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An Open Letter To The Sierra Club: Not In Our Name

-by Susie Shannon and Dorothy Reik

Sierra Club members

The Sierra Club has a secret endorsement process, and it does NOT include consulting its dues paying members! Just whom they do consult is a mystery but when members try to weigh in, they are told they are "interfering!" The latest outrage, following their attempt to kill rooftop solar is their intention NOT to endorse climate champion Kevin De León for mayor of Los Angeles. His opponent has not made climate a focus of her efforts whereas De León has devoted much of his energy to the issue. So why wouldn't the Sierra Club, which purports to be all about support for the environment, ignore that fact? Well, why did they try to kill rooftop solar? Their members want to know!

Was De León's opponent at the Paris climate talks? De León was-- here is his statement.

It would be an understatement to state that Kevin De León has been the most effective elected official on climate change and the environment in the history of California. Because he is now considered to be a WORLD LEADER on climate change.

Outside of his incredible body of legislation and legislative leadership delineated below, he has been asked to speak internationally on climate and renewable energy in myriad countries, including Australia, Argentina, Austria and Mexico. He led the California delegation at the Paris climate talks and represented California in Marrakesh, Morocco and Lima, Peru.

It is unconscionable to suppress an entire body of work by an elected official to secure an endorsement for another candidate.

Kevin de León is the author of SB 100-- Kevin de León stood up to the oil and gas companies when he passed, in 2018, a bill mandating the State of California move to 100% renewable energy for its electricity by 2045. Earthjustice called SB 100 "one of the world's most ambitious clean energy bills." Senator de León not only authored this bill, but moved it off the floor of the Senate, the Assembly and secured the signature of Governor Brown. It was the first bill of its kind in the world to be signed into law. Leaders from across the world and in various states across the country called on de Leon to advise them on adopting similar laws. This is true leadership on climate change.

Here's typical press coverage of SB100:

Authored SB 350- Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015-- The Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act (Senate Bill 350) established clean energy, clean air, and greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals, including reducing GHG to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Kevin de León served as a Distinguished Fellow for Climate, Environmental Justice and Health with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute at the University of Southern California.

When Kevin de León was elected as President Pro Tempore of the California Senate, environmental leaders from across the state issued a statement applauding his leadership on the environment and climate change. Here are just some of the those praising his work:

  • "No one has done more to create local parks and other green places for families to safely play in our cities, than Senator de León," said Rico Mastrodonato, Senior Government Relations Manager, The Trust for Public Land.

  • "We can think of no other choice better qualified to lead the Senate of the most prestigious legislative body in the country than Senator Kevin de León. We look forward to continuing to work together with the Senator and the entire legislature to protect California’s environment and public health and on our state’s national and global leadership on clean energy and solutions to climate change," said Sarah Rose, CEO of the California League of Conservation Voters.

  • "Californians will breathe easier with Kevin de León leading the State Senate, as he has been a champion for clean air and environmental justice," said Bill Magavern, Policy Director of Coalition for Clean Air. (Bill Magavern is a former Sierra Club CA Director.)

The admiration and adulation went on and on. Please heck it out.

In his time as President pro Tempore of the California State Senate:

De León secured more than:

  • $68 million to revitalize the Los Angeles River,

  • $176 million to clean up toxic waste around the former Exide Technologies facility,

  • funding for more than a dozen new parks

  • $26 million to complete the Los Angeles State Historic Park

  • appropriated tens of millions of dollars to make Los Angeles schools more energy-efficient through Prop 39, bringing relief to city taxpayers.

  • authored Proposition 68, to keep drinking water clean and open new parks throughout the state

  • partnered with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to save thousands of acres of open space in the Santa Monica Mountains and wildlife corridors

  • If the Sierra Club turns its back on Kevin De León, a progressive bold champion for the environment, addressing climate change who has received awards from the Sierra Club, what message does this send to moderates who have to make a choice on whether or not to take oil and gas money? There seems to be no upside to championing these issues if an organization like the Sierra Club could turn their back on a climate champion.

In addition, he has worked with our unhoused community since 2005, and have walked Skid Row several times with Kevin De León. He has been a champion on these issues and here is his record:

  • he has provided interim housing for more unhoused individuals in his short time on the Los Angeles City Council than any member of the City Council

  • authored Proposition 2, securing the largest financial investment, $2.2 billion, to build permanent supportive housing for Californians experiencing homelessness, especially in Los Angeles and for those suffering from mental illness

  • created a comprehensive plan rooted in reality to house 25,000 unhoused neighbors by 2025 utilizing innovative, environmental solutions like adaptive reuse and master leasing.

When Trump was President, De León passed SB54, a sanctuary state for immigrants, passed SB 100 making California an environmental leader on renewable energy, passed Cal Savers retirement for low income workers and put $2.2 billion into homeless housing.

City Council Member Kevin De León deserves the Sierra Club endorsement.


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