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Tulsa environmental coalition to host conversation aimed at policy makers

Former EPA official Al Amendariz, campaign representative for Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign, will speak at meeting on March 6 to discuss environmental justice. Photo provided.
Former EPA official Al Amendariz, campaign representative for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, will speak at meeting on March 6 to discuss environmental justice. Photo provided.

By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter

Tulsa, OK – A coalition of churches, citizens, the Oklahoma Green Country Sierra Club and other environmental groups will host a meeting to raise awareness in the Tulsa community regarding environmental concerns. .

The event will be held on Tuesday, March 6th from 6:30 – 8 p.m. at the Thomas K. McKeon Center for Creativity at Tulsa Community College, 910 S. Boston Avenue, in Tulsa.

The presenting coalition includes: Beyond Coal, Coalition for Oklahoma’s Renewable Energy, Ready for 100 Tulsa, Oklahoma Interfaith Power and Light, Green Country Sierra Club, Citizens’ Climate Lobby – Tulsa Chapter, Carrie Dickerson Foundation, and the Oklahoma Interfaith Power and Light.

The conversation will cover local issues such as clean water and air and there will be a brief presentation about national, state and local issues related to environmental justice

The discussion will also include how the local community is impacted by national policy set by federal administrators including former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, now head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Organizers contend there has been a “drumbeat of concerning news around EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and his past actions in Oklahoma have sparked concern in citizens of Tulsa to take notice.”

“Unfortunately, Scott Pruitt has taken step after step to cause more harm to the State of Oklahoma and Tulsans, not less,” said Barbara VanHanken, Chapter Chair of Green Country Sierra Club. 

“As EPA administrator, he has disregarded plans to stop Texas coal pollution from blowing into our state. He has claimed mercury is not toxic, even though Oklahoma has 54 lakes so polluted with mercury that the people cannot even eat the fish.

“And right now, Pruitt is working to kill the Clean Power Plan, which would not only improve children’s health in our state and clean up Tulsa’s air, but it would also pay to retrain workers who want to leave the fossil fuel industry and get into renewable energy.”

Sierra Club members and others in the coalition want to have an open dialogue with members of the Tulsa community in order to discuss the status of Oklahoma’s environment, where citizens can share their concerns and find ways to take action.

Speaking at the event will be former head of the EPA Region 6, (based in Dallas) Al Amendariz, now senior campaign representative for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.

Based in Austin, Armendariz oversees the group’s work in Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma.  According to a Sierra Club press release, his responsibilities include working toward transitioning the three states “off coal-fired electricity and toward an economy powered by job-generating clean energy sources such as wind and the sun.”

“As a father and a scientist, I know how important it is to transition to cleaner sources of energy that don’t pollute the air that our children breathe,” Armendariz said. “I’m proud to be working on a campaign with a proven track record for success,”

Additional speakers are Johnson Bridgwater – Director, Oklahoma Sierra Club; Kim Bartlett – Coalition for Oklahoma’s Renewable Energy (CORE); Gary Allison – Ready for 100 Tulsa, and Rev. Chris Moore with the Oklahoma Conference of Churches.

The event is free and open to the public.  Speakers will be available following the discussion to visit with guests.


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