Podcast: Former Sierra Club Directors on Layoffs, Equity and Environmental Justice

cross-posted from the Green and Red Podcast

The Sierra Club is one of the oldest and largest environmental groups in the U.S.. It also has a problematic history, from being founded by racist John Muir to members penning the racist “Population Bomb,” advocating for population control, to former director Carl Pope promoting corporate greenwashing. Earlier this year, politician Ben Jealous became the organization’s new executive director and began a process of “restructuring” due to budget deficits. The restructuring led to layoffs that included the equity and environmental justice teams.

We talk with Hop Hopkins and Michelle Mascarenhas (@MG_MMS), two of the top directors, laid off in the Sierra Club’s restructuring about what happened, the impacts on environmental organizing and equity within the non-profit industrial complex.


Hop Hopkins is the former Director of Organizational Transformation at the Sierra Club, where he helped the organization evolve its commitment to anti-racism. Hop is a longtime social movement strategist and scholar, and has been a leader in movements from HIV/AIDS to anti-globalization, food sovereignty, anti-displacement and clean energy transition, after beginning his career as a grassroots environmental justice community organizer. Most recently he was a Climate Justice Fellow and adjunct professor at Antioch University. He is based on Tongva land in Los Angeles, CA.

Michelle Mascaranehas is the former National Director of Campaigns at the Sierra Club. Before coming to the Sierra Club, Michelle was a co-director of Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project where she supported the formation of the Climate Justice Alliance, the Reclaim Our Power Utility Justice Project, and projects at the intersection of land, Indigenous sovereignty, reparations and Black liberation. Prior to her time at MG, Michelle worked as a union organizer and organized farm-to-school projects. Michelle is based on Chochenyo Ohlone land in Berkeley, CA.

NYC: Climate Activists Shutdown Citi Headquarters; 2 Dozen Arrested

cross-posted from Climate Defenders

Today climate activists blocked all entrances to Citi banks headquarters to demand that they stop investing billions of dollars in the fossil fuel industry.

Citi is the world’s second largest funder of fossil fuels. It is the world’s second biggest financier of oil and gas extraction in the Amazon — financing over $1.8 billion worth of Amazon-destroying activities while also being the top funder of oil and gas extraction in Africa.

The bank has put in $333 billion into the fossil fuel sector since the 2015 Paris Agreement while continuing to greenwash themselves as a “sustainable bank.”

25 were arrested after keeping hundreds of Citi employees out of the building and waiting on the sidewalks and in the building’s plaza.

A number of Citi employees assaulted climate activists during the action.


NYC: Activists arrested for shutting down traffic outside of BlackRock

cross-posted from Climate Defenders

Today, five were arrested taking action at investment giant BlackRock’s offices. BlackRock, the company that owns the world and that is torching it, has long been the target of climate activists.

The NYPD also is more interested in protecting the profits of the billionaire class than the interests of the people and planet.

This is part of a waves of action happening across New York in the lead up to the March to End Fossil Fuels this weekend.

CalFire Faces Opposition for Avoiding Environmental Review and Tribal Consultation

cross-posted from Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters

CalFire Faces Opposition for Avoiding Environmental Review and Tribal Consultation

Jackson Forest advocates will testify at Jackson Advisory Meeting in Ft. Bragg

Sept. 12, 2023

For immediate release


Matt Simmons, staff attorney, Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) (310) 666-8912

Andy Wellspring (707) 367-4701


Ft. Bragg, CA-A large turnout of forest advocates and the public is expected at the upcoming meeting of the Jackson Advisory Group (JAG) on Sept. 15, 2023, at the First Presbyterian Church, 367 South Sanderson Way in Fort Bragg, to discuss the future of the Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF). The meeting is scheduled for 9 am to 12:30 pm.

The JAG is the citizen body tasked with advising CalFire in their management of Jackson Demonstration State Forest. The Coalition to Save Jackson Forest is calling for environmental review of a new management plan and is insisting that no new timber harvest plans be considered during the process.

CalFire, the agency that manages JDSF, is asking the JAG to approve the “Scope of Work” for preparation of a new forest Management Plan at this meeting. The management of Jackson Forest has generated increased controversy and sharp criticism over the last few years due to unfulfilled promises of crafting a co-management agreement with area tribes in accordance with a state directive from Governor Newsom.* CalFire has now omitted environmental review of the new forest management plan, ignoring climate and other environmental considerations, and is restarting logging plans, ending a pause in logging put in place specifically to work these issues out.

