Sierra Club

Press Room:  For Immediate Release 
Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet

For Immediate Release
October 31, 2008

Contact: David Willett, 202-675-6698

’08 Elections and the Clean Energy Economy
Sierra Club Political Program Highlights

Washington, DC:  As the election heads into its final days, it is already clear that the need to invest in clean energy and green jobs, concern about record gas prices, record oil company profits, and demand for energy independence and action on global warming elevated Sierra Club’s priority issues to an unprecedented level.
"For the first time in a Presidential election, candidates and voters are connecting the dots between energy, the environment and the economy," said Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director. "Barack Obama, in particular, has made it clear that  investing in cleaner energy will be "priority number one" in his plans for economic recovery."

"Even with the economic crisis rightly dominating the national conversation, candidates are touting investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies as the answer that would jumpstart our economy, create millions of jobs, new industries and opportunities,"said Cathy Duvall, Sierra Club Political Director.  "And for the first time in American electoral history, presidential candidates aren't debating the existence of global warming but discussing instead the policies they would pursue to curb climate change."

Clean energy has become a defining issue in all of the major battleground Senate races as well as dozens of House contests. The issue is working to draw distinctions between candidates who favor politics as usual candidates who took money from Big Oil and voted to give the oil companies tax breaks  and candidates who promise to deliver change in the form of an increased reliance on renewable power and energy efficiency.  Candidates around the country are introducing voters to the new lexicon of "green jobs", "clean energy future,"and "cap and auction."

For several years the Sierra Club has been working to build momentum and support among the public and office-holders for clean energy as a solution to both the economic and environmental problems Americans face.

The Sierra Club Political Committee’s ran a number of programs focused on contrasting endorsed candidates including Barack Obama and his job-creating clean energy investment plan, with John McCain’s continuing of the Bush administration’s energy and environmental policies .  The Sierra Club’s program included:

  • A national TV ad and scorecard through an independent program highlighting the stark difference between McCain’s proposals to continue rewarding Big Oil while Obama’s plan stops corporate giveaways.  Radio ads were also run in Ohio and in Spanish in Nevada.

  • An independent direct contact program that’s reached tens of thousands of targeted swing voters in key battleground states.  Efforts to promote Barack Obama and his job-creating plans for clean energy focused in NH, CO and OH have included 140,248 phone contacts and 478,540 pieces of mail. 

  • Our independent canvass knocked on 60,000 doors in PA, OH and VA to discuss Obama’s plans for 5 million new green jobs in the U.S. through clean energy and fair trade.

  • The Sierra Club is also engaged in an extensive independent canvass on campuses in Denver, Colorado educating young voters on Barack Obama and key ballot initiatives in the state. 

  • Organizers for the independent program are conducting outreach and voter education about the Presidential and targeted Senate candidates NH, NM, CO, PA, OH, MN, WI, NV and OR.

  • Separately, Sierra Club’s largest-ever grassroots program coordinated with campaigns deployed 55 staff and thousands of volunteer Sierra Club members to the Obama campaign and targeted Congressional races  in 15 states--5 senate races and 33 house races.

  • Members have also employed their greatest strength the ability to recruit more grassroots supporters to engage in the election, by using a combination of online organizing tools and existing volunteer structure to recruit Sierra Club members from non-battleground states to phone, e-mail, and travel into swing states to get out the vote.

  • Activists will also be reminding their friends and neighbors to vote using text message, via an innovative new website that allows you to "bank" friend's cell phone numbers for an election day text reminder. 

  • An allied organization, the Sierra Club State Action Fund, is engaged in a number of ballot initiatives and issue advocacy campaigns including energy initiatives in Colorado, Missouri, Utah as well as development and transportation ballot measures in South Dakota and Nevada.  The Sierra Club State Action Fund provided voter education on energy and water issues.  The program included a total of one million pieces of mail sent, over 200,000 calls made and, in Colorado, over 190,000 doors knocked. 

  • As part of our continuing and growing collaboration with the American labor movement, earlier this month the Sierra Club and Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, held conference calls with their respective members in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Governor Ted Strickland, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, and Carl Pope, Sierra Club's Executive Director joined on a conference call with Ohio members to discuss the importance of good jobs and clean energy in this year's election. In Pennsylvania a similar call was lead by Pope, Governor Ed Rendell and United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard. Carl Pope and Cathy Duvall also joined Working America reaching out to their members in Oregon and Virginia.

  • The Sierra Club is also fighting against Amendments 47, 49 and 54 in Colorado, Amendment 47 is a so-called “Right-to-Work” initiative that would threaten workers’ rights, workplace safety, and would lower wages; Amendment 49 would weaken the rights of workers to spend their own money as they see fit and make it harder to bargain for better wages; and Amendment 54 would silence the voices of people who work for state and local government who want to participate in the political process.

  • Sierra Club and its student arm, the Sierra Student Coaltion (SSC) supported and engaged in Power Vote—an effort spearheaded by the Energy Action Coalition to unite young "climate voters" behind a platform centered on combating global warming pollution, creating millions of new green jobs, and ensuring our nation's energy independence by transitioning to a dynamic new clean energy economy.  The SSC has been active with this effort on over 50 campuses.


On Wednesday, November 5th, Sierra Club will join with other environmental groups to discuss the election results and what this election means for moving forward with clean energy solutions with a new administration and Congress.  The press conference will be at 2 PM at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

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