By Darla Shelden
On Tuesday, March 26 members of 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, Room 412C, of the Capitol with training and a rally. A press conference will follow at 10:30 a.m. From 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Sierra Club members will meet with state legislators leaving handouts and to talk about environmental issues important to Oklahomans.
Charles Wesner, Chair of the Oklahoma Sierra Club Legislative Committee said, “Corporate interests spend millions of dollars a year lobbying the Oklahoma legislature. We need supporters of the environment to come out to the capitol to show the media and legislators that Oklahomans take their right to clean air and clean water seriously.”
Chapter Director David Ocamb said, “Lobbyists for big corporations and voices who want to undermine environmental progress speak to our elected officials every day. We need the public’s support to counter their efforts and provide a voice for the environmental movement.”
The Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club has reviewed all filed bills and has revealed its legislative agenda for this session.
“The Sierra Club is proud to support legislation that will help family farmers who are struggling to compete with large industrial operations,” said Ocamb. “We support legislation that will help expand Oklahoma’s renewable energy industry that has already contributed to putting Oklahoman’s to work.
“And we support legislation that will help us conserve our most valuable resource, water, particularly in light of this crippling drought and climate changes that are threatening our state.”
The Sierra Club OK Chapter supports legislation that will eliminate sales tax on products sold at farmer’s markets. They agree with legislation that will increase the renewable energy goal from15 percent by 2015, to 20 percent by 2020.
Ocamb says his organization is concerned by certain pending legislation, which they consider radical and detrimental to advancing environmental improvement.
He contends House Bill (HB) 1412 and Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 2, were each crafted to fight what is called “Agenda 21” and sustainable development.
Created during a 1991 U.N. environmental summit in Brazil, Agenda 21 is a non-binding resolution encouraging responsible development with no enforcement mechanism, which was supported by President George H.W. Bush.
“These bills are designed to fight a fictionalized creation called ‘Agenda 21’ made popular in novels by Glen Beck and other extreme radical voices,” said Ocamb.
He continued, “These bills have unintended consequences of restricting our state subdivisions from working with the World Health Organization on medical research on emerging diseases and with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization on drought resistant crops.”
House Bill 1412, by State Rep. Sally Kern (R-District 84), would prohibit any political subdivision of Oklahoma from adopting or implementing policy recommendations established by the United Nations Agenda 21 Sustainable Development action plan.
The measure would also prohibit the state from contracting with or exchanging funds with a nongovernmental or intergovernmental organization accredited by the United Nations.
“The bill protects individual property rights from being infringed upon by government regulations that originated in the United Nations Agenda 21 Initiative,” Kern said. “I think this bill will address the concerns my constituents have and I appreciate the support of my colleagues.”
Kern said the bill protects individual property rights.
The Sierra Club is hopeful that legislators will take a closer look at this pending legislation.
Ocamb said, “With the publics help, we can show elected officials in Oklahoma that the environment is a vital issue for many voters. We are continually tracking legislation as it moves through the process and we will have handouts available as well as speakers to discuss the bills during our training and rally.”
The Sierra Club has worked to protect the Earth for over one hundred years nationwide and the Oklahoma Chapter has existed for over 40 years.
For more information, contact David Ocamb at [email protected] or 405-286-2277, or visit oklahoma2.sierraclub.org.
Sierra Club Lobby Day to advocate for sustaining the environment
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