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Thursday July 19, 2001
By Edward Davidian, Staff Writer

    YOSEMITE -- The Sierra Club's current leadership is asking members to invest money in shares of companies that meet the club's strict standards for environmental performance.
     The move could raise public concern over the non-profit mission of the Club. Additional funds for lobbying Congress to make laws the Sierra club supports would be tax deductible under the scheme.
     The Sierra Clublikes the idea originated by the Humane Society. The society joined Smith Barney to set up a fund that would exclude meatpackers or other companies that sell animal products, manufacturers of hunting equipment, and pharmaceutical companies or others that use animals in laboratory testing.
     The Sierra Club wants to do the same, but with a much larger agenda hoping the club's 650,000 members would invest substantial amounts of their life savings in the venture that could earn royalties tax free under Section 501(c)4 of the tax code.
    The Sierra Club Fund could charge investors the customary fees and pay royalties to the club for the use of its name and would be guaranteed an income whether the stocks held by the mutual fund went up or down.
    Too good to be true? Board members are hesitant to go along with the scheme until it surveys its members. Former president, Phillip Berry, opposed the idea "Selling the club's name cheapens it." Jennifer Ferenstein, the current club president, also voiced concerns. She complained, "What happens if a company turns out bad.How do you dump companies?"
       The Social Investment index on the performance os such investments only had about 80% with assets of $100 million or more earning top ratings in 2000.
     Worse yet, the Domini 400 Social Index, lagged behind the S&P 500 last year, losing 14.3 percent against the broader market index's loss of 9 percent.
     Over the past 10 years, the Domini 400 Social Index, gained 19 percent while the S&P 500 gained 17.5 percent.

Letter to the Editor

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Nature Notes
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."
     -- John Muir, 1901

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