By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, the Oklahoma Sierra Club recently hosted a press conference at the state capitol to pronounce their love for actions that make Oklahoma a healthier, cleaner and more economically viable state.
The group was joined by advocates and experts on renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, public transit and clean water; issues the Sierra Club holds dear on Valentine’s Day and the year around.
The grassroots environmental organization distributed their annual calendar and candy kisses, along with a Valentine poem created by Sierra Club Cimarron Group member Stephanie Jordon.
“Sierra Club members are Oklahoma citizens first and foremost and we care deeply about Oklahoma,” said Johnson Bridgwater, Oklahoma Chapter Director.
“Our members showed up at the State Capitol to proclaim their love for our state and call attention to important issues related to the environment which will be the focus of many bills this legislative session,” he added.
Expert speakers included former Attorney General Drew Edmondson, MAPS board member Jeff Bezdek, Steve Wilke from Delta Energy + Design, and Urban Beekeeper Stephanie Jordan.
Former Attorney General Edmondson’s focus was on the need to protect Oklahoma’s water resources.
“Oklahoma is a state that is abundant in natural resources as Senator Robert S. Kerr described them in his book Land, Wood and Water,” Edmondson stated. “We are also rich in oil and gas reserves. However, all of those other resources would be worth little without our water.”
“We cannot afford to waste it by polluting it,” Edmondson said. “The protection of our water is a current imperative and a gift to our children and grandchildren.”
Wilke spoke about opportunities to expand renewable energy in Oklahoma.
“The economic, environmental, and social benefits are impossible to deny. The more people learn about solar energy, the more they love solar energy and want the opportunity to install panels on their rooftops,” said Wilke. “Oklahoma is a state that is rich in this renewable resource and we should be utilizing it to the best of our ability.
“Likewise, the abundance of wind resources in Oklahoma is well-established and has pushed our state to 4th in the entire nation this year in overall wind energy production,” Wilke added. “This calls for a need to keep tax incentives and other state and regulatory laws and provisions competitive so that robust wind development continues in our state, to allow us to continue being a national leader in this industry.”
Bezdek, member of the MAPS 3 Transit Subcommittee and the Education Director for The Modern Transit Project / OKC Streetcar Project discussed the opportunities created for communities when public transit is modernized.
“The Oklahoma City MAPS funded ‘Modern Streetcar’ project is a $120 million, 5.4 mile long electrically-powered steel rail streetcar route that will tie downtown Oklahoma City together,” Bezdek said.
“This project, and the $28 million Santa Fe Station Intermodal Hub improvements, represent the largest transit investment in Oklahoma City in more than 60 years. This will form the nucleus of a future Regional Transit System.”
A resident of Oklahoma City and longtime beekeeper, Jordan discussed the importance of bees to the production of food.
“Bees are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat, and the average worker bee produces 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime,” Jordon said.
“Amazingly, of the top 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of our global food supply, 71 of these species are bee-pollinated,” she added. “So if bees do not have enough to eat, we won’t have enough to eat.”
For more information about the Sierra Club and its many programs, visit oklahoma.sierraclub.org or call 405-286-2277.