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Note: Contributions, gifts, and dues to the Sierra Club-Alabama Chapter are not tax deductible. They support our effective, citizen-based advocacy and lobbying efforts here in Alabama. Thank you in advance for supporting the Sierra Club's conservation programs in Alabama.


Black Warrior Riverkeeper Reaches Successful Settlement in Donaldson Prison Sewage Lawsuit

Birmingham – Black Warrior Riverkeeper has reached a successful settlement in their water pollution case against Alabama Utility Services (AUS), the operator of Donaldson Correctional Facility’s sewage treatment plant. The settlement includes injunctive relief (a court order requiring steps to curtail pollution) and a $100,000 Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) to benefit Jefferson County’s Valley Creek watershed. The parties have filed a proposed settlement decree with the court and are awaiting approval by the U. S. Department of Justice.

The prison’s sewage treatment plant has a state permit to discharge treated wastewater to Big Branch, a tributary of Valley Creek upstream of Bankhead Lake on the Black Warrior River in west Jefferson County. Bankhead Lake is among the most popular sections of the river for fishing, boating, and swimming. Donaldson Correctional Facility had a long history of discharging improperly treated sewage in violation of its permit.

On February 28, 2012, Black Warrior Riverkeeper, a nonprofit clean water advocacy organization, filed a citizen suit under the Clean Water Act in U.S. District Court for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit violations at the plant. Investigative work by Black Warrior Riverkeeper’s Enforcement Coordinator, John Kinney and staff Riverkeeper, Nelson Brooke, produced critical evidence necessary to bring the case. (see the full press release here)


The Dirty Dozen Wilderness Hike Challenge

September 2014 — September 2015
Do you have what it takes to complete the Dirty Dozen Wilderness Hike Challenge? Presented byThe Wilderness Society and Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, this challenge is a great way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Wilderness Act, discover new places or revisit favorites, and have the chance to win prizes! (see the Cahaba Group's hike taking part in this challenge next month!)


Wild and Scenic Film Festival

The Alabama Rivers Alliance and Alabama Environmental Council in conjunction with Green Coalition would like to invite you to join us in sponsoring the 2nd showing in Huntsville of the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, the largest environmental film festival in North America. The award-winning films, combining beautiful cinematography and first-rate storytelling, inform, inspire, and ignite solutions to restore the earth while creating a positive future for the next generation.
This event will take place on the evening of November 7, at the Flying Monkey Arts Center at Lowe Mill.

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival was started by the watershed advocacy group, the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL), in 2003. Over the past 10 years it has evolved into the largest environmental film festival in the nation. The annual event each January in Nevada City, CA, kicks-off the nationwide tour to over 100 cities. Each tour venue is an opportunity for an organization to reach out into their community and bring people together around community based activism. A diverse menu of environmental films delve into themes such as energy, climate change, conservation, wildlife, community activism, environmental justice, and adventure. Each venue custom builds their own film program to include issues they want to spotlight in their area.


The Sierra Club Position on the Clean Power Plan

The Sierra Club stands with President Obama and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy who, through the Clean Power Plan, have proposed standards to curb dangerous carbon pollution from existing power plants for the first time ever.

We are committed to helping ensure strong and just solutions to climate disruption that will save lives, speed up clean energy prosperity, and help American families thrive--and we'll be working state-by-state to see that the highest standards possible are put in place.

Visit the Talking Points section on Clubhouse.


PLEASE NOTE!

PROCEDURE FOR SENDING MATERIAL TO THE ALABAMA SIERRAN

Many thanks to Roe Hyche, Bob Hastings, Lucina Horner, and Peggie Griffin for agreeing to be the new newsletter committee.

The newsletter is put together monthly, and material for the newsletter should be sent to plgriffin@comcast.net, with a subject line of "For the Editorial Board" no later than the 15th of the month.

Group newsletter editors may continue sending group meeting information and calendars of events to Joe Watts at joe@joewatts.com, no later than the 25th of each month.

Guidelines for Material:

Join the Alabama Chapter on facebook! (just click the logo below to join the group page)

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October 2014

Comments from the Chair, Robert W. Hastings:

The eighth Alabama Water Symposium was held September 26, 2014, at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. This and other symposia organized by the Alabama Rivers Alliance (ARA) have been supported in part by the Sierra Club. This most recent symposium focused on the perspective of stakeholders and their concerns regarding water issues in Alabama. Water is possibly the most valuable natural resource in Alabama, and is of critical value to all residents of the state. Thus every one of us is a stakeholder, and needs to be concerned about protecting both the quality and quantity of our state’s water.  Every person needs clean drinking water, and our state’s incredible biodiversity requires clean natural waterways.  Our waters are also necessary for benefits such as agricultural and forestry production, water-based recreation, economic development, power generation, and fisheries production. The goal of ARA, in cooperation with the governor’s Alabama Water Agencies Working Group (AWAWG), is to guide the process of producing a quality state water management plan that will insure the best possible policies to protect Alabama’s waters.

