Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Measure to Remove 50-Year Water Usage Goal in Oklahoma Passes Committee

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Measure to Remove 50-Year Water Usage Goal in Oklahoma Passes Committee

Article excerpt

An attempt to eliminate the state's 50-year water usage goal has less to do with policy and more with fears of the United Nations' Agenda 21 plan, the state representative pushing for the change confirmed Friday.

On Wednesday, a bill by state Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, R-Moore, to remove language from the Water 2060 Act passed a House committee. The Water 2060 Act sets the state's long-term water usage goal.

Authored by former House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, the Water 2060 Act included a provision that established a five-decade goal that capped water usage at the 2010 level.

As part of the state's Comprehensive Water Plan, the Water 2060 Act was one of several legislative components developed by lawmakers during the 2011 legislative interim. Members of a joint legislative committee spent several months meeting with officials from the state's tribal nations and the Oklahoma Water Resources Board as the water plan was written.

Wesselhoft's bill, House Bill 1562, doesn't repeal the entire act, but eliminates the 50-year goal.

Wesselhoft pushed the measure because it was ludicrous to establish a 50-year water usage goal, according to a media statement distributed by the House of Representatives.

Wesselhoft said the goal also sends a bad message in light of the ongoing lawsuit between the Tarrant Regional Water District and the OWRB.

"I think trying to set policy for 50 years in the future is not responsible," Wesselhoft said. "Obviously, we are going to work to create greater water conservation in the state, but laws setting precise goals for 2060 are simply ludicrous. Oklahoma's population a half-century from now will increase immensely and we will need much more water than the current law stipulates as a policy."

However, on Friday, Wesselhoft said he was more concerned that the goal had been part of the language in the Agenda 21 plan.

"I don't know if the language is from the United Nations or not," he said, "but it sounds very U.N.-ish to me. I couldn't be precise, but it (the water goal) sounds very familiar."

Controversial among conservative Republicans, Agenda 21 is a nonbinding and voluntary call for sustainable development. …

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