Aug 21, 2009

The new Sierra Club: Surrender on Sears Island

T"New" is a relative term. The Club used to use the courts to force good behavior among the pollution dischargers, oldgrowth clearcutter-wannabes, etc. The Sears Island island-whacker wannabes got what they deserved from the Sierra Club attorneys in the 1980s and early 90s. Under the new management, the Sears Island whacker-wannabes got everything they wanted from the Sierra Club "leaders" in Maine.

That is an example of the new Club in all its awful new manifestations. The worst thing (as far as New England goes) was the decision by a small handful of people to break up the New England Sierra Club into state chapters. Unlike the abovenoted New England Club, the Maine Chapter (1) does no litigation; (2) does no pollution permit oversight; (3) does no developer application reviews; does.....nothing, really.

Of course hiking and camping trips are still being organized (and those are very good things), but the fire of activism is out. The leaders squat upon the membership heap like immovable tin gods, batting down efforts to get the maine chapter to do any advocacy, blocking members access to the use of the chapter mailing list to recruit Clubbers to club advocacy projects, declining to participate in public forums to defend the official Sierra Club position on vital issues of the day in Maine, declining to respond to member inquiries about activities carried out by the very 'leaders' purporting to represent all 7,000 of us mere "members" when they do participate in state and federal policymaking. For in their arrogance, the Maine chapter's rulers (one can't call them "leaders), pretend to know what we all think. Pretend to act on our behalf.

Things aren't much better on the national level. Being on the e-list for the national Sierra Club "action alerts", one finds emails from Carl Pope popping up in the inbox with some frequency. President Pope's issues of concern vary across the environmental and conservation sprctrum, but several things never vary in these missives:

* Pope writes that the Club needs more of your money
* The money will be used to "urge" politicians and/or corporadoes to do the right thing.

That's right. No longer is there a Sierra Club Stick, or at best a very flabby, feeble twig. No litigation, or as little as possible. For now the Club has 'matured'. Like Weinstein Smith in George Orwell's "1984", the Sierra Club, under the tutelage of Carl Pope, "loves Big Brother."

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