The Oklahoma Farm Bureau, Number One Enemy of Clean Water and Scenic Rivers.
In a memorandum to Oklahoma Farm Bureau's Jeremy Rich, Ericka McPherson of the Farm Bureau questions the appointment of Ed Fite to the Oklahoma Water Resources Board.
The memorandum, dated April 20, 2005, is entitled "Does a conflict of interest exist if Ed Fite serves on the OWRB and remains the Executive Director of the (Oklahoma) Scenic Rivers Commission?
This memorandum was presented by an Oklahoma State Senator at a committee meeting on Fite's appointment. The Senator reportedly stated the memo was from the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office. A.G. Drew Edmondson, who was attending the committee meeting, looked at the document and told the committee it was not from his office.
Edmondson has given an informal opinion that Ed Fite's appointment to the OWRB would not be a conflict of interest, a duel office holding.
The appointment was delayed due to the confusion caused by the memo.
So what is the Farm Bureau up to? Answer is the same old Dirty Water tricks.
The Farm Bureau's memorandum states, in part:
"As an OWRB member Ed Fite will specifically be charged with the duty of promulgating rules that will implement the duties and responsibilities of the OWRB. Ed Fite's seat on the OWRB guarantees him the opportunity to use the position to address his concerns dealing with the scenic river watershed. His potential seat on the OWRB board (sic) could create a forum for him to lobby for his stance on the .037 mg/L nonpoint source phosphorus index for the scenic watershed and will enable him to promote the position of the AG in preparation for a potential litigation involving the watershed. Is this a conflict of interest? Yes."
The memorandum further states:
"If Ed Fite sits on the OWRB, could it be financially beneficial (to) the SRC? (sic). Could the OWRB be influenced to provide additional services, like water quality monitoring, to the SRC? Yes."
The statements above demonstrate that the Oklahoma Farm Bureau is the Number One Enemy of Oklahoma Scenic Rivers and clean water.
There is no reason why an individual with the qualifications and dedication of Ed Fite should not be named to the OWRB. What is wrong with having a proponent of scenic rivers and clean water on the water board? Nothing is wrong with that! Thousands of Oklahomans would agree that clean, safe water and scenic rivers are good things.
Ed Fite gave up his law enforcement commission in order to eliminate any appearance of conflict of interest. The last minute maneuvering of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau to stifle his nomination by the Governor, is inexcusable.
Also, what is wrong with more water sampling of scenic rivers? Nothing is wrong with that unless you are afraid of what the sampling might find.
The Farm Bureau does not want a phosphorus standard for scenic rivers because it forces agriculture, notably, the poultry companies, to manage excess animal manure.
Oklahoma's innovative phosphorus standard for scenic rivers, you could easily say, was "mandated" by the citizens of our state. No other issue ever to come before the OWRB received so many letters and comments of endorsement. It was approved by the Legislature and the USEPA.
Behind the scenes, and using its slick lobbyists, the Farm Bureau opposes nutrient limits because they will affect the wallets of its corporate buddies like Tysons Foods, Simmons Poultry Company, George's, Seaboard, et al.
There are some fine people selling Farm Bureau insurance and its too bad they have to put up with the corporate dirty tricks of their company.
Its time to put our thumbs down hard on the Oklahoma Farm Bureau. If we do not, our heritage of clean water is so much manure!
Ed Brocksmith, Save the Illinois River, Inc.