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Sen. Inhofe is Looking to Stop the EPA’s Power Plant Mercury Rule

coal power plantSen. James Inhofe (R. Okla.) announced on a webcast hosted by the conservative group, FreedomWorks, earlier this week that he plans to kill the EPA’s new mercury emissions rule for power plants. The resolution, S.J. Res. 37, can be brought to the Senate floor by Sen.Inhofe at any point.

The rule that Sen. Inhofe wants to kill is estimated to save 11,000 lives, prevent 130,000 asthma attacks and avoid 4,700 heart attacks. It would also have economic benefits of up to $90 billion per year. But Sen. Inhofe believes the plan is to kill coal which he says “runs this machine called America.”

However, coal now only makes up 36% of our energy, down from 44.6% just a year earlier. Coal is a fossil fuel which we are running out of and the coal that is left is getting harder and more dangerous to get. And while coal does provide some jobs what has really hurt the number of coal mining jobs is the coal industry itself.


“Historically in the U.S. the prevalent method of coal acquisition was underground mining, a process that is very labor-intensive. Through the use of explosives and large machinery, MTR (Mountaintop Removal) mining can extract more than two and a half times as much coal per worker per hour than in traditional underground mines, thus greatly reducing the number of workers needed. The industry lost approximately 10,000 jobs from 1990 to 1997, as MTR and other more mechanized mining methods became more widely used.”- read more

And Sen. Inhofe did admit that mercury is a “real pollutant” and that the Clean Air Act has been good,

“If you look at the Clean Air regulations they were good. They worked. If you look back to the Bush administration we had the clear skies act that they refused to act on that would have done away with SO2, NOx, mercury, real pollutants.”

However, he still feels this rule is not a good thing. And while his resolution is not expected to pass, it’s important that all that are concerned about clean air reach out to Sen. Inhofe and let him know. Jobs are very important but so is our health. Clean energy creates jobs as well, so let’s tell Sen. Inhofe that those are the jobs we want, along with cleaner air.

How do you feel about Sen. Inhofe’s position on the EPA”s mercury rule? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation on Facebook.

Photo credit: Rennett Stowe


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 freelance writer. 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.

 

 


Greener Lawn Care

Tulsa will have their first ozone alert day on Friday and that means it’s important to avoid gas powered lawn equipment. Also a Swedish study conducted in 2001 found, “Air pollution from cutting grass for an hour with a gasoline powered lawn mower is about the same as that from a 100-mile automobile ride.” So it’s even better if you can avoid gas powered lawn equipment all the time.

It’s not just lawn mowers that are hurting the plant when it comes to lawn care. Lawns can require a lot of water, toxic herbicides, and more. There are ways to make your lawn more eco-friendly, here are some of our favorite tips.


Skip the gas powered lawn mower and use a battery powered lawn mower like a WORX mower or if you have a small flat lawn a reel mower could be a good and very affordable option. Don’t forget eco-friendly options for other lawn equipment too.

If you must water your lawn be sure to water in the morning or evening. If you water during the hot part of the day a lot of the water will evaporate. You can also look into a gray water system and rain barrels.

With plants be sure to look for native and drought-tolerate plants that don’t require much water. Local nurseries can help you pick out the best plants for your area and needs.

Studies have linked Roundup to birth defects, as well as other health issues and it’s not very good for the environment. A better safe option for weeds is white vinegar. It’s even super cheap! Simply get a pump sprayer (look in the lawn care section of your local home improvement store) and fill it with white vinegar and spray on the weeds. Be sure to just spot treat as it will kill grass as well. In your flower beds cardboard and/or layers of newspaper around the plants with mulch on top is a great way to keep the weeds away.

Since Oklahoma didn’t have much of a winter, bugs seem to be a big problem! EcoSmart is a easy to find brand that is pretty good and works well. Soapy water will kill some bugs and garlic is good for keeping the bugs off your plants. It seems to keep bunnies from eating plants as well! Find more natural options by clicking here.

So this spring and summer be sure to choose greener ways to care for your lawn! And if you have a good tip, share it with us in the comments below or head over to Facebook to join in the conversation.


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 freelance writer. 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.

 

 

House Votes to Reduce Regulations for Cement Plants

 

Rep. John Sullivan, of Oklahoma, introduced the Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act of 2011 (H.R. 2681) in the House yesterday and it just passed 262-161. This bill will exempt cement manufacturing plants from the Clean Air Act. This bill will have a direct effect on many Oklahomans as there are currently three cement plants in the state.


“The House essentially just opened up all the doors and windows in homes across the country and urged polluters to blow their toxic emissions right in. The supporters of H.R. 2681 cast their votes today for more toxic mercury pollution, more premature death and disease, and more days when people have to miss work or school because they are too sick to go,” says Earthjustice attorney James Pew.

Cement plants are the second largest contributor of mercury emissions in the US. They also release other toxins including but not limited to; dioxins, ammonia, benzene, certain glycol ethers, chromium, diethanolamine, dioxin and dioxin-like compounds, ethylene glycol, lead, manganese, sulfuric acid, and zinc compounds.

