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Archives for February 2013

Rain and Snow Helps Drought Conditions Around the State

 

It has been awhile since Oklahoma has heard good news, as far as our drought is concerned but today there is good news. After all of the snow and rainfall the state received so far this year, we are finally seeing improvements in drought conditions.

Just a month ago 100% of the state was in a severe drought or worse, 92.14% of the state was in an extreme drought or worse, with 39.58% in an exceptional drought. Today, 100% is still in a severe drought or worse, but the rest of the numbers have seen a lot of improvement! Now just 61.65% of the state is still in an extreme drought or worse and only 11.80% is in an exceptional drought.

The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced in partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC-UNL.

The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced in partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC-UNL.


While the state is still in a water crisis and the situation must still be taken very seriously, we have seen improvement in water levels in many lakes across the state. Some lakes are even back to normal levels. Though some, like Altus-Legert are still dangerously low, it currently is 27 feet below normal. We have a long way to go to get out of the drought but the past two months have shown some promise.

The snow has also been helpful, though one foot of snow only equals one inch of rain. Preliminary snowfall totals for the month of February are 42.5 inches in the town of Arnett. That would break the previous single-month snowfall amount in a single location in Oklahoma record, which was 39.5 inches from Buffalo in February, 1971.

The statewide average rainfall is up to 2.99 inches, which would be the 12th wettest on record. The 8-14 day forecast also shows above normal rainfall, which would farther help the state. The rain is coming just in time for many farmers that are getting ready to plant and will be very helpful for the state.

Current outlook for March is pretty good, showing normal rainfall with above normal temperatures. The April-June forecast however is not as promising as it is predicting below normal rainfall for much of the state. Above normal temperatures are also predicted. Looks like we will need all of the rain we can get before this summer as it could be another hot and dry one.

Share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

 

Two Earthquakes Rattle Oklahoma in Eight Hours

U. S. Geological Survey USGS/Ft. Collins, CO

A 2.5 magnitude earthquake struck Oklahoma Wednesday morning at 6:30 a.m. and a second earthquake at 2 p.m. has been confirmed by the Oklahoma Geological Survey. The second earthquake is being reported as 3.5 and located in Nicoma Park, by the U.S. Geological Survey. There haven’t been reports of damage or injury.

These earthquakes have again been raising the question of what’s causing them. On social media, many Oklahomans have been blaming fracking, while others say we have always had earthquakes. The truth is the cause is not yet known but studies are starting to show some evidence that it’s not fracking but another part of the oil and gas drilling process, the disposal wells, as known as Class II wells.


Earlier this month we shared how many scientists trying to study the connection are running into a problem with getting the information they need.

“StateImpact Oklahoma talked to several geophysicists and all agreed they need more data, saying they need to how much pressure fluid disposal is building underground. Currently they only have data from the surface as their are no regulations saying the oil and gas industry have to record this data or give it to state officials. In Oklahoma, disposal well operators are only required to record pressure measurements at the surface. Geophysicists say this is simple not enough data to find out if disposal wells are causing any of our earthquakes.”- read more

With earthquakes greatly increasing since 2010, with 35 a year on average before 2010 and 1,000 during 2010 and 1,400 last year, there are many questions being asked about why and what changed. It’s unlikely we will have clear answers about the possible connection with the oil and gas industry and these earthquakes until researchers are able to get the data they need.

Did you feel either earthquake? What do you think the cause is? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Photo credits: U. S. Geological Survey, USGS/Ft. Collins, CO

 

Choctaw Nation Expands Their Recycling Program

_DSC_0565The Choctaw Nation opened a recycling center in Durant the end of 2010 and have continued to lead the way in the state, with their recycling efforts.

The recycling center accepts paper, cardboard, plastics #1, 2, and 5, aluminum, tin/steel cans, printer cartridges, e-waste, and even Styrofoam. The Choctaw Nation also operates several drop-off locations around the state and in Denison, Texas.

This year the Choctaw Nation has expanded their efforts even more with a new endeavor called Choctaw Project IMPACT. The project focuses on recycling in the northeast portion of the Choctaw Nation.


The project has allowed for a new recycling center, similar to the one in Durant. The center is located in Poteau. It opened earlier this month and is going strong. The center is open to all residents and businesses in the community.

