Tuesday, April 27, 2010

California’s Global Warming Leadership: A Win For Green Vehicles, Jobs and Oil Independence

By Bill Haller, Sierra Club California Activist

On April 1st the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in cooperation with the California Air Resources Board will release the first-ever national greenhouse gas standards for passenger vehicles. If you’re still waking up to the first few sips of your morning coffee, you may want to read that first sentence over again.

It boggles the mind. To cut greenhouse gases, create real jobs, reduce our oil dependency and in the process, better secure our nation, the Obama administration, U.S. EPA, the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration and Cal EPA through CARB put their heads together to come up with new standards for auto emissions for 2016 and beyond.

Me, I’m flabbergasted because for the last two decades the needle has barely moved on national fuel efficiency standards. Now it’s going to be set at 35 mpg. Somebody pinch me.

As a 52 year-old dad of two young kids (Little League for him, ballet and tap for her), a consumer (18 mpg when we roll the family van in neutral down a hill) and a Sierra Club volunteer (one of 150,000 treehuggers in California), I want to have the option to purchase a greener vehicle like a plug in hybrid or a battery electric vehicle. But what I really want is a cleaner, greener and more prosperous future for my kids. I know it sounds weird for me to say, but thanks to my government, that future is now more a reality than ever before. Oh, c’mon, you knew Detroit and Big Oil were never going to do it on their own.

Getting rid of harmful greenhouse gases is not only good for our environment but it also guarantees that all Americans benefit from clean breathable air including our elderly, the infirm, you, me, the kids. We save money at the gas pump, reduce our dangerous dependence on oil, create new jobs and ensure California’s global leadership in advancing technology for greener vehicles. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, passenger vehicles are responsible for over 70 percent of greenhouse gas pollution in our state. With about 30 million cars tooling around California’s freeways every day, that is why these new federal standards for greener vehicles are so important.

Happy? Me too.

Monday, April 19, 2010

White House Launches America's Great Outdoors Initiative

Sierra Club Urges Administration to Get Kids Outside, Help Wildlife Adapt to Global Warming
Washington, D.C. - Tomorrow, the White House will kick off a new initiative aimed at changing the way America's public lands are managed. Sierra Club is calling on the Obama administration to use the initiative as an opportunity to address two key challenges: Introducing more children, especially children of color, to America's public lands, and addressing the growing threat of global warming to wildlife and wild places.
Following the event on Friday, the administration is expected to launch a series of public "listening sessions" around the nation that will allow Americans to weigh in on how federal agencies manage our national forests, rivers, and parks.
Statement of Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune:

We applaud President Obama, Secretary Salazar, Secretary Vilsack, and Chair Sutley for launching the Great Outdoors initiative. This initiative offers an unprecedented opportunity to change the way we manage our public lands. Protecting our wild legacy in the face of climate change, and engaging the next generation of conservationists should be central to this effort.
Global warming poses a threat to wildlife and habitat unlike anything we've seen before. If we hope to pass on a wild legacy to future generations, we need to address the challenge of climate change head-on. We need to create connectivity between landscapes that will allow animals like grizzly bears and panthers to migrate and adapt. We can increase the odds that wildlife will survive global warming by reducing other hurdles, like irresponsible oil and gas development. Protecting forests and wetlands also helps clean the air, store carbon, and fight global warming.
As we work to protect our wild legacy, we also need to ensure that we cultivate the next generation of conservationists who will act as good stewards of our outdoor heritage. Our public lands provide an opportunity to build health and happiness among our children. Studies show that when children spend time outdoors, they benefit both physically and academically. Introducing youth and underserved communities to America's Great Outdoors should be a top priority for this administration.
Solutions the Sierra Club has proposed as part of the Great Outdoors Initiative include:

*Implement climate-smart management that protects and restores natural ecosystems, with an emphasis on ten key ecosystems identified by Sierra Club: http://www.sierraclub.org/habitat/ecoregions/
*Protect large core areas from development and connect habitat by protecting migration corridors
*Ensure adequate funding for federal, state, tribal and private-land conservation and wildlife adaptation measures
*Limit non-climate hurdles wildlife face, such as irresponsible oil and gas development.
*Protect old-growth forests and roadless areas on public lands that sequester carbon and help mitigate the effects of climate change.
*Set aside funding to engage young children in outdoor activities and employ older youth through a 21st Century Conservation Corps that will help train youth for good, sustainable jobs in conservation.
*Reach deep into communities to engage young people of color to ensure a more diverse and representative next generation of the conservation movement.
*The Interior Department and Forest Service should team up with health agencies to connect kids with the great outdoors as one solution to the obesity crisis.
*Establish a Presidential Council on Americans and the Great Outdoors to advise the President and offer policy recommendations to address the growing disconnect between Americans and the Great Outdoors.


Oliver Bernstein
Senior Communications Strategist
Sierra Club
Phone: 512.477.2152
Cell: 512.289.8618