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox opened the symposium with a welcome, and comments such as “Lake Tuscaloosa is a treasure” and “I would hate to lose it”. All of us could point to a comparable body of water that is most precious to us and worthy of protection. Senator Gerald Allen emphasized the importance of our communicating concerns to our political representatives, and especially those on the Senate-House Water Committee. Passing regulations for proper conservation of water resources for the future is important. Directors of three water centers of excellence on the University of Alabama campus described the functions and goals of their organizations, the NOAA National Water Center, the Center for Freshwater Studies, and the Water Policy and Law Institute. These emphasized that “Water is emerging as the natural resources science, engineering, and policy issue of the 21st Century”. Pat O’Neil of the Geologic Survey of Alabama, and a member of AWAWG, gave an excellent overview of the AWAWG report to the governor, and policy options and recommendations for developing an effective water plan for the state. The report can be seen at http://adeca.alabama.gov/

The remainder of the symposium involved comments and discussion from members of the audience who represented various stakeholder groups. Important concerns mentioned include development of a specific process and timeline for developing the plan, need for a neutral facilitator to guide the process, transparency of the process and collaboration of all stakeholders, and open communication to the public of the process. I encourage all of us as stakeholders to continue communication with our political leaders and agency employees, to let them know our concerns and issues that need to be addressed.
And thanks again to Mitch Reid for leading the Alabama Rivers Alliance program to give Alabama a quality and effective water management plan. Mitch will be giving us additional information regarding new developments when he speaks to us at the Sierra Club Retreat on November 1 (see below).


Oct 31-Nov 2, 2014 Sierra Club Annual Retreat

Robert W. Hastings

Plan now to attend our 2014 Sierra Club Annual Retreat. We have an excellent group of speakers scheduled to give presentations on Alabama environmental issues. Presentations scheduled for Saturday morning include Mitch Reid, of the Alabama Rivers Alliance, describing the latest developments in the Alabama State Water Management Plan; John Quarterman, of the Georgia Sierra Club, discussing the proposed Sabal Trail Pipeline, which could extend from Alexander City in Alabama to south-central Florida; and Adam Johnston, of the Alabama Rivers Alliance and Alabama Sierra Club, discussing the current status and recent developments of proposals to mine extensive tar sand deposits in northwest Alabama. And last, but hopefully not least, your Chapter Chair (Robert W. Hastings) will prick your interest in sighting wild alligators in Lake Eufaula by describing past efforts to protect and successfully restore populations of the endangered American Alligator. And, of course, don't miss the keyonte speaker, Scot Duncan from Birmingham-Southern College. So please join us, October 31-November 2, for a great weekend adventure.

(pictured above: Sassafrass, the musical activist duo who will be performing at the retreat)

REGISTER NOW!

Lakepoint State Park near Eufaula

Environmental Speakers, Hikes, Boating, Fishing
Birding and Wildlife Viewing at Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge

Bob Hastings – 334-324-1071 or bhastings@knology.net

>>>download the registration form and full schedule here<<<


Please Submit Your Comments on DEIS Proposed I-10 Mobile River Bridge.

(from Carol Adams-Davis with the Mobile Bay Group of the Sierra Club.) See the pdf of the letter I sent to Vincent Calametti here.

Dear Mr. Calametti,

I understand and support the stated purpose and needs of the I-10 Mobile River Bridge DEIS, that are to increase the capacity of Interstate-10 to meet existing and predicted future traffic volumes in the Mobile area, to provide a direct route for vehicles transporting hazardous materials, and minimize adverse impacts to the maritime industry.

To be clear, I support an I-10 bridge, but definitely not the Aternative B Preferred Route location. All reasonable and smart alternative routes should have been included and considered at a comparable level of detail in the DEIS, and they were not.

As you know, the USDOT Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment released in June 2014, focuses on Mobile and examines the vulnerability of its transportation infrastructure to climate change. The analysis information concludes that the locations of the Alternative A Route, the Alternative B Route and the Alternative B Preferred Route, all tying in to the existing I-10 Bayway, are highly vulnerable to current storms and storm surge that could conceivably happen today, and of course highly vulnerable to more intense storms, coupled with sea level rise of the future.

USDOT, Impacts of Climate Change and Variability on Transportation Systems and Infrastructure: The Gulf Coast Study, Phase 2 Task 3.1: Screening for Vulnerability http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/climate_change/adaptation/ongoing_and_current _research/gulf_coast_study/phase2_task3/index.cfm

Hence, the DEIS should include a climate change mitigation section.

In light of this documented vulnerability, I cannot imagine having success in seeking funding for a bridge in the Alternative B Preferred Route location.

Dr. Bernard H. Eichold, II, MD, Director of the Mobile County Board of Health, has sited another popular route, not included in the DEIS, but publicly supported for years. If you 1 start just east of Michigan Ave on existing I-10 and go straight across the bay using the north end of McDuffie Island and by Little Sand Island you will end up in the Daphne area, where ALDOT can design an appropriate connection to the existing I-10 on the Eastern Shore. This might even present an opportunity to mitigate the longstanding problems on the existing Highway 98. This bridge location could also minimize the travel required to access It.

