Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Greater Good

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson (pictured at right) has repeatedly taken the position that his job is to protect the citizens and resources of our great state --- his position is a personal conviction and is inherent in his constitutional oath of office.

I am very pleased that his walk matches his talk and that he continues to pursue every option available to protect our water resources for the greater good of the people of Oklahoma.

I was incensed when a State Senate Committee this week passed a measure that declared that animal waste is not hazardous. (Thank you Senator Jim Wilson, D-Tahlequah, for voting no on the measure.) Let's hope SB 709 gets the boot in front of the full Senate.

Let's make sure that anyone who personally benefits from or directly represents the poultry producers does the right thing and abstains from this vote on the floor. (Read about SB 709 here. )

From accounts I've seen and heard of the debate, this measure was forwarded to protect big poultry companies and to provide them legal cover in disposal of massive amounts of chicken litter, particularly in eastern Oklahoma. This was a huge issue in the 2006 elections for Edmondson but the people determined that they prefer clean water and politicians who protect their water supply over those who pander to poultry producers.

We should be very wary when the fox approaches the henhouse and when politicians fail to uphold their constitutional duty to protect the people. Sen. Ron Justice, R-Chickasha, a former ag teacher, debated that this would protect farmers and ranchers from having to erect hazardous waste barriers around an accidentally misplaced cow patty from their stock trailers....hogwash. This was to protect our citizens and our water from further contamination. That is why AG Edmondson has sued, on behalf of the citizens of Oklahoma, 11 poultry companies, including Tyson, for their practice of using excess chicken litter as fertilizer which is polluting eastern Oklahoma watersheds.

(I have some personal experience raising chickens on the farm, we raised 200 Cornish Rock chicks annually and I can tell you that even that small number created a significant amount of litter. At the same time the water provided to us from the Rural Water District was not safe to drink for pregnant women or nursing mothers due to the high nitrate levels. And this was in western Oklahoma. The real underlying issue at hand, however, is the misuse of poultry litter from massive broiler operations in eastern Oklahoma. If done properly and under very strict guidelines the practice could be acceptable, but if it is not controlled and monitored properly the watershed will be contaminated beyond repair, if it isn't already.)

Thank you General Edmondson for doing the right thing for the greater good. Thank you, General Edmondson for insisting on accountability and responsibility from those who pollute our water and destroy our rivers.

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