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Tuesday, January 30, 2007 

More Beebe Patronage...

Well good ol Mike Beebe is at it again. First we find out that Beebe has named the drunk driving Cliff Hoofman to the State Highway Commission. Then we learn that Beebe intends to name the shady-business-dealing-donorgate-participating Maria Haley to the Economic Development Department. Then today we read that Beebe now intends to name his chief obstructionist in the Oklahoma-EPA Water Quality Debate of 2006 to be his head of Environmental Quality?

Remember this issue while Beebe was running for Governor? Well it appears he is going to name his former Deputy Attorney General for Public Protection to be his head of Enviroment Quality? How does the person who played a major role in keeping Arkansas from developing Phosphorus Quality Standards in the water become the head of Environmental Quality? This makes no sense to us...

Oh wait, sure it does...

Arkansas Stalls Pact on Water
December 16, 2003

Arkansas officials said Monday they aren't ready to agree to Oklahoma's tougher water quality standards just yet.

Officials from both states and the federal Environmental Protection Agency will meet in Dallas today to discuss Oklahoma's standards and its new phosphorus limit of 0.037 milligrams per liter of water.

Richard Greene, the EPA's regional administrator, expressed optimism that Arkansas would agree to a framework that tells Arkansas how it must get to the new 0.037 limit."

The last draft of the agreement appeared to us to be awfully close," Greene said. "I have been optimistic all along. It seems to us that we appear very near agreement."

A resolution at today's meeting in Dallas is unlikely, said Randy Young, director of the Arkansas Soil and Water Conservation Commission. Young and Marcus Devine, director of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, said they won't agree to the terms of the latest agreement. Young declined to say why he won't sign.

"It will be better for Oklahoma and the EPA to hear it from me rather than read it in the newspaper," Young said. The disagreement between Oklahoma and Arkansas started in 2001, when Oklahoma first talked of tougher water quality standards for six of the state's scenic rivers. Four of those streams, including the Illinois River, start their course westward from Arkansas.

Arkansas officials balked at Oklahoma's numeric phosphorus limit, which was approved by former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating in May 2002.

A U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1992 involving Oklahoma and Fayetteville gives downstream states the right to require upstream states to meet water quality standards at the state line.With Keating's signature, Oklahoma forwarded its water quality standards to the EPA on Nov. 1, 2002. The EPA said it would make a decision regarding the standards within 60 to 90 days.

They remain unapproved.

"We are continuing to work with both Arkansas and Oklahoma to work a framework to ultimately achieve the phosphorus level for the scenic rivers in Oklahoma," said Dave Bary, an EPA spokesman. "It couldn't be achieved in that 60- or 90-day time."

A natural substance, phosphorus is found in poultry litter, commercial fertilizers and treated sewage. At high levels, phosphorus causes algae to bloom, depletes oxygen and can kill fish and other aquatic life.

Samples taken in Oklahoma and Arkansas show the Illinois River carries phosphorus exceeding 0.037 milligrams per liter. "The longer we wait, the further south the river goes," said Ed Fite, director of the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission. "The longer we wait, the harder is it to reverse any degradation."

Thus far, talks between Arkansas and Oklahoma officials have failed to produce a consensus, with Arkansas officials saying Oklahoma's standard can't be achieved.

Arkansas Attorney General Mike Beebe last week told Greene the Oklahoma standards "could have catastrophic consequences for agriculture, industries and cities in Northwest Arkansas." In the six-page letter, Beebe describes the Oklahoma's water standards as submitted to the EPA as "not based upon sound science."

Beebe in the Dec. 9 letter said Oklahoma should have performed an economic analysis regarding the impact of the water quality standards.

Charlie Price, a spokesman for Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson, said Arkansas should sign.

"We don't see any obstacles to them signing," Price said.

Kelly Hunter Burch, the environmental protection unit chief for the Oklahoma attorney general's office, and Teresa Marks, Arkansas deputy attorney general in charge of the public protection division, will attend today's meeting in Dallas, spokesmen said.

Arkansas has taken some steps to better the rivers. Bentonville, Fayetteville, Rogers, Siloam Springs and Springdale have promised to limit the phosphorus in treated sewage that's discharged into rivers to one milligram per liter. Arkansas has approved three new laws regarding farming practices and how poultry litter is spread on farm fields. Arkansas officials also have joined hands with Oklahoma officials as they try to figure ways to use excess poultry litter produced in Northwest Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma differently. They are looking into such things as burning litter to produce heat for chicken houses, and ways to cost-effectively transport litter to areas where it could be used as fertilizer without jeopardizing streams.

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