Out-of-state water sales and eminent domain may no longer be opposed by OKFB
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE OCTOBER 12, 2015
ANTLERS, OK – Proposed changes to Oklahoma Farm Bureau water policy signal a shocking reversal on the insurance company’s stance on the out-of-state sale of water and private property. Oklahomans for Responsible Water Policy is alarmed that these changes are an effort by the Farm Bureau to drive the Oklahoma legislature to enact eminent domain to capture, store, sell, and transport water out of state by taking private property.
‘Eminent domain’ is used by governments to seize land from landowners against their will. However if approved, OKFB water policy will no longer ‘oppose the use of eminent domain in the proposed sale of water from Oklahoma to Texas.’ Further, they will no longer prohibit the use of eminent domain ‘for the purpose of constructing dams, pipelines, lakes or diversions for moving water out of state.’
Charlette Hearne, President of Oklahomans for Responsible Water Policy, stated, “In the past, we worked with Farm Bureau to prevent the transport of Oklahoma’s water out of state. However, it seems with the new Farm Bureau leadership that the company is seeking ways to sell water to Texas, even if that means taking land away from fellow Oklahomans to get it done. The proposed Farm Bureau policy change is against the interests of Oklahomans, our children, and our neighbors in the Arkansas River and Red River Compacts.”
For future generations, Oklahomans for Responsible Water Policy fiercely argues that the management of the state’s most precious resource be guided by science – not political motives. As clearly outlined in the state’s 2012 Comprehensive Water Plan, the true availability of water for each of Oklahoma’s 82 watersheds has yet to be calculated. For instance, Oklahoma is one of two western states in the country that has not enacted a statewide instream flow program. Instream flow studies measure stream flow to help balance the cultural, social, recreational, economic, and environmental water needs of the local citizens before their water supply is sold to outside interests.
However, Farm Bureau’s proposals illustrate that local landowners, government and schools are no longer a concern to them. The company proposes to stop advocating that ‘schools and local governments shall have the right to tax pipelines, dams, lakes and any other structures that are used in any way for moving water out-of-state…’. Such a change in policy is rather repugnant, especially given that Oklahoma’s budget, schools and teachers are currently facing a crisis unmatched in the state’s history.
The Farm Bureau will vote to accept the new water policies at their annual convention November 13-15th. Make your voice heard by contacting your county Farm Bureau office. The recent record-busting, 4-year drought and the current extreme drought gripping Southeastern Oklahoma should be evidence enough that selling water to Texas is not only shortsighted, it is irresponsible.
2015 OKFB Water Committee Report
To see the changes to OKFB water policy proposed by OKFB Water Committee, visit www.orwp.net/press/OKFB_Water_2015.pdf