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Concerned Floridians from more than 100 different organizations gathered in 16 cities at risk from water pollution and unrestrained over-consumption of water resources.
"We were joined by local and state-level officials we engaged over the last month who want to join the fight to save Florida from the threat of lost jobs, lost quality of life, and lost natural environments that we now face due to the degradation of our state waters," says Sierra Club organizer Cris Costello.
"Civic and environmental groups from every corner of the state have come together to launch a historic endeavor -- a collaborative campaign to harness the resources of energy and organizations and individuals from throughout our state to demand and win the protection of Florida's springs, rivers, lakes, and estuaries."
More than 30 media outlets around the state covered the rallies.Clean Water Declaration, which was developed with the input and support of dozens of environmental organizations. The Declaration lists six rights that should be guaranteed to the people of Florida and four responsibilities of the state government, water managers, and natural resource users.
The goal of the campaign is to build a movement to demonstrate Floridians' overwhelming support for protecting state waters and create a framework for achieving meaningful policy changes in the future. "We focus only on common ground between organizations and not what divides us," Costello says.
The Slime Crimes Campaign's genesis was only two months ago in November 2013, when the Slime Crimes team gathered water-quality activists from across the state at a Citizens' Summit to begin to explore ways to collaborate at a higher level. A first draft of the Declaration was presented to the attendees there and a final draft was completed the first week of December.
Sierra Club volunteers and staff and partner organizations held events in Boynton Beach, Brandenton, Ft. Meyers, Ft. Pierce, Gainesville, Interlachen, Jacksonville, Key West, Palm Bay, Orlando, Naples, Ocala, Stuart, Tallahassee, Tampa, and Vero Beach.
By J.C. Kibbey, Illinois Sierra Club Volunteer Activist
To celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy this year, the Illinois Sierra Club joined for the first time with community organizations and churches from around Chicago for a huge public meeting on pressing social issues.
Prior to the gathering, over 100 Sierra Club members met for lunch to discuss our issues and our movement before bussing together to the meeting, called "Hope in an Age of Crisis: Reclaiming Dr. King's Radical Vision of Economic Justice."
Above, activists at the lunchtime meeting. Below, Sierra Club organizer Christine Nannicelli leads a discussion about the interconnectedness of the environment with other issues of justice.
We then joined the more than 2,400 people who packed into St. Michael's Church on Chicago's south side.
• Implement President Obama's climate action plan by aggressively enforcing new
EPA carbon standards for existing power plants
• Create jobs and move Illinois towards a clean energy economy by ensuring the state
meets its Renewable Portfolio Standard of 25 percent by 2025
• Reduce carbon emissions and save residents money by releasing funds for
weatherization projects in low-income communities
• Strengthen newly passed state regulations on fracking
The governor's commitment to take action on these crucial issues was a big political victory and a step forward for Illinois' commitment to the environment.
Below, Illinois Sierra Club Director Jack Darin addresses the crowd at St. Michael's.
We also had a chance for us to stand with our allies and remind the world that the fight for environmental justice is fundamentally a fight for social justice that follows in the footsteps of Dr. King. It's understood that we are fighting to protect our air, water, and wildlife, but just as important, we are fighting to protect our families and our communities. Modern-day robber barons in the fossil fuel industry rake in record profits by destroying our planet -- and the least fortunate among us are hit hardest by that destruction.
Finally, this event was an opportunity for us to grow as an organization. We made new allies and strengthened our relationships with existing ones. Our staff and volunteers stepped up, left their comfort zones, grew as leaders, and made sure we did our part to make the meeting an overwhelming success. We saw a large and diverse group of new faces from every corner of the city and the state.
We're proud to have been part of this groundbreaking event, but now we need to look to the future: providing more opportunities for the first-timers to get involved; growing our volunteer and leadership capacity; finding the next political opportunity; strengthening relationships with our new allies, expanding our coalition, and building an even stronger environmental movement.
Working with Illinois-based Prairie Rivers Network and local citizens' group Justice for Rocky Branch, the Sierra Club has successfully stopped Peabody Energy, the world's largest private-sector coal company, from illegally logging 200 acres of hardwood forests at its proposed Rocky Branch coal mine in Saline County in southern Illinois.
Above, a view of Rocky Branch taken from a local homeowner's property. The waterway and the land would both be damaged by the proposed mine. Below, local residents at an Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) public hearing on December 11. Only one person, a Peabody representative, spoke in favor of the mine.
The Rocky Branch mine would destroy productive farmland, leave a 1,000-acre pit, and destroy nearly eight miles of streams and roughly 200 acres of forests that provide habitat for the at-risk Indiana bat and other wildlife. Citizens and environmental groups have previously raised concerns about the proposed mine, including impacts to waterways, disturbances and damage from blasting, airborne dust, and the destruction of farmland and wildlife habitat.
So how did the residents of Saline County stand up to Peabody and their own state?
Saline County residents living near Rocky Branch became alarmed when logging equipment began appearing at the site in late December, even though no mining permit had been issued. The IDNR initially refused to do anything. Acknowledging that Peabody couldn't conduct the logging without a permit, IDNR claimed that it had no obligation to act because one Peabody subsidiary contracted for logging, but a different Peabody subsidiary had applied to mine the same site.
Below, forest near Rocky Branch that was threatened by illegal logging.
After logging began, the Sierra Club, Prairie Rivers Network, and Justice for Rocky Branch alerted IDNR, including photos of the logging and even providing corporate records that connected the dots between the Peabody subsidiary that contracted for the logging, the mine permit applicant (Peabody Arclar Mining, LLC), and Peabody, the parent company for both subsidiaries. IDNR, however, still refused to take action.
IDNR staff said that they didn't consider the logging to be conducted "in connection with" mining-even though it was the same property, the same company, and logging and land clearing were listed as activities in the surface mining permit application. The state, apparently, was willing to let a Peabody subsidiary do what Peabody could not -- an absurd result that circumvented the law and represented the epitome of bad public policy.
At that point, the Club and its allies went over IDNR's head and filed a "citizen complaint" demanding that the federal Office of Surface Mining step in. To its credit, OSM took the Sierra Club's complaint seriously and provided an efficient, responsible solution. Instead of allowing corporate profits to trump the concerns of regular citizens, on January 13, 2014 OSM required the state to put an immediate stop to logging at Rocky Branch.