The Choctaw Nation hopes to have special collection events for things like e-waste.  And they want to engage the community by working with Girl/Boy Scouts, senior citizens, youth groups and more, to help spread awareness for why recycling is important.

IMPACT is funded by a grate issued to Choctaw Recycling by Administration for Native Americans (ANA), Social and Economic Development Strategies (SEDS).

“Through the grant we expect to reach around 120,000 people,” stated Director of Project Management Tracy Horst. This recycling program is aimed at providing education and collection activities to divert recyclable waste from landfills or being dumped through our communities. These types of efforts will “definitely make a positive impact on community health and well-being,” continued Horst.- read more

The Choctaw Nation is providing Oklahomans not only with amazing recycling opportunities that will help keep useful materials out of our growing landfills, but they are also providing jobs to Oklahomans. Their efforts are proof of what recycling can do for the state, both environmentally and economically.

If you would like to learn more about the Choctaw Nation’s recycling programs be sure to visit their website and the Choctaw Nation Going Green Facebook page.

Photo Credits: The Choctaw Nation

 

Oklahoma Ranks Sixth in Wind Power

windOklahoma has gone from eighth in wind power in 2011 to sixth this past year. Oklahoma’s total capacity is more than 3,134 megawatts, enough to power more than 750,000 homes. Oklahoma added 1,127 megawatts of wind capacity in 2012.

Texas currently leads the nation in wind capacity with more than 12,200 megawatts. Other states ahead of Oklahoma are, California, Iowa, Illinois and Oregon. The United States now produces more than 60,000 megawatts, that’s equivalent to almost 15 million homes.

Wind power is not only great for the environment, it’s great for our economy.


“Utility-scale wind power was invented here, and increasingly the parts are made-in-the-U.S.A. Domestic content in the U.S. industry is up to nearly 70 percent, from 25 percent just a few years ago. That has created 30,000 American jobs in wind manufacturing, and further brought down the cost of wind energy now that we’re making most of the parts right here in the U.S.A.” -American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)

There are already new wind farms in the works, Apex Wind Energy Inc. is currently developing a wind farm in Kingfisher. It will end up producing 300 megawatts and have around 120 turbines.

And a new wind farm in Blackwell started commercial operations in January. The wind farm is one of Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company’s farms. It’s called the Cowboy Wind Farm and will supply electricity to OSU’s campus. The farm has 26 turbines and a total capacity of almost 60 megawatts.

With the state’s high potential for wind power we are sure to continue seeing more farms popping up around the state for years to come.

 

Share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Photo Credit: USDAgov

 

My Whole30: An Unexpected Ephiphany

Day 20 is here! I intended to write a half-way point post, but my schedule last week was ridiculous. Normally I would have sucked it up and written the post instead of sleeping, but I didn’t and I’m about to tell you why.

After taking care of my diet and doing well with that for about two weeks, I started realizing that something was still missing. I was feeling better, but still not to that fantastic point. As I told you in my last post, if something is amiss, it’s a good idea to evaluate your diet, your sleep, your exercise, your stress levels, etc. Immediately what came to mind was my sleep pattern, or more appropriately, my lack of a sleep pattern. I’ve always been a night owl but pregnancy and children have compounded my problem.

sleep


I had a baby a little over a year ago and as anyone that has ever been pregnant already knows, sleeping isn’t fun when you’re 30+ pounds, achy pretty much everywhere, and have this wiggly human kicking your organs. Oh, did I mention that for a stomach sleeper it’s basically torture. You have to sleep on your side, with a pillow between your legs to support your hips, because your hip joints are loose, weird, and painful. Seriously, who does that! I won’t even get started on the leg cramps that keep you up all night, if you’re lucky enough to fall asleep. They say this lack of sleep is preparing you for the sleep you aren’t going to get when the baby gets here, which brings me through the next year, baby waking up all the time to eat and be annoying.

On top of being a night owl, pregnancy and baby complications, I also have a job as a bartender. I work from 4 p.m. to around 10 p.m. By the time I get home, eat a bite, clean up, and actually sit down to relax it’s usually well after midnight. A few hours of down-time, kids are sleep, house is clean and quiet. It’s MY time! I can read a book, work on my blog, watch TV, or aimlessly surf the internet. I frequently stay up as late as 3 a.m. or 4 am. The baby wakes up around 9 a.m., sometimes earlier. So you see my problem? I’m getting between four and six hours of sleep at night when for optimal health it’s recommended you get between seven and nine.

