Oklahoma County Green Party works to “Save the Rails”

James Branum addresses Save the Rails Rally 8/11/07

GPOK State Secretary and Oklahoma County Green James Branum spoke on behalf of the local party in Oklahoma City on Saturday, August 11, at a rally to “Save the Rails”. Green Party members helped organize the event.

Citizens, activists, teachers and legislators gathered to demand that state officials stop the New Crosstown boondoggle and develop clean safe and economical public transport for Central Oklahoma.

Also speaking at the event were State Representative Wallace Collins, County Commission candidate Fannie Bates and longtime rails activist Tom Elmore.

Organizers plan to have an event each month to keep the rails issue alive. To get on the email list for news and updates from the campaign, send an email to railsok@netroutes.net.

OK Greens speak against Red Rock coal-fired power plant

Journal Record cover on coal plant

GPOK members Jean McMahon and Huti Reynolds have been in contact with the Eco Action Committee of the Green Party since they heard from the Oklahoma Sustainability Network last January that a 950-megawatt coal-fired power plant was in the works to be built at Red Rock, Oklahoma.

They got support and resources from a great group called the National Energy Justice Network, the only national group dedicated to no more coal plants.

July 1, they heard from James Branum, GPOK state Secretary, and Fannie Bates, an Oklahoma City activist:

What is arguably the most important environmental decision made by/for the current generation of Oklahomans is about to happen and I am, as usual, amazed/chagrined that it is going virtually unnoticed. First the immediate facts which OG&E has made public:

On Monday, July 2 and Tuesday July 3, Oklahoma Gas & Electric will be before the Oklahoma Corporation Commission seeking pre-approval to build a new coal-fired power plant at the existing Sooner Power Plant near Red Rock, Oklahoma. The hearings begin at 8:30 a.m. and will be held in Courtroom 301 on the third floor of the Jim Thorpe Building at 2101 N. Lincoln in OKC. The proceedings will be adjourned for the July 4th holiday and will reconvene on Monday, July 9. All interested parties may appear at the hearings to make public comments.

It proposes to build what it “contends” (OG&E’s language)is a “state-of-the- art” 950 megawatt coal-fired power plant in collaboration with PSO (Public Service Company of Okla.) and the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority (OMPA). These three entities will share costs and ownership of the plant (OG&E 42%, PSO 50%, and OMPA 8%), which is estimated to cost approximately $1.8 billion to build. OG&E will build the plant and operate it when it is complete.

According to OG&E, rate changes to recover the cost will be phased in from 2007 to 2012-average cost per month increase for OG&E customers is estimated to be “a cumulative total” of $4.66 per month.

OG&E lists the following contact information regarding the application: OG&E at 1-800-272-9741. The Commission’s web site is www.occeweb. com or you can send written comments addressed to:
OG&E Red Rock Approval
c/o Office of General Counsel
Oklahoma Corporation Commission
P.O. Box 52000
Oklahoma City, OK 73152-2000

The Chairman of the Corporation Commission is Jeff Cloud. Bob Anthony and Jim Roth are the other two commissioners. Their address is as above.

So Huti and Jean rushed down to Oklahoma City on July 2. The OG&E lawyer noticed their Green Party T-shirts and spoke with them, as did the judge, “for some time,” Jean reports.

“I think the main point is, however she (the judge) decides, it will be contested. She apologized that public comments had been postponed for that day.”

Jean and Huti returned the following Monday for the public portion of the hearing — Jean in her famous polar bear suit that got some media attention. “We made our public statements. I believe it was useful for the Green Party to get info out via the media that environmental groups in Oklahoma do oppose coal-fired plants Our fellow citizens may think everyone loves coal by listening to the corporate press.”

Here is statement from the Green Party:

The U.S. is blessed with tremendous renewable energy potential, enough to meet the entire electric demand of the country. We call for a Manhattan Project-level of commitment to developing clean renewable energy technologies—technologies that do not create pollution in the course of generating electricity. These can include wind, solar, ocean power, geothermal, and small-scale hydro. Since even clean renewable energy can have negative environmental impacts, care must be taken to minimize such impacts. Clean renewable energy does not include nuclear power, any sort of combustion or process in which by-products are ultimately combusted, or hydroelectric dams that block entire rivers.

The period for public input closes July 23. It is unknown when the decision will be made.

The Oklahoman says that Greens are the party for the “left, way, way out”

From: NewsOK: Short Takes — Green Party get-together: “It’s always interesting when, as often happens, members of fringe organizations wonder why they remain on the fringe. Take the Green Party of the United States as an example. Green Party members are holding their annual meeting in Tulsa this week. The party’s Web site advocates impeaching President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Don’t like ‘em? IMPEACH! The Green’s media coordinator told the Tulsa World, “We consider ourselves a party for the left out.” For the left way, way out might be more accurate.”

Ballot access LTE in the Edmond Sun

OK Greens Co-Chair James Branum had a letter to the editor published in the Edmund Sun:

Cooksey’s bill would make state elections more open

Every year at the ballot box we all face tough decisions, but in the end we are in the voting booth alone with our conscience and our judgment. It is in that voting booth that we are able to express our own viewpoint without fear. It is in the voting booth that every voice should be heard.

Last November I was denied the right to vote for the candidate of my choice.

For myself as Mennonite and a believer in Jesus’ message of peace, I wanted to vote for a Presidential candidate who would bring an end to the war in Iraq.

But instead I was given only two choices – Bush and Kerry, who both were strong defenders of the war. If I had lived in another state, I could have voted my conscience. In fact in every other state of the union, there would have been at least one other choice for President on the ballot. However, since Oklahoma doesn’t have democratic election laws, we get only two choices.

It is time to change the law. HB 1429 (introduced by St. Rep. Marian Cooksey R-Edmond and St. Sen. Randy Brogdon, R-Tulsa) would restore democracy to our state by lowering the petitioning requirement for new political parties from 70,000+ signatures to 5,000 (the state’s requirement from 1924-1974).

Democracy means that you get to vote for the candidate of your own choice. If you think it is time that we have this right in Oklahoma, please call you state legislator and ask them to support HB 1429.

For more information on this issue please go to www.okballotchoice.org

James M. Branum
Oklahoma City