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Report Card Grades: Sierra Club

Report Card Grades » Sierra Club » Grade: B-

PETA wrote to the Sierra Club to determine its position on the use of animals in chemical-poisoning tests and to solicit its endorsement of a statement calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to increase its funding and use of non-animal test methods.

On March 29, 2001, Sierra Club past-president Robbie Cox issued the following response to PETA’s letter: “The Sierra Club has no position on animal-testing. We neither endorse nor reject the PETA statement regarding this issue.”

On September 20, 2007, the Sierra Club—along with the Natural Resources Defense Council and other organizations—petitioned the EPA to require manufacturers to conduct short-term and long-term toxicity experiments on animals for air fresheners. These experiments would have required confining animals to gas chambers, squeezing them into inhalation tubes, or restraining them with breathing apparatuses over their mouths, forcing them to breathe in air fresheners and their ingredients. Fortunately, the EPA agreed with PETA’s formal comments and denied the petition, sparing thousands of animals!

PETA sent a letter to Mr. Cox on November 8, 2007, urging him to reconsider the organization’s endorsement of and lobbying for animal testing.

On March 31, 2008, we received a reply from the Sierra Club’s deputy executive director, Bruce Hamilton, stating: “The Sierra Club continues to have no position on animal testing. … We regret that the original petition specifically requested that animal testing be undertaken. Our petition was denied, and in our follow up lawsuit there is no mention of requesting or requiring animal testing.”

Although PETA was concerned that the lawsuit could still be interpreted to include animal testing, we received assurances from the Sierra Club that if it goes forward, it will first be amended specifically to exclude animal testing. Thanks in part to your letters, the Sierra Club did the right thing by dropping its request for animal testing and asking instead for data reporting and labeling requirements.

But unfortunately, in 2015, the Sierra Club has publicly supported a chemical testing bill that would drastically increase the number of animals forced to suffer in chemical-toxicity tests. This legislation excludes many measures built into a related measure, known as the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, that would modernize the ways in which chemicals are tested and regulated in the U.S. and go a long way toward reducing animal use.

The Lautenberg bill follows the principles of the 2007 National Academy of Sciences report “Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy,” encourages cutting-edge non-animal test methods, and directs the EPA to consider all available information on a chemical and similar chemicals before requiring new testing. Animal protection organizations are working to ensure that non-animal methods will be used preferentially. However, instead of supporting the Lautenberg legislation, the Sierra Club calls the competing bill the “gold standard“—even though it will cause an untold increase in animal suffering.

What You Can Do

Please let the Sierra Club know that chemical-testing reform can only truly be achieved if we move away from archaic animal tests and toward the more effective, modern non-animal tests encouraged by the Lautenberg bill—and that you want the Sierra Club to support legislation that requires that non-animal tests be used preferentially.

Send letters to:

Michael Brune
Executive Director
Sierra Club
85 Second St., 2nd Fl.
San Francisco, CA 94105
415-977-5797 (fax)
[email protected]