Take Action! Stand Against Oklahoma HB2132 and “Prosperity Districts”

April 7, 2017 | Posted in Advocacy, conservation, News, Oklahoma Wildlife

Take Action against Oklahoma HB2132 and the creation of "prosperity districts"

The Oklahoma legislature is considering a bill that reflects the poor values of State Question 777, favoring large corporations over individual citizens, landowners and wildlife.

HB2132 would create “prosperity districts” in which landowners could file a petition to create a district on their own land and in turn, create most of the rules of that so-called district.

According to the Oklahoma Policy Institute, once a district has been filed, landowners would “negotiate a revenue covenant with the state instead of paying state and local taxes, and the district would be governed by a governing board.”

More from OKPolicy.org:

If county officials do not act to deny a petition to create or expand a “Prosperity District,” citing specific deficiencies within 20 days, it will automatically go into effect. That creates a lot of potential for powerful special interests to force through these Districts by overwhelming county officials with applications. Basically, this bill could allow corporations and other special interests to create their own governments – all they need is a bit of land.

Once created, a Prosperity District could be used to get around the wishes of local government and voters. For example, a factory farm could create a Prosperity District that allows them to ignore state and local rules about waste disposal and food safety. The idea that Oklahoma should shackle its ability to regulate industrial agriculture was clearly rejected by voters last fall, when SQ 777, the so called “Right to Farm” State Question, was defeated at the polls.

With Prosperity Districts, landowners could exempt themselves from the rules that apply to the rest of us. Besides the threat to neighbors of the district, Prosperity Districts could create even more complications for Oklahoma businesses.  Businesses inside the district could be given a big competitive advantage from being exempt from many state and local regulations, while other businesses would still be subject to all these rules.

Less than six months ago, the citizens of Oklahoma struck down a bill that would have allowed corporate agriculture and companies to function with few regulations, State Question 777. As citizens and advocates for our individual rights, we will not stand for similar legislation to move forward.

The board and members of the Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma strongly oppose HB2132 and encourage our supporters to spread the word against this legislation.

Call, fax and email your senator and tell them we will stand up for the rights of our land, our water, our citizens and our wildlife.

How to contact your senator

  1. Call your senator at 405-524-0126
  2. Click here to fax your senator a letter instantly online
  3. Click here to email Senator Inhofe
  4. Click here to email Senator Lankford

How to spread the word

  1. Share this blog post via email with friends, family and colleagues
  2. Share on social media
    1. Right click here, save this image
    2. Upload image to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram
    3. Copy and paste this text:
      1. Twitter or Instagram: I support Oklahoma’s land, water and wildlife. I stand w/ @Conserve_OK against #HB2132 and “prosperity districts.” Tell senators to VOTE NO.
      2. Twitter or Instagram: Oklahomans voted NO on #SQ777. We refuse to let large corporations ignore rules and regulations again. I stand against #HB2132!
      3. Facebook: I stand with the Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma against HB2132, which would allow large corporations to create “prosperity districts” and allow them to exempt themselves from the rules that apply to the rest of us. Let’s continue to protect our land, our water, our wildlife and our rights! Contact your senators today at 405-524-0126 and urge them to vote no on HB2132.

Use the email or fax template below

Highlight the text, right click, copy. Paste the text after visiting the link to fax or email your senator. Fill in text in brackets below as appropriate before sending.


Dear Senator [last name]:

The legislation I am addressing is HB2132, which would allow the creation of “prosperity districts” for landowners in Oklahoma. This issue directly impacts Oklahoman’s right to clean and safe land and water, the conservation of wildlife and their habitats and creating a fair playing field for businesses of all sizes.

I am primarily concerned about the development of prosperity districts because HB2132 would allow large corporations to ignore state and local rules about waste disposal and food safety.

Another aspect of this same issue that could affect Oklahoma’s individual citizens and small businesses is the fact that large businesses inside so-called prosperity districts could be given an advantage from being exempt from many state and local regulations, while other businesses would still be subject to existing rules.

I will look forward to your reply expressing your opinions, and your current stance on the issue.

Thank you for your consideration of my viewpoint on this matter. I believe it is an important issue, and would like to see the legislation fail to ensure the rights of our citizens and the safety and conservation of our land, water and wildlife.

Sincerely,

Your name,
Address
Phone Number
Email Address


Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on this issue and share our posts with friends, family and colleagues encouraging them to contact their senator to vote no on HB2132.

Our stance on Oklahoma Department of Tourism & Recreation budget cuts

March 16, 2017 | Posted in Advocacy, News, Oklahoma Wildlife

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The following is a statement from the Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma’s board chair, Ron Suttles, on the possible closing of 16 state parks in Oklahoma:

The Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma is very concerned about the “hypothetical” budget cuts to the Department of Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation. This negative ripple effect of closing 16 state parks is far worse than the budgetary savings potentially provided by such an action. 

These parks provide habitat for wildlife, a place for all Oklahoman’s to enjoy the great outdoors, jobs, and they feed the local economies of the towns near the parks. 

