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Archives for July 2013

Back to School Green: Waste-Free Lunches

It’s hard to believe it but back to school time is almost here. This year why not be a bit greener? One great way to reduce the waste caused by school is to pack a waste-free lunch. This is easier than you think! To start packing waste-free lunches you can either buy a kit that comes with everything you need, or you can put the supplies together yourself. We have put together a guide with what you need and what to avoid.

wastefreelunch

  • Lunch Bag- look for organic cotton or recycled plastic that says it’s free of BPA and lead.
  • Cloth Napkins- organic cotton is best.
  • Food containers- stainless steel is best, if plastic look for clear #5 plastic that says it’s BPA-free.
  • Silverware- stainless steel or bamboo is best.
  • Reusable water bottle- stainless steel is best. Glass is great but not best for packing in lunches.

notrash

  • PVC- PVC often contains lead and other toxic materials
  • Unknown plastic- avoid plastic when possible but if you must by plastic make sure it’s BPA free, #5 plastic is thought to be the safest choice.
  • Traditional lunch boxes- many of these contain lead or other harmful chemicals.
  • Vintage lunch boxes- this may seem eco-friendly but they may contain things like lead.

Disposable school lunches can create a lot of waste, around 67 pounds per year, per child! Just switching to waste-free lunches this year can make your child’s school year a lot greener. Many of these items can be used to pack your own lunch as well to save even more waste!

We encourage you to look locally for these types of products. However, when that isn’t possible be sure to support Green Oklahoma by shopping our new online store.

What are your favorite waste-free lunch items? And where do you shop for them? Share in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

 

Norman’s Farmer’s Market

One of my favorite places in the world is a farmer’s market. I’ll admit it, I have a slight obsession with local, whole foods and it doesn’t get any better than this. There’s something so soothing about spending your morning walking around an open air market. This morning, I took my 2 children to our local farmers market to load up on local fruit and vegetables for the week. In addition to the homegrown seasonal produce, vendors offer local honey, fresh eggs, flowers for your garden, herbs and spices. So many friendly faces to greet you and answer your questions.

farmersmarket

Our haul included aloe vera, basil, and mint plants, very reasonably priced at a couple dollars a piece. An entire box full of wild blackberries for 8 dollars! Sweet Oklahoma peaches, a few plums (half of which my children ate before we made it back to the car), a zucchini, a red bell pepper (my favorite and only one dollar!), a basket of grape tomatoes, a few jalapenos, a cucumber, some red onions, and an eggplant.


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I also got a packet of steak seasoning from Ms. Netties, Pino’s Prime Steak Seasoning to be exact. I spent the most time here looking at all the different rubs, dips, teas, and seasoning blends they offered. There were so many amazing products, I had such trouble deciding! They even have little recipe cards to tell you what to do with their different products. The gentleman I spoke with was so helpful, and I wish I would have asked his name, he took the time to tell me about all the packets I was interested in and even let me try a few. He smokes a lot of salts, peppers, and garlic. They smell out of this world! I wish I could have bought more but my budget for this week wouldn’t allow more than one. He also offers a variety of homemade herbal teas. I can’t wait to head back next week and pick up something new. If you aren’t in the Norman area and able to visit the market, they have a website available for orders.

farmersmarket3

Norman Farmer’s Market is located at 615 East Robinson, Cleveland County Fairgrounds. It’s open April through October on Wednesdays 8 a.m. to noon and Saturdays 8 a.m. to noon. For more information on the vendors and their offered products or how to become a vendor please visit their website.

Do you visit your local farmer’s market? What are your favorite local foods they offered? Share in the comments below or on our Facebook page.  

 

Oklahoma 2nd in Oil Spills in 2012

cushingEnergyWire reported that Oklahoma had the 2nd most oil spills in the US in 2012. There were 951 oil spills reported in Oklahoma. The only state with more spills was North Dakota. In 2009, Oklahoma had 1,036 oil spills, putting it in the number one spot for that year.

