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You are here: Home Corvid Crier Stories 2013-03 Climate Change: Is Audubon Doing Enough?

Climate Change: Is Audubon Doing Enough?

Eastside Audubon president Andy McCormick takes issue with National Audubon and and President Obama and asks them to do more about renewable energy.

By Andy McCormick, EAS President


In his second inaugural address President Barack Obama said, “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. … The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition. We must lead it.”

Contrary to this statement, the president has made two recent decisions which have disappointed advocates of reducing carbon emissions in the atmosphere. He did not stop the construction of the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline through the United States, and he did not have the U.S. delegation take any leadership at the annual United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Doha in November, 2012.

Demanding Action

Proponents of reducing carbon emissions are not waiting and are taking action. Even before the president’s speech, and the Sierra Club had joined forces and had planned a large demonstration and civil disobedience on President’s Day, February 17, in Washington, D.C.

These actions by prominent environmental groups beg the question if Audubon is doing enough to prevent further global warming. The National Audubon Society (NAS) has included clean energy development in its strategic plan and acknowledged that global warming has been changing patterns of bird migration and could threaten some bird species, with rising sea levels especially menacing to shorebirds.

However, National Audubon does not have a proactive program to address climate change, the issue is not apparent on the society’s website, and as of this writing on February 15 NAS had not made a statement in support of the President’s Day action or the President’s inaugural address.

Chapters Are Doing It for Themselves

Some Audubon chapters are not waiting for National. Locally, several Washington State chapters have become active in opposing the proposal by Ambre Energy, an Australian coal mining company, to ship by train millions of tons of coal mined in Montana to ports in Washington and Oregon for transport to China.

Six members of Eastside Audubon attended the “Coal Train” hearings held by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Seattle, and Conservation Chair Pete Marshall and I submitted testimony opposing the export of coal through Washington.

A quick search of the internet found that Palomar Audubon in California has posted a list of myths about the Keystone XL pipeline. Montana Audubon has asked its members to “Tell the President No,” on the pipeline. Duluth Audubon has urged its members to tell the President to deny TransCanada a permit to build the pipeline in the U.S. Onandaga Audubon in New York State has come out against the pipeline and mining the tar sands oil in Alberta.

You Can, Too

It is not too late for you to act. You can send a message to President Obama. Tell him you support renewable energy production and not to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. You can email David Yarnold, President of National Audubon. Tell him that Audubon needs to take a strong position to speed the changeover from carbon-based fuels to renewable energy and to approve the Audubon Washington proposal to have a session at the National Convention on stopping the coal trains from crossing Washington.


Editor’s note: Read Andy’s emails to President Obama and to David Yarnold.

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The mission of Eastside Audubon is to protect, preserve and enhance natural ecosystems and our communities for the benefit of birds, other wildlife and people.