety of tastes.
- David Rickless (Jacksonville State University on-line editor for Energy Action Coalition and organizer for Coalition of AL Students for the Environment)
Climate Change: Science and Solutions
- Michael Mullen (Choctawhatchee Riverkeeper; Environmental Educator; MS in Biology and Chemistry): Climate Change: It’s Real, It’s Us, It’s Bad, Science Agrees, We Can Fix It
- Dr. Dawn Lemke (Alabama A & M University): Invasive Plants of the Southeastern Forests: Implications of Climate Change
- Daniel Tait (Program Manager Nexus Energy Center): AL/Federal legislation; TVA Energy Efficiency and Renewables; President’s Climate Plan;
- Adam Johnston (AL River Alliance Advocate): A comprehensive water management plan
- Michael Mullen (Dinner Keynote Speaker) Fighting and Winning the Battle Our Grandchildren Can’t Afford for us to Lose
- Gary Pace (Synergy Home Performance LLC): Home assessment for energy efficiency: What we can do to offset our Increasing Energy Cost
- Daniel Tait
- Michelle Sneed (Educator, Permaculturist):
‘Living Green in Alabama’
$70/person, before September 20 and $75 between September 20 and October 1. ($40 is non-refundable). Payment cannot be accepted after October 1.
The fee includes: Friday night spirits/refreshment, two buffet breakfasts, one sandwich plate lunch and one dinner; presentations; Sierra Club leader led hikes Friday and Saturday afternoon (weather permitting); and Saturday evening entertainment.
The checks should be made out to
“Sierra Club Alabama Chapter”, and mailed to
Sierra Club Alabama Chapter,
c/o Charles Cohen,
6405 Old Madison Pike, Apt. 24,
Huntsville, AL 35806.
Not included in the price is lodging, (the State Park offers lodge rooms and chalets (reserve by calling 800-548-4553) or camping (800-760-4108). The City of Guntersville also offers lodging. Registration begins Friday in the lodge lobby at 1:00 p.m.
The Retreat will end at 12:00 p.m. on Sunday.
More Than 200 Pack Mobile Bay Conference Center to Fight Canadian Tar Sands Crude Pipeline
Citizens Alarmed at Tax Subsidized Expansion of International Petrochemical Storage and Transportation Hubs
By Glynn Wilson –
MOBILE BAY, Ala. – More than 200 concerned citizens, public officials and environmental activists showed up at a citizens-called town hall public hearing Tuesday night to learn more about a plan to pump thick, hot Canadian tar sands crude oil making its way to the Gulf Coast in rail cars through a new pipeline under the Mobile area’s fresh drinking water reservoir.
Tom Hutchings of EcoSolutions and founder of the Alabama Coastal Foundation moderated the meeting and said when he found out about the pipeline plan, “I was absolutely dumbfounded and mad.”
He showed aerial photographs of the area where the pipeline is in the works, as well as the rail terminal where the Canadian tar sands oil is already making it’s way to the Gulf Coast by train to be exported overseas through the Port of Mobile. more>>>
Tar Sands Updates
(submitted from al.com by Mobile Bay Chair Carol Adams-Davis)
Opponents plan to meet ahead of Mobile Planning Commission hearing on controversial oil project
MOBILE, Alabama – People opposed to a proposed distribution and storage plan for petroleum to the north of downtown Mobile want citizen involvement. The Mobile Bay Sierra Club is hosting a program and discussion on the hazardous petrochemical/tar sand storage tank farm at the former International Paper Co. site near Hog Bayou. (full article on al.com here)
Mobile city officials to joined Sierra Club for meeting on oil pipeline
MOBILE, Alabama Mayor Sam Jones said during the recent Mobile City Council meeting that the city "has some real concerns" about the pipeline's plan to go from downtown Mobile toward the Chevron refinery. (full article on al.com here)
Alabama needs a comprehensive water management plan now, not later
The Roman orator Quintilian once said, “Whilst we deliberate how to begin a thing, it grows too late to begin it.”
The recent decision by the State of Florida to escalate the water war over Georgia’s use of water for Atlanta should ring as an alarm to the people of Alabama that time is running out for us to protect our water resources. While Florida moves ahead with action to enforce its water plan and protect its natural resources, Alabama is scrambling to put such a plan together.
Alabama is the only state in the tri-state water conflict that does not have a comprehensive water management plan, leaving us in the weakest position for negotiating the water needs of people, businesses, communities, and ecosystems. A look at the history of Supreme Court decisions dealing with interstate water conflicts shows that, when the court decides who gets the water, they tip the scales in favor of the states with the best plan for protecting and using the limited resource. If we delay much longer we will surely be left with whatever our neighbors can’t use.