"I'm glad to see the state finally do the right thing here," said Sierra Club member and Justice for Rocky Branch activist Donald Karns, below with his wife Rita at the December 11 public hearing. "I'm trying to save my farm and the surrounding wildlife habitat and make sure all the necessary steps are taken to protect our land before the damage is done."
In this case, the attempt to clear cut 200 acres of hardwoods before receiving a mining permit was particularly egregious because the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service had indicated it would not allow logging at the site from March through October in order to protect spring and summer nesting habitat for the federally endangered Indiana bat.
"We're grateful for local citizens who were watching out for these woods, and to the Office of Surface Mining for stepping in to stop this illegal logging," said Terri Treacy, at left, an organizer with the Sierra Club's Illinois Chapter. "Big Coal is taking aim at Illinois' forests, farms, and streams in the rush to dig up this dirty fuel and make a quick buck by destroying our natural heritage. We need Governor [Pat] Quinn and the state Department of Natural Resources to step up and protect our land and water from major coal companies and polluters."
What does this mean for other residents in Illinois Basin coalfields?
Strip mines throughout the Illinois Basin are logged and cleared before mining companies can access the coal seams beneath the ground, but state and federal mining laws require companies to obtain a mining permit before logging can begin. This is supposed to ensure that adequate protections are in place to prevent polluted runoff from damaging nearby homes and polluting creeks, rivers, and streams. The law also requires that adequate studies be conducted to ensure that no threatened or endangered species will be affected. Those steps were not taken at Rocky Branch, and it was left to the citizens of Saline County to stand up to Peabody and state officials.
"These protections are put in place to give citizens a voice in the process," said Traci Barkley, a water resources scientist with Prairie Rivers Network. "In this instance, that voice was heard. While we're disappointed the state didn't take our concerns seriously, we're very pleased with OSM's quick work to protect the farms and creeks in Saline County."
Below, a tributary of Rocky Branch that would be damaged by the Rocky Branch mine.
The good news for people that live in Saline County and other communities in the Illinois Basin is that the legal principles used here are relatively straight forward. The Surface Mining Control & Reclamation Act precludes any "surface mining operations" until the company has a surface mining permit, (12 U.S.C. 1256(a)) and defines "surface mining operations" to include "activities conducted on the surface of lands in connection with a surface coal mine." 12 U.S.C. 1291(28)(A).
The people of Saline County successfully stood up to one of the largest coal mining companies in the country and an intransigent state agency that refused to take them seriously. They looked at what was happening in their community, they looked at the law, and they took action. And then they won.
For the time being, the January 13 decision ensures that the forests near Rocky Branch -- and the wildlife habitat and clean-water protection they provide -- will remain standing.
There is a public hearing on the two proposed water permits for the mine on February 18 in Harrisburg, Illinois, where the people of Saline County will once again have their voice heard.
Nathaniel Shoaff is a staff attorney with the Sierra Club.
Legendary folk singer and social activist Pete Seeger, whose career spanned more than 70 years, died this Monday, January 27, at age 94.
A believer that music could be a catalyst for societal change, Seeger championed civil and labor rights, racial equality, and anti-militarism. Although he served in the U.S. Army in World War II, he was a leading voice in opposition to the Vietnam War. Around the same time, after reading Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, he became environmental activist, co-founding the organization Hudson River Sloop Clearwater in 1966 to highlight pollution in the Hudson River and advocate for its cleanup.
In 2009, Sierra Club deputy communications director Orli Cotel interviewed Seeger for Sierra Club Radio. "It was one of my favorite interviews that I've ever done," Cotel says. "He talked with us for nearly 15 minutes about music and social change, his 40-year fight to clean up the Hudson River, performing at President Obama's inauguration, and loads more. He was truly inspiring."
By O'Neil Pryce, Masachusetts Beyond Coal Apprentice
It is estimated that there are over 215 premature deaths and more than 5,000 public health incidents in Massachusetts each year that are directly linked to pollution from coal-fired power plants. Though Massachusetts is noted as a leader in environmental stewardship and climate change mitigation, we still have room for growth.
With the recently-announced retirement of the Brayton Point coal plant in 2017, and with coal becoming increasingly unviable economically, we are urging our elected officials to join us in creating sustainable infrastructure to help transition workers and communities to a clean energy economy. Our Coal Free Massachusetts Platform does just that while calling for the implementation of energy-efficient technology and clean renewable-energy sources.
In mid-January, in a effort to gain support for our platform and mimic what the Sierra Club and other environmental advocates and activists did in Nevada, we met with Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey in mid-January to ask their help in moving Massachusetts to a clean-energy economy. To make these meetings a success we had several voices present to help convey our message.
Annie Rushman, Healthy Air Coordinator for the American Lung Association, emphasized the importance of retiring coal in Massachusetts due to the detrimental effects to the health of constituents, especially those living in close proximity to plants like Brayton Point and Mount Tom.
Michael Green of the Clean Action Liaison Coalition described the costly effects extreme weather has on small businesses. Each day these small businesses have to keep their doors closed due to weather-related incidents means a drastic loss in revenue.
Matt Lord, an attorney and Sierra Club volunteer, explained the importance of investing in wind energy and supporting the Production Tax Credit, which keeps electric rates low while encouraging renewable development.
James McCaffrey, Senior Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign in New England, stressed the importance of support from our congressional delegation. With their support we can move Massachusetts beyond coal. Overall, both senators' offices were receptive to the information we presented, and both meetings seem to be leading to further dialogue between the two offices.
Learn more about the Sierra Club's work to move America beyond coal.
Surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges and world-class ski resorts, Salt Lake City isn’t normally associated with polluted air. Unfortunately, because it’s a valley surrounded by high mountain peaks and with an urban population at nearly two million people, Salt Lake City is victim to the “bowl effect,” which results in temperature inversions. This is where the cold temperatures from high air pressure systems settle in the valley and trap air pollution from cars, trucks, and a plethora of big industry polluters.
Nearly all Salt Lake City residents are affected by this poor air quality, but low-income communities, children, and people of color are affected disproportionately.
