Throughout its long and storied history, the Sierra Club has been an ardent advocate for sound environmental policy at the local, state, and federal levels. Reaffirming its mission to explore, preserve, and protect the natural resources and environment of our planet, the Chapter maintains an active presence at the Oklahoma State Legislature, numerous administrative agencies, and local municipalities. Each year, the Chapter Legislative Committee meets to determine the legislative priorities for the Chapter, identifying legislative proposals beneficial to the environment and those with potential adverse impacts. Through the Legislative Committee and its Director/Lobbyist, the Chapter works with elected officials to introduce, pass, or block such legislation, while collaborating with other interest groups to achieve its goals. The Legislative Committee meets regularly during the legislative session to review legislative progress and to organize grassroots action, including Grassroots Lobby Days at the Legislature.
April 14th Update
Lobby Day 2014
Last Tuesday, April 8th, over 30 Sierra Club members and supporters came to the capitol to learn about the environmental issues the legislature is dealing with this session, participate in a press conference and meet with our House and Senate members to ask them to consider the environment when they cast their votes on our priority bills.
During our press conference, David Blatt of the Oklahoma Policy Institute spoke about the unfair tax break oil and gas companies currently receive and our fight to overturn it. Steve Wilke of Delta Engineering spoke about the value of residential solar and distributed generation and how we needed to defend it from the utility company’s attacks. Joe Bush, a rancher and landowner, spoke about the value of wind farms in keeping his ranch operating in these tough times and the impact those payments have had on the local school district. Finally, Cynthia Armstrong of the Humane Society spoke about the dangers of HJR 1006 for animal welfare.
Thank you to everyone who came out to make our Lobby Day a huge success!
Opposite House Committee Deadline
Last Thursday, April 10th was the final day bills could be heard in committee in the opposite house from where they started. Any bill that failed to meet this deadline is dead. Two bills we were actively fighting have been defeated by this deadline, SB 1440 and HB 1674. SB 1440 would have severely impacted the wind industry, one of our state’s most important opportunities, by placing a moratorium on wind development east of I-35. HB 1674 would have created controversy where none exists by undermining the scientific method and allowing climate change skeptics to introduce nonscientific texts into our children’s classrooms.
Threats That We Must Continue to Fight
The legislature is now moving on to the deadline for the opposite house floor vote. There are a couple of bills we are continuing to fight.
SB 1456 is being pushed by the utility companies to penalize distributed generation users, such as people who install solar panels on their homes. This bill is awaiting a vote in the House and we have a current action alert up that you can use to call your House member now. Click here.
HJR 1006 would place a constitutional amendment on the ballot to protect “farming and agriculture practices.” This unnecessary and overly broad amendment would forever guarantee in our state’s constitution practices like genetically engineering crops, cloning of animals and threaten soil and water conservation efforts. This bill is awaiting a Senate vote and we have a current action alert up that you can use to call your Senator now. Click here.
Big Issue On The Horizon
The fight to retire the gross production tax credit, which is costing the state $252 million dollars every year, is going to be huge. This credit goes to drillers of horizontal wells and lowers their tax burden from 7% to 1% for 4 years. This credit is absolutely unnecessary and is far too costly for our state. We will continue to fight to eliminate this tax credit.