A bill that's currently before the Oklahoma Legislature would rule that animal waste, including manure and carcasses, is not a hazardous waste.
The Oklahoma Farm Bureau and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture support the bill. Those groups say the bill would prevent pork and poultry producers from having to pay extra costs of handling manure like a hazardous waste that must be specially treated.
However, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmonson has joined environmental activists, including the Sierra Club in opposing the legislation. They contend the bill protects the poultry companies that Edmonson has accused of polluting streams in northeast Oklahoma. Another concern is the legislation's potential impact on carcass disposal, specifically of animals that die disease, such as bird flu.
The bill now rests with the state Senate. If passed, it will go to the House. Last year, the House attempted to restrict Edmondson’s ability to file lawsuits on the state’s behalf. He filed such a case last year against more than a dozen poultry companies. That suit alleges that companies are sending excessive amounts of chicken litter into the Illinois River watershed between Oklahoma and Arkansas.
Farm Bureau officials say they support the proposed bill because agriculture producers want USDA to continue to regulate their operations.