Both State Senator McGuire and State Representative Wood have stated in writing that a new management plan is needed before new timber harvest plans are approved. Kim Rodrigues, the facilitator hired to run JAG meetings in a more collaborative manner, recently quit, stating in her letter of resignation that the current process wasn’t working. Ms. Rodrigues stated “The process is not truly collaborative. CalFire announces the projects and timelines, seeks limited input with limited dialogue and makes decisions. I am willing to support a collaborative process if/when the State and CalFire commit to such a process.”

Priscilla Hunter, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, will be appearing at the JAG meeting to express the frustration of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians with CalFire’s failure to respond to the Tribe’s efforts to obtain from the State a mutually agreed upon definition of tribal co-management prior to CalFire moving forward with the drafting of a new Management Plan.  Last year CalFire suspended government to government consultation with the Tribe and simply moved forward with its own definition of what the state’s relationship with Tribes will be.

CalFire’s current proposed process for management plan revision includes only three meetings of what they call a ‘tribal advisory council.’ Prior advisory group recommendations on forest management at JDSF have been vetoed by the State Board of Forestry, and given this precedent the Tribe cannot accept merely an advisory group status. The Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians is calling for equal co-management, not advisory status, and has repeatedly requested over the past year that the State reinitiate government to government consultation with the Tribe to resolve this issue, rather than moving forward over tribal objection and unilaterally defining the Tribe’s role.

The California Democratic Party recently gave a unanimous official endorsement to tribal co-management in JDSF.  This represents statewide support for tribal co-management on a level heretofore not seen, as the Democratic Party represents 10 million registered California voters.

The Coalition to Save Jackson Forest, includes forestry experts, attorneys, activists and Mendocino County residents long involved in advocacy for preservation of the values of Jackson Forest —including protection of sites sacred to local tribes and mature redwood forest habitat, an important counter to the climate crisis in its carbon sequestration and storage capacity.

“The immediate concern is that CalFire is going forward with creating a new management plan without any intention to conduct environmental review of the new management plan, effectively limiting tribal and public participation and oversight of how Jackson Forest will be managed into the future,” said Matt Simmons, staff attorney for E.P.I.C. “The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is the foundational tool for protecting the environment when projects such as development, resource extraction, or changed forest management are proposed. CEQA defines a “project” as ‘an activity which may cause either a direct physical change in the environment, or a reasonably foreseeable indirect physical change in the environment…’ (Pub. Rec Code § 21065), so by skipping environmental review, CALFIRE is saying that their new management plan won’t change, or improve, the physical environment in JDSF.”

Additional concerns raised by members of the public include CalFire delegating tribal government to government consultation to a consultant hired by the State, the lack of tribal participation and leadership in the new management plan process, the fear that the process will be directed by Sacramento and not locals, and the fact that CalFire has restarted the process of approving logging projects.

CalFire’s proposal to launch an update of the Management Plan was initially met with support from the Coalition and the public, as the current plan is outdated. The current MP does not take into account the interest of the indigenous people whose ancestral homeland includes this forest, nor does it adequately consider sacred sites, nor make provision for the crucial role the forest’s redwoods play in mitigating the climate crisis. The current management prioritizes and indeed, mandates commercial timber harvest.



* Background on tribal involvement:

In 2019 Governor Newsom signed executive order N-15-19 which apologizes for the State’s historically sanctioned depredations and prejudicial policies against California Native Americans, reaffirming and incorporating by reference the principles of government-to-government engagement outlined in Executive Order B-10-11 and establishing a Truth and Healing Council. Executive Order B-10- 11 (Governor Brown, 2011) states that “Every state agency and department shall encourage communication and consultation with California Indian Tribes”.

In a further Statement of Administration Policy (2020), the Governor states that “… it is the policy of this administration to encourage every State agency, department, board and commission… subject to my executive control to seek opportunities to support California tribes’ co-management of and access to natural lands1 that are within a California tribe’s ancestral land and under the ownership or control of the State of California.” The Policy further states that “any action taken in accordance with this Policy shall: (i) comply with all applicable laws and regulations…”

Additionally Executive Order N-82-20, acknowledges that “since time immemorial, California Native Americans have stewarded, managed and lived interdependently with the lands that now make up the State of California.”

1 PRC § 9001.5(d)(2) Defines “Natural Lands” as “lands consisting of forests, grasslands, deserts, freshwater and riparian systems, wetlands, coastal and estuarine areas, watersheds, wildlands, or wildlife habitat, or lands used for recreational purposes such as parks, urban and community forests, trails, greenbelts, and other similar open- space land…” PRC 9001.5(d)(1) Defines “Working Lands” as “lands used for farming, grazing, or the production of forest products.” For purposes of this report, we assume JDSF contains both types of land.