It's been three years, but we still don't have an agreement," Edmondson said. "We still hope for a negotiated agreement, but while we sit and hope, the pollution is still occurring. Filing this suit put us one step closer to finally resolving this issue...Drew Edmondson, Oklahoma Attorney General.
With poultry lawsuit, AG proves he's not playing chicken
By Rachel Jackson
(LIN) The Oklahoma Farm Bureau was not surprised when Attorney General Drew Edmondson filed a federal lawsuit against 14 poultry companies, including two of the nation's largest.
The complaint alleges violation of the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act, state and federal nuisance laws, trespass and Oklahoma environmental quality and agriculture codes.
"This is about large monetary settlements and not about solving environmental issues," said Steve Kouplen, president of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau. "The AG is focused on solving only one portion of the problem and not every contributing entity because the potential deep pockets of the poultry companies."
Oklahoma has been working with Arkansas for several years to develop a joint watershed plan that was outlined in a Statement of Joint Principles and Actions that both states signed in December 2003.
" A news release from the Oklahoma Farm Bureau said farmers are concerned the AG's office is spending taxpayers' funds to attack an Oklahoma industry. In recent weeks the attorney general's office has used state resources to place water quality monitoring devices in Oklahoma and Arkansas for the purpose of gathering information for this lawsuit.
Mason Mungle, who is in charge of legislation/cooperative development for the Oklahoma Farmers Union, said this is an issue the association has been monitoring all spring and will continue discussing.
Mungle also said it is his hope that this can be settled without the lawsuit because it will be expensive for everyone and have a major impact on the growers.
Edmondson said, "We will defer issuance of summons for a brief period to see if continued talks have any promise for settlement."
Kouplen said, "We believe the solutions already exist to solve any dispute over water quality in the state and therefore a lawsuit is unnecessary."
The Legislature and governor took action this spring on the issue with HB 1014, by Rep. John Auffet, D-Stilwell, and Sen. Jim Wilson, D-Tahlequah.
The measure extends for three years, to Dec. 31, 2008, the expiration date for tax credits for the purchase and transportation of poultry litter. The tax credit is a $5 per ton for moving litter out of nutrient limited watersheds.
Mungle said the expansion of the credit is great because poultry litter is a good soil nutrient and finding other ways to use it will be a benefit.