By Darla Shelden
On Wednesday, March 21, the Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club will gather for Lobby Day at the State Capitol. They want to show legislators the power of a grassroots environmental movement and focus the attention of the media on the environment.
Registration will begin at 9 a.m. on the 4th floor of the State Capitol, followed by a press conference at 10 a.m.
From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sierra Club members will meet with state legislators leaving handouts and to talk about environmental issues that are important to Oklahomans.
“Lobbyists for big corporations and voices who want to undermine the environmental movement speak to our elected officials every day,” said David Ocamb, “Sierra Club Oklahoma Chapter President. With over 3,000 members and 30,000 supporters statewide, the Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club will show legislators the power of a grassroots environmental movement and focus the attention of the media on the environment.”
Ocamb feels there have been some positive actions in Oklahoma’s legislative session this year. The Water for 2060 Act (HB 3055) would use water conservation and efficiency efforts to ensure no more water is consumed in 2060 than was used statewide in 2012.
The Statewide Energy Efficiency Act of 2012 (HB 2833) would create a program to reduce the state government’s energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020. SB 1241 would create a standard of 30 percent for renewable energy as a portion of Oklahoma’s total installed capacity of energy generation by 2020. It also states coal could contribute no more than 5 percent of that capacity, effectively moving Oklahoma towards more sustainable energy sources.
“This session, water and tax issues are the two biggest issue areas at the capitol,” said Ocamb. “The Sierra Club supports legislation to ensure Oklahoma uses no additional water in the year 2060 than we are using this year and opposes any legislation that would cut the income tax at the expense of environmental protection or tax credits to green job producing industries like wind.”
“The Governor’s “Oklahoma First Energy Plan” creates a pathway for Oklahoma to move beyond coal and toward energy efficiency, renewable energy, and responsible natural gas generation,” said Charles Wesner, Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club Chair. “Sierra Club recognizes that this plan is a good starting point for complying with the much-needed US EPA pollution safeguards that protect human health and the environment. We applaud Governor Fallin and Secretary Ming for providing leadership in developing this comprehensive plan. We look forward to working with Oklahoma leaders to strengthen the plan and achieve the goal of a clean energy future for our state.”
The Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club works through standing committees at both the local and state level. The Conservation Committee, Outings Committee, Political Committee, and Legislative Committee are each integral to thesuccess of the Oklahoma Chapter.
From local food fairs and backpacking trips to film festivals and legislative lobbying, committee involvement offers opportunities to promote sustainability and environmental conservation with others who want to connect to the great outdoors.
Established in 1972, the Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club has over 3,000 dues paying members in Oklahoma with monthly meetings in Norman (Red Earth Group), Oklahoma City (Cimarron Group) and Tulsa (Green Country Group).
Over the years, the Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club has successfully worked to protect Oklahoma’s wildlife, preserved its natural resources, and educated the public on many issues at the local, state, and federal level.
“When elected officials receive an email or a phone call they pay attention. When they actually meet a constituent who talks with them about the issue, they listen. When the media sees a group of dedicated activists, it’s a story,” said Ocamb. “With the help of Sierra Club members and other Oklahomans who care about our issues, we can show elected officials in our state that the environment is a vital issue for many voters.”
For more information or to register for the Sierra Club Lobby Day visit oklahoma.sierraclub.org.