Friday, December 29, 2006

You can't argue with the Truth

OK. I admit it. I bought and finally watched the DVD of the movie, "An Inconvenient Truth" starring the former next President of the United States, Al Gore. Wow. What a powerful film this is. I wept when I saw the many clearly presented examples of how our reckless behavior is fouling our nest. You know the one I mean. The Earth.

That's right, WE ARE causing global warming. That's right, it IS our relentless spewing of all things carbon dioxide that is the primary culprit for the pickle we now find ourselves in.

Did you know that one of the most damning pieces of evidence presented in this film that proves, yes PROVES that Global Warming is real, and that WE are causing it are climate records extracted from ice cores from Antarctica? Neither did I.

These ice core climate records go back for over 650,000 years and they clearly show that there has NEVER been as much carbon dioxide in our atmosphere as there is today. I did not know that either. See this movie. It will open your eyes.

The evidence is so clearly presented here that even the Chimp-in-chief could understand the issue if he chose to see this movie. Of course, he never will see it, but you should see it. Buy it, rent it, borrow it, steal it (no not really) and see it already.

In the end, Al Gore rescued me from what could have been a generally depressing way to spend a Friday night by exuding a seemingly limitless supply of hope that we have the power, as well as the tools to change our potentially ghastly future. All we need now is the will to do so.

Thank you Al Gore. I love that guy.

Rene' Maggio
Delta Chapter Webmaster

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Free copies of The Inconvenient Truth for Teachers!

This opportunity just came up through and we wanted you to be some of the first to know about it.

There are currently 50,000 copies of Al Gore's movie about Climate Change, "An Inconvenient Truth" to give away to teachers in the United States. The first 50,000 teachers who apply are eligible to win. There is a limit of one DVD per teacher. All entries must be received by January 18, 2007. Please visit their website soon to get your copy!

Good Luck!

Levana Saxon
Education Coordinator,
Grassroots Organizer
Rainforest Action Network

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sierra Club Radio Launch

The Communications Team is pleased to announce the launch this Saturday, December 16th, of "Sierra Club Radio," a weekly half hour radio program that will be broadcast in the San Francisco Bay Area and available nationally on the Web and via podcast. Sierra Club Radio is designed to help us meet the mounting demand for "green" news -- information Americans can use as consumers, as citizens, as neighbors and parents to make responsible choices, to connect to the growing environmental community.

The program, produced by Sierra Club staff and hosted by Club publicist Orli Cotel, will feature Sierra Club content – including lifestyle tips from Sierra magazine's Green Life editor Jennifer Hattam and Mr. Green, Bob Schildgen; in-depth interviews with Sierra Club Books authors and contributors to Sierra magazine; and political observations and commentary by Executive Director Carl Pope. The program will also highlight stories from our conservation work, our grassroots fieldwork, and our partnership work -- especially our hunter/angler and faith outreach efforts. In addition, Sierra Club Radio will feature in-depth conversations with a wide range of environmental experts and activists, artists, and authors inspired by nature.

In terms of the broader communications context, Sierra Club Radio provides us the ability to tell our stories, highlight our issues, and share our expertise and advice directly, unfiltered by the media. And it provides one more communications channel for the Sierra Club to promote our programs, principles, and brand, and to reinforce the stories we are also telling in print, in video and on-line. Our ultimate goal in 2007 is to make this content available broadly to radio stations across America. In fact, the content consultant who helped us secure our twice-monthly programming on Air America is working with us pro bono to help us identify markets and programs that would be interested in airing segments from Sierra Club Radio.

Sierra Club radio is broadcast every Saturday at 3:30 pm on the Quake radio (960 am) in the Bay Area. The program will be available on the Web and via podcast the following Monday at Please check it out and let us know what you would like to hear on Sierra Club Radio. If you have story ideas, please send them to, and put “Sierra Club Radio story idea” in the subject line.

Here is the first show’s line up to give you an idea of the mix of
content we will be offering:

Jen Hattam on Green Holiday Tips
Chris Paine, filmmaker and director of Who Killed the Electric Car
Carl Pope on what to expect from the new Congress
Mark Heileson on the surprising public transit revolution in Utah
Ask Mr. Green
Sarah Alexander on spending 12 months on an entirely local foods diet

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

SaveOurCypress Goes National

This is great! The Club has put their national communications tools to work, helping the SaveOurCypress coalition kick off our effort to get Maul-Mart, Low's, and the Home Despot to stop spreading cypress mulch.

They sent the issue out as the number 2 link in this week's edition of "Currents" which goes out to a ton of Sierrans nation-wide, blogged on it in "Compass" the official web log of the Club, and featured our very own Jeff Dubinsky's fantastic shot of a bald eagle taking off from its nest in a cypress tree on the homepage. (Bald eagles need cypress to thrive here in coastal Louisiana, it's about the only tree strong enough to support their crazy-heavy nests).

A big thanks to the media team for helping draw attention to our little issue! Now, about that nationwide action-alert...

