Sierra Club takes the lead at L.A. climate change rally

Friday, February 22, 2013
David Haake

The Sierra Club LA Beyond Coal Campaign, together with the Sierra Club’s Angeles Chapter, played major leadership roles in the Forward on Climate event in downtown Los Angeles on Feb. 17 in which huge numbers of Angeles Chapter members and supporters proudly marched from Olvera Street to Los Angeles City Hall to call upon President Obama to lead in the fight against climate change, beginning with stopping the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

The Los Angeles event, organized by Beyond Coal in partnership with Tar Sands Action Southern California, NRDC, WilderUtopia, Coalition Against Nukes and Food and Water Watch, was held in solidarity with the larger event taking place simultaneously in Washington DC, and in other cities around the country.

Sierra Club board member Susana Reyes led the march during which she told KNBC-TV that the Sierra Club’s goal was “to make sure that President Obama hears our message to keep all the fossil fuels in the ground!" (Watch the interview, with Reyes' comments take place 40 seconds into the video).

Actor Ed Begley Jr. serves as the Master of Ceremonies for the rally and was greeted by wild applause from the gathered throngs as he introduced a lineup of environmental heroes, including Congressman Henry Waxman, the distinguished Native American Chief Phil Lane Jr. and Los Angeles City Council Member José Huizar. 

Huizar told the crowd: "Thanks to the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign, we were able to move forward a Feed-in-Tariff program that will provide 100 megawatts of renewable energy, roof-top panels, here in the urban core of the city of L.A., the largest program of its kind in the country.  And because of the [the campaign], we also were able to put more money in the history of the Department of Water and Power’s budget for more energy efficiency.  Thank you very much for your activism, we love you!"

Later Begley introduced Beyond Coal’s very own Aura Vasquez who said, “It is a great day in L.A. Today we’ve come together to address the economic and environmental issue of our time: Climate change. And we’re here not only to urge our leaders to take climate change seriously, but also to stand in solidarity with the millions of people who suffer every day from the consequence of corporate greed and reckless exploitation of natural resources.

"Sierra Club is proud to stand in solidarity with each and every one of you who is building a better world for their families and for future generations….We at the Sierra Club are doing everything we can to encourage the transition from coal to clean energy. Our city has recently taken major steps to become a clean powered city investing in solar, wind, and energy efficiency programs that can bring economic prosperity and create good local jobs that benefit all of us. Our fight is succeeding, look at the amount of people here today, we will continue until our city leads this country in running on clean energy of the 21th century and no longer on dirty coal of the past.

“But this isn’t going to happen by itself. It’s going to take all of us. This is not just about preserving the planet, it is about justice for all of us. This fight will not be won by scientists and other experts alone. It will be won by ordinary people like you and me who came together and organized to call attention to this crisis and demand change now. Let’s look around us - and recognize that we have both an opportunity, and a duty, to join hands and protect our planet…The time is now!”

Photos: The climate change rally in Los Angeles, top, with actor Ed Begley Jr. and Sierra Club national board member Susana Reyes (to the right of Begley). Aura Vasquez of Sierra Club LA Beyond Coal campaign addresses activists at the downtown L.A. rally on Feb. 17. Credit: David Haake

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