The number of spills in Oklahoma are also likely higher, because in Oklahoma companies only have to report spills if they are 10 barrels (420 gallons) or larger. In North Dakota, companies have to report any spills that are 1 barrel or larger.

“More than half of North Dakota’s spills — 588 — were 5 barrels or less, while only 6 percent of Texas’ 914 spills (53) were 5 barrels or less. Without the 588 smaller spills, North Dakota would have ranked fourth behind Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.” –EnergyWire


In places like Oklahoma and Texas, they follow a largely “compliance-based” approach.

“Commission inspectors place a premium on helping drillers get back into compliance with the rules rather than hitting them with fines….

An inspector succinctly laid out the thinking last year after following up on a spill of 300,000 gallons of oil and wastewater into pastureland.

“Reinspected spill area,” the inspector wrote. “Found spill has been cleaned up. Looks OK. Please close incident. No further action anticipated.” EnergyWire

Just this past May there was a spill in Cushing, the nation’s largest oil hub. The spill was around 2,500 barrels and the third-largest spill this year in the US. The spill took place at Enbridge’s Cushing storage facility. Earlier this year, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration proposed a $78,700 fine against Enbridge for problems with tank-inspection procedures and corrosion control on some of their Cushing tanks.

Enbridge is the company responsible for the Kalamazoo River spill in 2010. They are also hoping to bring another pipeline to Oklahoma soon, this one carrying tar sands oil, like the Keystone XL pipeline.

“The recent spills could chip away at the local and regulatory support needed by pipeline companies to get projects approved, said Amy Myers Jaffe, executive director of energy and sustainability at University California, Davis, Graduate School of Management. “The more accidents there are, the more resistance you’re going to see,” she said.”- The Wall Street Journal

These spills have many Oklahomans questioning pipelines like the Keystone XL and Enbridge’s Flanagan South. Groups like Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance say they are agains the tar sands pipelines for several reasons, including the probability of leaks. They say it’s not a matter of if it will leak, but when.

“Tar sands dilbit or heavy crude, as the industry often calls it, is  more caustic, more abrasive material that is transported at a higher temperature and a higher pressure than conventional crude.  Diluted by proprietary chemicals transporting tar sands is an inherently dangerous activity that poisons water for all species for generations.” – Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance

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

Photo Credit- FreeWine

New Study Links Increase in Earthquakes to Oil and Gas Disposal Wells

earthquakes and frackingEarlier this year a study linked Oklahoma’s largest earthquake to disposal wells. And now a new study, released yesterday, suggests the increase Oklahoma has seen in earthquakes is linked to oil and gas disposal wells. The study was done by U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist, William Ellsworth.

The study states that  microearthquakes (those below magnitude 2) are routinely produced as part of the hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) process. However, the current process appears to pose a low risk of inducing destructive earthquakes, with the largest induced earthquake being magnitude 3.6, too small to pose a serious risk. Disposal wells are a different story.

“Yet, wastewater disposal by injection into deep wells poses a higher risk, because this practice can induce larger earthquakes. For example, several of the largest earthquakes in the U.S. midcontinent in 2011 and 2012 may have been triggered by nearby disposal wells. The largest of these was a magnitude 5.6 event in central Oklahoma that destroyed 14 homes and injured two people.”


Nicholas van der Elst of Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, who led another study on earthquakes and disposal wells, had this to says,

“The fluids (in wastewater injection wells) are driving the faults to their tipping point.”

The new study by Ellsworth states that only a small fraction of the more than 30,000 disposal wells appear to be problematic. The wells that dispose very large volumes of wastewater and/or communicate pressure perturbations directly into the basement faults, appear to the the problematic wells.

Nicholas van der Elst’s study found that distant earthquakes can trigger earthquakes at disposal wells.

“The 2010 magnitude 8.8 Chile quake, which killed more than 500 people, sent surface waves rippling across the planet, triggering a magnitude 4.1 quake near Prague 16 hours later, the study says. The activity near Prague continued until the magnitude 5.7 quake on Nov. 6, 2011 that destroyed 14 homes and injured two people. A study earlier this year led by seismologist Katie Keranen, also a coauthor of the new study, now at Cornell University, found that the first rupture occurred less than 650 feet away from active injection wells. In April 2012, a magnitude 8.6 earthquake off Sumatra triggered another swarm of earthquakes in the same place. The pumping of fluid into the field continues to this day, along with a pattern of small quakes.”