Try as they might, these communities have come together and been vocal about their dirty air for many years. Sadly, they have received little but lip service from the state’s very conservative public officials and regulators. But when another 20-plus day-long temperature inversion set in over the holidays, Utahns had enough.
Activists came together and made their voice heard--in a big way. The Sierra Club worked with Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE), Utah Moms for Clean Air, and Utah Clean Air Now to organize the largest environmental rally in the history of the state to raise awareness for their vision for Utah: clean air and clean energy access for all communities. The rally featured Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, several state officials, medical professionals, and representatives from numerous community, air-quality, and faith-based groups.
“It’s quite clear to everyone that the biggest source of this nasty pollution is from the burning of fossil fuels,” said Tim Wagner, an organizer with the Sierra Club. “While the largest single source is from tailpipe emissions–roughly 60 percent–we also have in our midst five oil refineries, Kennecott Copper’sPhoto courtesy of Karrie Higgins
massive open-pit mine, power plants, and numerous other point sources. And many of those, including the refineries, are being permitted by state authorities to expand. It’s crazy, considering we are already out of compliance with Environmental Protection Agency standards.”
Wagner also said that eastern Utah is currently experiencing an oil boom with more and more drilling projects expected to deliver even more dirty crude to the refineries close to downtown Salt Lake City.
“Even if we quadruple ridership on our mass transit systems, the expected increase in dirty tanker truck pollution and refinery pollution will most certainly offset any such gains,” Wagner said.
Media reported more than 4,000 rally attendees.
Dr. Brian Moench, a practicing physician and the president and co-founder of UPHE, the largest civic organization of health care professionals in the state of Utah, was thrilled with the success of the rally.
“Since its inception in 2007, UPHE has become the primary reason why the public's perception of air pollution and fossil fuel development in the state of Utah, the most conservative state in the country, has become remarkably transformed in the last few years,” Dr. Moench said in an email. “The culmination of that transformation was seen yesterday in the largest rally in the modern history of the state of Utah.”
Practicing physicians in Utah like Dr. Moench see patients every day who suffer from the effects of polluted air -- in the form of shortness of breath, asthma attacks, and sometimes even cancer. In fact, nearly eight percent of Utahns have asthma, including 72,000 children.
Children and people with low incomes are disproportionately affected by air pollution and face unique risks. According to the American Lung Association, often low-income communities live closer to the sources of pollution, including near major highways or factories. Sometimes they’re more likely to have health conditions that put them at higher risk. The Sierra Club’s Environmental Justice and Community Partnerships Program is just one of many groups tackling that injustice.
If we want to protect vulnerable communities from avoidable and costly hospital visits due to poor air quality, we need to let go of our dependence on fossil fuels by working on fuel efficiency and expanding clean energy like wind and solar. A MoveOn.org petition has a goal of 10,000 signatures to hold leaders accountable for the health and quality of life -- help them get to that goal. Thousands of Utahns came together with a vision of a clean energy future -- and across the country, there are millions more that would benefit from this powerful activism.
--Roger Singer, Sierra Club senior organizing manager, Colorado
Counterfeit Cash, a Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash tribute band based in Portland, Oregon, has just released a new music video "Coal Train Blues," a cover of the Man in Black's famous hit "Folsom Prison Blues."
The revised lyrics tell about the health and environmental risks that coal exports pose to communities across the Pacific Northwest, including the beautiful Columbia River Gorge.
The video was produced by the Sierra Club's partners on the coal export fight -- Friends of the Columbia Gorge and the Power Past Coal coalition. Counterfeit Cash volunteered their talent for the cause.
"For us, taking part in this project was an easy decision," says Counterfeit Cash singer Daniel Coble. "What little is left of wild nature is being destroyed just to keep our toxic, growth-based economy going. We all need to be pushing back against this madness."
Coble rejects the notion that Cash's romanticism of trains might have extended to coal trains. "Johnny didn't romanticize coal. He sang songs like 'Loading Coal' ('And I'll sit around starvin' 'til I'm finally told/There's a nickel more a ton for loadin' coal'). Johnny loved trains, but he also loved wild, unspoiled nature."
Sierra Club organizer Laura Stevens says coal exports anywhere would harm communities everywhere. "From mining the coal in Montana to transporting it through the Pacific Northwest to burning the coal abroad and exacerbating climate disruption, coal exports threaten our environment and people's health. It is imperative to the health and safety of our communities that we stop dirty coal export projects in their tracks."
As part of the Zero Waste Campaign in Puerto Rico, this past weekend Sierra Club was part of the San Sebastian Recycles initiative. Over the four day Festival, starting Thursday January 16 and ending Sunday, January 19, there where thousands of people who visited the old San Juan area to enjoy music, local food and artisans.
The Sierra Club was one of the organizations that adopted a public plaza to create a recycling center. To achieve the initiative the local municipality provided the waste binds and materials to collect recyclables.
With over five plazas as recycling centers, the Sierra Club was part of recruiting more than 100 volunteers for the initiative. The volunteers participated in a workshop before the event to learn about the logistics and materials to be recycled.
The Puerto Rico Sierra Club adopted the "Plaza de Armas" and worked directly with 40 volunteers recycling more than 5,000 pounds of recycling materials in the course of four days.
The volunteers also were part of the educational initiative collecting petitions around stronger recycling infrastructure in the island and informing participants of what materials were being collected.
Volunteers collected over 400 signatures and outreached to more than 600 people. In addition the Sierra Club was part of the inaugural parade of the event with local environmental agencies.
-- Adriana Gonzalez, Sierra Club Puerto Rico Organizer
By Javier Sierra
A gale of good news is hitting both the wind industry and the future of the planet.
The new year started out with two world records. Spain became the first country ever to get more energy from wind than any other source during a complete year in 2013, with a 21.1-percent share at 55 gigawatts (GW). According to Spain’s Wind Energy Association, at the end of 2013, this clean energy was able to bring the price of electricity from $150 per megawatt (MW)/hour down to $7 per MV/hour.
Wind farm in Southern Spain (Photo: J. Sierra)
And in December, Denmark became the first country ever to generate more than half of its energy from wind, a total of 54.8%. Specifically, on December 21, wind fulfilled that country’s entire energy demand, and over the course of the year, it produced one third of the consumed total.