Aaron Viles
Secretary, Legislative Chair

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

It'd be funny if his finger wasn't so close to the big red button

The above headline is the tagline from our new favorite site on the Web. It is called "Chimp-O-Matic" and it contains a plethora of quotes from our "Decider-in-Chief" that show what a brilliant public speaker he really is.

Click on this URL to go there:

New "Save our Cypress" Website online

The Delta Chapter of the Sierra Club along with a handful of other groups have joined together to raise awareness to stop the logging of cypress forests to be used for cypress mulch. If cut, most of our coastal forests will not be able to regenerate due to the changes in the ecology. The coalition's new website was designed and maintained by Jeffrey Dubinsky, webmaster extraordinaire for the Baton Rouge Group.

Go to the site at:

Saturday, September 30, 2006

New Report released by National Sierra Club

Delta Chapter members are not alone in noticing the significance of the bungling of 9-11 with the lack of response for Katrina. This report by Sierra Club national staff is worth reading and passing on.

Read or download a PDF version (343 KB) of the report.

Friday, August 11, 2006


I just got back from the second MRGO Stakeholders meeting, arranged by the Army Corps of Engineers, supposedly to help them develop their 'closure' plan that needs to be delivered to Congress in December. This meeting featured the presentation of four different closure plans developed by non-Corps interests, to an audience of 'stakeholders' which was was teeming with shipping interests, as well as Corps reps from three different districts.

Stakeholders presentations came from:
Bring New Orleans Back, Biloxi Marsh Lands Corporation, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, and St. Bernard Parish.

Bring New Orleans Back (I thought the BNOB planning process utterly fell apart in the absence of Hizonner's support for what they were doing - what the heck are these guys doing presenting?)
At any rate, they did get to present their plan, which started by Billy Marchal laying out his bonafides, in the form of his and the plan committee's absence of financial ties to shipping and the MRGO. He immediately launched into a description of what the Corps planning process is currently up to and the 4 options they are looking at. This of course begs the question as to why the Corps wasn't presenting on their plan alternatives, but at any rate:
1 - no new structures, just raise existing levees and storm walls
2 - Structure at seabrook & Paris road
3 - MRGO Structure & rerout GIWW across lake borne
4- 2 gates 1 east of Michoud on iww, 1 on MRGO.

Option four seems to have the most support and interest at this point, at least in the eyes of the BNOB. Of course, none of the other 'stakeholders' have seen the plans, so remind me what we're doing here again?

Billy then laid out that the principles that the BNOB feels must drive their plan selection: plan must 1) protect people & property, 2) protect and enhance the environment,3) and allow commerce consistent w/ 1 & 2. After that point, it seemed like the rest of his presentation was rationalizations for point 3.

Billy made the point that the MRGO wasn't actually a 'Hurricane Highway' and that while the MRGO indeed destroyed wetlands, that's all about saltwater intrusion, and anyway, all the marsh in the area was underwater before the big storm surge came through the area anyway, so it wouldn't have been of much help to protect people or property. As to protecting the environment, BNOB supports a river diversion to increase fresh water and sediment into the area, as all the groups are supporting.

With that all taken care of, BNOB suggests we can reauthorize a narrower, shallower chanel (no inland dredging would be necessary) also armor banks, slow down boats, install configurable depth weir or sector gate at LaLoutre - to let 28 foot draft through. Cost - less than $100 million over cost of a weir of 14'x125' dimensions. BNOB figures the sector gate configuration saves $75-300 million in relocation funds. So the clear winner in the eyes of the BNOB is to keep the thing open to deep draft.

Biloxi Marsh Land Corporation -
largest land owner in Biloxi Marsh been hustling to get CWPRRA $, other resources to protect the land. Their MRGO plan really had nothing to do with closing MRGO and everything to do with restoring Biloxi Marsh Lands. Understand there are three lines of defense out there: chandleur is, biloxi marsh, land bridge. Wants to use MRGO for freshwater conveyance. Don't care about MRGO depth, they'll leave that to the experts. Well, at least they were honest and stayed within their alocated time.

Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation -
John Lopez presented on the Lake Foundation's
Lines of Defense plan, and the components that apply to the MRGO. He began by pointing out the three reaches of the MRGO:
1) Innerharbor Navigation Canal to the Intracoastal Waterway -This reach is the storm surge delivery system- At this point John vehamently disagreed w/ BNOB's assertion that MRGO played no role in flooding New Orleans, and that this 1st reach is indeed a hurricane highway.
2) Intracoastal Waterway to the LaLoutre ridge - the reach that killed the marsh
3) LaLoutre ridge to the Gulf - the reach that costs so much to repeatedly dredge.

Take a look at the link above to see the full depth of the plan. It's well thought out, and critically important to the region. John also underscored that while the LPBF initially supports a 125' x 14' dimension and weir, they will only support that if it is proven to be a safe alternative through modelling, and will effectively block storm surge.

St.Bernard Parish -
St. Bernard President Junior Rodriguez in his singular way then presented the St. Barnard plan, while basically telling the shipping interests in the audience that they killed his Parish. Junior is pushing for a total closure at LaLoutre.