The same Chile quake also set off an earthquake swarm on the Colorado-New Mexico border, near wells where wastewater used to extract methane from coal beds had been injected. The study also found that Japan’s devastating magnitude 9.0 earthquake in 2011 trigged an earthquake swarm in west Texas.

“The idea that seismic activity can be triggered by separate earthquakes taking place faraway was once controversial. One of the first cases to be documented was the magnitude 7.3 earthquake that shook California’s Mojave Desert in 1992, near the town of Landers, setting off a series of distant events in regions with active hot springs, geysers and volcanic vents. The largest was a magnitude 5.6 quake beneath Little Skull Mountain in southern Nevada, 150 miles away; the farthest, a series of tiny earthquakes north of Yellowstone caldera, according to a 1993 study in Science led by USGS geophysicist David Hill.”

Earthquakes are not the only concern with disposal wells, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently conducting a study of the effects of fracking, particularly the disposal of wastewater. This study could be the basis of new regulations on oil and gas drilling.

Proponents of fracking reacted to the study saying,

“More fact-based research … aimed at further reducing the very rare occurrence of seismicity associated with underground injection wells is welcomed, and will certainly help enable more responsible natural gas development,” said Kathryn Klaber, chief executive of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

Studies on fracking, disposal wells, and their ability to cause earthquakes will likely be ongoing. It has been hard for researchers to get all of the data they need to do the research and still need to do more. However, evidence is mounting.

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

Map Credit: U.S. Geological Survey
Department of the Interior/USGS

Another Tar Sands Pipeline to Come to Oklahoma

cushingThere has been a lot of focus on the Keystone XL, which is currently under construction in Oklahoma but there is another pipeline that will possibly carry Tar Sands oil to Oklahoma looking for approval. Enbridge’s proposed Flanagan South pipeline would run from the Chicago area, through Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas and end up connecting at the oil hub in Cushing, OK. Like the Keystone XL it would connect to existing pipelines.

Enbridge says on their website that construction is expected to begin mid-2013 and be complete by mid-2014. Enbridge also states that,

“Enbridge has been committed to safe and reliable operation of our pipelines for more than 60 years; this same commitment will be inherent in the design, installation, and operation of this pipeline.”


However, in 2010 Enbridge had a pipeline spill in Michigan’s Kalamazoo County. As of this May, Enbridge has estimated that they have recovered 1.15 million gallons of oil from the Kalamazoo River. The EPA estimates about 180,000 gallons of oil (plus or minus 100,000 gallons) remain in the river bottom sediment.

Like with the southern route of the Keystone XL, the part that goes through Oklahoma, the Flanagan South doesn’t cross an international border. This means it doesn’t require State Department approval. Enbridge is trying to use a regulatory shortcut known as Nationwide Permit 12 to prevent the kind of protest happening with the Keystone XL, by getting the pipeline in the ground before the opposition starts.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers explains what a Nationwide Permit 12 is,

“Under Section 404(e) of the Clean Water Act, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) can issue general permits to authorize activities that have minimal individual and cumulative adverse environmental effects. General permits can be issued for a period of no more than five years. A nationwide permit is a general permit that authorizes activities across the country, unless a district or division commander revokes the nationwide permit in a state or other geographic region. The nationwide permits authorize approximately 40,000 reported activities per year, as well as approximately 30,000 activities that do not require reporting to USACE districts. There are currently 49 nationwide permits, and they authorize a wide variety of activities such as mooring buoys, residential developments, utility lines, road crossings, mining activities, wetland and stream restoration activities, and commercial shellfish aquaculture activities.”

After the Kalamazoo spill, one may ask if another pipeline will have “minimal environmental effects.” The Kalamazoo River spill had more than a minimal environmental effect.

