Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Why I Quit the Sierra Club

I've been a member of the Sierra Club for a number of years, off and on since childhood.  I am a big believer in preserving wilderness and have always respected the Sierra Club's efforts to preserve wild spaces for recreation and conservation.  But this year I decided to quit after the Club came out against natural gas and created a campaign to oppose LNG export (although, being passive aggressive, I never sent the big resignation letter I drafted and just let my membership lapse).

While I respect the Sierra Club, I find that its efforts at political and business advocacy put it on a slippery slope.  This belief was cemented in the Club's "2012 Year in Review & Action Plan 2013," in which it presented seemingly contradictory goals.  Quoting bullet #1 from the 2013 action plan:
  • We will retire dozens more coal plants as we close in on our 2015 goal of securing the retirement of one-third of the nation's electrical coal production...
Quoting bullet #3:
  • The Sierra Club will focus on enacting regulations that end destructive drilling and reckless fracking, curbing natural gas expansion in the electricity sector and preventing the exportation of American liquefied natural gas. (my emphasis)
OK, which is it going to be?  How can you get rid of coal capacity but not allow gas to fill the gap?  I understand that the Club wants more renewable power generation, but even with significant tax breaks and grants, alternative sources can only grow so fast.

Now, I acknowledge that I am cherry-picking my causes here.  I like natural gas and dislike coal.  I was much less offended when the Sierra Club was mainly pushing the "Beyond Coal" campaign.  Even Chesapeake Energy gave the Club a pile of money to promote this cause.  But as a responsible organization, you can't just say that you are against everything without acknowledging a reasonable alternative.  Your voice will carry no weight.

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