Google Dumps ALEC

Huge news!

Google is dumping the Koch-fueled American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an extremist group that pushes legislation like forcing public schools to teach climate denial.

The announcement comes on the heels of the People’s Climate March where more than 400,000 people hit the streets of New York City for a clean energy future and after you helped send 100,000 messages to Google asking them to stop funding ALEC. It’s clear our work is paying off.

But we can’t stop now! eBay is still funding these climate deniers. Tell them to join Google and the 50 other corporations that have quit ALEC.

America’s technological innovators have sent a message loud and clear: groups that promote a climate denying agenda have no place in the 21st century.

Just the other day, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt told National Public Radio’s Diane Rehm Show that “The people who oppose [climate change] are really hurting our children and grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. We should not be aligned with such people. They are just literally lying.

BOOM!

Google, Yahoo, Yelp, Facebook, and Microsoft have all stopped funding ALEC. Tell eBay it’s time to join the exodus. Help us send 30,000 messages to John Donahoe, eBay’s CEO, today.

Thanks for all you do to protect the environment. Together we are showing ALEC and the Koch brothers that America won’t stand for its climate denying agenda any longer!

Posted in Climate Change, Energy, InTheNews, Legislation, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

KY Sierra Club Water Committee Meeting – JOIN US!

Shillalah Creek in Bell Co., KY: by Chuck Summers

Shillalah Creek in Bell Co., KY: by Chuck Summers

PLEASE JOIN US …
this Saturday, August 9th, in the Community Room at the Midway Branch Library, Northside Drive (on the road to the Northside Elementary School) for an important meeting on water issues in Kentucky, and how we can work towards getting more of the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) included under the protections of the Clean Water Act.

TOPIC:                 WOTUS (Waters Of The US – in Kentucky)
TIME:                   August 9, 2014 from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon
LOCATION:       Midway Branch – Woodford County Public Library (Map)

Midway Branch
400 Northside Dr.
Midway, KY 40347
Phone: (859) 846-4014

QUESTIONS:        Hank Graddy, 859-229-4033, water@kentucky.sierraclub.org

SUMMARY OF PREVIOUS MEETING:  At our previous meeting on June 28, 2014 we introduced and explained the need for the EPA proposed regulation to bring more clarity to the meaning of  “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) as that term is used in the Clean Water Act.  We also focused on the Interpretive Rule that exempts certain USDA NRCS Conservation Practices from Clean Water Act Section 404 permitting.  We developed a plan of action and schedule.

IMPORTANT DATES & SUPPLEMENTAL INFO:

  1. August 9, 2014:  Our next meeting is this Saturday, August 9th!
  2. October 4, 2014:  We are also planning to have a Water Committee meeting in conjunction with our Cumberland Chapter ExCom Meeting on October 4th – see our Cumberland Chapter Activities Calendar for more info.
  3. TBD:  When Congress takes up the appropriations bills, there are legislative threats to the proposed WOTUS regulation.
  4. The materials we will be reviewing can be found at the US EPA web site at:  http://www2.epa.gov/uswaters
  5. Letter (June 2014) from Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune to EPA Admin Gine McCarthy regarding WOTUS and the Interpretive Rule
  6. Cumberland Chapter comments (July 7, 2014) to US EPA re the Interpretive Rule

TENTATIVE SCHEDULE, Saturday, August 9, 2014:

9:00 – 10:00 AM:  Overview of the proposed regulation, why it is needed, and what it does and does not do.  This will repeat some of what we discussed on June 28, so everyone is caught up.

10:00 to 11:00:  Detailed review of the areas of attack from Farm Bureau and others, and a more detailed review of what the regulation will mean in Kentucky.

11:00 to 12:00:   Strategy in Kentucky:  What will we accomplish by October 20, 2014

12:00 to 1:00:    Lunch – TBD

1:00 – 4:00  THE WATERSHED WATCH IN KENTUCKY will hold their board meeting at this location until 4:00.  Sierra Club members are welcome to stay.

BACKGROUND

On April 21, 2014,  US EPA published a proposed rule to try to bring more certainty and guidance to the determination of what was and was not within the meaning of the term “Waters of The US”  (WOTUS).