I’ve been working on getting to bed earlier. I’m usually getting there by 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. There are a couple of things I’ve had to tweak, I make something in the mornings in the crock pot so I have dinner ready when I get home from work. I eat almost the second I walk in the door. Instead of cleaning up at night, I do it in the mornings. Sometimes that means being okay with a messy house at night or dirty dishes in the sink.  I have been taking a hot bath a few nights a week. It is the most wonderful feeling in the entire world. I put away my phone, my computer, no TV. I light a few candles and for 30 minutes I read a book and let all the stresses of the day melt away. It has literally been a game changer. It makes me so sleepy, I can barely get dressed and in bed before I fall asleep. No joke, a hot bath works like a charm.

I’m still not getting as much as I would like but a week of prioritizing sleep and making an effort to get to sleep earlier has made me feel much, much better. The more I research, the more I understand just exactly HOW important the sleep factor is. Sleep loss increases levels of cortisol, your stress hormone. Which can suppress thyroid function and worsen or trigger hypothyroidism. Thyroid health is so important, it regulates your metabolism and controls how quickly the body uses energy and how sensitive the body is to other hormones. Cortisol also increases blood sugar, suppresses the immune system, decreases bone formation (think osteoporosis), and makes it harder for your body to burn fat. This is literally just the tip of the iceberg. Having your hormones in proper balance is key to making your body function efficiently and making you look and feel your best.

Are you getting enough sleep? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are purely the author’s own and are not necessarily shared by Green Oklahoma or other members of the staff. Use caution when starting new diets, if you have any health concerns be sure to consult a doctor. The author is not a doctor or dietitian.

Dire Water Situation in Norman

thunderbirdAs the drought in Oklahoma lingers the water crisis continues to deteriorate. Residents in Norman, Midwest City, and Del City rely on Lake Thunderbird for their drinking water, but the lake nearly 8 feet below normal.

Last month, President Obama signed a bill to strengthen Lake Thunderbird’s water supply. The bill would allow the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District (COMCD), which manages Thunderbird, to purchase water from Oklahoma City’s Atoka Reservoir. This bill however comes too late. The COMCD has learned their is no water currently available for purchase.

In January, COMCD asked it’s water customers- Norman, Midwest City, and Del City- to reduce allotments by 10 percent. Norman issued a mandatory water conservation, but cool winter months aren’t high-use times. The coming summer months are of high concern for city officials.


“There’s no question that the most important near-term strategy we as a community need to embrace is stricter conservation,” Norman Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said. “We will be looking at all possible means of communicating the importance of conservation to our customers.”- The Norman Transcript

One solution Norman is looking into is using reclaimed water from the wastewater treatment plant. The water wouldn’t be used for drinking but would be used for watering and such. Norman already uses reclaimed water for washing weirs, foam suppression, and lubricating pump seals at the sewer treatment plant.

Lake Thunderbird

Lake Thunderbird, Photo Courtesy of Cleveland County Conservation District

Norman may also get help from Del City. If Norman City Council approves a proposed five-year contract for up to 300 million gallons of water annually of Del City’s Lake Thunderbird allotment. A draft of the proposal was coming before the council tonight in a non-voting session.

With the drought likely to continue, cities like Norman will have to look at many options for conserving what they have and finding more water as Lake Thunderbird’s water level continues to drop.

Share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Photo Credit: Lake Thunderbird sign- intenteffect
Lake Thunderbird- Cleveland County Conservation District

 

Easy Chicken Dinner

You know what my favorite recipes consist of? As few ingredients as possible! When I look in a cookbook or a recipe to try on Pinterest, I’m always intimidated by recipes that have a mile long ingredient list. No one has the time or the money to scour their grocery store for 35 things, 12 of which they’ve never heard of and then pay out a ridiculous amount of money for a dinner you have to cook yourself. Have no fear my friends, I have a super simple, amazingly fast, healthy recipe for you today. Oh, and did I mention delicious?! It’s also Whole30 and paleo friendly, if you’re into that kind of thing.

chicken

Things you’ll need:

