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Archives for June 2011

Staying Cool, Staying Green

We have already had several 100+ days and it’s not even July. So how can we stay cool in this heat and stay green? Here are some ideas to help.

  • Use an insulated bottle like the Klean Kanteen stainless steel insulted bottle. Fill it with ice water and stay hydrated.
  • Keep blinds and curtains closed when the sun is shinning in the window.
  • Cook on the stove top and in small kitchen appliances like a toaster oven as much as possible. The oven gives off a lot of heat.
  • Plant some shade trees. The more your home is shaded the cooler it will stay.
  • Shade your A/C. Keeping your A/C cool will help it run more efficiently.
  • Get your air ducts cleaned and checked.
  • Install and use ceiling fans.
  • Make and eat some homemade ice cream.
  • Wear loose fitting clothing.
  • Insulate your house, it will help you keep the cool air in.
  • Seal up air leaks to prevent losing cool air.
  • Skip the heat dry setting when running your dishwasher.

What are some other good ways to stay cool this summer?

Photo Credit: samlavi

About the Author

Lisa Sharp is passionate about green living, organic food, animals, and natural medicine. She is an environmental activist, green living expert, and consultant. In addition to being the founder and editor of Green Oklahoma, Lisa has a green living blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green. You can follow Lisa on twitter @Retrohousewife5 and Facebook.



Environmental Concerns Surround Proposed Oil Pipeline

A new oil pipeline running from Canada’s tar sands is being proposed and would run through several states, including Oklahoma. Landowners have already been fighting the proposed Keystone XL pipeline but now environmental concerns are adding more fuel to the fire.

In a recent report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, Pipeline Safety Trust, and the Sierra Club, many environmental and public safety concerns are brought to light.

One of these concerns is caused by the fact that pipes from the tar sands are increasingly carrying diluted bitumen, also known as “DilBit”. DilBit is a highly corrosive and acidic material. This material is a mix of raw bitumen and volatile natural gas liquid condensate. Bitumen often contains toxins such as chromium, mercury, arsenic, and lead, adding to the risk if there is a spill.

Currently, conventional technology is being used in the pipelines to transport the DilBit from the tar sands. The use of this technology may pose a significant risk of pipeline leaks or ruptures due to corrosion. The report states, “…the Alberta pipeline system has had approximately sixteen times as many spills due to internal corrosion as the U.S. system. Yet, the safety and spill response standards used by the United States to regulate pipeline transport of bitumen are designed for conventional oil.”

These concerns are already being felt along the Keystone pipeline already in use. On May 29th, the Keystone tar sands pipeline, that was constructed less than a year ago, sprung its twelfth leak. As much as 2,100 gallons of crude oil spilled in Kansas. This was just three weeks after the same pipeline spilled 21,000 gallons in North Dakota.  Here are reports from the other ten leaks.

  1. May 21, 2010
  2. June 23, 2010
  3. August 10, 2010
  4. August 19, 2010
  5. January 5, 2011
  6. January 31, 2011
  7. February 3, 2011
  8. February 23, 2011
  9. March 8, 2011
  10. March 16, 2011

After the latest spills a Corrective Action Order (CAO) was issued to TransCanada by federal regulators. This came after they determined that the Keystone pipeline was an imminent threat to life, property and the environment. The CAO states “After evaluating the foregoing preliminary findings of fact, I find that the continued operation of the pipeline without corrective measures would be hazardous to life, property and the environment.”  This is the first time this type of action was taken on a new pipeline. On average, the pipelines that received a CAO were more than forty-five years old.

However, there are proponents of the pipeline. Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) delivered more than 62,000 public comments in favor of the project. The comments come from people living in the six states along the pipeline’s proposed route. Michael Whatley, CEA’s executive vice president said  “American consumers neither want nor deserve any additional delays, and now is the time to approve this project that is so vital to North American energy security.”

The question now is, are the risks worth the benefits? Do Oklahoman’s want to risk having a major spill on our soil or should we look for better options? Give us your opinion in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Natural Resources Defense Council

About the Author

Lisa Sharp is passionate about green living, organic food, animals, and natural medicine. She is an environmental activist, green living expert, and consultant. In addition to being the founder and editor of Green Oklahoma, Lisa has a green living blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green. You can follow Lisa on twitter @Retrohousewife5 and Facebook.



