MIAMI – The theme, "Climate of Denial" will be featured when officials with the L.E.A.D. (Local Environmental Action Demanded) Agency host the 19th annual National Environmental Conference at Tar Creek next week in Miami.

The event, organizers said, serves to bolster community education and activism related to regional and national environmental issues.

As in years past, conference events will span three days, Monday to Wednesday, Sept. 25 to 27, and include tours of the EPA Tar Creek Superfund Site, Tar Creek walks, an opening reception at the Dobson Museum, two days of conference sessions at the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Student Union, a fish fry and pie auction fundraiser.

Sponsors for the 2017 conference include PUR Water, Miami Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Grand Lake Indivisible, Grove.

L.E.A.D. Agency Executive Director, Tar Creekkeeper and conference organizer Rebecca Jim said it's important for community members to take part in the event. 

"I think of all the conferences we've done, this year is the most important to attend," said Jim. "We have this lineup of experts in their fields coming here because they care. They want us to understand what is happening here, what is happening to our children.

"Our future depends on how we take care of things right now and these experts are coming to help us learn about things like protecting our water and what can harm it, and how those harms impact us."

Conference admission is free for all residents of Ottawa County, including local students and workers. There is a nominal charge for meals served through the college.

Scheduled Events

Conference events begin Monday, Sept. 25 with the first scheduled Toxic Tour of the EPA Tar Creek Superfund Site, leaving at 1 p.m., from the Miami Civic Center, 129 5th Ave NW. Pre-registration is required.

Monday evening at 7 p.m. an opening reception will take place at the Dobson Museum, 110 A St SW, featuring artists J. Pat Carter, Carter Photo and Patti Shinn on Native Arts & Crafts taught traditionally through the family.

Tuesday, Sept. 26 will open the first of two conference days at the NEO Student Union. Sessions run Tuesday and Wednesday beginning with registration at 8 a.m. and scheduled speakers and presentations from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Supplemental events Tuesday include the second Toxic Tour, Walk to Tar Creek, and the Science & Art Poster Session, all free and scheduled for 5 p.m.

Tuesday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. at the NEO Student Union is a community fish fry and pie auction sponsored by the Afton Masonic Lodge # 76 and Miami Masonic Lodge # 140.

Mike Synar Awards and L.E.A.D. Agency Scholarships will be presented during the event along with entertainment by Solace Unplugged. Harold Post will serve as auctioneer. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for children.

L.E.A.D. Agency has listed the following topics to be covered during the conference sessions Tuesday and Wednesday:

Tar Creek Superfund Site Updates

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency & Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, Tim Kent and Craig Kreman with Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma, Ed Keheley on 10 Myths of Tar Creek and 'My Tar Creek,' and Jason Beldon 'Snails & Song Birds at Tar Creek.'

Human Health Impacts

Dr. Edd Rhoades with OK Department of Health, Lissa James with Grand Lake Mental Health, Dr. Robert O. Wright on Project MATCH, Dr. Edward Gustavson as a pediatrician, and Shawn West with Cherokee Nation.

Water Quality

Kelly Hunter Foster with Waterkeeper Alliance, Dr. Robert Nairn from OU, Richard Zamor & Dr. Darrell Townsend from Grand River Dam Authority, William Andrews from U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

Earthquakes Connected to the Oil & Gas Industry

Matt Skinner from Oklahoma Corporation Commission, Jeremy Boak from Oklahoma Geological Survey, Johnson Bridgewater from Oklahoma Sierra Club on Alternative Energy.

Environmental and Social Justice

Tonya Bonitatibus Savannah Riverkeeper, Jim Wikel on Pipeline Resistance, Dan Clark on "Crime & Lead Poisoning," and McKaylee Steen on "A Fight for Honey Creek."

Breakout Groups during the conference program will include Greg McCann for Yoga sessions and reflections, and Kelda Lorax with Stardust Market Garden on "Growing Safe Food in Toxic Areas."

To see the complete Draft Agenda for the 19th National Environmental Conference at Tar Creek visit http://bit.ly/tarcreek17.

Admission is $100 for non-residents, with scholarships available through the L.E.A.D. Agency office.

For more information and to register, persons interested may visit www.leadagency.org or call 918-542-9399.