The good news also abounds here at home. In Texas, during the extreme cold spell that gripped almost the entire country during the first week of the year, wind energy saved the day for a grid that was overwhelmed by demand. On January 7, when several power plants shut down, wind energy from Western Texas avoided dangerous blackouts throughout the state. This is the logical result of Texas having added more wind energy to the grid than any other state.
And throughout the US, the breeze of good news has become a veritable gale. In 2012, the country’s wind energy capacity surpassed 60 GV (enough to power 15 million homes), no other country installed more wind energy than the US, and wind added more power to the national grid than any other source, including natural gas.
It’s no wonder then that the price of wind power is hitting record lows: 4 cents per KW/hour, 50 percent less than in 2009. It’s no wonder also that the utility owned by Warren Buffett has invested $1 billion to purchase enough wind turbines in Iowa to generate 1,000 MW.
The price of the alternative to clean energy, on the other hand, is simply unacceptable. According to a Harvard University study, every year the costs of coal pollution —also known as externalities— hit $500 billion (one 5 followed by 11 zeros), in premature deaths, asthma, emphysema, heart disease, cancer and other factors. Big Coal pays nothing out of this huge price tag. They instead dump it on you, me and the rest of the country.
Considering these arguments, it’s simply astonishing that Congress still is to renew the Production Tax Credit (PTC), one of the several tax incentives that invest in job creation in the clean energy industry. Just wind supports 80,000 jobs in the US, and 72% of the equipment needed to build wind turbines is manufactured in our country.
The fossil fuel industry, on the other hand, calls the US Capitol home. Each year, oil, coal and gas companies receive up to $52 billion in subsidies; that is, a gift from the taxpayer, you, me and everyone else.
Tell Congress that renewing the PTC is crucial for the wind industry to continue its smooth sailing.
Javier Sierra is a Sierra Club columnist. Follow him on Twitter @javier_SC
Late last month, more than 75 citizen activists and community organizers from Southern California rode on two buses through the night to give public testimony before the California Public Utilities Commission in San Francisco on why the CPUC should not authorize plans to build new natural gas power plants in Southern California to replace the retired San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station.
"The fact that all the hearings took place in San Francisco, glaringly missing outreach and input from Southern Californians, is a troubling factor given the health impacts and economic costs that new natural gas plants would have in the region," says Michael Sarmiento (at microphone, below), an organizer with the Sierra Club's My Generation campaign to promote local clean energy.
Participants in the hearing included volunteers with the Club's My Generation campaign as well as representatives from ally organizations including the California Environmental Justice Alliance, the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, and the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment.
"We drove through the night from L.A. so we could start our day early," says Jasmin Vargas (at left) of the Club's Beyond Coal campaign in Los Angeles. San Francisco-based staffer Sarah Matsumoto greeted the SoCal contingent at 6:00 a.m. and let them into Club headquarters so they could prepare for the day ahead.
Sarmiento facilitated in the Club's main conference room as the eight volunteers who would be giving testimony prepared their comments. "The room was abuzz with high school students, parents, grandmas, and children whizzing around, and it was impossible not to be struck by the diversity in the room," recalls Vargas. "One volunteer pointed out that it was inspiring to see a photograph on the wall of recent Sierra Club President Allison Chin, the lone woman of color to hold that position." (Chin has served two terms, from 2008-10 and 2012-13.)
"The hearing started promptly at 9:30 and we were all accounted for, ready to support the volunteers providing their testimonials," Vargas says. "Speakers had two minutes each to compel the commissioners to be accountable to the 30 activists in front of them and the 45 high school students in the overflow room. They called for a clean-energy future, demanded a chance to be heard in their own communities, and urged the Commission to halt any proposed new gas plant construction and deal with pollution and environmental injustice in communities of color."
After the hearing, a rally with solar panels and windmills and a press conference organized by the Sierra Club was held on the steps of the State Building, emceed by Sarmiento and featuring speakers from across the state. Here's a sampling of what they had to say:
"It is outrageous that community members from Southern California had to bus up here through the night to make our voices heard. Holding hearings 500 miles away from the people being affected by polluting new gas plants is simply unacceptable." - Opamaggio Casciani, Riverside resident (That's Casciani in green shirt, above.)
"New natural gas plants will create even more greenhouse gases and undermine California's climate mitigation efforts. Physicians and other health care professionals are already experiencing the impacts of climate change here in California, with increases in heat-related illness and respiratory diseases appearing in our state. We have a responsibility to protect the health of our communities. Clean energy alternatives must be considered a top priority." - Sapna Thottahil, Physicians for Social Responsibility
"Contrary to what the gas industry's publicity machine says, building more gas plants will only make air pollution worse in our communities. Southern California already suffers from some of the dirtiest air in the nation. Now we're talking about adding more pollution on top of it?" - Robert Cabrales, Communities for a Better Environment
"Instead of more polluting gas plants, we should be leading the nation in clean energy. We have all the solutions at our fingertips to move away from dirty fuels. Why is the state doubling down on dirty energy?"- Strela Cervas, California Alliance for Environmental Justice
That's Cervas, above, and Thottahil, below at right, at the rally outside CPUC's offices.
The impact of the event was immediate, Sarmiento says. "After the event we received an email from a member of the CPUC staff, notifying us that they are interested in having a meeting in Southern California in early 2014. We were able to show the CPUC that they need to be accountable to the community and make decisions that serve the community interest, not just big utility companies. We hope to continue building a base of volunteers who can keep the CPUC accountable and create a process where the public can participate in making these important decisions around their energy needs."
Vargas is excited and guardedly optimistic that the CPUC will agree to turn away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy in California. A poll released this month shows that a majority of utility customers in Orange and San Diego Counties favor green energy to replace nuclear power.
"As we shut down San Onofre and double down on solar and wind energy, our community leaders are rising to the occasion," she says. "Organized people can take on organized power and their entrenched interest in fossil fuels, economic inequality, and manufactured scarcity. History demands this from us; to keep true to the struggles of heroes from the civil rights movement, environmental movement, and the global movement for human rights. An organized demand for climate action and an organized global movement will change the course of history. I'm fired, fired, fired up!"