Holes in the Law the Size of Caves

The Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer underlies an area of approximately 530 square miles in south central Oklahoma and provides the drinking water to more than 40,000 people in cities such as Ada, Sulphur, Tishomingo, and Durant. The Arbuckle-Simpson is a karst aquifer which means that the movement and storage of water occurs primarily in joints, faults, and solution channels of carbonate rocks such as limestone and dolomite.

Because much of the water is stored in fractures, it responds relatively quickly to groundwater withdrawals and can carry pollutants long distances in relatively short amounts of time. This makes karst aquifers especially sensitive to human activities.

Karst aquifers are extremely complex hydrogeologic systems, often exhibiting a polygonal network of multiple groundwater basins with subterranean channels stacked and criss-crossing one another with a combination of horizontal, inclined, and vertical flow paths.

In 2008, a 5 year state and federal hydrology study was completed that was to determine the maximum annual yield of groundwater that could be pumped from the aquifer without impacting the springs and streams. The study was limited both in time and in funding, limiting the scientists and the area that could be studied. To come up with a number that was reasonable within the time and money allocated, the scientists were forced to collect general information about the aquifer and come up with ONE number based on the aquifer recharge average.

However, there is no single number of the average annual rainfall that can be effectively applied to the aquifer as a whole. This is because some groundwater basins may recharge at 17 inches of the average 40 inches of rainfall, where as others may recharge at less than 3 inches. This means that if 40 inches of rain falls on the ground surface, only 3 inches is what percolates into the aquifer and the other 37 inches leaves as overland flow.

From the recharge average a number is to be set that is the equal proportionate share that is to be divided equally among the owners of water rights based on surface acreage over the aquifer. Traditionally the state has allowed landowners to pump 2 acre feet of water per acre of land; but the new law, which will be applied only to landowners overlying the aquifer, is likely to reduce this number from 2 acre feet to about 2 acre inches.

The problem with this is that the city of Ada who gets surface water from Byrds Mill Spring, pumps from wells in the Arbuckle-Simpson to offset spring water use in dry spells. To meet the demand for pumping after the law takes effect, the city would be required to purchase additional groundwater rights overlying the aquifer. Because of this a special exception was made that water rights could be purchased anywhere across the aquifer to supplement the pumping for a specific well. However, the city of Ada is not the only entity that needs to buy additional water rights to supplement pumping after the law takes effect. Several mining companies across the aquifer are aiming to mine to depths far below the elevation of the watertable and to do this requires the removal of water to mine deeper.

Mines in one groundwater basin that recharges at less than 3 inches are able to purchase additional groundwater rights from elsewhere over the aquifer and then able to pump well beyond the basins recharge potential, ultimately drying up springs and streams.

The Arbuckle Karst Conservancy is well aware of this problem and has spent hundreds of hours collecting data from individuals wells and springs to create standard models to show what is normal flow for specific springs. Within the aquifer is a complex network of caves that host a variety of unique and rare organisms that are dependent on the groundwater and continual flow of nutrients. The Arbuckle Karst Conservancy works closely with the Arbuckle Mountains Grotto to explore these caves and survey the fauna within them. Any changes that occur in groundwater reduction or disappearance of organisms, the Arbuckle Karst Conservancy will be able to provide information to the landowners effected that shows the historical data and the present reduction in water and or biodiversity. This data can be compared with the anthropogenic activities and possibly linked to show that the anthropogenic activities are responsible for the change in the subsurface. The Arbuckle Karst Conservancy does not have the power to change the law, but they are able use hard science to show that the law is imperfect and protect innocent landowners by providing the tools for successful legal action against unsustainable industries.