You can find the proposed regulation, and helpful explanations, at:

  1. Kentucky Waterways Alliance – kwalliance.org/wotus -
  2. NRDC – http://www.nrdc.org/water/assaultonwater.asp
  3. US EPA –  http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/wetlands/CWAwaters.cfm
  4. American Rivers – https://www.americanrivers.org/blog/spotlight-prairie-potholes/
  5. National Wildlife Federation: http://www.nwf.org/What-We-Do/Protect-Habitat/Waters/Clean-Water-Act.aspx

NOTE CAREFULLY:  EPA is NOT trying to define that term – WOTUS – as it was defined and implemented before SWANNC and RAPANOS – two Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006.  EPA is trying to implement the instructions from the Supreme Court.  Many of us want Congress to strengthen the Clean Water Act by getting rid of the word “navigable” and by making it clear that all waters are “Water Of The US” getting Clean Water Act protection.  But until Congress acts, the EPA is bound by the language in the current CWA as interpreted by the Supreme Court.  The proposed regulation is consistent with both Supreme Court opinions.

Posted in InTheNews, Legislation, Politics, Water | 1 Comment

KENTUCKY “NATURE’S FINEST” LICENSE HOLDERS REBUFFED BY GENERAL ASSEMBLY

by Ruth Bamberger, Legislative Committee Chair
Sierra Club, Cumberland Chapter

KyNatureLicensePlates

Kentucky residents who purchase the special license plate “Nature’s Finest”  to help fund the state’s Heritage Land Conservation Fund should know that the 2014 General Assembly moved this earmarked fund into General Operating Revenues.  While this action was legal, it betrays those purchasing these license plates who thought the money would go for conservation projects to which they were committed.  The legislature, in their unwillingness to raise any additional revenue, has resorted to “budget games” that reflect little priority for environmental issues.

The Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund was set up to acquire areas possessing unique features for rare and endangered species, areas important for migratory birds, and areas to be protected in their natural state for public use, recreation, and education.  Funding for the KHLCF comes from sales of license plates (8%), an unmined minerals tax (50%), and environmental fines (42%).

Receipts from license sales over the past five years amounted to over $3 million.

The 2014 General Assembly reduced funding for the Heritage Fund by $5 million in 2015 and $3 million in 2016.  These cuts seriously undermine the resources needed to carry though the mission of the KHLFC.  The biennial budget is now cast in stone, but those license holders and other Fund supporters need to let their legislators know that moving the Fund into General Operating Revenues is unacceptable.  (find contact info for your legislators here)  Given the whirlwind of budget action in the closing days of the General Assembly, most legislators were probably not aware of the Land Conservation’s fate.  They need our voice!

Posted in InTheNews, Land Stewardship, Legislation, Public Lands, Wildlands, Wildlife | Leave a comment

“WHAT HATH THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY WROUGHT?”

Kentucky Capitolby Ruth Bamberger, Legislative Committee Chair
Sierra Club, Cumberland Chapter

In two words “Not Much.”  If nice guys finish last, the Sierra Club and other like Kentucky organizations have to be the nicest guys around!  But looking at it another way, “Not Much” means at least “A Little” on two of our priorities.

The Bluegrass Pipeline bill limiting the right of Eminent Domain to the Pipeline developers merited two hearings in the House Judiciary Committee;  the hearing room was packed both times by people impacted by the project as well as labor and industry supporters.  The House overwhelmingly voted to exclude pipeline companies transporting Natural Gas Liquids  (NGLs) as eligible to exercise Eminent Domain.  This bill would have prohibited Bluegrass Pipeline Partners from any exercise of Eminent Domain in negotiating with property owners.  The Senate, however, killed the bill on a procedural vote.

The good news is that BPP announced after the House Committee vote that it was delaying the Pipeline for a year, allegedly because of declining profits and other capital expenditures.  But one could also surmise that the delay was caused by the strong opposition to the Pipeline by the hundreds of people, including our members, who contacted their legislators.  Likewise, a lawsuit filed in Franklin County Court challenging BPP’s use of Eminent Domain was recently won by Pipeline opponents, though it will no doubt be appealed.

The “A Little” in the Clean Energy bill was the response of the House Tourism and Energy Committee Chair Keith Hall,  who represents a district in the heart of coal country, Pike County.  Representative Hall met with supporters following the hearing, urging us to continue our efforts in moving this bill forward, primarily because of its potential for jobs in renewable energy and energy efficiency industries. Three thousand more coal jobs have been lost in the past three years in Eastern KY, and the region is desperate for new industry.  In fact, the entire hearing focused more on jobs than anything else, but this may be the handle to accomplish our goal of moving “Beyond Coal.”

This legislative session was frustrating, to say the least.  The General Assembly continues to cut the budget in human services and environmental protection.  It will no doubt continue on this trajectory until desperately needed restructuring of the state tax system takes place.

The Blue Ribbon Tax Commission plan and the KY Forward HB220 bill calling for fair and equitable revenue increases remain in limbo.  Next year may see better results with the biennial budget out of the way.  In the meantime. the Sierra Club and our allies will continue to peck away at our priorities.

Posted in InTheNews, Legislation | Leave a comment