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released its 2013 Annual Climate Report, which found that the United States experienced seven weather- and climate-related disasters that resulted in more than $1 billion in damages. (See infographic below.) Specific dollar amounts for each event will be released later this year.
The report contains numerous maps, charts, and graphics such as the one below, highlighting some of last year's significant weather and climate events.
2013 was both warmer and wetter than average for the contiguous United States. The report includes a summary of national and regional temperatures and precipitation, including drought, wildfires, hurricanes and tropical storms, snow and ice, tornadoes, and -- for the more technically minded -- a "Synoptic Discussion describing recent weather events and climate anomalies in relation to the phenomena that cause the weather."
By Ivy Main, Virginia Chapter Vice-Chair
Many elected officials who care about the stark challenges confronting America's coal-producing regions today are pinning their hopes on carbon capture and sequestration. This technology takes carbon dioxide out of power plant emissions and stores it underground. (See infographic below.) Since coal is the number one emitter of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas primarily responsible for heating the planet, carbon sequestration might be the only way to continue our use of coal in a world increasingly worried about climate disruption.
Virginia's newly-elected governor, Terry McAuliffe, has high hopes for carbon sequestration. McAuliffe is confronting a problem that confounded his predecessors: how to deal with the continuing economic decline of southwest Virginia's coal-producing counties. But, enthusiastic as he is about new technology, McAuliffe should be skeptical of suggestions that carbon sequestration offers a solution to Virginia's coal decline. It does not.
This decline has been going on for decades. It predates the recession and the Obama presidency and tighter regulations aimed at protecting public health. It predates the explosion in natural gas fracking that has made gas cheaper than coal. Coal employment in Virginia has steadily dropped and is now below 5,000 workers, less than half of what it was in 1990. The best coal seams have been mined out, exacerbating the problem that Virginia coal is more expensive to mine than coal from other states. To get at the remaining seams as cheaply as possible, coal companies increasingly resort to mountaintop removal, destroying vast tracts of the Appalachians with explosives and giant machines (but very few workers). Even if carbon capture and storage proves successful, coal employment in the commonwealth won't recover.
We aren't the only Appalachian state facing this problem, but others are tackling it head-on. Kentucky, facing an even steeper decline in its coal-producing areas, has launched a bipartisan effort to help the region move beyond coal. This doesn't mean they are happy about it, but they are willing to look facts in the face.
In Virginia, on the other hand, the response for some years has been to throw money at the coal companies and hope for the best. Virginia taxpayers shell out millions of dollars every year to corporations that mine Virginia coal. Legislators keep renewing the coal subsidies even though a 2011 review by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee concluded they aren't effective.
If throwing money at coal companies can't halt the slide in Virginia coal, it's hard to see how carbon sequestration technology could do it, even if the government were to pay for it. And given the environmental destruction involved in mountaintop removal mining, prolonging the end of the coal era in Virginia shouldn't be anyone's priority.
The start of a new administration offers a chance for a new strategy. Admittedly, it won't be easy. The challenge of bringing new industries to a remote and mountainous region is a tough one, and support for coal still remains high in the area. Why, then, insist on confronting cold reality? Because it has to be done.
Terry McAuliffe campaigned on jobs, and has given every indication he means it. Given his background, connections and talents, he is in as good a position as any governor in recent times to take on the challenge of helping southwest Virginia diversify its economy. He can work with the legislature to redirect the millions of dollars currently going to ineffective coal subsidies into tax credits for jobs in new industries and support for projects like home weatherization that create jobs and make a difference in people's lives. He can challenge the entrenched interests, twist arms, enlist allies, recruit businesses, use the media-in short, make this a priority. The residents of the coalfields deserve as much.
Today, Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L), a utility that serves over 800,000 customers in Kansas and Missouri, announced that it will nearly double its existing wind portfolio with the purchase of 400 megawatts (MW) of power from facilities located in both Kansas and Missouri.
EDP Renewables will construct and operate the first facility in Waverly, Kansas, while Element Power will build and manage the second site in Holt County, Missouri. Expected to be operational by the end of 2015, each facility will be capable of producing up to 200 MW of electricity. KCP&L will purchase power from these wind farms via twenty-year power purchase agreements that will be cheaper than purchasing power from other sources. In fact, KCP&L estimates that this wind energy purchase will save its customers approximately $600 million over the lifetime of the agreements. KCP&L's wind energy purchase puts the utility on par with other Midwestern utilities that are investing in wind and saving customers money. [Note: A recent report from the Department of Energy describes downward-trending wind prices and skyrocketing demand, noting that, in 2012, wind was the largest source of new electrical generation capacity in the United States.]
So, how did this happen? In 2007, the Sierra Club and Concerned Citizens of Platte County entered into a settlement agreement with KCP&L where we agreed to drop legal challenges concerning the Iatan coal-fired power plant in exchange for, among other things, the utility's procurement of 400 MW of wind-generated electric power by December 31, 2012. By the end of 2012, KCPL had come up short on its promise, so we sent the utility a demand letter indicating our intent to sue over breach of contract. KCP&L took these allegations seriously and respectfully, and we commenced a series of very productive conversations about the need to comply with the legal agreement that the parties had negotiated in good faith, as well as the incredible value that wind energy can bring to a utility like KCP&L.
With the procurement of 400 MW of new wind, KCP&L will power past its original obligations under our settlement, resulting in a net win for the climate and the utility's customers. Unfortunately, Missouri's wind energy portfolio currently lags behind neighboring states like Illinois and Iowa, which hold nearly eight and eleven times more installed wind capacity, respectively. Still, we commend KCP&L for its efforts here, which are in stark contrast to those of Ameren Missouri, the state's largest electric utility. Today's announcement will bring KCP&L's total wind energy portfolio to 939 MW, making it a clear leader in both Kansas and Missouri, and over nine times larger than Ameren Missouri's 102 MW wind portfolio.
KCP&L's announcement is a refreshing way to ring in the New Year, particularly for the state of Missouri, which generated over 80 percent of its electricity from coal-fired power plants in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available. In 2014, we will continue to push both Ameren and KCP&L to invest in clean, renewable energy while we simultaneously advocate for a timely and responsible phase out of the utilities' oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants.