Also, stirring the pot, Junior supports a Mississippi River floodgate for hurricane storm-surge. If we don't build something along those lines, the water that used to go into Lake Pontchartrain will go up the river. He pointed out that the Carrollton gauge went from +4' three days before the storm to 12'+ the day of Katrina - just imagine how high that water would have been without the pooling of Lake Borne and Lake Pontchartrain - all of a sudden, the dry sliver by the river, would be some of the most inundated area in the city.

At this point the meeting basically went into 'fight for your interest' mode, with the shipping folks raising holy hell to defend shallow-draft use of the MRGO. They're also going to do their damndest to marry the industrial canal lock expansion to MRGO closure. Need to make sure powerplants in AL & FL panhandle get their coal (turns out this is one of the largest tonnage uses of the intercoastal waterway - moving coal from Ohio to Alabama and Florida to give our fish mercury and increase green house gas emissions - great, we certainly wouldn't want to stand in the way of this important commerce).

Oh, and the Corps spelled out that the 'closure' plan they present to Congress won't actually include a closure plan so much as a range of options! Great, what were we doing at these meetings again? I'd direct the Corps back to the legislation that Congress passed forcing us to all go down this road:

Public Law 109-234 (enacted June 15, 2006) provides $3.3 million for the Corps to "develop a comprehensive plan, at full Federal expense, to deauthorize deep draft navigation on the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, Louisiana, extending from the Gulf of Mexico to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway ..." The accompanying report (H.Rept. 109-494, page 113) provides, in pertinent part:
"Funds totaling $3,300,000 are provided for the Corps to develop a comprehensive plan, at full Federal expense, to deauthorize deep draft navigation on the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, Louisiana. The plan shall include recommended modifications to the existing authorized current use of the Outlet, including what navigation functions, if any, should be maintained and any measures for hurricane and storm protection. The plan shall be developed in consultation with St. Bernard Parish, the State of Louisiana, and affected Federal Agencies. An interim report summarizing the plan shall be forwarded to the appropriate House and Senate authorizing and appropriations committees within six months of enactment of this Act and final recommendations shall be integrated into the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Plan, due to Congress in December 2007."

Heaven help us if we can't get this right.

Aaron Viles is the Secretary of the Delta Chapter, as well as the Campaign Director for the Gulf Restoration Network, a regional network of environmental organizations dedicated to protecting and restoring the valuable resources of the Gulf of Mexico. The GRN and the Sierra Club work shoulder to shoulder on a variety of natural resource issues throughout the Gulf.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

And the winner is...

I am pleased to announce that the Delta Chapter is the recipient of two of the 2006 Sierra Club National Awards.

The Delta Chapter and Aaron Viles have won the Environmental Alliance Award.

This award honors Club members or entities who have helped further environmental goals through collaboration with other, non-Sierra Club constituencies.

The award was given for the creation and ongoing efforts of the Gumbo Alliance an unlikely alliance between commercial fishermen, recreational fishers and environmental groups. Credit for creating this alliance goes to Aaron Viles, secretary of the Delta Chapter Executive Committee with staff support from Darryl Malik-Wiley.

Barbara Coman is the recipient of the Special Service Award.

The Special Service Award honors a Sierra Club member, committee or group for strong and consistent commitment to conservation or the Club over an extended period of time.

This award is given to Barbara in recognition of the many years and many different roles she has taken at all levels of the Club. Currently she is serving as the Sierra Club Gulf Environmental Restoration Taskforce Chair and as the Chair of the New Orleans Group.

An award ceremony will be held in San Francisco at the Council of Delegates Meeting in September.

A huge round of applause, congratulations to Aaron and Barbara. Thank you to the Darryl and Maura; all of the Delta Chapter members and Gumbo Alliance partners too!

Leslie March
Delta Chapter Chair

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Our new favorite movie - go see it!

Letter to the editor - sent to The Advocate in Baton Rouge.

I am a resident of East Baton Rouge Parish and someone who is concerned about the well being of others and the environment. Because of this I want to encourage everyone to go to the movies this weekend and see "An Inconvenient Truth," the new documentary about global warming featuring former Vice President Al Gore.

Politics aside, this film contains footage from around the world, illustrating different aspects of the science of climate change. A change that, as residents of the Baton Rouge area, we are directly affected by.

The film showcases the damage inflicted on Louisiana by Hurricane Katrina and uses this disaster as a case study for the kind of damage that climate change could continue to unleash. As Louisianans, we need to do our part to reverse the amount of man-made greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere. Let’s start the process by seeing this film.

Jeffrey Dubinsky
Co-Chair – Baton Rouge Group of the Sierra Club

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Welcome to the Sierra Club's Delta Chapter blog

Welcome to the blog for the Delta Chapter of the Sierra Club. We have initiated this blog as a forum for discussion of the environment, and issues affecting it, in the State of Louisiana. We welcome input on relevant issues and reserve the right to delete posts that stray too far afield from the topic at hand.