Taylors Honored with National Sierra Club Award

 

The Award

Wally and Pam Mackey-Taylor of Marion recently received the national Sierra Club’s Susan E. Miller award at the Sierra Club’s annual meeting August 4 in San Francisco.  The Susan E. Miller Award honors exceptional contributions by individual Sierra Club members to chapters in organization or management.

Both Pam and Wally have volunteered their time in various capacities with the Chapter, including both of them serving as Iowa Chapter chairs at different times.  A Cedar Rapids attorney, Wally currently serves as Legal Chair.  Pam presently chairs the Fundraising committee and co-chairs the Energy committee with her husband, Wally.

Pam and Wally usually work as a team, with both contributing to the effort,” said Jane Clark, Chapter chair.   Their environmental concerns are broad:  water, energy, air quality, population, fundraising, the annual dinner and award recognition, corporations and election financing, road projects, wildlife, transportation.  The list is very long.”

The Taylors, Sierra Club members since 1977, travel throughout the region and country to attend meetings, follow issues and testify or take other legal action.

 

Sierra Club Board of Directors President Alison Chin (left) and Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune (right) present Pam Mackey-Taylor and Wally Taylor (center) with the Susan E. Miller Award at the Sierra Club Annual Meeting August 4 in San Francisco.

 

The Nomination

Nomination for Sierra Club’s Special Services Award

Wally Taylor and Pam Mackey-Taylor

Iowa Chapter

 

We nominate Wally Taylor and Pam Mackey-Taylor for Sierra Club's Special Services Award for their strong and consistent commitment to conservation and to Sierra Club over an extended period of time. Wally serves as Iowa Chapter’s Legal Chair and is currently on the Club's Council of Delegates and Pam served as Chapter Chair and Secretary in addition to currently serving as Chapter Energy Chair and Chapter Fundraising Chair.  They both serve on the Iowa Chapter’s executive committee. 

They have been members since 1977.   They are conscientious in their attendance at Chapter executive committee meetings and are key members of the team.  They travel throughout the region and country to attend meetings, follow issues, and testify or take other legal action.  

Pam and Wally work as a team, with both contributing to the effort.   Their environmental concerns are broad:  water, energy, air quality, population, fundraising, the annual dinner and award recognition, corporations and election financing, Rural Electric Cooperatives, highway projects, wildlife protection, transportation…the list goes on!  

Wally, an attorney, has worked together with Pam on a variety of issues dating back to the early 1990s or before.   For the Iowa Chapter, Wally initiated lawsuits about two water quality issues in the late 1990s.  When French Creek, a premier trout stream in northeast Iowa, was being threatened with pollution by a nearby hog confinement and the owner was spreading liquid manure on land near the trout stream, Wally took the confinement owner to court for Sierra Club and Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association joined forces with the chapter as an intervenor. The lawsuit was filed in 1999 to force the hog operation to cease activities that would contribute to pollution of French Creek.  

The French Creek court battle lasted several years and eventually went to the Iowa Supreme Court which resulted in a negotiated settlement agreement in December 2004.  It was the first CAFO case that addressed the issue of the adverse effects of CAFOs on water quality.   More recently, Wally assisted neighbors opposing a confinement in Dallas County, Iowa.   

Another lawsuit Wally represented Sierra Club on involved the TMDL regulatory requirement that has been in effect since 1978.   Iowa had not completed any such studies when this litigation was filed in 1998. Under the Act, when a state fails to meet its obligations, the federal EPA is required to step in and complete the TMDLs. In this case, the EPA also failed to complete TMDLs.  Three citizens groups, SAILORS, Mississippi River Revival and the Sierra Club filed lawsuits alleging that the EPA had failed to adequately enforce the Clean Water Act in Iowa. In October of 2001, after three years of litigation, the Environmental Protection Agency agreed to fully enforce the federal Clean Water Act in Iowa.   

In 1998, Iowa had identified 157 water bodies that were impaired by pollution in a biennial list required by the CWA. In previous lists, many of the same water bodies had been identified as impaired. After listing the impaired waters, the CWA required Iowa to study the pollution problem on each segment, developing the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) of pollutants that are necessary to achieve compliance with water quality standards.  

Wally’s work is frequently for the Chapter and is primarily pro-bono, especially on local and state issues.  He follows the actions of the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission and closely, as well as Iowa's water quality issues, and leads the Chapter's legal efforts on these matters.  He also works cooperatively with the Sierra Club legal staff on issues of importance to the Midwest region. 

Through all of this legal work, Pam has always been there to assist Wally with preparing the documents and assisting with research, etc.  It’s a real team effort.  Pam's background in engineering provides an excellent basis for her work with Wally on legal issues and many other issues, especially energy issues.  She has also taken a lead in rejuvenating our fundraising campaign and this, along with her grant writing has helped get our Chapter on more secure financial footing.

Wally and Pam have fought a long battle to protect a state and county preserve from a highway project   Hwy. 100 near Cedar Rapids, Iowa).  That suit is still pending.  Wally and Pam were involved with the Eddyville Dunes project before then--another highway issue. Wally was instrumental in protecting the Iowa River Greenbelt Corridor from the impacts of a major bridge over the Iowa River several years ago.  He also worked on a highway project in northwest Iowa that would have impacted one of Iowa’s “great lakes”—the Okoboji area.

When MidAmerican Energy began the process and encouraged legislation to build a nuclear plant, Wally and Pam testified before a hearing of the Iowa Utilities Board.  Convio alerts were sent to our members, thanks to Wally and Pam's efforts in this ongoing issue.   But years before that, Wally had represented individuals who wanted to have a wind turbine on their property and there were issues with the local Rural Electric Cooperative (REC).   Wally and Pam have testified before the Iowa Utilities Board on several occasions to object to new power plants or to comment on energy efficiency measures.   Wally also testified before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on the status of Omaha Public Power’s flooded Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant and to the NRC’s Blue Ribbon Commission on nuclear waste siting—both in 2011. 

Pam has been very helpful to our Chapter Director in writing campaign grants which help supplement some of the Chapter’s expenses.  At the beginning of the Club's Coal Campaign, Pam and Wally met with the Club's Organizers and helped work out a plan with the Club's Student Sierra Coalition to convince Iowa's three state universities to move away from using their coal-fired power plants. This action is making progress with the Iowa Board of Regents to consider solar and wind power possibilities.

No matter what issues come before the Iowa Chapter executive committee, Wally and Pam are willing to add their advice, legal or otherwise. Both of them are, and have been valuable leaders in our Chapter and certainly deserve this honorable award.

Nominated by:

Jerry Neff

Virginia Soelberg

Jane Clark

This nomination is supported by the Iowa Chapter executive committee