Arkansas failed to support poultry industry claims

by Bryan Salvage
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OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson claims in a new court document the state of Arkansas has "utterly failed" to support the poultry industry's claim that bird litter is not a hazardous substance under federal environmental law, according to The Associated Press.

Mr. Edmondson is suing thirteen Arkansas-based poultry companies in federal court for allegedly polluting the Illinois River watershed. Over-application of poultry litter there could be a danger to human health, he claims. A trial is expected to begin in September.

In February, Arkansas submitted a motion to file an amicus brief supporting the companies, which claims that litter is a valuable fertilizer and that its use already is regulated by both Oklahoma and Arkansas. Mr. Edmondson, however, argued against admitting the brief in a response filed April 1, saying it would not be "analytically useful."

Mr. Edmondson wrote, "Simply put, aside from a bald, unsubstantiated and wholly uninformative assertion about its environmental programs, the state of Arkansas has identified no unique information or perspective that can help the court beyond the help that the lawyers for the parties are able to provide."

Submitted by Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, the Arkansas motion claimed that the history of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, Environmental Protection Agency regulations and "sound science" did not support "Oklahoma's contention that poultry litter is a hazardous substance."

Oklahoma will let the brief speak for itself, said Charlie Price, a spokesman for Mr. Edmondson.

Companies named in the lawsuit include Tyson Foods Inc., Tyson Poultry Inc., Tyson Chicken Inc., Cobb-Vantress Inc., Cal-Maine Foods Inc., Cargill Inc., Cargill Turkey Production L.L.C., George's Inc., George's Farms Inc., Peterson Farms Inc., Simmons Foods Inc., Cal-Maine Farms Inc. and Willow Brook Foods Inc.

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