Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Okla. Attorney General Drew Edmondson Talks Poultry Litter Pollution

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Okla. Attorney General Drew Edmondson Talks Poultry Litter Pollution

Article excerpt

Watching his father's team lose a case before the U.S. Supreme Court made a lasting impression on Drew Edmondson.

Edmondson recounted the case during his appearance Friday at the eighth annual conference of the Oklahoma Sustainability Network at the University of Central Oklahoma. The conference was held Friday and Saturday.

Friday's discussion focused on business and governmental interests, including topics of commercial and residential development, marketing, agriculture, energy, sustainable business strategies, government policy and private markets. Edmondson focused on past and current Oklahoma issues with poultry litter pollution.

In the 1980s, former U.S. Rep. Ed Edmondson of Muskogee - father of current Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson - threw his weight in with then state Attorney General Robert Henry and Assistant Attorney General Robert Butkin in the effort to protect the Illinois River from pollution by means of a lawsuit against the city of Fayetteville, Ark.

Fayetteville was diverting a portion of its wastewater discharge out of the White River into the Illinois River. The group calling itself STIR - Save The Illinois River - accused Fayetteville of phosphorous-loading the river.

The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling provided a valuable precedent, finding that entities downstream may impose their water quality standards on entities upstream. But Oklahoma officially lost the lawsuit.

"We hadn't done our homework, the studies on discharge and levels," Drew Edmondson said. "We didn't want to be caught without our facts ever again."

In 2005, Drew Edmondson sued a group of Arkansas poultry producers. Poultry waste is running off into the Illinois River watershed, polluting the water with excess phosphorous, Edmondson said. His attorneys have spent $25 million to prepare for the case, gathering samples, aerial photography and a host of test results. But even with all the research at his disposal, Edmondson said, proving the full extent and effects of the pollution is a challenge. …

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