Sierra Club

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Sierra Club
Ownership type Public
Founded 1892, by John Muir
Headquarters San Francisco , California
United States
Industry Environmental Activism

The Sierra Club is an environmental group based in the United States of America.


Naturalist John Muir founded the Sierra Club in 1892. During the club's first 60 years membership was mostly limited to residents of California. With most of Sierra Club's activities limited to promoting outdoor activity. The Club's first goal was to preserve the Sierra Nevada Mountain Chain. Their success led them to jumpstart a number of other campaigns to preserve dozens of national treasures. Muir was vigilant in trying to spar wilderness from the effects of human activities. He believed people could learn more by living in nature, while practicing quiet observation. Muir's naturalist ideals laid the foundation for the Sierra Club to eventually delve into the public arena of due process. As in 1952 David Brower took over as director, helping make the club more aggressive politically.

Current objectives and activities

Sierra Club has a policy of always supporting pro environmental incumbents for reelection [1] Another tactic that's standard operating procedure for the Sierra Club is providing staffers to campaigns. This helps campaigns reach out to their targeted constituencies [2]. Sierra Club is aiming to stop the construction of coal factories, en route to shutting down coal factories that are currently up and running. They feel that doing so can help spare our mountains, waters, and lands from the ill effects that are a direct result of the extraction of coal reserves. The Sierra Club members are working to help usher in a new era of clean energy. Their efforts pressure government officials to adopt programs implementing wind, solar, and other clean energy sources. The Sierra Club also promotes the rebuilding of American homes and buildings. Their reasoning is greener buildings will reduce global warming emissions and lower utility bills. Among the club's more ambitious goals is a proposed plan to use electranets. An electranet is an energy internet that links homes to a smart grid powered by clean energy. The electranet can reduce electricity consumption through a national transmission network that supports large-scale renewable energy and local energy generation that frees homes and businesses to produce their own energy. By taking these steps the club feels America could provide work, make out of date structures more efficient, and modernize our energy grid. They also promote making legislation that provides incentives for businesses and homes to cap their energy costs. The Sierra Club has identified two goals it hopes to attain in the next four years. They want to work with Congress and President Obama to pass federal legislation curbing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050. The club also hopes to create the domestic conditions needed for the U.S. to lead in negotiating and implementing an international climate treaty sufficient to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to levels called for by climate scientists.


Tejon Ranch Company Conservation Agreement

On May 8, 2008, the Sierra Club teamed up with four other environmental organizations culminating in a monumental land conservation agreement with the Tejon Ranch Company. This groundbreaking pact ensuring that 90 percent of the 270,ooo acre ranch will be preserved does not expire. Jim Dodson represented Sierra Club during the negotiations. He touched upon the positive outcome of the negotiations, "Tejon Ranch is the largest contiguous private property remaining in California and the keystone for southern California’s natural legacy". This ranch is home to some of California's most recognizable environmental landmarks. As proofed, "Tejon Ranch marks the intersection of the Sierra Nevadas, the coastal range, the San Joaquin Valley, and the Mojave Desert." The derived benefit to this pact is not limited to just the landscape. Moreover, the agreement protects habitats for threatened and endangered species on the Ranch, like the California condor, San Joaquin kit fox, blunt-nosed leopard lizard, San Joaquin antelope squirrel, striped adobe lily, Bakersfield cactus, Valley elderberry longhorn beetle and Tehachapi slender salamander.

Issue Advocacy Programs

Sierra Club’s Environmental Voter Education Campaign (EVEC) is one of their most successful issue advocacy programs. “The Environmental Education Campaign has used local issues to highlight the voting records of members of Congress. EVEC has included broadcast ads, which have mostly run in closely contested races.” (Skinner 89) Deanna White, then deputy political director for the Sierra Club touched on the EVEC, “Part of what education is about is exposing a targeted segmented of the population to something that polling shows they care about and letting them know what their candidate in a race is doing or not doing on their behalf. “ (Skinner, 89) EVEC ads tend to be aimed at women with children because they tend to be the voters most concerned about environmental issues. (Skinner, 89) Sierra Club feels that focusing on local issues makes it easier to sway potential voters. The ability of the Sierra Club to run targeted ads, or mobilize partisans on short notice makes the election prospects of candidates increasingly uncertain. (Maisel, 181)

