January/February 2014 Newsletter:

A look back at a busy year…

It seems like only a short time ago when I heard of my election to be chair of NEO Sierra Club. Thanks to a really dedicated group of volunteer activists and excellent staff members of the Ohio Chapter it has been an honor to serve. We began with calls to action to oppose Keystone XL and a proposed waste to energy plant. Thanks to a nationwide effort, the Keystone XL project is still not approved. Thanks to a local effort, the idea for a waste to energy plant at the Ridge Road transfer site has been abandoned by the City of Cleveland. A big thank you goes to Randy Cunningham and our Coal and Energy committee for these efforts.

Another big issue for us has been a proposed filling and development on a creek adjacent to the mentor marsh. We are still working to get a public meeting with the Army Corps of Engineers on the permit for the project, and have engaged with politicians and stakeholders in the area to insist on on-site mitigation to address increased stormwater runoff and pollution. Kudos to Amanda Keith, the Ohio Chapter’s program coordinator for Northern Ohio and NEO Sierra volunteer Jessica Ferrato and the water committee for mustering over 200 public comments to US ACE to raise this issue to the critical importance it deserves.

We sponsored a film at the Cleveland International Film Festival, Rebels With a Cause and we tabled at Earth Fest at the Cuyahoga Fairgrounds, the mountain film festival at the Palace Theater, and at Parade The Circle. We also participated in a cleanup in Lorain with the Lorain County Kayakers, put on the “Trash and Pancakes” cleanup at Edgewater, and put on a cleanup at Mentor Headlands Nature Preserve. Thanks to all who helped out at these and other events.

Our political committee has been revived and endorsed several candidates for local offices. Our last newsletter had a list. We are going to be continuing this effort and hope for more endorsements and friends in office this coming November. We also met with elected officials to voice our concerns and ask for their help. Issues included the Mentor Marsh, Senate Bill 58 (the modification of Ohio’s alternative energy and conservation mandates), an injection well ban, and the Opportunity Corridor. Thanks go out to Jessica Ferrato for chairing and a lot of the work, and to Neil Waggoner of our Ohio Chapter office in Columbus.

The Fracking committee has been keeping our elected officials on their toes about issues with pollution, health hazards, safety concerns, and excessive water withdrawals from streams and lakes. In October and November we cosponsored a series of presentations at the West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church with West Shore FACT (Faith Communities Together for Frack Awareness) which were a great way to educate are residents about the dangers posed and alternatives to fracking. Thanks go to Anne Caruso and the fracking committee for organizing 9 evenings of speakers and films over a month long period.

Urban Agriculture is still preparing the beds for future growth. Events included a tour of a greenhouse and tilapia farming project at Rid-All Farm, and helping with a hugelkultur project at Community Greenhouse Partners. In the spring we will be planting some fruit trees for the edible forest there. Thanks go to Randall Moyer for his efforts.

NEO Sierra Club also held general membership meetings at Mr. Peabody’s Pub, Cedar Green Wine and Beer, and Jackalope Lakeside in Lorain. These are a great way to spend an evening talking about environmental issues that concern our members and about what NEO Sierra Club is doing.

To all of you I offer my gratitude and praise. This club is strong because of the combined voices and efforts of all of us. I am sure it will be a great 2014 because of our continuing efforts.

Steve McPhee, Executive Committee Chair