Larry Gibson worked tirelessly to open the worlds' eyes to the destruction being wrought on his beloved Appalachian mountains by coal strip mining. Whether traveling the country to share images of devastated mountains and valleys, or bringing visitors past "hell's gate" at his property on Kayford Mountain, West Virginia, to witness the blasted landscape first hand, Larry drove home the horrors of mountaintop removal mining and his conviction that the practice must end. Larry did not allow the constant threats and intimidation he faced to wear him down. His courage and steadfast determination remain a powerful inspiration to everyone who met him. And although Larry did not live to see the end of mountaintop removal mining, his work to spread the word about the terrible practice brought victory much nearer. Larry is missed, but the legacy of his work and passion carry on.
Thomas Au has worked to help chapter leaders review and change legislation, lobby environmental agencies, and take strong positions on significant environmental issues.
Growing up in Pound, Virginia, in a family supported by her father's coal mining wages, Jane Branham could not wait to get out of the coalfields and change the world. She lived all over the Southwest and worked as a traveling nurse, but plagued by dreams of her home, she returned to Wise County, Virginia. When she first saw mountaintop removal from the top of Fox Gap, she said to herself "right here is where I need to be changing the world."
Carla Cloer's family has lived near California's Sequoia forests for four generations. Carla grew up hiking and riding her horse along the forests trials; to this day she returns every summer to stay in the cabin that her grandfather built. These trips are a source of renewal, a reminder of the beauty and majesty that she has spent much of her life fighting to protect.
A native to Pound, Virginia, a small town on the Virginia-Kentucky border, Mary Cromer received her JD from Washington & Lee University School of Law. After law school, Mary clerked for the Honorable Glen Conrad of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia and worked as an Associate Attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. Since 2008, Mary has worked as a Staff Attorney for the Appalachian Citizens' Law Center (ACLC), a small non-profit law firm dedicated to protecting coalfield communities and the environment from destructive coal mining practices in Central Appalachia. Situated in the middle of the coalfields in Whitesburg, Kentucky, ACLC is uniquely positioned to work with both national environmental groups and local coal miners and their families on a range of often sensitive environmental and public health issues related to coal mining. Throughout her time with ACLC, Mary has litigated a variety of cases, from representing individuals and families who have lost their well water supplies because of nearby coal mining to fighting pollution from coal mining under national environmental laws.
Aloma began her work with the Sierra Club as an organizer on water quality issues five years ago. A former adjunct professor of history at Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro, Aloma has been involved with environmental issues for years, first as the Environmental Chair and President of the Owensboro League of Women Voters, and later as the governor-appointed chair of the Kentucky Environmental Water Quality Commission.
Jane Feldman began her career as an enthusiastic and tenacious Sierra Club volunteer eight years ago, after she retired from her prior career as an Air Force officer. When Jane first became involved with the Sierra Club's Southern Nevada Group, she devoted her energies to protecting habitat and biodiversity in Nevada's sensitive desert ecosystems, which led her to serve as the Group's Conservation Chair and as the Toiyabe Chapter's Conservation Chair. She widened her focus to encompass community health and urban sprawl when a proposed highway widening project threatened the health and quality of life for residents in her Las Vegas community.
Tim joined the Sierra Club's Water Sentinels Program in 2005 and has served as the program's Deputy Director since 2009. The Sierra Club's Water Sentinels Program is a volunteer based program that works to inform and empower citizens to monitor, protect, and improve their local waterways. With over 51 programs in 20 different states, Water Sentinels provides over 12,000 volunteers with the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors, while tackling complex environmental issues. The program organizes river and stream cleanups, trains citizens to test their local waterways for harmful substances, provides environmental education and outdoor activities for children, and more. Tim works with volunteers and communities across the nation to address a wide range of environmental issues associated with water contamination, from agricultural runoff to sewer overflows to coal mining and more.
Two of the Sierra Club Law Program's most remarkable victories of 2006 could not have been achieved without the hard work and dedication of attorneys Rachel Hooper, Richard Taylor, and Dan Selmi.
These three attorneys each displayed a remarkable level of dedication, persistence, and perseverance in achieving outstanding victories in two Sierra Club lawsuits challenging an ill-conceived water privatization project in Stockton, California, and a massive development proposal that involved building an entire new town between Lake Tahoe and the town of Truckee, California.