More information about the Arbuckle Karst Conservancy can be found at http://www.arbucklekarst.org

About the Author

Kevin Blackwood is a Geology student at the University of Oklahoma and an Environmental Health Science and Geography student at East Central University in Ada. He is the director of the Arbuckle Karst Conservancy and past president of the Arbuckle Mountains Grotto. He has served on the Board of Directors for CPASA (Citizens for the Protection of the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer) since 2008, and has 3 published peer reviewed articles on Karst Hydrogeology. His research has led to the discovery of nearly 1,000 caves that are part of the Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer and the discovery of new and rare species of stygobitic and troglobitic fauna.


Photo Credits: All photos are property of the Arbuckle Karst Conservancy and the photographers that took the photographs. Do not use without permission.

Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes to Build Wind Farm

The Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes are working to build a wind farm, which will include 22 100-kilowatt turbines. The farm will be on tribal land near the Lucky Star Casino in Concho. The tribes say it could save them as much as $9.2 million over the next 40 years. Currently, the tribes spend more than $200,000 a month for electricity.

The tribes would be the first to Native American tribe to have a wind farm on tribal land. Other Oklahoma tribes are working to build farms but not on tribal land. The tribes are working with West Wind Energy LLC on the project. The turbines will power the tribes’ smoke shop, the Lucky Star Casino in Concho, and the tribal headquarters. The first two turbines should be built by the end of September.

Another great thing the wind farm will bring to Oklahoma and the tribes is jobs. Scott Brantley, the CEO of West Wind Energy LLC, said that his company hopes to train tribal members to maintain the turbines once they are operational. Brantley also hopes to build a turbine manufacturing plant on the tribes’ land in the near future. The farm could end up employing as many as 35 people.

Gov. Janice Boswell talked about the tribes’ feelings on the wind farm in a recent Cheyenne and Arapaho newspaper article. “We are keepers of this earth, so bringing the power of wind to our people is key to our survival and a part of honoring divine instructions.”

Photo Credit: Some rights reserved by steve.abraham

About the Author

Lisa Sharp is passionate about green living, organic food, animals, and natural medicine. She is an environmental activist, green living expert, and consultant. In addition to being the founder and editor of Green Oklahoma, Lisa has a green living blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green. You can follow Lisa on twitter @Retrohousewife5 and Facebook.



World Oceans Day

Today is World Oceans Day, while Oklahoma doesn’t have any oceans to enjoy, we do still have an impact on the health of the world’s oceans. Plastic waste is one way that we are all having an impact. Around 10 percent of the plastic produced each year ends up in our oceans.  That’s around 10,000,000 tons of plastic each year. This plastic isn’t floating around in large pieces in the ocean that would be able to be cleaned up, they are photodegrading and turning in to tiny pieces that would be impossible to clean up.

So what can we do to help the problem? We should be rethinking the items we buy and reduce our use of plastics. Since plastic is everywhere this can seem overwhelming but with some simple steps you can make a big difference.

  • Stop using bottled water. An estimated 25% of bottled water is just tap water. If you are worried about your tap water invest in a good filter and fill your own stainless steel reusable bottles at home.
  • Use reusable bags. Plastic bags are one of the items often seen in the ocean. Every year, Americans use approximately 1 billion plastic shopping bags and few are recycled. Reusable bags are easy to use, come in many great styles and often stores offer discounts for when you use them.
  • Use real dishes. Using real dishes will help save you money and greatly reduce your waste. You can even use neat products like To-Go Ware utensil sets to help reduce waste when away from the house.
  • Use a reusable mug. When you get coffee and other drinks out bring your own mug. Many insulated mugs will keep your drink hot or cold for several hours, unlike disposable cups.
  • Think before you buy. This is one of the biggest things you can do. Ask yourself these questions before you buy a product. Is it something you really need? Is there a better option that will last longer and has less waste? These are good questions to ask not only to reduce your waste but also keep more money in your pocket.
  • Recycle your plastic. When you do end up with plastic do your best to recycle it. You can find places to recycle your plastic on our recycling page.

And remember take it one step at a time. If you do these things slowly they become habits and you won’t become overwhelmed. And if we each do our part we can help save our oceans.


About the Author

Lisa Sharp is passionate about green living, organic food, animals, and natural medicine. She is an environmental activist, green living expert, and consultant. In addition to being the founder and editor of Green Oklahoma, Lisa has a green living blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green. You can follow Lisa on twitter @Retrohousewife5 and Facebook.


