Now representatives of the Oklahoma operations of the Poultry Federation of Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma are pushing the Legislature to compel state environmental agencies to produce documents and testimony supporting their actions in enforcing the State Scenic Rivers Act..."Tulsa World"
By World's Editorial Writers
Lawmakers still after Edmondson
The campaign to keep Attorney General Drew Edmondson from going after the poultry industry over pollution problems is not over, even though a bill that would have done just that died in the state Senate.
Now representatives of the Oklahoma operations of the Poultry Federation of Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma are pushing the Legislature to compel state environmental agencies to produce documents and testimony supporting their actions in enforcing the State Scenic Rivers Act.
The effect of that is to help the poultry industry to prepare a defense for Edmondson's lawsuit. It instructs the attorney general's client, the state of Oklahoma, to perform "discovery" for the industry.
State Sen. Richard Lerblance, D-McAlester, and state Rep. Don Armes, R-Faxon, offered the concurrent resolution clearly at the behest of the industry's lobbyists.
The suggestion is that state agencies are at fault for failing to control pollution that Edmondson believes comes mostly from poultry operations.
Edmondson has threatened to sue poultry processors that he says should better manage poultry litter, which, if applied excessively, to the land degrades downstream waterways. A bill that would have prevented him from filing such a lawsuit without the permission of the governor or the Legislature was passed by the state House of Representatives before being killed in the Senate judiciary committee.
Whether these agencies have been diligent enough in their attempt to control pollution is beside the point. Maybe they have, maybe they haven't, but that shouldn't determine the attorney general's course of action.
The likelihood is the activities of these agencies to control the pollution have been overwhelmed by the rapid growth of poultry operations in Arkansas and Oklahoma. That is why the Oklahoma attorney general must have the authority to take legal steps to confront the water-quality problems.
One of the resolution's authors said there are other possible polluters who should bear responsibility for pollution. He apparently isn't aware that research shows the majority of pollution comes from poultry operations. The main contributors obviously should be the primary targets.
Clearly the poultry industry isn't going to give up on efforts to get its way. It's a sad day for the state when its leaders are more interested in protecting big corporations than some of the state's most valuable assets.
One Tulsa lawmaker characterized the ongoing dispute as a "rural versus urban" conflict. That's not exactly accurate, because all Oklahomans have a stake in preserving eastern Oklahoma's beautiful lakes and rivers.