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The Green State of Oklahoma – 2015


2015 is a new year that brings with it continued challenges for Oklahoma’s environmental issues. Let’s see how Oklahoma fared throughout 2014 on green issues facing the state*.

Waste & Recycling
According to the 2014 American Litter Scorecard, Oklahoma was ranked 40 out of 50, or one of worst and dirtiest states.  The scorecard is compiled once every three years. This is a slight improvement from the 2011 scorecard, which had Oklahoma ranked at #42.

The American Lung Association ranks the most polluted cities in the US according to three different criteria: by the number of high ozone days, by yearly pollution, and by short term (24 hour) pollution. Several cities in Oklahoma made the pollution list.  The Tulsa, Muskogee, and Bartlesville area came in at 14 out of 25 cities for number of high ozone days. Oklahoma City and Shawnee came in at 19 out of 25. The overall ozone grade for both regions was F. On the bright side, Oklahoma/Shawnee and Tulsa/Muskogee/Bartlesville areas were both given a grade A  for metropolitan areas with short term pollution.

Oklahoma also currently ranks 17 out of 50 states for carbon dioxide emissions, and 24 out of 50 for number of annual miles driven (2012)**.

According to County Health Rankings & Roadmaps (a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation program), 18% of Oklahoma’s population has been exposed to contaminated water systems, as defined by the EPA.

Meanwhile, the drought situation in Oklahoma isn’t improving. 2015 will bring the state into its fifth year of drought across most of the state.

In 2013, Oklahoma ranked 5th in crude oil production, and is one of the highest producing natural gas states**. The state also ranks 4th for highest wind electricity generated.

Green Schools
Of the 1,803 public schools in Oklahoma, only 22 are registered active Oklahoma Green Schools.

Wildlife Conservation
In 2014, the Humane Society ranked Oklahoma 30th on animal protection laws.

24 animals and 2 plants are listed as either endangered or threatened in Oklahoma by the US Fish and Wildlife Services.

Although Oklahoma is doing some great green things – like being 4th in wind energy, improving its litter ranking, and receiving an A in two cities for short term pollution – Oklahoma still has much green work to do in 2015.


*When available, comparisons were made with previous years and other states.
**This is the most recent data available.
Photo Credit- Okiefromokla

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Amanda Marcott-Thottunkal is a freelance writer in Norman. In 2013, she graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Master’s degree in Public Administration. Amanda is concerned about environmental policies and the effects legislation has on creating a cleaner, greener Oklahoma. She is constantly searching out ways to make her life more eco-friendly and wants to share green living tips with others. She lives with her husband and two cats.

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