Made in Oklahoma Coalition launches iPhone app

Free mobile application will help Oklahomans locate MIO products, restaurants and recipes

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahomans now have a new tool to learn more about Made in Oklahoma Coalition (MIO) products, restaurants and recipes with the launch of the MIO iPhone app.

The application is free to download from iTunes and includes categorized lists of MIO products, a directory of MIO recipes, a MIO restaurant locator and general information about the coalition. The app also allows you to share any of its features through email, Twitter or Facebook.

“The MIO iPhone app will make it much easier for Oklahomans to support local companies, products and restaurants,” said MIO Market Development Coordinator Sharra Martin. “We also hope the app will increase awareness of and support for MIO on social media channels.”

The MIO restaurant locator shows maps, addresses, phone numbers and directions to find MIO restaurants. Users can search for new recipe ideas, grouped by categories, on the recipe feature. Colorful photographs of MIO dishes help users identify great meal ideas and easy-to-read recipes to follow while cooking or grocery shopping.

Oklahoma Chef Robert Black with A Good Egg Dining Group helped develop the app.

“Restaurants depend so much on the support of the community,” Black said. “This app will make it easier for Oklahomans to find restaurants that serve dishes made from local products.”

The product tab helps users find MIO items by food categories so they can support local companies that produce Oklahoma-made products.

“We have a lot of support from people wanting to buy local products and support our partners,” said Jerry Dyer, MIO president. “This mobile app gives people easy access to all the great products and services MIO companies have to offer.”

Download the app by visiting http://www.miocoalition.com/mioapp/.

Made in Oklahoma Coalition (MIO)
The Made in Oklahoma Coalition promotes brand awareness and consumer loyalty for Oklahoma food and agricultural products through collective marketing for the purpose of increasing sales, maintaining business retention and expanding Oklahoma’s food and agricultural processing sector. MIO represents more than 30 Oklahoma food and agricultural manufacturers that employ over 20,000 Oklahomans statewide. The coalition is supported by both private and public funds. For more information, please visit www.miocoalition.com.


Summer Fun in Oklahoma

Most Oklahoma schools are out for the summer so it’s time to find fun summer activities. This year why not add a green twist to your summer? There are a lot of fun options around the state to keep your summer green.

Zoo’s are a great way to help kids connect with nature and learn about animal conservation. Oklahoma has two wonderful zoos to visit this summer. The Oklahoma City Zoo has a lot of wonderful new things for you to check out. They just opened the new elephant exhibit which includes a new baby elephant. The ZooZeum just opened as well, it’s a fun way to learn about the zoo. The Tulsa Zoo is also always a fun place to visit.

To hot to be outside, why not check out  Science Museum Oklahoma? The science museum is a hands on way for kids to learn about science. You can also check out an IMAX movie while you are there.

Oklahoma has some beautiful places to visit that help us appreciate nature. One of those places is the Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Sulphur. There is a lot to do in the area including a nature center, small water falls, a lake, camping areas, and a lot of beautiful water areas to enjoy. Bring a picnic lunch and some swimsuits and you can have a wonderfully fun day.

Learning about history can help us understand why we need to protect nature today. A great place to learn about natural history is at the Sam Noble Museum in Norman. The first Monday of every month is free which makes it an even better summer activity. Also be sure to check their website often as they have fun activities all year.

There are many great pick your own farms around Oklahoma. They are fun way to get some fresh produce. And for kids it can be a way to get them to try some new foods. Farmer’s markets are a fun activity as well and there are several around Oklahoma.

If you have some fun ideas for this summer be sure to share them with us in the comments below. And be sure to get out and enjoy Oklahoma this summer!

About the Author

Lisa Sharp is passionate about green living, organic food, animals, and natural medicine. She is an environmental activist, green living expert, and consultant. In addition to being the founder and editor of Green Oklahoma, Lisa has a green living blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green. You can follow Lisa on twitter @Retrohousewife5 and Facebook.

Photo credits:
Elephants- Oklahoma City Zoo & Botanical Garden