Mayor Villaraigosa receives Sierra Club award for L.A.'s coal-free power play

Sunday, September 29, 2013
From Sierra Club reports
Former two-term Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has received the Sierra' Club's Edgar Wayburn Award, which honors outstanding service to the environment by a person in government. Under Villaraigosa’s leadership, Los Angeles announced it will become the first large city in the United States to stop using electricity generated by coal-fired power plants.
The national Sierra Club gave out its national awards Sept. 21 in San Francisco. The Club’s top award, the John Muir Award, went to Dr. Robert Bullard, who currently serves as dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University in Houston. Bullard is a leading scholar and advocate for environmental justice and is frequently referred to as “the father of the environmental justice.” He has written 17 books that address topics such as environmental racism, industrial facility siting, smart growth and sustainable development.

Another top award, the William E. Colby Award, was given to Debbie Heaton of Middletown, Del. Heaton has held a variety of leadership positions within the Sierra Club for the past 20 years, both with the Delaware Chapter and at the national level.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has received the Distinguished Achievement Award, which honors persons in public service for a particular action of singular importance to conservation. Nutter has spearheaded a project called Greenworks Philadelphia, which is designed to make Philadelphia a more sustainable and livable city.

Maxine S. Goad of Santa Fe, N.M., received the Distinguished Service Award, which honors persons in public service for strong and consistent commitment to conservation. As an employee of the New Mexico Environment Department, Goad helped guide New Mexico’s efforts to protect ground water in the state.

The Ansel Adams Award, which honors excellence in conservation photography, went to James Balog, a Colorado-based photographer who has documented the world’s vanishing glaciers through the Extreme Ice Project. The project is featured in the 2009 NOVA documentary “Extreme Ice,” and in the feature-length documentary “Chasing Ice,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2012. Balog has published eight books, including his most recent, which is titled Ice: Portraits of Vanishing Glaciers.

The David R. Brower Award, which recognizes excellence in environmental journalism, went to Dave Fehling and the StateImpact Texas reporting team, which is a joint effort between public radio stations KUHF in Houston and KUT in Austin. The project has been producing in-depth stories on how energy and environmental issues affect the public.

The William O. Douglas Award, which recognizes individuals who have made outstanding use of the legal/judicial process to achieve environmental goals, went to David Bender of Madison, Wis. Bender has sued dozens of Wisconsin polluters and has helped stopped the construction of coal-fired power plants across the country.

The EarthCare Award, which honors an individual, organization, or agency that has made a unique contribution to international environmental protection and conservation was given to the John Muir Trust, which currently owns or manages more than 100,000 acres of the finest wild areas in the United Kingdom.

The Raymond Sherwin International Award, which honors extraordinary volunteer service toward international conservation, went to Christine Elwell of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Elwell has played a valuable role in fostering effective cross-border conservation work involving the Sierra Club and Sierra Club Canada.

The Chico Mendes Award, which honors individuals or non-governmental organizations outside the United States who have exhibited extraordinary courage and leadership in the universal struggle to protect the environment, was awarded to Choi Yul of Seoul, South Korea. Choi has been a pioneer in the environmental movement in Korea and Asia for the past 40 years and has been imprisoned since February for his activism against the Four Rivers Project in South Korea.

Other awards presented include the following:

Communication Award (honors the best use of communications by a Sierra Club group, chapter or other entity to further the Club’s mission): the Rocky Mountain Chapter Communications Team.

Denny and Ida Wilcher Award (recognizes excellence in fundraising and/or membership development): The Falls of the James Group in Richmond, Va. For the past 16 years, this group has put on an annual yard sale in cooperation with the University of Richmond and Goodwill Industries that helps recycle items left behind by students at the University of Richmond and serves as a fundraiser for all the groups involved.

Francis P. Farquhar Mountaineering Award (recognizes contributions to mountaineering): R.J. Secor of Pasadena, Calif. Secor is a prolific mountain climber and the author of The High Sierra – Peaks, Passes and Trails, which is now in its third printed edition.

Joseph Barbosa Award (recognizes Sierra Club members under the age of 30): Jessica Olson of Round Rock, Texas, and Jessica Sieglie QuiƱones of Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Olson is a member of the Sierra Student Coalition Executive Committee and has interned with the Club’s Lone Star Chapter. QuiƱones has helped organize zero waste committees in towns across Puerto Rico. Both will receive $500 to further their conservation work.

Madelyn Pyeatt Award (recognizes work with youth): Liz Wheelan of Dallas, Texas. Wheelen chairs the Club’s Dallas Inner City Outings program, which will receive $500 in recognition of this award.

Oliver Kehrlein Award (for outstanding service to the Sierra Club’s outings program): Ray and Lynne Simpson of Santa Cruz, Calif. The Simpsons have led more than 160 national or international trips for the Sierra Club and been involved with the management of the National Outings Committee.

One-Club Award (honors Sierra Club members who have used outings as a way to protect or improve public lands, instill an interest in conservation, increase membership in the Sierra Club, or increase awareness of the Sierra Club): Suzanne Valencia of West Melbourne, Fla. Valencia has staffed 45 national service trips, which are estimated to have contributed approximately 15,120 volunteer hours to a variety of public land agencies in the Southeast and Southwest, as well as at Clair Tappan Lodge in California, which is owned by the Sierra Club.

Special Achievement Awards (for a single act of importance dedicated to conservation or the Sierra Club): Kathy Lacey of Abington, Pa., Richard Mabion of Kansas City, Kan., and the Sierra Club’s Clean Air Team. Lacey started the Sierra Club Terrapin Nesting Project in New Jersey, Mabion organized the Kansas Chapter’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Program, and the Clean Air Team has filed dozens of lawsuits against polluting industries while at the same time pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to  do its job when it comes to regulating polluters.

Special Service Awards (for strong and consistent commitment to conservation over an extended period of time): Jim Sconyers of Terra Alta, W.Va., and Dwight Adams of Gainesville, Fla. Sconyers has been a leader in the Club’s West Virginia Chapter and Adams has been a leader in the Club’s Florida Chapter.

For more information on the Sierra Club awards program, visit www. sierraclub.org/awards.

Al Gore, left, and former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced a plan for L.A. to steer clear of coal-burning plants as an energy source this summer. Credit: Mary Forgione


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