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Archives for September 2011

A Chance to Speak Up

Many Oklahoman’s are concerned about the prospect of the TransCanada Keystone XL tar sands pipeline coming to Oklahoma. Landowners are upset at the prospects of eminent domain being used by a foreign company, and they are the only ones upset, environmentalist are also concerned about the environmental impacts the pipeline will have.

One major concern for Oklahoman’s is that the proposed route for the pipeline crosses the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides drinking water for people in eight states, including Oklahoma. It also provides as much as 30% of the nation’s ground water used for irrigation.

Not all Oklahoman’s are against the pipeline though, Oklahoma’s Attorney General Scott Pruitt wrote a letter to the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to show his support for the pipeline.


“As Oklahoma Attorney General, I write to express my support for the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline (Keystone XL) project. In addition to the obvious national security and economic benefits of the pipeline, Oklahoma has a unique interest in the completion of the Keystone XL stemming from the ongoing glut of crude oil at the Cushing Hub. The glut has contributed to the depressed prices of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude and negatively impacted Oklahoma producers,” Scott Pruitt said.

However, Pruitt doesn’t address the landowner’s concerns or those of environmental groups. The Keystone 1, TransCanada’s last pipeline in the US, was predicted to have a leak once every seven years but has had 12 leaks in the first year. That’s more than any other first-year pipeline in U.S. history. The risks with spills from the pipeline are also increased due to diluted bitumen carried in the pipeline, it’s a highly corrosive and acidic material sometimes called DilBit. It’s a mixture of raw bitumen and volatile natural gas liquid condensate. Bitumen often contains toxins such as chromium, mercury, arsenic, and lead.

All concerned Oklahoman’s will have the chance to speak out against the pipeline tomorrow at a public hearing hosted by the U.S. Department of State. Each citizen will have 3 minutes to voice their concerns. The hearing will take at Reed Center Exhibition Hall, 5800 Will Rogers Road in Midwest City, from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Those that are unable to attend the meeting but would still like to have their concerns heard may contact Whitney Pearson with the Sierra Club with a short paragraph answering the following question, “is this pipeline in our national interest?”

 


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 Credit: Natural Resources Defense Council

 

Smog on the Rise in Tulsa and Oklahoma City

Environment America has released a report on smog statistics for 2010 and for the first 9 months of 2011, and it’s not pretty for Tulsa and Oklahoma City. In 2010 Tulsa was the 104th smoggiest city and Oklahoma City was 121st. Unfortunately this year things have taken a turn for the worst, based off of the last 9 months Tulsa ranks 14th and Oklahoma ranks 12th.

So what is smog and how is it effecting Oklahomans? The term “smog” started in London in the early 1900’s to describe the combination of fog and smoke. However, today what we call “smog” is largely ground-level ozone. Ozone is beneficial when it’s above the earth, it helps protect us but when it’s at ground-level it becomes harmful to human health.

The American Lung Association estimates nearly half of all Americans live in areas with unhealthy levels of smog. Exposure to smog can exacerbate respiratory illnesses, like asthma, and even cause premature death. People with respiratory illnesses, the elderly and children are especially are risk.


“According to a RAND Corporation health study, in California alone, high levels of smog pollution contributed to nearly 30,000 emergency room visits and hospital admissions and $193 million in hospital medical care expenses from 2005 to 2007.”read more

This summer the EPA finalized the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule that will reduce nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxides that power plants put off. The rule is estimated to save as many as 34,000 lives in 2014. However, the TRAIN Act which past the House this week threatens to delay this rule. This is after another life saving measure was delayed by the Obama administration.

“…EPA must set a National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ground-level ozone within the range of 60 to 70 parts per billion averaged over eight hours, as unanimously recommended by the independent board of air experts and scientists created under the Clean Air Act to provide periodic review and recommendations on air quality standards. The Obama administration considered updating the 2008 standard, but decided in early September 2011 to abandon this effort and update the standard in 2013,” says Enviroment America

We can all help reduce smog by doing things like driving less, using public transportation and/or carpooling, and using electric lawn mowers or at least avoiding mowing on ozone alert days. You can also sign up for wind power from OG&E to help support bring more wind power to Oklahoma. These things may seem small but if we all do them it will add up.

 


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 Credit: Jordan R. MacDonald

 

House Passes Rep. John Sullivan’s TRAIN Act

Rep. John Sullivan, an Oklahoma congressman, introduced and was able to pass, H.R. 2401, the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act of 2011, which he says will save jobs. The bill is being called, by those that appose it, the ‘Train Wreck Act’, it takes aim at the EPA and the Clear Air Act.

The bill will indefinitely delay two clear air standards- the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. These standards help reduce pollution such as; mercury, dioxins, and acid gases, from power plants. Environmental groups say delaying these standards will do great harm to American’s health.

“Every year these important safeguards are delayed, Americans will suffer up to 25,300 premature deaths due to toxic air pollution–and once again, they could be delayed indefinitely. Delaying the standards will also cause tens of thousands more heart attacks, asthma attacks and hospital stays,” says the Environmental Defense Action Fund.