On September 26, 2009, Sierra Club was honored to present attorneys, Joe Lovett of the Appalachian Center for the Economy and Environment and Jim Hecker of Public Justice, with the William O. Douglas award, which recognizes those who have made outstanding use of the judicial/legal process to achieve environmental goals. Working together since 1998, Joe Lovett and Jim Hecker are the two leading legal advocates on the front lines of the fight against the destructive practice of mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia.
Brandt Mannchen has been an active and dedicated Sierra Club volunteer for over thirty years. Brandt's distinguished history with the Club is marked both by his high level of commitment as well as an impressive breadth of involvement in Club committees and chapter activities. During his tenure, Brandt has served as the Chair, Vice Chair, and Secretary of Houston group, he has been on the Executive Committee for both the Houston and Lone Star Chapters, and he has served on committees dealing with a range of issues, from wildlife and endangered species to offshore drilling. Brandt is proud to have worked to contest the first Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency off the Texas coast. In recent years, Brandt has been primarily involved in forestry issues, serving as the Forestry Chair for the Houston Group and the Big Thicket Chair for the Lone Star Chapter.
Mark's work with the Sierra Club began about three years ago when he teamed up with the Club's Alabama Chapter to remedy chronic pollution problems at the Whitaker Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO). Despite being matched up against a large team of Whitaker corporate attorneys, Mark was able to successfully negotiate a settlement that forces Whitaker to stop illegally dumping hog waste into Alabama waterways, to take measures to reduce odor and prevent polluted runoff, and to protect the ecosystem around the hog factory.
Chip Moore is attorney in private practice Jacksonville, Florida. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and University of South Carolina School of Law. After clerking for the Honorable Donald S. Russell on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Mr. Moore worked as a trial attorney at U. S. Department of Justice's Environmental Enforcement Section in Washington, D.C. for over five years, where he prosecuted civil environmental enforcement actions on behalf of government under all the major federal statutes, including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, CERCLA and RCRA.
Joan Taylor has been a tireless advocate for the California desert since 1970, testifying before congressional committees, working for passage of protective legislation, serving on regional land planning efforts and acting as Club liaison on dozens of lawsuits.
Robert began his career working with environmental organizations before deciding to head off to law school. After he was armed with his degree, he started out briefly working on international environmental issues like whaling and dolphin protection treaties. He then started working on environmental issues in the U.S. as well as representing individuals who could not afford an attorney before transitioning into the realm of environmental practice. He has now been consistently working in coordination with the Sierra Club for the past seven years.
Anne became a Sierra Club volunteer in 1980 when she moved to Michigan with her husband Tom. Five years later she became staff, and now works with both the state legislative program and the Environmental Protection Education Campaign at the Club.
With all of these years under her belt, Anne has worked on a wide range of issues including forests, sprawl, and, more recently, concentrated animal feeding operations, a.k.a. factory farms. Anne works extensively with the Environmental Law Program to use litigation as a critical tool for saving the environment.
Mountaintop removal mining has been described as the "government-sanctioned bombing of Appalachia." However, across the region, growing numbers of local activists are standing up for their communities and demanding that this practice stop. Teri Blanton, Maria Gunnoe, Ann League, and Pete Ramey are four such activists, each working tirelessly to win this decidedly uphill battle.
Robert Graham, Gabrielle Sigel and Allison Torrence began working on the Hyperion case in 2008. They represented the Sierra Club in its challenge to the Hyperion Energy Center’s PSD air permit. On behalf of the Sierra Club, they prepared detailed technical comments on the proposed permit, participated in a contested case hearing before the South Dakota Board of Minerals and Environment, and appealed the issuance of the permit through the South Dakota state court system. When Hyperion applied for an extension and amendment to its PSD permit in 2010, they did everything again -- comments, contested case hearing and appeal. They appealed the PSD air permit to the South Dakota Supreme Court, where they just recently presented oral arguments on October 3, 2012.
Over the past several years, attorneys Josh Kratka and Dave Nicholas have represented the Sierra Club and Environment Texas in a series of groundbreaking lawsuits seeking to hold several of the world's largest oil and chemical companies accountable for millions of pounds of illegal air pollution each year along Texas's Gulf Coast.