The following is a guest blog written Barbara VanHanken, League of Women Voters Board Member and Oklahoma Sierra Club Chair.
This is the 45th year our nation is celebrating Earth Day on April 22nd! Over these many years, we have seen our natural resources being depleted resulting in increased air pollution, water scarcity and our land and oceans being depleted and poisoned by dirty energy and other developments. Today, our Congress and our state legislature seem to have declared a “war on the environment” with proposed new legislation and renewed challenges against the Environmental Protection Agency, which was also established in 1970.
Where once we recognized that the insecticide DDT would weaken the egg shells of our national treasure, the American Bald Eagle, and we acted to stop its indiscriminant use; we now must fight to keep our air, water and soil clean from unhealthy contamination. Many of our leaders are looking away from the agreement of 95% of our scientists that climate change is a huge developing problem and that we must act to stop it.
Locally in Oklahoma, there are strong forces working to limit local municipalities from protecting their residents and property. SB 809 sponsored by House Speaker Hickman and Senate Leader Brian Bingman is working its way through the process and when passed, it will limit local government’s ability to govern themselves regarding actions by the oil and gas industry.
Oklahoma is the Earthquake Capital in our nation today!
Yet our legislature busies themselves with issues like limiting local municipal authority, assessing fines for lost mineral rights in towns, and a “right to harm” bill, HJR 1012, that when passed, will allow any farm, agriculture and ranching operation to use any means without regard to effects on our air and water quality or the humane treatment of our farm animals. This bill shields industrial agriculture from the democratic process. Our farmers and ranchers already have the right to farm as they have for generations.
We have work to do! For updates and calls to action on these and many other issues, be sure to “like” the Oklahoma Sierra Club on Facebook.
– Barbara VanHanken, League of Women Voters Board Member and Oklahoma Sierra Club Chair