  • 1 lb of chicken tenderloins (or any cut of chicken cut into smaller pieces)
  • 3-4 florets of broccoli
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 3T. of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • lemon (optional)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350
  2. Cut up your broccoli into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Cut your red pepper into strips and then in half or thirds.
  4. Smash and chop your garlic
  5. Now throw all of your ingredients into a gallon sized bag or a large bowl with a lid. Add 2 T of your oil, salt and pepper. Toss well, until everything is coated with oil. Place on a cookie sheet or in a glass baking dish.
  6. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Remove your chicken and wrap in foil to keep warm. Turn the oven up to 400 and cook your veggies for another 10 mins or so. The tops will start to brown a little.
  7. Take the veggies out of the oven, add the chicken. Drizzle another tablespoons worth of oil over it all and squeeze half the lemon, toss lightly and serve.

chickendinnerdone

This takes about 30 minutes from start to table. It’s one I tend to cook when I’m tired and I just need something quick and easy. I generally have all the ingredients on hand but I have modified in different ways. I’ve subbed sirloin for the chicken, cauliflower or fresh green beans for the broccoli. Basically what I’m telling you is toss anything in a decent quality olive oil and bake it for half an hour and it’s delicious. I promise!

 

My Whole30- The Dreaded Sugar Dragon

Twelve days down! And since I last updated you my stomach issues have resolved themselves. By day nine they were non-existent. I had a big bowl of chicken soup with my coffee today when I woke up and I couldn’t feel any better. I found that with the addition of “breakfast” my body seemed to phase out my need for a middle meal, or “lunch”.  Basically I am still eating 2 meals and 1 snack, just at different times.

Listening to what your body says is something that I think we tend to take for granted. When you have aches/pains, you’re overweight, you’re getting sick often, or you are fatigued and have that constant “blah” feeling, these are signs from your body that something is not working right. It’s good to evaluate and change your diet, your activity level, sleep level, and how you’re managing stress, to tweak and make your body function properly. You’d be amazed how only eliminating something like sugar, in all it’s forms, real and artificial will make a significant impact on how you feel. That’s actually part of  the “whole” idea. Purging your body of sugar and other foods that mess with your hormonal balance and send false signals in the form of cravings. So with that said, I’m going to continue my effort to eat three whole meals, in order to get the full benefit of the Whole30 for 18 more days, and see where I stand.

I stocked up on food for the week. I bought a beautiful grass-fed sirloin, boneless chicken thighs, 2 lbs of grass-fed ground beef, and italian sausages.  I still have two packs of chicken tenders. I’m going to make my own sausage with one of the pounds of ground beef. I looked for ground pork, but I was at Target and the one that was available had 20% solution. I didn’t recognize what was in it so I didn’t want to put it in my body. I also bought loads of veggies; broccoli, sweet potatoes, onions, romaine lettuce, green beans, butternut squash, carrots, celery, garlic, kale, and they were running a sale on green and red bell peppers, so I got two of each. I also bought some fruit; three bunches of bananas, several packages of blueberries, and red grapes.


I still have an extraordinary amount of frozen fruit for the smoothies I can’t have, as well as fresh apples, kiwi, oranges, and lemons. Rounding out my weekly shopping was almonds, walnuts, pistachios, fresh mint, organic extra virgin olive oil, and a variety of spices. The spice aisle has never been so exciting to me! I bought a few things I haven’t had before, including turmeric. It’s something that I’ve been reading a ton about and it’s health benefits are out of this world. It’s definitely something that I want to start incorporating into my diet.

From day seven to day eleven, I struggled with terrible sugar cravings. I was wanting something sweet, really badly. I had thoughts of eating baking chocolate from my pantry and frozen cookie dough out of the freezer. At one point I even thought to myself, “I could just cheat and then pretend I didn’t and continue on.”  I was horrified with myself for thinking that. I felt ashamed. I didn’t realize that the beast had a hold of me. According to Whole30’s day by day, days eight- fifteen,”this is the part of the program where our minds try to drive us back to the comfort of the foods we used to know.” I can’t tell you how true that is. Although, yesterday I seemed to be over it for the most part. There were bakery cupcakes at work and I was able to pass by them with not a bit of remorse. I still want it, it’s just not a giant fire-breathing dragon, I’m in the midst of slaying. 

This is an entry from the food log/diary I started on day five.

