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AFR opposes Senate version Clean Water Restoration Act

Oklahoma

American Farmers & Ranchers, a general farm organization and mutual insurance company based in Oklahoma City, supports clean water but not the U.S. Senate Environment and Publics Works Committee version of the reauthorization act.

"We do not believe this legislation adds value to rural America and we are concerned this legislation could infringe on private property rights," said AFR President Terry Detrick. "What this bill does do is to broaden the scope and authority by the federal government over water issues. The exemptions for agriculture provided in the amendment process do not address many of the issues relative to rural areas."

On June 18, the Environment and Public Works Committee completed work on and passed out of committee S.787, the Clean Water Restoration Act. To attempt to address agriculture concerns, an amendment was offered and adopted to provide various agriculture exemptions. AFR says it did not go far enough.

"At a time when Oklahoma is going through a multi-year process of developing a comprehensive water plan for our citizens to determine the fate of our water, we feel this legislation could turn too much authority over to the federal government and usurp local control and the authority of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board," stated Detrick.

The Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan is now in the third phase of developing a 50-year water plan for the State of Oklahoma. The next phase is a town hall meeting with 150 members of the Oklahoma Academy for State Goals in 2010. Detrick is a member of the Academy along with AFR in-house general counsel Anita Poole. In the final phase of the public participation process, 11 meetings will be held across the state to gather responses to the draft water plan. The final plan, written by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, is scheduled to be presented in 2011 to the legislature and governor.

Detrick also commended Oklahoma U.S. Senator James Inhofe and his leadership on the issue. Inhofe is a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee and opposed the proposed legislation.

"We want to thank Senator Inhofe for his stance for Oklahoma agriculture and his continued effort to maximize local control and protect private property rights," Detrick concluded.



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