Sunil Bector is an attorney with the Sierra Club.
At its final meeting of 2013, the Sierra Club's Board of Directors passed a resolution honoring lifelong conservationist and longtime Sierra Club volunteer leader Patrick Goldsworthy, who died this October at age 94.
In 1957, Goldsworthy helped establish the Sierra Club's first chapter in the Pacific Northwest (then called the Northwest Chapter) and its close ally, the North Cascades Conservation Council (NCCC).
"Dr. Goldsworthy was present at the creation of the Northwest's conservation movement, back in the days when horn-blasting logging trucks lined up outside wilderness hearings," writes Joel Connelly of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "Goldsworthy was a gentleman, but relentless in his advocacy."
Born in Ireland in 1919, Patrick Donovan Goldsworthy earned his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, joining the Sierra Club while still a student there. After serving in the U.S. Army and Air Force, he moved to Seattle in 1952 to become a professor of biochemistry at the University of Washington.
No sooner had Goldsworthy settled in Seattle than he heard about illegal logging being allowed in Olympic National Park by the park superintendent. His response was to travel to the park, photograph the destruction, and help stop the logging.
In 1956 he was elected to the board of Olympic Park Associates, and the following year he helped found the Club's Northwest Chapter (now split into the Washington State and Oregon chapters) and the NCCC. The two organizations led the fight to establish the Glacier Peak Wilderness in 1960, pass the Wilderness Act in 1964, and establish the iconic North Cascades National Park in 1968.
"Pat always impressed me as one of the true gentlemen of Northwest Conservation," says author and fellow Olympic Park Associates activist Tim McNulty. But Goldsworthy was nothing if not tenacious in pursuit of his conservation goals.
In 1962, when Interior Secretary Stewart Udall came to Seattle for the 1962 World's Fair, local attorney/conservationist Irving Clark, Jr., invited Goldsworthy to a beach party honoring Udall on nearby Bainbridge Island. Joel Connelly relates the story in the Post-Intelligencer:
"Now Pat," Clark admonished Goldsworthy, "Steward Udall is a busy man." Clark gently suggested that Goldsworthy let Udall relax and hold off lobbying for a national park in the North Cascades.
No way! Armed with maps, Goldsworthy positioned himself just inside the door of the beach house. He waylaid Udall, took him into the study, and laid out the case for a park. Goldsworthy, lugging topographical maps, became a familiar figure in Washington congressional offices.
Six years post-Bainbridge, Goldsworthy stood with Udall at the White House while President Lyndon Johnson signed the North Cascades Act into law. He received a pen used by LBJ to sign the act."
Below, Goldsworthy with LBJ at the 1968 creation of North Cascades National Park.
In 1966 Goldsworthy received the Sierra Club's William E. Colby Award for outstanding leadership and service to the Sierra Club.
"Pat was perpetually genial, always self-effacing, ever eager to give credit to others," reads the Sierra Club resolution honoring Goldsworthy. "He was a particular inspiration to each young person he encountered. Pat remained active in every major wilderness battle in Western Washington up until his death. As a result of his work and inspiration, Americans have a nearly unbroken block of wilderness and national park land stretching along the crest of the Cascades from the Canadian border to just south of Mt. Rainier National Park.
"Pat inspired generations of the Sierra Club's chapter and group leaders and staff members with his dedication, his persistence, and his confidence that our political system could and would match his vision if we were effective advocates. There was not a cynical bone in his body. Pat lived a full life, so we cannot so much mourn his passing as honor his legacy and take his example to renew our own commitment to the work he pioneered."
Other places Goldworthy was instrumental in protecting include the Wild Sky, Alpine Lakes, William O. Douglag, Norse Peak, Boulder River, Chelan-Sawtooth, Henry M. Jackson, Mt. Baker, and Noisy-Diobsud wilderness areas.
"If you want to see his legacy," says Joel Connelly, "lift your eyes to the hills."
Erica Thames grew up and spent most of her life in a low-income community in Southern California's Inland Empire, a region of more than four million people just east of Los Angeles that is beset with some of the worst air pollution in the U.S.
"Growing up, I had a general idea of environmentalism in the form of recycling, saving water, etc.," the 23-year-old activist told MTV in an interview this fall. "But it wasn't until I started learning about environmental justice and environmental racism that I became really involved."
Thames hooked up with the Sierra Club in 2012 when she was a student at San Bernadino Valley College. While volunteering at an Inland Empire cultural collective called Chicccaa (Chicano Indigenous Community for Culturally Conscious Advocacy and Action), she met Allen Hernandez, an organizer with the Club's My Generation campaign.
Thames quickly became a key volunteer leader with the campaign, going door-to-door to ask local residents to sign petitions supporting rooftop solar in low-income communities, and organizing demonstrations opposing California utilities' restrictions on renewable energy.
"Erica took the lead in organizing these demonstrations," says Hernandez. "We wouldn't have had such a successful rally outside Southern California Edison's headquarters this August if it wasn't for her." The demonstration, pictured above and below, was held to protest the utility's opposition to California families installing solar panels on their homes.
Thames, above at right, said that many of her friends and neighbors in the Inland Empire were initially skeptical when she began working to bring rooftop solar to her working-class community, which in addition to being plagued with bad air also suffers from high unemployment.
"People would say, how does that apply to me? I don't have $20,000 to put rooftop solar on my house," she told the Associated Press this fall. But when she explained that the growth of rooftop solar would mean local construction jobs, savings for local property owners, and lower electric bills and cleaner air for everyone, it hit home. "When you start talking about health benefits and jobs, people become really intrigued."
Hernandez calls Thames "the most critical volunteer I've had." The admiration runs both ways. "Allen mentored me completely," Thames says. "I wasn't sure what to expect when I started out as a Sierra Club volunteer. Allen taught me all about environmental justice -- and injustice. He really drove home the point that the area where I grew up was hit hard by environmental racism."
This fall, Thames moved to Austin, Texas, to work for the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign. "Being a staff organizer gives me the time and resources to be able to dedicate myself to creating change," she says. "It was a bit of a challenge at first dealing with culture shock -- Texas and California are totally different worlds! But the skills I learned in California helped greatly, and I was able to make the transition with not much problem."
