Tag Archives: Oklahoma

Why I Protect Our Parks

REGIONAL HAZE – The last week in January I had the opportunity to travel to Oklahoma. As the apprentice focusing on regional haze, I found it important to actually lay eyes on one of the places that my work has been focused on over the past few months. 

Over the course of the week, I spent time with community residents, park lovers, and elected officials who all had a deep care and concerned for the Wichita Mountains National Refuge. I had the opportunity to present to the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce, the Lawton City Council and federal employees at the Wichita Mountains National Refuge, urging them to act and ask EPA to deny the do-nothing Texas plan and implement stronger haze pollution standards for the sake of their beloved refuge. Even when I wasn’t in a formal meeting, I spoke with everyone and anyone who would listen to me about the haze pollution and excitedly people were engaged and empowered to learn and do more.

William (Bill) Cunningham, is a resident of Meers, OK. A small town just north of the Wichitas. Bill has been aware of the haze pollution for many years now and welcomed the opportunity to do an interview with State Impact – a local Oklahoma NPR affiliate – on his experiences and the impact that the haze has on the beauty of the Refuge. Bill took me on a hike up Mount Scott, the highest peak in the Wichita Mountains National Refuge. From the top, I was able to see the haze pollution first hand. If you ever travel to the Wichitas, I highly recommend taking the time to visit Mount Scott.

Top of Mount Scott

It does not matter which federally protected land you visit, you learn something new and experience your own connection with nature and the environment. On my last morning I took a hike around Lost Lake and I tried to picture the views obstructed by a white, smoky filter. In those quiet moments, with the wind howling in my ear and the view of the bison huddled in the horizon, I realized even more, why these parks and refuges are worth protecting. They are American treasures.

Send your fondness memory to EPA Today! Click Here! A little love to our national parks and refuges goes a long way. 

Feel free to contact me if you wish to learn more and get involved on this issue! Written by Sarah Sharif – sarah.sharif@sierraclub.org – (650) 862-8779 – Follow me on Twitter @Sarah0Sharif

Read previous blog on Haze Pollution to understand what is keeping our parks in the dark! 

Read the article that Bill participated in here to get the local perspective! 

OU whups UT- They came with a grudge.

Well, that was a painful game.  And for the first time in a long time, UT is not ranked in the top 25.

Was it something we did?

Actually, maybe it was. For years, Oklahoma has been bearing the brunt of Texas pollution, and paying the price of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s policy of essentially rubber-stamping coal plants.

A proposed EPA regulation called the “Good Neighbor” provision, introduced July 6th, 2010, is intended to cut air pollution that harms the health of people downwind from power plant-produced air emissions.

The “Good Neighbor” provision introduced by EPA administrator Lisa Jackson would require significant reductions in SO2 and NOx emissions that cross state lines. These pollutants react in the atmosphere to form fine particles and ground-level ozone and are transported long distances, making it difficult for other states -in this instance, Oklahoma- to achieve national clean air standards.

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Not just a football rivalry

A river carves a canyon in the Wichita Mountains.
Image via Wikipedia

And you thought this was just about Sooners the Longhorns… In an article by NewsOK, Oklahomans worry about pollution from Texas coal plants.

Oklahoma’s AG Edmondson has stated that emissions from Texas already are impacting visibility impairment in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge Area.

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Live from the EPA Hearing in Dallas

We’ve got pictures at the bottom of the post!

9:20 Good morning everybody! We’ve been up for a while preparing… our executive director Michael Brune is here, ready to rumble, along with the mighty delegations from Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and of course from all around the great state of Texas.

9:30 Brief interview with a concerned Louisianan. Yet another quick interview, with some even more awesome folks from Louisiana! Are they the greatest team of coalfighters you’ve ever met? We report, you decide. Seriously.

9:45 Best poster of the day! Kiss her Coal Ash!

11:00 Press conference with Executive Director Mike Brune, pediatrician Karen Lewis, Director of Public Citizen Texas Tom “Smitty” Smith, State Representative Jessica Farrar (Houston) and others… pictures on the Twitter feed!

11:10 Some early footage of the press conference (a little fuzzy, apologies!)

11:20 Karen Lewis, MD talks about the health effects of coal ash.

11:15 State Representative Jessica Farrar of Houston explains why she supports strong coal ash regulation.

12:00 Lunch panel starting in 15 minutes, the best Q and A on coal ash you’ve ever heard!

1:00 We’ve got pictures of the panel at the bottom of the post, and folks enjoying the Sierra Club snack room as well.

1:30 Corpus Christi legend Hal Suter prepares for his testimony.  Listen to his fantastic comments on the TCEQ’s willingness (or unwillingness) to regulate the coal industry here.

2:00 Ladies lay down the coal ash law!  Check out what they’ve got to say in this clip right here.

2:10 Another Texan here to regulate coal ash. Heck yes.

2:30 Pick up your coal ash mess, gosh darn it!

2:49 Katie from Dallas reppin’ Texas Campaign for the Environment.  She is not a fan of coal ash.

3:09 Updated pictures of all the action. Check out our gallery, it’s almost like you’re there, isn’t it?

3:32 ED Mike Brune: “It’s been an inspiring day, seeing so many people from the region taking action to protect their air, their water, their health.”

3:49 Susan from Oklahoma City came all the way to Dallas to tell the EPA what’s what with coal ash regulation.

4:05 Smitty from Public Citizen, to the rescue!

4:21 A student from Louisiana, representing all the people who couldn’t be here today.

4:32 This guy rode 1800 miles from Arkansas to Dallas- just to give his testimony at the coal ash hearing!

5:15 Shondra from Houston and her thoughts on coal ash. In her spare time, she’s shutting down the White Stallion coal plant in Bay City.

5:30 We are tired. We are hungry. But we are still cranking out the Strong Rule testimony!

5:48 Doctor Randy Smith, President of Texas Impact, talks about being a good steward of the land, and respecting the earth that God has entrusted to us.

6:13 Bokoshe, Oklahoma residents talk about how the hearing is going. We’re screening the Bokoshe film in fifteen minutes.  If you haven’t seen it yet, you should.

7:57 Just finished some powerful closing events.  We watched “In the Air we Breathe”, about Bokoshe, Oklahoma, and the stars of the film were there to take questions.  Check out the pictures to get a sense of what went on…

8:00 We’ve still got people filtering in to give their testimony!  It’s not over yet!

8:15 Louisiana delegation relaxing with some interesting techniques.  Check out pictures of them playing “ninja” and working out a human knot (it’s been a long day).

8:52 Alright, we are shutting down the shop! It’s time for a hurricane party at the Hyatt Regency… good luck to the folks at the rest of the hearings!

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