Dr. Eichold’s suggested route would avoid negative impacts on the historic districts, parks, residential neighborhoods, schools, and nursing homes. It would alleviate problems during the lengthy construction period regarding noise in downtown, air quality issues downtown, vibrations to historic buildings, settling after completion, closing tourist attractions, etc. The existing industrial businesses and operations would not have to function in the shadows of a bridge, and persons living in the Down the Bay Peninsula Community would not have to live under a bridge.

The vertical clearance would be the same as the Alternative B Preferred Bridge but the incline would be much less. The distance of the maximum elevation clearance span could be much longer, giving the Maritime Industry more volume, flexibility, commercial opportunity, and leeway. Vehicles transporting hazardous materials would not have to shift gears up and down an intense incline, and there would be no potentially hazardous curve leading in to the bridge as in the Alternative B Preferred Bridge design.

The new independent I-10 Bridge in this location would be able to survive a major tropical storm and be a much better evacuation route alternative. Mobile and Baldwin Counties would be able to receive the much-needed supplies, while the injured could be transported to the appropriate medical facilities.

This bridge would be more cost efficient than the other proposals because it would still be here at the end of the century and beyond. The State of Alabama cannot afford to build an inadequate structure that is improperly located.

Of course, the new bridge should be accessible to all travellers, so it should include a pedestrian/bicycle facility, which was omitted in the DEIS. Please feel free to contact me anytime for further explantion and clarification!

Sincerely,

Carol Adams-Davis
Resident of Leinkauf Neignborhood Historic District

You can write a letter or use the comment form (found here). I preferred not to use the comment form, but whatever works best for you. You can email, fax or mail your comments. Public comment deadline is November 7, 2014.


2014 Blount County Solar Homes Tour

The 2014 Blount County Solar Homes tour is October 4th and 5th in the community of Royal. There are 4 homes on the tour (Retro-fit, Straw Bale, Clerestory and Dodeca-Yurt) that demonstrate
hands-on energy efficiency/independence and sustainability. All houses are within a 10 minute drive of each other. Each home’s tour is scheduled on the hour and takes approximately 30 minutes. You
can visit as many as you like but you do have to register and receive a schedule and map. There is a 2 hour networking brown-bag lunch on Saturday, October 4, including a showing of the energy-saving video Kilowatt Ours. Technologies you will see on the tour include passive solar designs, solar photovoltaic (PV) systems that generate electricity and drain back solar water heating systems. Other items of interest include organic gardens, home orchards, water catchment systems and vermi (worms) and thermal composting.

For more information and to register contact: solartouralabama@gmail.com or call Daryl Bergquist at 205 429-3088 The tour is free. Registration is required, limited and rolling in fast. So register now! The American Solar Energy Society is the national organizer of this annual solar tour. www.ases.org


Looking for a Few Good ExCom members

From the North Alabama Sierra Club: Just a reminder that we elect new Excom members every December. It doesn’t take a lot of your time, you make good new friends and you help make a difference. Take a look at the list of the ExCom offices below and think about what you might be able to contribute. Come November when we ask for nominees, let us know if you want to help.

2014 ExCom Members
Chair /Membership Liz Poleretzky
Vice Chair/Programs Steve Jackson
Secretary/Chapter Delegate Jennifer Gresham
Treasurer Charlie Cohen
Environmental Education Charlotte Buening
Outings Tom Burley
Energy Consultant Gretel Johnston
Political/Conservation Chair Joe Imhof
Programs Steve Jackson
Publicity Jayanthi Srikishen
Social Media Michael Stewart/Sandy Kiplinger
Newsletter Jack Drost
Web Page Steven Baty


Take action to protect your community from exploding oil trains

Trains carrying dangerous, highly explosive fuels travel through countless communities every day. You may be one of the 25 million Americans living in the blast zone of explosive oil trains without even knowing it.

After a record-breaking year of oil train derailments, spills, and explosions, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has called these dangerous oil trains an "imminent hazard" to the public. That's why it's proposed new standards to make these shipments safer. But oil and rail companies don't want to pay more to make oil trains safer. Take Action here.


New Bike & Pedestrian Safety Initiative

(from Conservation Alabama) The U.S. Department of Transportation announced "Safer People, Safer Streets," an 18-month initiative designed to increase walking and biking and reduce injuries to bikers and pedestrians. Road safety assessments will be conducted in each state, and communities will be encouraged to create environments that are friendly to everyone who uses the road. The full plan can be found here.


Sierra Club Outings

Fall is here!! It's time to get out! Take a great hike. Or just enjoy gathering with friends to discuss environmental issues!

Come join us on the trail or just out for a stroll in the city! Great outings and meetings from North Alabama all the way to the Gulf! more>>>