Thames stresses that organizations like the Sierra Club must make it a priority to assist communities like the one in which she grew up in their fight of resistance against environmental racism.
"Erica is an example of what investment in our communities can produce," says Hernandez. "She was already a student leader at her college, but her involvement and development with the My Generation campaign helped her achieve community leader status. Her furious and unwavering commitment to social justice and environmental justice is both humbling and inspiring."
You know somebody is really walking the green walk when you meet them in Los Angeles and they show up on their bicycle. That was the first thing that impressed me about Skylar Funk, above at left, when I met him recently at a coffee shop in the Silver Lake neighborhood near downtown L.A. The second was his infectious enthusiasm for a project that is now coming down the home stretch.
Funk is co-leader with Merritt Graves, at right above, of the alternative pop band Trapdoor Social, which broke onto the music scene last December with their debut release, Death of a Friend. The two met in an Environmental Analysis program at Pomona College in 2006 and quickly bonded over their shared passion for music and the environment. After graduating, Funk spent a year volunteering for the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign.
Now, Trapdoor Social is partnering with the Sierra Club, Everybody Solar, and GRID Alternatives to raise $20,000 for a solar energy project in Los Angeles. All proceeds from pre-orders of Trapdoor Social's new album, due out in the new year, will go toward installing solar panels on the roof of Homeboy Industries, a non-profit that provides services, counseling, and job training -- with a special focus on the green energy sector -- to formerly gang-involved men and women.
"Merritt and I want Trapdoor Social to be part of a movement that engages people in making social change," Funk says. "Climate disruption is an urgent matter, and the Homeboy solar fundraiser is an opportunity for us to make a point about the importance of renewable energy."
"We're excited about the emerging clean-energy economy, which will promote national security through energy independence and job creation in a new sustainable sector," says Graves.
Trapdoor Social is using Pledge Music, an online "direct-to-fan" music platform, to host the fundraiser. Anyone who makes a donation by the end of 2013 will get the band's new album prior to its official public release, along with the satisfaction of knowing they've contributed to two righteous causes: clean energy and a non-profit that is making a real difference in helping motivated people turn their lives around.
"We are very grateful to be the beneficiaries of this project," says Father Greg Boyle, at left, a Los Angeles native, Jesuit priest, and founder & executive director of Homeboy Industries. "The installation of solar panels at Homeboy will reduce our energy costs, increase awareness about renewable energy, and help us promote our Solar Panel Installation Training and Certification Program. Our hope is that we will quickly get more people involved in the program, completing the courses, passing the national test, and eventually working in the solar panel installation industry."
The Sierra Club got involved with the Homeboy solar fundraiser this summer when Funk contacted Sierra Club organizer Michael Sarmiento, whom he'd met during his stint with Beyond Coal.
"The Sierra Club is really excited to be supporting Trapdoor Social in this project," says Sarmiento, an organizer for the Club's My Generation campaign, which focuses on expanding access to clean energy across California, especially in low-income communities and communities of color. "Partnerships like this will help create good jobs in the renewable energy sector and bring substantial energy savings to families and organizations like Homeboy that are doing such amazing work."
Above, Funk and Graves tour Homeboy's offices with program coordinator Thaddeus Skiles. Below, the band visits the Sierra Club's L.A. headquarters.
"Clean energy is the energy of the future, and the future is now," says Aura Vasquez, statewide partnerships representative for the Club. "The savings and environmental benefits of clean energy can't be overstated. As we transition away from fossil fuels, it's critical that we replace that energy with clean, renewable sources. Two-thirds of all new solar panel installations in California are currently taking place in low-income and middle-class neighborhoods, and we want to make sure that clean energy is available to everyone."
Last week Trapdoor Social co-sponsored an event at Homeboy's headquarters, below, for all the Southern California partners who have joined the Homeboy solar fundraiser, including the Sierra Club, Everybody Solar, GRID Alternatives, ecoSolargy and Solectria, which are donating panels and inverters, and Orion, which is donating mounting systems.
"We're on a mission," says Funk. "We want to use our music and the megaphone we're fortunate enough to have through Trapdoor Social to raise money and awareness about environmental sustainability. And you will hear the passion in the music."
(Click on the photo above to watch Trapdoor Social's new video for their song, Like You Never.)
On Thursday Sierra Club staff and DC chapter members braved a frigid afternoon in our nation's Capital to join supporters of immigrant families from the labor, faith and civil rights communities at the breaking of the Fast for Families. Calling on Speaker John Boehner and the House of Representatives to be true to the deepest values of this nation of immigrants, fasters and their supporters predicted Congressional action in the New Year to enact long delayed legislation that includes a path to citizenship.
Supporters of families who have been separated and harmed by our country's outdated immigration policies have been fasting on the National Mall since before Thanksgiving. As Javier Sierra noted in his column earlier this week, the fast has attracted the country's attention, including President Obama, the First Lady, Vice-President Joe Biden and the Democratic leadership in Congress, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
In his column supporting the fasters, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said, "There's no excuse for forcing millions of people to live outside the prevailing currents of our society, where they are frequently exploited and where they often suffer the worst effects of environmental pollution."
At yesterday's event, former SEIU Vice President Eliseo Medina referred to the fast as a wake-up call to the nation about "the moral crisis caused by our broken immigration system." Medina was one of four original fasters who broke their fast on December 3, and passed the baton to others including Sojourners founder Rev. Jim Wallis, Congressman Joe Kennedy III, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel.
Echoing the spiritual resistance embodied in earlier fasts by Mahatma Gandhi, who led the struggle for India's freedom from colonialism, and Cesar Chavez, who opened the nation's consciousness to the plight of farmworkers, yesterday's event opened with interfaith prayers in Spanish, English and Korean. At the close, fasters broke their fasts by breaking bread and sharing grape juice in a spiritual communion with participants.
Among the sacred verses quoted was Isaiah 58:6: "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice...to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?"
-- Dean Hubbard, Director of the Sierra Club's Labor Program. Photos by Javier Sierra.
Last week the Bridgeport, Connecticut, city council met for the first time since new council members were elected and sworn in. That meant Connecticut Beyond Coal activists were on-hand to say "Welcome" and make sure the new members know that Bridgeport should be coal-free.
