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[Archived] Arkansas to sue Oklahoma over poultry issue

| News | November 03, 2005

Beebe Files Complaint Against Oklahoma

By Laura Bruegge
Arkansas Business
Thursday, November 03, 2005

Arkansas Attorney General Mike Beebe filed a petition Thursday urging the U.S. Supreme Court to take action against the state of Oklahoma.

The petition claims Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson is spoiling the cooperative terms reached in the Arkansas River Basin Compact, which was formed between the two states in 1970.

“Through a lawsuit, the state of Oklahoma is trying to impose its laws on Arkansas citizens and companies,” Arkansas Attorney General Mike Beebe said in a news release. “There are already provisions in place to improve water quality in the Arkansas River Basin, and Oklahoma should respect our progress in addressing these issues instead of trying to force Arkansas farmers and other businesses to abide by Oklahoma law.”

The controversy involves a 1 million-acre shared watershed of the Arkansas River Basin. Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson filed a lawsuit in June against 14 poultry companies that operate in northwest Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma, including Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale, George's Inc. of Springdale, Simmons Foods Inc. of Siloam Springs and Peterson Farms Inc. of Decatur. The lawsuit claims that runoff from the improper handling of poultry waste has polluted Oklahoma streams and lakes. Edmondson amended the complaint in August.

Beebe said Oklahoma’s lawsuit has the potential to impact businesses statewide facing water quality issues.

“Despite the actions taken under the compact and individually, Oklahoma apparently remains unsatisfied with the commission’s and Arkansas’ attempts to address these water quality concerns from agricultural runoff,” the petition states. “Rather than proceeding pursuant to the compact, however, Oklahoma has taken unilateral action aimed at abating alleged pollution emanating from Arkansas.