A comprehensive water plan is crucial for the protection of Alabama’s water resources. Alabama shares most of our water with our neighboring states, so the future of Alabama’s water resources depends not only on making sure that water uses within our borders are fair and balanced against protecting the system for future generations but also on balancing our water needs with our neighboring states’ needs as well. To do this, Alabama must implement a meaningful management plan geared to the long-term sustainability of our water resources. To safeguard our fair share of the water, our plan must ensure that we are as efficient as possible in our water use, that we account for and balance the competing needs of water users across the state, and that we have protections in place to ensure that our rivers and bay ecosystems have the water they need to sustain the system. Only then can we demonstrate that our neighbors are taking more than they deserve.
Alabama has had fair warning that this crisis was headed our way. In 1990, Governor Guy Hunt created the Alabama Water Resources Study Commission to study water shortages in the ‘80s. The Commission found that every day that the State delayed in developing a plan brought us one day closer to the worst case scenarios. In 2008, the State Legislature created the Permanent Joint Legislative Committee for Water Policy and Management to study the issue and to develop policy. Finally, in April of 2012, Governor Bentley created the Alabama Water Agencies Working Group and directed them to study the issue and provide him with a recommendation for a Comprehensive Statewide Water Management Plan by December 1st of this year. While some have suggested that the AWAWG hold off on providing recommendations for a plan and are suggesting, instead, that the AWAWG develop issue papers and study groups, Florida’s action in the Supreme Court suggests that the time for study groups has passed. The AWAWG must meet this challenge of our time and provide the Governor with a recommendation for a solid, implementable water management plan this year and our elected officials should be standing by to take up these recommendations as soon as they are presented to the Legislature.
While recent water headlines focus on the water war with Georgia, last year our farmers were reeling from the second year of devastating drought. These situations are occurring more frequently and their effects on our water resources, environment, and economy are becoming more severe. Everyone in the State has an interest in protecting our water resources and making sure that there is a system to ensure that everyone gets the water they need. Our current system does not do this. Alabama currently only protects those who happen to live higher up on the river or with the biggest pump in the ground. Whether you are looking to invest in irrigation for your farm or want to bring a business to your town, you must have a predictable and secure source of water. That is not possible under Alabama’s current system.
Thankfully Governor Bentley has taken action through his directive to the AWAWG and the Legislature stepped up with one million dollars in funding for an assessment of our State’s water resources. This commitment, along with leveraging funds available for studying and protecting the fresh water needs for Mobile Bay and our Gulf Coast, will establish the scientific groundwork for a water plan. Now we must finish the job. Alabama must put the necessary laws and policies in place so that we can use this science to defend against Georgia’s water grab and protect our water resources here at home.
The stakes cannot be higher: water, our most precious natural resource, upon which our economy, our environment, even our very existence depends, hangs in the balance. We manage our budgets, our offices, and our households; it’s passed time we managed our water. from the Alabama Rivers Alliance
From the Political Chair: The Big Picture
by Glynn Wilson
It's been one of the most interesting years in a long time for environmental activism, environmental journalism and the Sierra Club.
Since I joined the club and became Political Chair in January, I've made the trip to Washington, D.C. twice.
In February, I drove my camper van to D.C. and braved the bone-chilling cold to cover the climate change march on the White House led by the Sierra Club and the grassroots organization 350.
During President’s Day weekend and in freezing temperatures and against a brutal wind, more than 35,000 activists marched from the Washington Monument around the White House to support immediate action to contain climate change due to global warming from the burning of fossil fuels. (http://blog.locustfork.net/2013/02/about-35000-marched-on-washington-for-action-on-climate-change/)
Then in April, I flew to Washington and covered the Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference where I witnessed the BlueGreen Coalition of union leaders and environmental group leaders come together to build a political coalition to create the green jobs of the future and talk about saving Democracy itself.
Some of the most powerful union leaders and environmentalists in the country came together in the nation’s capital to find common ground on the critical question of how to create jobs and improve the economy while at the same time protecting the environment of the U.S. for the future. And everybody there also talked about reclaiming democracy, a subject I've been writing about for years. more>>>
2013 FRACKTIVIST CONFERENCE
SAVE THE DATE: September 13-15, 2013 in Knoxville, TN
The movement to end all forms of extreme energy extraction on this planet, wrest control from multinational corporations, and give the power back to the people is becoming something truly beautiful! It is an honor to be a part of it, as so MANY of us are. We are rising! Please join us for another opportunity to combine struggles and strengthen our efforts.
We would like to formally invite you to attend the 2013 FRACKTIVIST CONFERENCE, a collaborative regional effort. It is being organized by the TN Chapter of the Sierra Club along with a plethora of other awesome organizations (see here). The conference will be taking place at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville from September 13-15. We will also be graciously hosted for most meals and sleeping arrangements by the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.
From the frac sand mining impacted communities in WI and MN to the newly affected folks in AL, GA and FL, the many issues related to hydraulic fracturing are affecting people all across this splendid country! We are all connected in this struggle.
The costs for this conference will be on a sliding scale from $20-$60. Give as you are able!
Registration is live: http://frackconference2013.eventbrite.com/
Please follow these links to download flyers to use for promoting this conference:
Tar Sands Video
Be sure to attend the September Mobile Bay Monthly Meeting to learn more!!! (learn more here)