The House is expected to vote on another similar bill (EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011, H.R. 2250) soon. H.R. 2250 makes industrial boilers and incinerators exempt from the Clean Air Act. Earthjustice states these bills together will cause between 3,400 and 9,000 preventable deaths every year from respiratory disease alone. It will also lead to higher emissions of several pollutants that have been shown to cause cancer, developmental issues in children and birth defects.

“If the bills we consider today are enacted, there will be more cases of cancer, birth defects, and brain damage. The ability of our children to think and learn will be impaired because of their exposure to mercury and other dangerous air pollutants,” said Rep. Henry Waxman on the House floor.

These bills are a direct threat to our health and the health of the environment. Please contact your senator today and tell them to vote no on Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act of 2011 and EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011 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: abarndweller

 

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

 

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

Blue Green Algae Update

Last week we reported that blue green algae has been found in several lakes in Oklahoma. Since then the conditions at Grand Lake have improved but now the toxic algae has been found in Skiatook lake. The following lakes currently have  closings due to blue green algae.

  • Fort Gibson
  • Eufaula
  • Keystone
  • Skiatook

Lakes with warnings include.

  • Eufaula
  • Keystone

Lakes with advisories include.

  • Fort Gibson
  • Eufaula
  • Keystone
  • Skiatook
  • Tenkiller

The US Army Corps of Engineers have asked that people follow these precautions.

  • Don’t drink untreated water.
  • Don’t swim, water ski, wade, or boat in areas where the water is discolored or where you see foam, scum, or mats of algae on the water.
  • If you swim or wade in water that may have blue green algae present, rinse off with fresh water and soap. This is also an effective method of reducing exposure for pets.
  • Don’t let pets or livestock swim or drink where water is discolored or where you see foam, scum, or mats of algae on the water.
  • Respect all water and beach closures.

If you would like to learn more about blue green algae and are in the Tulsa area, Sustainable Tulsa is having a presentation about the issue on August 4th. It will be at Elote Cafe and Catering, 514 S. Boston in downtown Tulsa, lunch is at 12:30 p.m. and the presentation and networking start at 1:00 p.m. Click here for more info.
For more information on blue green algae, visit the DEQ’s website and the US Army Corp of Engineers’ website.

Photos are all property of the Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


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.


Erin Brockovich Attends a Meeting About Contamination in Duncan

Earlier this month Halliburton confirmed that ground water in Duncan has been contaminated with perchlorate. Perchlorate has been linked to harming the thyroid’s ability to produce hormones needed for normal development and growth. Currently perchlorate is unregulated but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working to propose a regulatory drinking water limit for the chemical.

The perchlorate came from rocket fuel, which Halliburton had burned on property near Osage Road in Duncan. Halliburton ceased burning the rocket fuel in 1991 but the company still believes they contributed to the contamination.The contamination was found while Halliburton was testing water samples from near by wells as part of the Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) requirements for closing the site.

In one rural neighborhood in Duncan it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t have a thyroid problem. Some have no insurance so are unable to get the help they need. Halliburton has said they will help reimburse residents for health screenings. They are also giving residence bottled water and working to connect people to municipal water. However many still feel they aren’t acting fast enough and aren’t being honest.


Contaminated water has brought Erin Brockovich, made famous by the Julia Roberts’ film, to Duncan. Brockovich attended a town meeting last night about the contamination. She said her team is working on testing and researching the problem and will be in contact with the town about their results. Brockovich told residents that their contamination is the largest they have ever tested. She also says Halliburton needs to step up and not drag their feet with this major contamination.

 
If you live in Duncan and feel your health problems may have been caused by this contamination we want to hear from you. Please contact us at gogreenokla@gmail.com

 

Photo credits: Some rights reserved by Dottie Mae


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.


 

 

 

 

Harmful Algae in Oklahoma Lakes

A harmful algae is showing up in lakes around Oklahoma. The algae is called Blue Green Algae and it’s very harmful to people and animals. The algae creates endotoxins, hepatoxins and neurotoxins. Current lakes in Oklahoma that the algae has been found in include, Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, Keystone, Fort Gibson, Lake Tenkiller, and Lake Eufaula.

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) says “when in doubt stay out.” You can’t know for sure what kind of algae a bloom is just by looking so if algae is present it’s best to stay out of the water and to also keep pets and livestock away. The DEQ also asks that if you see an algae bloom that looks like thick pea soup; green paint; bluish, brownish or reddish- green paint, please report it to the DEQ.

You can help prevent this toxic algae by not using products that contain phosphorous. Some products you may have in your home that can contain phosphorous include:

  • Automatic Dishwasher Detergent
  • Cleaners
  • Fertilizer

To help avoid these products use natural cleaning products, phosphorous free, natural fertilizers, and phosphorous-free automatic dishwasher detergent, which is becoming very common as many states have outlawed automatic dishwasher detergent containing phosphorous.

For more information visit the DEQ’s website.

Photos are all property of the Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


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.