In March, Michael Brune will become executive director of the Sierra Club, the venerable nonprofit founded in 1892 by John Muir that now has 1.3 million members and donors. The former director of the Rainforest Action Network said his first priority would be to push strong climate and energy legislation.
A lot of work you have to accomplish happens in Washington, D.C. Is it difficult working from San Francisco? The Sierra Club has a large office and an excellent political team working in Washington. One of the reasons I took on the job is because we’ve got a good presence [there].
The Sierra Club has been around for more than a century. What changes will you bring to the organization? We want to be an organization that doesn’t just try to stop environmental crimes from happening. You’ll see more work toward solar installations and wind farms. We want to make environmental justice more proactive.
You’ve often been described as confrontational toward corporations. The style of RAN has been to be hard on the issues and soft on the people. Large oil companies and mining operations don’t volunteer to be stewards of the environment. Sometimes they have to be embarrassed into it.
Which corporation, or entity, is responsible for the most pollution in the nation? Mountaintop removal back East is one of the worst environmental crimes in history. Most of the coal industry partakes in mountaintop removal, and it’s lead by Massey Energy.
— Brent Begin