Enbridge already has a pipeline in Oklahoma. The pipeline goes through Oologah Lake, a source of drinking water for Tulsa. The pipeline is 64 years old. Enbridge was inspecting the pipeline last month. No anomalies were found during this inspection but with the pipeline being this old and carrying around 160,000 to  200,000 gallons of oil a day, this is a concern for many, as is a new pipeline.

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

Photo Credit- FreeWine

OG&E Being Sued by EPA Over Clean Air Act Violations

The Federal Government filed a lawsuit against Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OG&E) on Monday, accusing OG&E of violating the Clean Air Act. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says OG&E failed to properly estimate emission increases before they started upgrade projects at two of its coal power plants, the Sooner Plant in Red Rock and Muskogee plant in Fort Gibson.

Last month the Oklahoma Sierra Club released a report showing that the two OG&E plants were producing enough toxic sulfur dioxide pollution to violate state and federal health standards. Today in a press release the Oklahoma Sierra Club praises the lawsuit.

“We are glad that the Justice Department has stepped up to enforce clean air protections here in Oklahoma,” said Whitney Pearson an Organizer with Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “There is no longer any excuse for OG&E to hide from their responsibility. It’s time they retire their old, dirty coal plants and begin investing in smart twenty first century energy solutions. Wind power has already created thousands of jobs right here in Oklahoma and there’s plenty more where that came from. We should stop importing coal from Wyoming mines 1,000 miles away and instead invest in Oklahoma’s future.”- read more


OG&E denies the allegations in the lawsuit. OG&E spokesman Brian Alford told StateImpact,

“Actual monitored data indicates that emissions did not increase as a result of the work performed.” – read more

The Oklahoma Sierra Club said it is saddened by the fact that OG&E didn’t put the pollution controls on when they were supposed to.

“… Oklahomans would be breathing cleaner air and seeing less days when state regulators are warning residents it is unsafe to breathe,” said Whitney Pearson. –read more

OG&E is preparing a formal response, which Green Oklahoma will be sure to share when it is available.

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

Photo Credit- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

 

Perfect Summer Chicken Salad

I’ve seriously been craving some chicken salad. I’m pretty sure it’s the barrage of Subway commercials advertising their version. As with most things, I can make it better. That’s not arrogance, it’s the truth. I’ve perfected mine over the years. I use fresh organic ingredients and make my own mayo. I swear I’m not crazy! Don’t worry, it doesn’t take very long and it’s really simple.

chickensalad

Ingredients-
  • 1 lb. of chicken
  • A couple cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 1 T. salt
  • 4 cups of water
  • Handful of grapes
  • 2 small to medium sized apples
  • 1/2 cup- full cup of nuts (more if you like a lot, less if you don’t, I used almonds and walnuts because that’s what I had but I use pecans just as often.)
  • 1 stalk of celery
  •  1 or 2 tablespoon of butter or coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon of rosemary
  • 1/2 cup of homemade mayo
  • A bit of red onion (optional)

Instruction-

  1. Place all those ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, then turn the heat off and cover. Let the chicken finish cooking for another 15 -20 minutes.
  2. While the chicken is cooking, chop the following; grapes, any color will do, apples, again any color, nuts, celery, and red onion.
  3. When your chicken is finished place in a bowl and use 2 forks, or your hands, to shred it into chunks.
  4. Next melt the butter or coconut oil in a sauté pan and add your chicken and a tablespoon of rosemary. Toss lightly on medium heat for a few minutes.
  5. Let it cool all the way and then combine your chicken and everything you chopped.
  6. Now, add about a ½ cup of  homemade mayo and stir until combined.

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Done and done. I recommend that you cover and refrigerate for an hour or more to let the ingredients meld well. When you’re ready to serve spoon into romaine “boats”. I generally don’t eat grains but I’ll be honest and tell you that when I was at the grocery store these butter croissants in the bakery were speaking to me. I couldn’t resist and I made a little sandwich. It was absolutely delicious and the perfect summer chicken salad. I hope you enjoy!

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