Important new Oklahoma blog: Concrete Buffalo

John Sutter isn’t letting his recent firing by the Oklahoman keep him down. He’s started a new blog to help educate Oklahomans about their state’s ecology, and the state government’s impact on it.

Just a couple of days before his last day with OPubCo, I did a little review of his blog for the paper, Going Green. I was very impressed by his work there, and glad he will continue in that vein.

Naming Concrete Buffalo after a mural along a barrier wall on Broadway Extension in OKC, Sutter introduces it thusly:

I’m starting this site because I believe that Oklahomans care about environmental news and issues, and they deserve to have a place to find stories on the topic. I am not an advocate or an environmentalist, but I do believe that decisions by government and business affect the environment. I’m here to make sure they’re at least known and considered.

I also hope to use this site as a way to continue my interest in this state’s diverse and endlessly interesting ecology. Even if you’ve lived here all of your life, you may not know that Oklahoma is actually home to more distinct ecological zones than any state but Alaska. Because of weird weather patters we see here — with lots of wet air sweeping in from the Gulf of Mexico and lots of hot, dry air shooting north from Mexican deserts — Oklahoma has swamps with alligators in the southeast and sees dust storms on the high plains in the northwest and in the Panhandle. It’s a diverse and wild place. One worth exploring.

Many of the state’s environmental issues are pressing, yet they’re under-reported. The state Attorney General is suing poultry companies over their alleged pollution of the Illinois River in northeast Oklahoma. Tar Creek, a former lead and zinc mining site, has been listed as one of the most severe toxic waste sites in the nation. Thirty years after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency started work there, it’s still not cleaned up or safe, and now the government is paying people to move out because of safety and environmental hazards.

In northwest Oklahoma, the lesser prairie chicken — a hilarious bird with a certain YouTube celebrity — could be headed towards extinction because of wind farm expansion. And, really for the first time, alternative fuels like wind and prairie-grass biofuels are being talked about as viable alternatives to Oklahoma’s oil-and-gas-driven economy.

This is an exciting and important time for environmental issues in the state. I hope you will join the conversation here and elsewhere.

Sutter may not be an environmentalist or advocate, but I am and I am sure his work will be very useful for folks like me who want Oklahoma’s great physical features to be recognized and enjoyed without destroying their intrinsic value.