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Welcome!

The Western North Carolina (WENOCA) Group is a part of the North Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club. Its area of interest covers the counties of North Carolina west of Buncombe county except for Transylvania, Henderson and Polk counties. Those three counties are covered by our sister organization the Pisgah Group.

The group usually meets on the first Thursday of each month. The meetings start at 7:00 p.m. with half an hour of social get together, program beginning at 7:30. The meetings are held in Asheville at the Unitarian Church, 1 Edwin Place at Charlotte Street. The form of the meeting is a brief session of announcements and business followed by a presentation about an issue in which the WENOCA Group is interested. A list of the forthcoming programs can be found under WENOCA News.

The WENOCA Group is an all-volunteer group with no paid staff. It is governed by an executive committee of seven members elected by the membership. Contact information for the members of the executive committee is provided on the excom page.

Visit our Volunteer Opportunities webpage to find out how you can get involved in our local outings, educational programs and events, membership recruitment and engagement,  fundraising, and advocacy efforts. There are opportunities to volunteer for many different types of tasks, to fit all types of schedules and time commitments. We need your talents and energy to help green Western North Carolina.

After you learn about our work, please consider becoming a member of the Sierra Club.  You can join on line using our secure server. Join now to receive a Sierra Club backpack as a welcome gift!

If you are a member, you can also renew your membership online via the same secure server. If you are not sure about joining the Sierra Club, follow this link to read why you should join us.

The WENOCA Group and the National Sierra Club are the same 501 C (4) non-profit legal entity. The local WENOCA Group is empowered to speak on behalf of the entire Sierra Club on issues that fall wholly within the Group’s geographic jurisdiction. The Sierra Club engages in the full range of electoral politics allowed by law. Because the Club has registered political action committees at the federal and state level, the WENOCA Group is able to make political endorsements at every level of government within its political boundaries, from US Congress to local county commissioner and council elections.

 

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018
Written by Deborah

Court Invalidates Incidental Take Statement, Halting Construction on Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Tuesday, May 15, 2018, Richmond, VA — Today, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the Incidental Take permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The permit, granted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, authorizes construction efforts to take certain threatened and endangered species. The permit  is required to construct the fracked gas pipeline, and with it being vacated, the project must be halted.

The court ruled that the limits set by the US Fish and Wildlife Service are “so indeterminate that they undermine the Incidental Take Statement’s enforcement monitoring function under the Endangered Species Act.”

The case was brought by the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, and Virginia Wilderness Committee and argued by Southern Environmental Law Center.

In response, Sierra Club Attorney Nathan Matthews released the following statement:

“The Sierra Club applauds the court for recognizing that the Fish and Wildlife Service, like other agencies involved in permitting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, failed to impose meaningful limits or adequately scrutinize the project. This fracked gas project has been proven to be perilous to our health, our communities, and wildlife, and now, thanks to tonight’s ruling, must be stopped.”

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About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters nationwide. In addition to creating opportunities for people of all ages, levels and locations to have meaningful outdoor experiences, the Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation. For more information, visit http://www.sierraclub.org.

Sunday, May 6th, 2018
Written by Deborah

Thursday June 7, 7 pm, “Energy Innovation Task Force – Pathway to Clean Energy for Western North Carolina.”

Sierra Club presents on Thursday June 7, 7 pm, “Energy Innovation Task Force– Pathway to Clean Energy for Western North Carolina.” Come learn how you can help prevent a 3rd gas power plant from being built.  (Note the change to Thursdays.)
Location Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, 1 Edwin Place, corner of Charlotte  and Edwin.
Contact: Judy Mattox, judymattox@sbcglobal.net, 828-683-2176
free & open to the public
Come hear City Councilwoman Julie Mayfield, County Commission Chair Brownie Newman, and Duke Energy District Manager Jason walls talk about the new Blue Horizons Project and how it will lead us to a cleaner energy future.  Learn how you can help.
In 2016, the City of Asheville, Buncombe County, and Duke Energy came together in a unique partnership to lead Western North Carolina to a cleaner, affordable, and smarter energy future.  A specific goal of the partnership is to delay or avoid construction of a third natural gas plant on Lake Julian that would on run on the coldest and hottest days of the year: called a peaker unit.
Monday, April 23rd, 2018
Written by Deborah