Supporters of the bill say it will help the economy but the EPA recently estimated that cutting pollution through the Clear Air Act will save around $2 trillion between 1990 and 2020.

Just yesterday Republican Rep. Rob Bishop took to the floor of the House to defend the TRAIN Act but much of what he said was untrue. Rep. Bishop said that it was just a “study bill” and that it “doesn’t stop [any] rulemaking, doesn’t stop any rule.” The Natural Defense Council was quick to correct this misrepresentation of the bill.

“This is untrue. Section 5 of the bill, entitled “Regulatory Deferral of Certain Rules,” repeals the already adopted cross-state smog and soot standards for power plants. It further prohibits final adoption of the mercury and air toxics standards for power plants, due by court order this November.

The bill imposes a minimum period of delay to the smog and soot standards, and mercury and air toxics standards, of 19 and 15 months, respectively. This allows up to 33,450 premature deaths that these standards otherwise would prevent during this period.

The TRAIN Act then eliminates any actual deadlines for EPA to re-issue health standards, allowing these life-saving standards to be blocked indefinitely.” – read more

Supporters of the bill want us to believe we must choose between clean air and jobs but this is not the case. We can have both and we must have both. America can lead the world in a cleaner and healthy future. Please contact your senator today and tell them to vote no on the TRAIN Act and to support clean air.


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 Credit: roy.luck

 

September’s Featured Business: Elote

Elote is a Mexican restaurant, located in downtown Tulsa. Elote is working to not only bring great food to Tulsa, but also to do it in a green way. They do this by using local, organically grain-fed and raised meat, they compost, recycle their fryer oil for bio-diesel, use 100% recycled paper, and support local farms.We got the chance to talk to Elote owner Libby Auld about her business and being green in Oklahoma, here is what she had to say.


GO: What made you decide to start Elote?

LA: I decided to open Elote because the restaurant industry is all I know. I have been working in restaurants since I was 16. I knew I wanted to be downtown because I knew I could make the biggest impact in the growth and revitalization here.


GO: Why is it important to you that your business is eco-friendly?
LA: It is important to me that Elote is an eco friendly business because I want to see future generations enjoy nature the same way I did growing up here. I have worked in lots of restaurants and seen how wasteful the food service industry is. Little things like composting, recycling and using biodegradable to go products can have a huge impact with the volume of people we serve.

GO: What’s the best advice about going green you have ever gotten?
LA: The best advice I have received about going green is that it being eco friendly is not all or nothing. Every bit makes a difference and when you make a small change in a business you have a big impact on your consumers, your employees and the earth.

GO: What’s your favorite item on the menu?
LA: The Veggie Burrito is my favorite item on the Elote menu, it’s my comfort food. I am a life long vegetarian (this is what happens when you are raised by hippies) and I am often disappointed with vegetarian options here in Tulsa. I love that our Veggie Burrito is a filling meal that even a meat eater could eat and feel satisfied. Plus going vegetarian, even if it’s just 1 day a week, makes a huge impact on our environment. I think practicing “Meatless Mondays” is a great idea.

GO: Why do you feel it’s important to support locally owned restaurants?
LA: It is important to support locally owned restaurants because the money you spend there is staying in our economy and the tax dollars are staying in our city. Also, It is easier to make an impact with a local business owner then to try to track down there corporate office in another part of the country or world.

GO: What is your favorite thing to do in Oklahoma?
LA: My favorite thing to do is Geocaching with my family. It is basically a outdoor treasure hunt that you can do all over the world. It helps keep my kids spirits up during long road trips and anytime we have an hour to kill we just locate one on my iPhone and start looking.

GO: Other than your own business what is your favorite eco-friendly business in Oklahoma?
LA: Natural Farms Grocery store and Co Op. They make natural shopping easy. I get 1 or 2 co op bags every week.

 

Hope you enjoyed getting to learn more about Elote and the face behind the business. Be sure to let us know about other local green businesses you would like to see featured. Just post in the comments below, on our Facebook page or email us at gogreenokla@gmail.com. All photos are property of Elote.

Green Bambino Opens a Larger Store


Green Bambino, the largest cloth diaper retailer in Oklahoma, has just gotten bigger. Earlier this month, Green Bambino moved to their new location, which is about three times larger than their previous location. The new store features a wide range of green products, everything from cloth diapers to organic shampoo. There is also an event area for baby showers and community meets, two play areas, an art gallery, and a classroom for eco-parenting classes.

Green Bambino says their philosophy is simple.  “Making greener choices for your baby and your family should be simple. For some families, that means choosing organic cotton products, for others it means using clean-rinsing, phosphate-free laundry detergents. Some families, like ours, even choose to use reusable cloth diapers for their infants and toddlers. We’re here to show you how easy it is to incorporate environmentally sensitive changes to your life.”


Green Bambino’s big focus is on cloth diapers. “Cloth diapers have changed dramatically in the last ten years. Many are as thin as disposable diapers and go on and off the same way. Parents no longer need pins, plastic pants or toilet dunking,” said Green Bambino owner, Morgan Harris.

