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Letter from the Chair
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by Betsy Johnson | 2006

In her last letter as the Chair of the Maryland Chapter, Betsy reflects on the results of the election and the opportunities and challenges ahead

I’m having trouble with re-entry into the real world after a heady week of great election news. Day after day, the news got better and better. First we had huge wins in Maryland at the federal, state, and local levels. Of the candidates we endorsed, 82 percent won their seats! The headlines on Wednesday morning, 8 November 2006, told us that the Democrats had taken control of the House of Representatives.

Later that morning, I learned that Richard Pombo, the anti-environmental Chair of the House Resources Committee from southern California, was defeated—thanks in part to the massive campaign against him that environmental groups and others had conducted.  (See article on page 3.)

Wednesday afternoon brought Rumsfeld’s resignation—long overdue—and Thursday brought Virginia senator George Allen’s concession and the news that the Democrats had taken the Senate. The dominoes were all falling in the right direction. Election nirvana!

My thanks go out to all the Sierra Club members who volunteered their time campaigning for our candidates, and who donated money to candidates who needed grassroots support. All of this helped immensely. Our strength is in the dedication of individuals willing to spend time and money to support our values of clean air, clean water, and a healthy ecosystem. We did great in this election. Kudos to everyone who participated—and especially who voted.

Now our challenge is to use these results to get some traction on issues that have been languishing because of certain elected officials’ intractability. Opportunities abound at all levels of government to promote environmentally sound approaches to solving our addiction to oil and transportation challenges. We need to save ecosystems not just for ourselves, but for the health of the planet and all its creatures. To start, there are some bills that will be introduced in the state legislature. Please give these bills your support. They are listed below.

 This is my last column as your Chair. I will be stepping down as of 20 January 2007. The new Chair will be selected at our Executive Committee meeting on that date. I have been in this position for three years. During that time, we have seen global warming become a much more urgent issue. I am happy that we have a thriving Cool Cities campaign in Maryland that has volunteers on the ground working with local municipalities to help them reduce their global warming emissions. I plan to do more work on that issue after I turn over control of the Chapter to the new Chair.

But first I will  just enjoy nature for a while. As John Muir once said: “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountain is going home; that wildness is necessity; that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.” 

We all need to drink from those fountains on a regular basis.  

> 2006 Table of Contents


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