Calling the bill "a tremendous step to protect the quality of Oklahoma's precious water supply," Gov. Frank Keating Wednesday signed the "Oklahoma Registered Poultry Feeding Operations Act," saying he still wishes the industry had to bear the cost of regulation.
Senate Bill 1170 is the first legislation of its kind in the nation, establishing guidelines for regulating the poultry industry. However, it levies no regulatory fees on poultry operations.
"It's an environmental issue, a health issue, a business issue and a quality of life issue for eastern Oklahoma," the governor said. Keating said Oklahoma is leading the way in addressing the problems of poultry waste and its impact on the environment. "I would have preferred to see the cost of regulation be paid by the polluters and not the public, but even without the fees this is still a very strong, pro-environment bill and I am happy to sign it," the governor said. Environment Secretary Brian Griffin said he is also disappointed that taxpayers rather than large poultry companies will pay regulatory costs. "I am, nevertheless, pleased with the Legislature's tenacity in accomplishing this significant milestone in our efforts to protect eastern Oklahoma's treasured water resources," said Griffin. The secretary chaired the Governor's Animal Waste and Water Quality Protection Task Force, whose recommendations formed the basis for much of Senate Bill 1170. "The rest of the nation, including the federal Environmental Protection Agency, is looking carefully at what we in Oklahoma are doing to establish effective laws to regulate the burgeoning swine and poultry industries," said Griffin. …