I was angered and disappointed to learn this week that the local chapter of the Sierra Club endorsed Justin Wilson as Mayor, but not too surprised, as the Sierra Club had sold out years ago.
In 2008, the National Sierra Club cut an endorsement deal with Clorox to place the club’s name and logo on the company’s new, “greener” cleaning products in exchange for pay based on product sales. Then, in the 2007-2010 timeframe, the club took $26 million in donations from the CEO and others associated with Chesapeake Energy, a natural gas fracking company.
And now a local chapter has endorsed a candidate who voted to approve a development that would destroy an intact natural area, a wooded ravine with a protected wetland in violation of state and local water quality ordinances. When rightfully concerned citizens repeatedly reached out to Mr. Wilson about the planned development on the Karig Property, they were rewarded with evasive, glib responses and a vote to destroy a vital environmental resource. Ironically, a zoning variance to allow reduced setback from the street would have allowed for reconfigured placement of the development’s houses that would have saved the wooded wetland.
In contrast Mayor Allison Silberberg has been fighting for the health of our air, land, and water ever since being elected to office. She has fought tirelessly to restore the city’s tree canopy, to stop the dumping off raw sewage into the Potomac, and to reduce the city’s carbon footprint (and its energy bill) through the adoption of LED street lights. Most recently she stood with citizens to protect the important “nearby nature” on the Karig Property.
As such, I urge you to take the time to learn more about the Sierra Club’s tarnished and troubling departures from founder John Muir’s vision of protecting nature. The club’s stated mission includes a call "To explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth; To practice and promote the responsible use of the earth's ecosystems and resources;” and “To educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment.” Clearly sending bulldozers, fill dirt, and a sewer line into a sensitive, protected wetland that represents the little bit of “nearby nature” we have left is incongruent with John Muir’s vision.