Cloth diapers are a great choice for environmentally friendly families, as well as families that just want to save some money. It’s estimated that you will pay $3,000 per child for disposable diapers, while you will only pay an estimated $500 per child for cloth diapers. Cloth diapers are easier and better than ever so now is the time to head over to Green Bambino and check them out. Don’t have children in diapers? Green Bambino has a wide range of items for everyone. They carry personal care products, reusable bags, waste-free lunch products, and more.

Green Bambino is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and located at 5120 N. Shartel Ave. in Oklahoma City.


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 Credit: sodarnhappyphotography.com

President Obama Pulls Plug on New Ozone Standards

President Obama surprised environmentalist after announcing that he was going to pull the plug on tightening the ozone standards. After the news Greenpeace released this video criticizing President Obama.

POLITICO reported that the EPA wasn’t notified of about the decision until the day before it was released. They also reported that the EPA was not involved in the decision-making process.

“….I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover. With that in mind, and after careful consideration, I have requested that Administrator Jackson withdraw the draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards at this time.” – White House press release


Not all are upset about the withdraw. Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe had this.

“President Obama has finally pulled the plug on what would have been the most expensive E.P.A. regulation in history. As Ranking Member of the E.P.W. Committee, stopping this job-killing ozone standard has been one of my top priorities, and I am pleased that today’s announcement offers some good news for Oklahoma and the nation.”

However, according to an American Lung Association poll 75 percent of Americans voters support stronger smog regulations and 66 percent believe that EPA scientists — not politicians — should establish clean air standards. If you agree with these voters, let Obama know.

 


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 credit: Mrs. Gemstone

Opposition to the Proposed Osage County Wind Farm

As Oklahoma’s energy needs increase the state is increasingly looking at renewable energy sources. Wind energy is one of the top alternative energy sources for Oklahoma. Most of western Oklahoma ranks fair-excellent for wind power. This fact is driving many to build wind farms here in Oklahoma.

Just last month Wind Capital Group of St. Louis was given the okay to build a wind farm on land zoned for agriculture near the town of Burbank. The wind farm will contain 94 wind turbines. Many such as the local school district is happy about the proposed wind farm. According to the Shidler school district superintendent, property taxes on the wind farm will greatly increase their funding.

However, not all in the area are happy about the idea of the proposed wind farm. Osage Nation Principal Chief John D. Red Eagle had this to say in a statement issued on the tribe’s website.


“Following careful research, consideration and discussion, I have concluded that it is not in the best interest of the Osage Nation to support the proposed large wind farm developments in Osage County.  Although the Nation is not opposed to alternative energy development, large wind farms are not conducive to the Nation’s overall economic initiatives and environment.  Therefore, I believe taking this position is necessary for the greater good of the interests of our tribal citizens and the Osage Reservation area.”

The tribe says its concerns include the impact the farm will have on future oil and gas recovery in the area and the impact they believe it will have on the tallgrass prairie. The concern about the oil and gas recovery comes from the fact that the Osage Nation owns all of the mineral rights within Osage County and receive an income from all oil and gas found in the county.

Wind Capital Group states that wind farms are very compatible with farming and ranching.

“On open, flat terrain, a utility-scale wind farm will require about 100 acres per MW of installed capacity. However, less than 5 percent, or 3 acres, of this area is actually occupied by turbines, access roads, and other equipment; 95 percent remains free for other compatible uses.”

Wind Capital Group also talks about the number of jobs wind energy can bring to an area.

“A 2008 Department of Energy study reports that each megawatt of wind power capacity creates 17 new jobs – meaning that a 150 megawatt MW project would create an estimated 2500 jobs throughout the supply chain. This includes jobs in various sectors of our economy: manufacturing, construction, transportation, engineering, operations and maintenance, legal, financing, and many more. More than 100,000 people were employed in the in the wind energy industry in 2009.”

One thing is clear, this battle is long from over.

Photo Credits: Charles Cook


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.

 

 

 

Sunflower Butter Cookies

Sunflower butter is a great alternative for kids with peanut allergies. It’s made from sunflower seeds and can be found at your local natural food store. Here is a great recipe for a peanut-free version of peanut butter cookies.

Sunflower Butter Cookies


Ingredients
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sunflower butter
1 egg
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Optional: Chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Cream butter until soft and smooth. Add the sugars and cream again. Mix in the sunflower butter and an egg.
  2. Mix together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt). Stir into the sugar/butter.
  3. You can stick this in the fridge for a few hours if you want but I always skip this step as I want cookies right away when baking!
  4. Preheat oven to 375?F.
  5. Roll (or use a cookie scoop) dough into balls and place on cookie sheet. Flatten the cookies a bit and use a fork to make crisscross patterns.
  6. Bake until light brown, about 9 to 10 minutes. Cool on the cookie sheets for about a minute or they will break when you try and take them off. Let them finish cooling on a rack.
  7. Enjoy! Warning if you eat too many of these at once you will feel sick.

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.