“Day 11. Had one of those cheat dreams last night. First I was riding my bike with my best friend down this road that had all these restaurants and fast food joints, there were cops around, I was worried. Then I was at Sonic with my parents and I was hungry and I decided to just eat the junk, but my mom started crying because she didn’t want me to give up, so I didn’t.

That’s pretty clear cut isn’t it!?!?

It’s getting harder every day for me to resist temptation. I thought it would be easier but the sugar dragon reared it’s ugly head last night rather abruptly and it was very difficult to resist. I would have punched a kid for chocolate!  It happen again tonight, and I slightly gave in. I warmed some berries and applesauce in the microwave and added some chopped nuts. I only took a few bites and realized that I was trying to make a dessert so I threw it out, but I’m definitely realizing how sneaky sugar cravings can be. It’s something I definitely need to think about it because I didn’t realize this was such a problem for me.”

I’ve started missing cheese too. Wonderful, tasty, creamy, smooth, and delicious cheese. Any kind, I won’t be picky. It’s a toss up of what my first reintroduction food will be, chocolate, cheese, booze. Decisions, decisions….

The views and opinions expressed in this post are purely the author’s own and are not necessarily shared by Green Oklahoma or other members of the staff. Use caution when starting new diets, if you have any health concerns be sure to consult a doctor. The author is not a doctor or dietitian.

Why Our Family Decided to Go Green

1147023642705Everyone’s green journey starts somewhere. Many people say that their life changes in college. Well, mine actually did change. I studied abroad my junior year and was completely surprised by the eco-friendly culture of my host country. I became more conscious of recycling which I had never done before. We would always joke while studying abroad that we received more information on recycling than anything else. Taking care of the earth is deeply engrained in the culture. My life changed again exactly a year ago when I found out I was pregnant. Sparing all the gory details, pregnancy did not suit me physically and I was left with many sensitivities. Using harsh chemical cleaners was out of the question, so I started searching for alternatives for cleaning products. Thanks to the internet, my search did not take long and I found countless ideas for making my own laundry soap and household cleaners that used relatively mild ingredients.

I started making my own laundry soap using one cup of Borax, one cup of washing soda, and one bar of Fels-Naptha soap. You can make a liquid or powder detergent. After a few washes it was clear that this recipe was less harsh on our clothing and I didn’t have to worry about the sensitivities that plagued me with using other detergents. For household cleaning, I mainly use a mix vinegar and blue Dawn dish soap diluted with water. This mixture works well and cleans almost every surface of our house. For more uses for vinegar, this is a great resource. A paste of Borax and water is a wonderful abrasive cleaner

homemade laundry soapIn my last article, I chronicled the beginning of our family’s decision to cloth diaper. Since then, we have successfully cloth diapered for over a month now. When our baby was born, we started to consider cloth diapering mostly for the money savings. Not only are we saving money, but also we don’t have to worry about the harsh substances in disposable diapers on our baby’s bottom thus less diaper rash. We have also dabbled into cloth wipes as well as a way to save money and better control what touches our baby’s skin.


We are not perfect at always doing what is green, but we try where we can and that is what is important. Every little bit that we all do to help makes a difference in our own lives and our environment.

What started you on your journey to go green? Share in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

 

Oklahoma Sheriff Arrests 8 at Keystone XL Pipeline

keystonexlEight people have been arrested at a Keystone XL construction site near Schoolton. The arrests include  Stefan Warner, a youth pastor in Oklahoma. Warner had locked himself to a platform Monday morning. Reports say he was removed by the local fire department, using a pair of bolt cutters to free him.

The group that claims responsibility for the protest is Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance. Their big concern is the how the Tar Sands and pipeline will impact the environment and indigenous people. Warner shared his thoughts.

“I grew up in a town where the North Canadian River runs right through, and we can’t let the North Canadian become another Kalamazoo,” Warner said in a statement. “I figure folks have to take action to stop our beautiful Oklahoma from being marred by a foreign corporation, and stand up to fight big corporations who think that poisoning people and stealing land is acceptable so long as they make a profit.”- Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance


Warner is not the first Oklahoman to protest the pipeline by chaining themselves to a piece of equipment being used by Trans Canada. Elisabeth Leja of Norman, chained her neck to a piece of equipment last Monday. She was arrested that afternoon.

Share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Photo credits: Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance