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Sierra Club to host Oklahoma Energy Future Forum at OSU-OKC

OK Energy Future Forum keynote speaker will be Mary Ann Hitt, Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign National Director. Photo by Josh Lopez

By Darla Shelden
Contributing Writer

The Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club will present “Oklahoma’s Energy Future Forum” on Saturday, Oct. 29, from 8:30 am to 3:00 p.m. The event will take place at Oklahoma State University – Oklahoma City (OSU-OKC) campus, 900 N. Portland in the Student Center Conference South. Lunch will be provided.

The event is hosted by the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, which works to eliminate coal’s contribution to global warming and repower the nation with clean energy.
“Oklahoma is at an energy crossroads,” conference organizers said.

The forum hopes to educate and engage Oklahomans on the challenges the state faces moving away from a fossil fuel economy towards a clean energy future using the natural gas and wind resources that are so abundant in Oklahoma.

Keynote speaker will be Mary Anne Hitt, Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign National Director who will discuss the topic, “Making the Future Happen”
Hitt said, “As a new mom, I know that this fight is the single biggest thing I can do to protect my daughter’s future. But we can’t do it alone. The chance to move our nation beyond coal and toward clean energy is in our hands.”

Hitt previously served as executive director of Appalachian Voices, where she was one of the creators of, an online campaign to end mountaintop removal coal mining that received national recognition for innovation and impact.

She also served as the executive director of the Ecology Center and the Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project.

“The Sierra Club is serious about transitioning away from dirty coal and to clean energy. Our officials should be just as serious – and we’ll be sure to remind them,” said Hitt.

Whitney Pearson, associate field organizer of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Oklahoma, said, “We hope to use this forum to educate some of our elected officials, community leaders, organizations and the general public about the dangers of a continued reliance on coal power in Oklahoma.”

The forum will include a morning panel discussion on the topic “What We Have, What We Need: Transitioning Oklahoma’s Energy Resources & Production.

Panel members include Rob Janssen, Senior Vice President Kelson Energy; former Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner, Jim Roth, now an attorney at Phillips Murrah and member of the firm’s Energy & Natural Resources practice group; Chris Knapp of Apex Wind Energy; and former Oklahoma County Assessor, Mike Means, now Executive Vice President Oklahoma Home Builders Association.

Two afternoon panels will examine “Joining the Beyond Coal Movement” and “Clean Energy Policy in Oklahoma.”

Pollution from coal plants has been linked to asthma attacks and toxic mercury, and creates smog, which can cause chest pain, coughing, and breathing difficulties. Coal-related pollution leads to over 12,000 emergency-room visits each year.

Pearson said, “It is clear that it is not in the best interest of Oklahoma citizens to extend the life of our dirty coal plants. They are outdated and damaging to the health of our residents and the economy.”

We now have the technology to move beyond the nation’s dependence on polluting power plants by using clean, safe, and affordable renewable energy such as solar, wind, geo-thermal, and biomass.

The Sierra Club is the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892, by the conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US.
“It is time for stakeholders to come together to share, discuss and learn about the solutions that can move our state toward a clean energy future,” said Pearson.

If you would like to attend visit or contact Whitney Pearson at [email protected]

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