"There were nine new members elected to the 20-person council,"' said Onte Johnson, a Beyond Coal organizer in Bridgeport. "Every council meeting there is a 30-minute public speaking forum to present to the city council matters pertaining the community. We took that opportunity and came strong!"
Johnson said activists and students from Yale, Quinnipiac, and the University of Bridgeport spoke for 10 minutes to the Mayor and City Council about the local Beyond Coal campaign's goals.
"We discussed a transition for Bridgeport's coal plant, the health impacts of coal and carbon pollution, and how it all contributes to climate disruption and the health of our children and community," said Johnson.
Bridgetport's coal plant ranks as the tenth most harmful coal plant in the U.S. The Beyond Coal activists in Bridgeport have made the news before for their activism demanding that the city retires the dirty coal plant. Keep up the great work!
By Javier Sierra
During 22 days, four social justice heroes fasted in Washington, DC, to support immigration reform including a path to citizenship, in the shadow of the very same Congress that refuses to vote on it.
Their names are Cristián Avila, Dae Joong Yoon, Eliseo Medina and Lisa Sharon —the vanguard of a movement hungry for justice for 11 million undocumented immigrants who live in the shadows of our society exposed to all kinds of injustices.
Their sacrifice —under the theme “Fast for Families”— has attracted the country’s attention, including President Obama, the First Lady, Vice-President Joe Biden and the Democratic leadership in Congress, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. But so far, all they have to show for it is the indifference of a House of Representatives that stubbornly refuses to vote on a bill the Senate has already approved.
The fast, inevitably, brings us memories of César Chávez’s formidable struggle in favor of justice and humane treatment for farm workers in California and other Southwestern states.
During his activism, this social and environmental justice giant completed two hunger strikes and, in 1988, a “Fast for Life” in protest against the use of pesticides. Over 36 days, Chávez sacrificed his body to safeguard the health of tens of thousands of farm workers who suffered a daily toxic bombardment of terrible consequences.
Our moral debt to Chávez is enormous. And a new initiative is trying to partially repay it. The Department of the Interior has submitted a proposal to Congress to establish a new National Historic Park to honor Chávez and the farm workers movement he led along with Dolores Huerta.
After evaluating 100 sites of historic significance regarding Chávez’s legacy, the department has recommended that the following five be integrated into this new park:
—The 40 Acres National Historic Landmark, in Delano, CA, where he completed his first hunger strike.
—The Filipino Community Hall, also in Delano, the headquarters of the 1965 grape strike.
—The César E. Chávez National Monument at Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz, in Keene, CA, where he lived and founded the United Farm Workers Union.
—The Santa Rita Center, in Phoenix, AZ, where he underwent his second hunger strike in 1972.
—And the route of the 1966 Delano to Sacramento March, a 340-mile walk that Chávez and his fellow activists covered to protest the working conditions in the California vineyards.
“Recognizing these sites associated with his leadership of the United Farm Workers as part of a national historical park will ensure that his contributions to the Civil Rights movement will be preserved and shared as an inspiration for future generations,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.
Chávez’s spirit was almost palpable in the air of that cool morning in Washington, DC, when his successors ended their fast after three weeks of sacrifice.
But the struggle continues, and several other activists took their places to continue reminding the consciences of the House members that 11 million people are still suffering deportations, deaths on the border, labor exploitation and environmental injustices that threaten the health of their families and communities.
All of them also deserve a monument, a monument to human decency.
Javier Sierra is a Sierra Club columnist. Follow him on Twitter @javier_SC
This Tuesday, December 10, our nation's highest courts will hear two landmark Clean Air Act cases that have big implications for public health. First and foremost, the Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday on the Environmental Protection Agency's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.
Back in 2011, EPA unveiled this update of a critical public health protection that would reduce power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, dangerous pollutants that form soot and smog and contribute to poor air quality days and respiratory illnesses affecting millions of Americans. They call this the Cross State Air Pollution Rule because it curbs the millions of tons of air pollution that travel downwind and across state lines each year. Pollution doesn't stop at state lines.
Unfortunately, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals handed down an extremely controversial divided ruling in August of 2012 that struck this rule.
The EPA and a coalition of environmental and public health organizations - including the Sierra Club - sought review by the Supreme Court, and on June 24, 2013, the Court agreed to hear the case. Briefs submitted by the EPA, our coalition of the American Lung Association, Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and many others make the case that the DC Circuit's ruling is unfounded, contrary to the Clean Air Act, based on a misunderstanding of interstate pollution, and seriously jeopardizes the ability of downwind states and the EPA to protect millions of people from dangerous ozone and particulate matter pollution.
The benefits of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule are remarkable. According to the EPA, this standard would prevent up to 34,000 deaths annually, would prevent 1.8 million days of missed work/school annually, and would provide $120-280 billion in benefits every year at a cost of only $1.8 billion in the first year, and roughly $1 billion a year thereafter. The benefits-to-cost ratio is about 100 to 1!
What's more, for many downwind areas, 75 percent or more of local air pollution comes from upwind states. In parts of Connecticut, more than 90 percent of ozone pollution is due to pollutants flowing in from other states. Without this cross-state protection, these states simply cannot resolve their air quality problems, putting the health of their citizens at grave risk.
Industries and states and many others are standing together calling for implementation of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. Just today, underscoring the urgency of the problem, governors of eight Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states petitioned EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to reduce air pollution blowing into the region from nine Midwestern and Appalachian states.
The second major public health protection coming before a court this week is the EPA's Mercury and Air Toxics Standard. Coal plants are the largest source of mercury pollution in the U.S., so of course the industry is challenging this standard that requires them to stop dumping so much mercury into our air and water.
Mercury is a powerful neurotoxin that can damage the brain and nervous system. Mercury is of special concern to women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, since exposure to mercury can cause developmental problems, learning disabilities, and delayed onset of walking and talking in babies and infants.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will hold oral argument on December 10 regarding these challenges by industry to this critical public health mercury standard.
Make no mistake about it - this Tuesday, December 10, is a big day for clean air and public health in our nation's highest courts, and there are tens of thousands of lives on the line.
-- Mary Anne Hitt, Beyond Coal Campaign Director