President Obama Wastes No Time
If anyone was still wondering whether President Barack Obama would make a significant difference in the White House, it took less than a week to settle the question. The announcement that President Obama had requested that EPA Director Lisa Jackson to look into granting California a waiver for its clean car law is, by itself, a stunning break with the policies of the past. Significantly, it's also one of four "Clean Slate" energy initiatives that more than 50,000 Sierra Club supporters asked President Obama to enact immediately upon assuming office. (You can still encourage him to act on the remaining three.)
But that was only some of the good news last week. President Obama also indicated that his administration will issue new fuel-economy standards in the coming months that will go beyond what the Bush administration had started. Equally exciting was an announcement that the EPA, for the first time ever, would oppose a coal-fired power plant permit (the Big Stone II project in South Dakota).
In addition, President Obama lifted the "global gag rule" that has prohibited U.S. funding for international organizations that speak about abortion to women and girls seeking reproductive and family-planning services. And Abraham Lincoln's Bible probably hadn't even made it back to the Library of Congress before the Interior Department announced that it was withdrawing a rule change that would have prematurely dropped gray wolves in the Great Lakes and Northern Rocky Mountains from the endangered species list.
Of course much work remains before eight years of environmental neglect can be reversed, but what a start!
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A New Role for Carl Pope
Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope has announced plans to step down from his current job, although he will continue to serve until a successor is found. Carl will then transition to a new role as Chairman of the Sierra Club -- focused on climate change.
"My decision comes at a very exciting time for the Sierra Club and the environmental movement," he says. "The election of President Barack Obama, and the increase in the number of environmental champions in the Congress, means that after eight years of bitter defense, it is time for America to resume its tradition of environmental leadership."
Carl's been with the Sierra Club for more than 30 years and has been Executive Director since 1992.
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Talk about making a virtue of necessity: Just in time for the recession comes "Frugal Environmentalism." Lots of folks are pinching pennies these days, and that turns out to be a good thing for the planet. Using fewer natural resources in your home can also save you a lot of money.
For starters, you might want to visit Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's exhaustive Home Energy Saver. And don’t miss Sierra magazine senior editor Paul Rauber's "Frugal Environmentalism: Saving the earth on the cheap."
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$10,000 for Five Eco-Friendly Projects
There are people among us who study environmental issues and make a personal commitment to live lightly on the planet -- then go a step further by helping their communities get greener as well. They set up recycling programs, weatherize homes, clean up watersheds, plant trees. You know these folks. You've seen them. Maybe you're one of them!
They are the very people who should know about the Green Heroes Grant Program sponsored by the makers of Green Works(tm) Natural Cleaners. The brand is giving away $10,000 grants to five "heroes," people who have organized eco-friendly projects, whether they're at the neighborhood level or community-wide. You can nominate yourself, or you can nominate someone you know whose work has impressed you -- just visit the website, fill in a short form, upload a photo, and explain why the person and project are worthy of the grant. (Please note: only individual members are eligible for non-Sierra Club projects and programs. Sierra Club chapters and programs are not eligible.)
The submission deadline is February 28. After that, a panel of judges -- the Sierra Club, along with the folks at EcoFabulous and Josh Dorfman aka The Lazy Environmentalist -- will choose the finalists, and the public will vote on them from March 16 through April 10. The five winners will be announced on Earth Day.
Surely you can think of a project or two that could use an injection of cash right now. Sign 'em up!
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National Day of Success
The Monday before last week's inauguration, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, was a National Day of Service, and Sierra Club members and supporters turned out in droves to answer President Obama's call to give something back to the nation.
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