This decision should not be taken lightly by the legislature. If these parks are closed it will cost the state far more in the future to re-open them once the state finds itself in a better financial position. We encourage fiscal responsibility, but closing these parks would not be smart money management by the state of Oklahoma.

Dismantling BLM 2.0 Planning Rule Puts Wildlife and People at Risk

March 10, 2017 | Posted in Advocacy, conservation, News, Oklahoma Wildlife

Following a previous vote by the House, the Senate moved on March 7 to roll back the Bureau of Land Management Planning 2.0 initiative, undoing years of work to bring the agency’s planning into the 21st century, involve the public more and better balance the uses of our public lands.

The Senate used the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to undo recently approved rules and bars approval of new rules that are substantially the same. That means the BLM will be stuck with a planning process that hasn’t had a major overhaul in more than three decades even while demands and conditions on the landscape have dramatically changed.

Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma - Photo by Shane Bevel

Kate Zimmerman, the National Wildlife Federation’s public lands policy director, said:

Using the CRA to roll back the BLM Planning 2.0 rule couldn’t be happening at a worse time for wildlife. The finalized rule modernized the process by making it more accessible and open to the public. The rule also permitted the BLM to take a big-picture look at the landscape so the impacts of development and other activities on waterways, wildlife migration routes as well as hunting and fishing opportunities could be more carefully considered.

“The senators’ vote against the BLM’s new planning rule is a vote against giving their constituents more say in how their public lands are managed. It’s also a vote against providing the BLM better tools to manage our public lands for the benefit of all Americans – hunters, anglers, bikers, wildlife watchers, ranchers, loggers and oil and gas operators” added Zimmerman. “Local elected officials, landowners and sportsmen have welcomed a more public process in communities where the BLM has used the Planning 2.0 principles to revise management plans.

“Now, the BLM and the public must revert to an outdated process that doesn’t adequately address the growing demands on our public lands or include provisions that aimed to address conflicts earlier and with more transparency.”

Read a letter by 21 National Wildlife Federation affiliates in support of BLM Planning 2.0.

Visit the National Wildlife Visit the National Wildlife Federation Media Center at NWF.org/News.

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The National Wildlife Federation is America’s largest conservation organization, uniting all Americans to ensure wildlife thrive in a rapidly changing world. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Statement On 2018 Farm Bill For Senate Committee on Agriculture

February 23, 2017 | Posted in Advocacy, conservation, News, Partners

National Wildlife Federation CCO_Logo_2016_V

Today, The National Wildlife Federation, along with the Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma and other NWF affiliates, submitted a statement for the record for the Senate Committee on Agriculture’s Field Hearing on the upcoming Farm Bill. 

“By investing more in the Farm Bill’s conservation programs, Congress would be investing in Oklahoma’s communities and wildlife habitats,” said Ron Suttles, Board Chair for the Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma. “These programs are extremely popular with our farming and ranching community and also provide long-term benefits to some of our favorite nesting species like quail, pheasants, and wild turkeys. If we can successfully increase funding and acreage for Farm Bill conservation initiatives such as the Conservation Reserve Program, that would be really beneficial to Oklahoma’s farming and ranching community, wildlife, and taxpayers at the same time.”

“We at the National Wildlife Federation are excited to get to work with Chairman Roberts, Ranking Member Stabenow, and the members of the committee on the 2018 Farm Bill,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “The Farm Bill’s voluntary conservation programs have a tremendous ability to conserve and restore vital wildlife habitats in cost-effective ways, while enjoying broad support with producers and engaging rural communities.”

“The next Farm Bill needs to increase the funding and capacity of popular programs like the Conservation Reserve Program and expand the “sodsaver” provision nationwide to help reduce the conversion of native grassland and wildlife habitat. The National Wildlife Federation is eager to work with Congress to find ways to increase funding for these programs so that producers can continue to improve soil health, restore water quality, and increase wildlife populations, all while strengthening rural economies.” 

Learn more about our partner, the National Wildlife Federation at www.nwf.org.

Important Public Input for Parks in Oklahoma

February 7, 2017 | Posted in Partners

The following is from our friends at Oklahoma State University and the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department:

Every five years the State of Oklahoma is required to develop a Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) to continue eligibility for certain federal grant programs. These grant programs and the statewide plan are directly beneficial to local communities and to Oklahoma through planning and development of infrastructure and economic development. Oklahoma State University has contracted with the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department to prepare the SCORP.

As a member of the public interested in parks and recreation, your responses to an online survey are important because you will be representing your community in this planning effort. Because of this, the information you provide will help us plan for future recreation needs and continue Oklahoma’s eligibility for several federal grant programs. 

Please click on the link (https://goo.gl/Q1czeQ) to complete the online survey. The survey will take about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. Staff at OSU will be conducting the data analysis and preparing the report for the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. Your voice is extremely important in planning for the future!

If you have any questions about this project at any time, please contact Dr. Fatemeh (Tannaz) Soltani, Research Assistant Professor at OSU by phone at (405) 744-9166 or by email attannaz.soltani@okstate.edu.

Fatemeh (Tannaz) Soltani, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor
Department of Geography
Oklahoma State University

Lowell Caneday, Ph.D.
Regents Professor Emeritus
Oklahoma State University