Thursday May 3 at 7pm: “Wildflowers, Trees & Critters”

Sierra Club presents on Thursday May 3, 7 pm, “Three Seasons in the Southern Appalachians of interaction between wildflowers, trees, & critters ” by naturalist Scott Dean.  Note the change to Thursday.

Location: Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, 1 Edwin Place

This event is free and open to the public. 

For more information, contact Judy Mattox, judymattox@sbcglobal.net, (828) 683-2176.

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018
Written by Deborah

Sierra Club volunteers to protect the Croatan National Forest

Following yesterday’s announcement about the great work of Sierra Club volunteers to protect the Croatan National Forest– here is a post by Sierra Club magazine on the great work of volunteers on the other end of the state to protect the Pisgah-Nantahala. 
 
https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/slideshow/north-carolina-needs-more-wilderness#1
Friday, March 30th, 2018
Written by Deborah

Sierra Club ad targets rate increase by Duke

The ad calling out Duke for looking to raise customers rates, and Duke officials dismissing the impact of a $6 increase in the fixed charge by claiming it’s just the price of “one Big Mac, fries and drink” per month, went live. 

Thursday, March 15th, 2018
Written by Deborah

Thursday April 5, 7pm: A Plan for a Clean Energy Future for North Carolina

Sierra Club presents on Thursday, April 5, 7pm “A Plan for a Clean Energy Future for North Carolina” by Dave Rogers. Come learn how we can make this transition. Note the change to Thursday. Location Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, 1 Edwin Place, corner of Charlotte  and Edwin. Contact: Judy Mattox, judymattox@sbcglobal.net, (828) 683-2716  Free and open to the public

Dave Rogers is the North Carolina Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. He will be presenting on the recent Sierra Club report “A Pathway to a Cleaner Energy Future for North Carolina,” which shows how Duke Energy can reliably meet the state’s energy needs and save their customers money by shifting away from coal and natural gas and towards clean energy.

Dave’s main responsibility is to push Duke Energy away from dirty energy sources like coal and gas and towards cleaner energy technologies like energy efficiency, wind and solar. Additionally, he works with the North Carolina chapter to promote the electrification of the transportation sector here in the state. Dave has worked as an environmental activist and advocate for 17 years, and prior to his joining the Club he was the director of Environment North Carolina. Up until a few months ago, he spent most of his free time running, reading and hiking in the North Carolina woods, but he recently welcomed twins to his family so he doesn’t quite remember what free time is. He’s based in Durham.

Monday, February 12th, 2018
Written by Deborah

Thursday March 1: How to talk about climate change with those who don’t believe

Sierra Club presents on Thursday Mar 1, 7 pm, “How to talk about climate change with those who don’t believe.” Learn what works and what doesn’t.  Note the change to Thursday. Location Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, 1 Edwin Place, corner of Charlotte  and Edwin. Contact: Judy Mattox, judymattox@sbcglobal.net, (828) 683-2716  Free and open to the public.

Steffi Rausch, lead organizer for the Asheville Chapter of the Citizens Climate Change Lobby (CCL) will share how you can engage positively with your legislators and conservative friends and relatives on the issue of climate change. Learn what terms to avoid and what language to use to actually reach areas of agreement. The same lessons can be used to lobby elected officials who may be skeptical of climate change

Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) is a non-profit, non-partisan international organization with 80,000 members worldwide that focuses on empowering and educating citizens to engage respectfully with their legislators on the issue of climate change as well as pushing for a bipartisan solution on the federal level. A big part of CCL’s outreach is reaching out to people with differing views to help bridge the partisan divide on the issue of climate by finding common ground between us. CCL works towards keeping a respectful bipartisan dialogue that is supported by a bipartisan advisory board that includes conservatives, liberals, scientists, and military. 

