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[Archived] Environmental agencies might face questioning

| Environment | January 04, 2014

A law maker wants to make sure that the poultry industry is being treated fairly. Is this another stall tactic by an industry that is facing litigation? 

From the Tulsa World
By MICK HINTON World Capitol Bureau 4/13/2005 OKLAHOMA CITY -- A state senator confirmed Tuesday that he wants to convene a special legislative meeting with state environmental agencies to make sure they are not unfairly targeting the poultry industry. Sen. Richard Lerblance, D-Hartshorne, filed a Senate concurrent resolution questioning whether environmental agencies have failed to address water-quality standards in the Illinois River watershed and some tributaries appropriately. Concerns were brought to him by John Ward, a lobbyist for the Poultry Federation of Arkansas, Missouri & Oklahoma, Lerblance said. "Here we have the litter issue," he said. "There is a certain amount of skepticism" about how much poultry is to blame. "There's a lot of things that have the ability to flow into water streams," including materials from tar pits in northeastern Oklahoma and also abandoned mines. Lerblance said he thinks his resolution will be heard in the Legislature this week. Meanwhile, Attorney General Drew Edmondson is resuming negotiations with the poultry in dustry over phosphorus levels. He had threatened to sue the industry after a bill was filed that could have curbed his powers to file lawsuits, but that bill was withdrawn. Also Tuesday, the Oklahoma Conservation Commission briefed lawmakers on its five-year water quality project on Beaty Creek, which showed a 14 percent reduction of phosphorus entering the Lake Eucha-Spavinaw watershed, a water source for Tulsa. Two-thirds of the phosphorus loading in the Beaty Creek basin comes from Arkansas, said J.D. Strong, chief of staff of the Office of the Secretary of the Environment. Oklahoma allows a maximum phosphorus concentration of 300 pounds per acre, based on the amount land can absorb. Arkansas does not set limitations but bases the amount of phosphorus allowed on terrain and other factors. Oklahoma State University says the maximum amount of phosphorus needed to grow vegetation is 120 pounds per acre, Strong said. Secretary of State Susan Savage, a former Tulsa mayor, questioned why the Conservation Commission did not attribute the phosphorus overloading problem primarily to the poultry industry. Commission officials said the phosphorus problems are linked to poultry litter but also to beef and dairy production and some septic tanks.