The Sierra Club is launching a new campaign -- Wild America -- which calls for new national monument designations.
"Green groups to Obama: Designate public lands to stop oil and gas drilling," is the E2 Wire headline announcing the campaign. The article starts with: "Environmental lobbyists are pressing President Obama to turn more western lands into national monuments to prevent oil-and-gas companies from drilling there. The Sierra Club is leading the charge "
Apparently the gang green is frustrated with the lack of Congressional action in locking up lands and is now resorting to pressuring the president to take executive action. Bentley Johnson, legislative representative for the National Wildlife Federation, said his group prefers to work at the local level to build momentum with congressional delegations.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is mandated to manage the public lands for "multiple use." The BLM "Terminology & Actions" document defines it this way: "'multiple uses' include recreation, range/grazing, timber, minerals/oil & gas, watershed, fish & wildlife, wilderness, and natural, scenic, scientific and historical values." But, the "century-old" Antiquities Act gives President Obama the authority to designate national monument status. A national monument designation makes the locale off limits to development.
Dan Chu, the director of the Sierra Club's Wild America campaign, explained: "Recreation, wildlife and scenic values would have much more priority in management planning if it was designated as a national monument."
As a part of the Wild America campaign, Michael Brune, Sierra Club executive director, is currently on a "road trip" to "educate the public and excite Sierra Club members about getting some of these proposed areas as national monuments."
Marc Thomas, a member of the executive committee of the Sierra Club Utah Chapter's Glen Canyon Group, is in support of the proposed Greater Canyonlands National Monument -- 1.4 million acres near Moab.
Chu agrees. Addressing the campaign he says: "We, along with our partners, are concerned about imminent threats from tar-sand development, oil and gas leasing "
The Wild America campaign is described as "a grassroots movement to secure permanent protection for significant landscapes and advocating for responsible wildlife and lands management" -- which is spearheaded by "the largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the country." But how grassroots is the Sierra Club?
In its announcement about the Wild America campaign, the United Press International said the following: "The Sierra Club, a leading environmental lobbying group in Washington " The Sierra Club endorses candidates and policies -- recently voting to support comprehensive immigration reform. In an interesting post on the website Progressives for Immigration Reform, life-long Sierra Club member and environmental activist, Philip Carfaro, bemoans the club's reversal in its position on immigration that had been held for four decades, saying the shift "looks to have been driven by short-term politics." Carfaro posits that Brune ignored "both the grave environmental costs of immigration-driven U.S. population growth and the organization's own organizational history" in exchange for La Raza's support at the big D.C. rally against the Keystone pipeline.
In exchange for the Sierra Club's support of immigration reform, they'll likely get executive-order national monument status to prevent oil and gas drilling.
There's a La Raza connection. E2 Wire reports: "Chu argues the West is becoming 'less purple and more blue' because of an influx of Latino and younger voters. The Sierra Club aims to marshal those voting blocs to get new national monuments in New Mexico and Colorado. Chu said Latino and young voters care more about conservation than about energy drilling."
Jessica Kershaw, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of the Interior, said the administration wants grassroots support for monument designations: "DOI, as part of the Obama administration, is certainly committed to the conservation of these designations. But it's rooted in the partnership of these local communities." The implication is grassroots opposition could prevent the designations. Call the department (202-208-6416) and ask Kershaw to tell Secretary Jewell that you are "grassroots" and that you oppose executive-order designation of monuments.
The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens' Alliance for Responsible Energy.