CCL’s proposed solution is called Carbon Fee & Dividend and has been adopted in various forms by four countries around the world, including Canada recently. It is a revenue-neutral, market-based, national alternative to regulations and the most effective, least intrusive, and government-free solution possible that will put more money back in to the pockets of low to middle income households while growing our economy, jobs, and GDP. Top economists say it is the best and easiest way to fix a carbon market failure and incentivize producers and consumers to lower their carbon consumption while not regulating how they do this. 

Rausch also is the owner and lead designer at Evolv.com, an Asheville-based website design company.

 

 

Thursday, January 11th, 2018
Written by Deborah

Thursday February 1: Hiking the Himalayas

Sierra Club presents on Thursday, February 1, 7pm “Hiking the Himalayas”. Bill (Skywalker) Walker as thru- hiked the great trails of the world Including the AT and the Pacific crest. Now he shares hiking in the Himalayas. Note change to Thursday.

Location Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, 1 Edwin Place, corner of Charlotte  and Edwin. Contact: Judy Mattox, judymattox@sbcglobal.net, (828) 683-2716 

 Free and open to the public

Thursday, January 11th, 2018
Written by Deborah

VICTORY: Court rules that NC congressional maps are unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders

Landmark decision against partisan gerrymandering is first of its kind in NC

RALEIGH – On Tuesday, a panel of federal judges ruled in the case of Common Cause v. Rucho that the NC General Assembly created an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander when drawing new congressional maps in 2016.  The judges have ordered the congressional maps to be re-drawn.

This is a landmark decision for North Carolina. While previous court cases have ruled against the legislature’s unconstitutional racial gerrymandering, this is the first ever decision against partisan gerrymandering in the state. The ruling could have a significant impact on redistricting in North Carolina and across the nation

“This is a true victory for North Carolina voters,” said Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause NC. “At long last, politicians in our state will no longer be allowed to use partisan gerrymandering in order to shield themselves from accountability to the public.”

In 2016, a federal court ruled that the Republican-controlled NC legislature had unconstitutionally gerrymandered two of the state’s 13 congressional districts along racial lines and ordered them to be redrawn. 

Republican legislative leaders responded by claiming they would craft a new congressional map by ignoring race entirely, and instead draw a blatant partisan gerrymander, as Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) stated publicly during a redistricting committee meeting in February of 2016.

“We want to make clear that we … are going to use political data in drawing this map,” Lewis said at that time. “It is to gain partisan advantage on the map. I want that criteria to be clearly stated and understood.”

That blatant gerrymander by the legislature prompted Common Cause to file suit arguing that partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional, an argument that the court agreed with in its ruling Tuesday.

In addition to fighting gerrymandering in the courts, Common Cause has been a longtime advocate for legislation that would establish nonpartisan redistricting in North Carolina.

House Bill 200 would take redistricting power out of the hands of legislators and give it to an independent body, which in turn would draw districts free from partisan politics.  While the measure has broad support in the NC House with 39 bipartisan co-sponsors, it has not yet been given a hearing or a vote in that chamber.

Under North Carolina’s longstanding system, whichever party controls the legislature also controls redistricting. For decades, the result has been gerrymandered v

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017
Written by Deborah

Wednesday, January 3, 7p: “Greenways & Blueways”

Sierra Club presents “Greenways & Blueways” Wednesday, January 3, 7pm
 
Marcia Bromberg of Connect Buncombe and Marc Hunt of Woodfin Greenway & Blueway will update us about Buncombe County’s successes & plans for Greenways & river facilities.
 
Location Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, 1 Edwin Place, corner of Charlotte  and Edwin.
Contact: Judy Mattox, judymattox@sbcglobal.net, (828) 683-2176 
 Free and open to the public.