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Archive for October, 2008

Clean Coal at the Joe Biden Rally

I saw my first clean coal shirt and hat today.

A few of my friends and I decided to go vote after attending the Joe Biden rally on campus. As we were waiting in line, a tall fellow stood in line behind us, and I noticed that he was wearing a blue shirt that said, “Clean Coal: America’s Power.” The shirt also had on it a coal briquette with a plug protruding from it. It was the first clean coal shirt I had seen in person, and along with it, the fellow also had the white hat with block letters that said, “Clean Coal.”

I asked the fellow where he got the shirt, and he said that someone came up to him and asked if he was cold, to which he replied, “Yes.” The person then gave him a clean coal shirt and hat.

I then asked him how much he knew about clean coal, and coal in general, and he said, “All coal is dirty.” We then talked a little bit about other solutions, and while he wasn’t completely convinced that wind and solar could provide all the energy that we needed, but he was convinced that we had to move in a different direction. He also knew about mountaintop removal coal mining. After we talked energy, we began talking about the humor of elections, and other subjects.

Americans for Balanced Energy Choices just wasted another t-shirt and hat, it seems.

Save the date: Nov. 22

Dear volunteers, 

Volunteers collect trash around Mt Island LakeJoin us in restoring health to the Catawba River by planting over 8,000 trees!

When: November 22nd, from 9:00 a.m. -1:00 p.m.

Where to meet: Map to Henderson Park Swim Club

What to bring: We will supply tools but are expecting a big turnout. So, if you can bring a shovel or gardening tools that would help ensure enough tools for everyone. If it rains, bring rain gear. If it storms, we will notify you and reschedule.

Join us in a celebration: 1:00-3:00 p.m. A thank you luncheon and celebration at the completion of the event will mark the culmination of our initiative to protect and clean up Mountain Island Lake.

Registration: Register quickly as there is a maximum capacity and also we want to provide enough food. Registration only takes a minute.  http://action.sierraclub.org/site/PageNavigator/Fix_Mt_Island_Lake

The Sierra Club’s Central Piedmont Group, American Forests, County of Mecklenburg and Central Piedmont Community College want to thank you for participating in the Mountain Island Lake restoration project.

Please contact me with any questions or comments.


Kara Craig
Sierra Club
(919) 833-8467

Bicycle Commuter Tax Credit!

While most Americans vehemently disagreed with last week’s bailout bill (and rightfully so), there were some green additions that were pleasantly surprising. One addition was the Bicycle Commuter Tax Credit, which gives employers of those who travel to work on their bikes a $20/month tax credit. According to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, the tax credit is meant to go towards “the cost[s] of any employer reimbursement for reasonable expenses incurred by the employee “ ‘for the purchase of a bicycle and bicycle improvements, repair, and storage, if such bicycle is regularly used for travel between the employee’s residence and place of employment.’ ” Hopefully, this will convince lots of employers to put showers in their office buildings to accommodate potentially sweaty commuters.

One Trashy County

Lake Tire
Lake Tire

Saturday’s Big Sweep was a huge success. I volunteered with the Sierra Club at Latta Plantation to clean up the shores of Mountain Island Lake. Our group of six took a boat ride to the lake shore near McDowell Creek Cove. Within an hour and a half, the six of us collected at least three large trash bags full of– mostly recyclable– trash. We also found a tire, a bunch of baseballs (game of fetch, anyone?), a shredded fishing vest, broken fishing poles, a rusty metal barrel and two mismatched shoes.

The volunteers wondered how the trash got there: did it float back into the woods when the lake level rose? Were campers not packing out their trash? Were people accidentally littering or blatantly littering? Opinions were divided; some volunteers think people litter on purpose because they know folks like us will come along and pick up their trash (which is a disgusting thought) and others thought most of it was probably accidental, not able to digest a reality where people would litter on purpose.

However the trash got there, we all felt good about offering our time to pick it up. As we hiked in the trail-less, road-less area, we found several areas where the woods were so full of trash it was difficult to walk without crunching on rubbish with every step. In some places the trash swept back into the woods 1,000 feet or more from the shore.

It was a sad sight. It is difficult to understand why anyone– accidentally, or not– would allow their junk to float around, and rest on the edges of, our city’s drinking water source.

In a time when so much seems to be going wrong in our world, I have to announce to you all that pitching in– being proactive about caring for our corner of the world– will lift your spirits.

Mecklenburg County coordinators counted 195 volunteers at the Mountain Island Lake location. Those volunteers removed 4,000 pounds of trash from the lakeshore. All nine Big Sweep locations across the county, including Mountain Island Lake, hosted 735 volunteers and  removed 16,200 pounds of trash. Truly amazing for four hours of volunteer time.

The only hard part was leaving knowing we hadn’t picked up every scrap of trash we could. Unfortunately for my group of six, we ran out of trash bags.


Bye, Bye Beautiful Mountains

The Mountaintop-- Gone.
The Mountaintop– Gone.

“About 470 mountain tops in Appalachia, including the one next to Coal River, have been destroyed. Mountaintop removal mining is faster and cheaper than underground mining but its impact on the environment is much worse.


“Officials in the mining industry point out that after mountaintops are mined; they plant grass, trees and other vegetation — a process known as “reclamation.” But critics argue that it takes decades to replace the woodsy ecosystems that have been destroyed.

“Community activists from Coal River Mountain Watch believe there is an alternative: Mine coal underground and build a wind farm on the highest ridge which they estimate could power approximately 150,000 homes.”

Read more and watch videos here.

Big Clean Up on Saturday



Sierra Club and partners clean

Mountain Island Lake

The source of drinking water for nearly half a million people in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area becomes target for the watershed cleaning project, Big Sweep


Charlotte, N.C. — As part of a larger series of events, the Sierra Club, Mecklenburg County and CPCC will organize volunteers on October 4 to clean up and protect Mt Island Lake, the source of drinking water for nearly half a million people in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area . Volunteers will meet at the Latta Plantation Nature Reserve to clean trails, creek beds, and Mt Island Lake shoreline. In addition, volunteers can travel with the Mecklenburg County Stormwater Watch crew to the ‘island’ of Mt Island Lake, to remove trash and debris. Big Sweep requests volunteers bring their own non-motorized water craft, if desired, to clean along the shoreline. This event, along with the upcoming tree plantings in November, aim to offset the impact of rapid development in Mecklenburg and neighboring counties on Mountain Island Lake.




As part of the Catawba River system, Mountain Island Lake will share in the difficulties of what American Rivers named “the most endangered river in the US.” Much of the western side of the lake and numerous tributaries that feed it remain unprotected and vulnerable to deforestation and encroaching suburbia, which lead to shoreline destabilization, flooding, and dirty water.


The Mt Island Lake events:


The Central Piedmont group of the Sierra Club, Mecklenburg County, and CPCC will gather activists and students, clean up the McDowell Creek watershed during the nationwide ‘Big Sweep’ event, and plant several hundred trees


On Saturday, Oct 4 (9:00am-1:00pm), in partnership with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services, volunteers will clean up the Mountain Island Lake shoreline during the annual Big Sweep event. Meet at the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve. Gar Creek Canoe Access on 5226 Sample Road, Huntersville, NC 28078. Please register on our homepage at nc.sierraclub.org.


On Saturday, Nov 22 (9:00am-12:00), volunteers will plant a large number of trees to help filter groundwater and thus protect one of the most endangered watersheds in the country. Saturday’s event will cap off an entire week of plantings, with upwards of 500+ people planting trees throughout the week. A celebratory picnic lunch will follow.

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