Tahlequah Daily Press

March 14, 2014

Are chicken feathers the issue?


TAHLEQUAH — Editor, Daily Press:

Oklahoma Congressman Markwayne Mullin has caused concern among those trying to protect Oklahoma Scenic Rivers and Lake Tenkiller. These waters are polluted by nutrients including phosphorus and bacteria, and the U.S. EPA is trying to find a scientific solution.

Mullin has elected the EPA as his bogeyman. He attacked EPA on the House floor. He met in Arkansas with employees and executives of a poultry company sued by Oklahoma for polluting the Illinois River.

A Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) pollution study is required by the federal Clean Water Act for all impaired streams and lakes. You might think of a TMDL as a pollution diet for the watershed. Arkansas and Oklahoma failed to conduct a TMDL and EPA decided it would do its own study in cooperation with the states. This study is underway (www.epa.gov/region6/water/ npdes/illinoisriverwatershed/index.html).

Ultra-conservative officials, including Oklahoma’s attorney general, have sided with farm lobbyists who oppose the TMDL to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

Congressman Mullin should tell us if he will support the EPA’s study of Illinois River watershed pollution. Or will he try to scuttle it at the urging of the poultry industry, agriculture industry lobbyists, and northwest Arkansas developers and cities? It’s almost a given that these entities, the “Dirty Water Lobby,” will fight the Illinois River TMDL to protect the poultry industry and business as usual.

I would also ask Mullin what EPA did to his family that warrants his intense criticism of EPA and how did “a few feathers” result in alleged EPA harassment of his chicken-farmer grandfather?

Mullin has said he has witnessed the deterioration of water quality in Northeastern Oklahoma. What does he believe caused that deterioration? Chicken feathers?

Ed Brocksmith