Organizational structure

Sierra Club is comprised of over 700,000 members. Its headquarters is located in San Francisco. It also operates with a large Washington staff and field staff. The club's board of directors is comprised of 15 members. People currently holding the positions are as follows, " Allison Chin, President, Robin Mann, Vice President, Rafael Reyes, Secretary, Joni Bosh, Treasurer, David Karpf, Fifth Officer, Lane E. Boldman, Robbie Cox, Jeremy Doochin, Michael Dorsey, Larry Fahn, Barbara Frank, Sanjay Ranchod, David A. Scott, Chris Warshaw, and Nathan Wyeth." The club has 64 chapters all across the United States, ranging from Alaska to Wyoming. Sierra Club has 28 fields offices throughout the country, along with an office stationed in Ontario, Canada.

Public perception and controversies

"In 1966 the club ran newspaper ads opposed to the building of dams on the Colorado River. As a result, three years later the club lost its status as a 501(c)(3) charity; thereby losing its right to collect tax deductible contributions" (Skinner,66) In response to this public slight the Sierra Club set up the Sierra Club Foundation, its charitable affiliate.

"In 2004, former Colorado governor Dick Lamm led a slate that wanted the club to officially support more restrictions on immigration. The club conscious of the need to cultivate Hispanic voters, opposed Lamm"(skinner,58) The Club supported calls for greater restriction on immigration before 1996. "The club conscious of the need to cultivate Hispanic voters opposed Lamm."(Skinner, 59)

On November 19, 2009 the Sierra Club coupled with the Center for Biological Diversity, and Grand Canyon Trust filed suit in federal court. The Sierra Club firmly opposes the Bureau of Land Management’s approval of reopening an outdated uranium mine just north of Grand Canyon National Park. The sierra club’s decision to seek adjudication was prompted by Bureau of Land Management’s failure to update environmental reviews and mining plans that have been outdated since the 1980s. This negligence allowed Denison Mines Corporation to jumpstart mining at the “Arizona 1” mine. The premise for the pending lawsuit is that the National Environmental Policy Act is being violated. More specifically, the stipulation that land-management agencies must consider new information regarding the hydrology, spring ecology, and biodiversity of the area in order to prudently predict the pending impacts of the mine. A minor premise for the suit is that Denison Mines Corporation project conflicts with the Endangered Species Act, which stipulates that new mining, must not produce ill effects for threatened or endangered species or their fragile environment. Early indicators signal a favorable outcome for Sierra Club and their constituents. Public Opinion strategies indicate people are rallying behind this pro-preservation cause. As illustrated by their finding, “Arizonans support protecting the Grand Canyon area from uranium mining by a two-to-one margin.”


  1. Skinner, Richard (2007), More Than Money Interest Group Action In Congressional Elections, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, p. 58
  2. Skinner, p. 132

Robinson, Jennifer. "Santa Clarita Sierra Club". Sierra Club. 12/109 <>.

Bahr, Sandy. "Lawsuit Challenges Uranium Mine That Threatens Water and Wildlife of the Grand Canyon". Sierra Club. 11/29/09 <>.

Skinner, Richard. More Than Money Interest Group Action In Congressional Elections. New York: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2007. pp. 58-9, 89-90, 116, 124-6

Sinclair, John E.. Interest Groups In America. Morristown, New Jersey: Genral Learning Press, 1976. pp.39

Sifry, Micah L.. Is That A Politician In Your Pocket? Washington on $2 Million A Day. Hoboken New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2004. (104,120)

Wilson, James. Political Organizations. New York: Basic Books, Inc., Publishers, 1973. pp.218, 231

Sandy Maisel, L.. The Parties Respond Changes in American Parties and Campaigns. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 2002. pp. 181