FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 9, 2015
ANTLERS, OK – The Oklahoma Farm Bureau used to stand against selling Oklahoma water and using eminent domain to take what they want from Oklahomans; this is changing.
The changes will now be voted upon in a single vote by delegates at Farm Bureau’s annual meeting in Oklahoma City on November 14th. You can protest these changes by calling your local Farm Bureau office.
Charlette Hearne, President of Oklahomans for Responsible Water Policy (ORWP), exposes the intent of Farm Bureau by saying, “The unpatriotic reversal by Farm Bureau on their water policy signals that they are unsatisfied with the positive progress that is being made in addressing Oklahoma’s water issues. Under Governor Mary Fallin’s leadership and the Water for 2060 Act, Oklahoma is exploring ways to recycle, reuse, and conserve water to the benefit of all Oklahomans. However, Oklahoma Farm Bureau has refused to participate in these discussions. Instead, Farm Bureau is attempting to hijack the conversation on Oklahoma’s water future to push their selfish agenda on out-of-state water sales and interstate water pipelines.”
Oklahoma’s projected budget shortfall is about $1 billion this year, and Oklahoma Farm Bureau is suggesting to our legislature that we plug that hole by mortgaging Oklahoma’s future to another state.
However, former Oklahoma District Judge and current Vice-President of ORWP, Rick Branam, warns, “Once you turn that valve on, you won’t find a judge who will make you turn it off. If the people down in Texas become dependent on drinking water sold to them by Oklahoma, then Oklahoma will be forced to provide that water to Texas forever.”
Oklahoma Farm Bureau’s attempt to reverse their water policy exposes their blatant disregard for ongoing scientific studies on the Red and Arkansas Rivers, tribal rights claims, healthy aquatic ecosystems, interstate water compacts, and the rural economies and small businesses that rely solely upon water-based recreation, farming and ranching.
Interstate compacts with Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana, upheld by the US Supreme Court, strictly prohibit Oklahoma from immorally hoarding water from its downstream neighbors and selling it back to them at open auction. Simply put, Farm Bureau’s proposed plan has no moral, legal, or scientific foundation.
Jimmy George, a float-operator at Beaver’s Bend State Park, sharply pointed out, “Why do they think that they can transport water across the state when we couldn’t get water from Broken Bow Lake to Broken Bow the town during the last flood? We went several days without drinking water, and the quality of drinking water has been a serious issue all year for the entire southeast and south-central part of the state. We should be maintaining the infrastructure we have for our own people, not building new infrastructure for Texas.”
Members of ORWP dispute the “surplus mentality” of Farm Bureau’s Tom Buchanan and others like him who believe that if water is running through a spillway somewhere that it’s being wasted or is “surplus” and, thus, needs to be sold.
Bo Cox, an ORWP member from Norman, OK, challenges those in that camp to donate their “surplus money” – their savings accounts and retirement funds – to the budget shortfall, thereby shining a new light on their surplus myth.
“If they really believe that water that runs over dams is surplus, or extra, and needs to be sold, then they can set an example by looking in their own checkbooks or bank accounts for the ‘extra’ and donating that! This is no less insane than thinking that because ponds and lakes are finally full after a wet year it’s a good idea to start putting a dollar sign on water. This is similar to the folks who, about a hundred years ago, thought it was okay to plow up the prairie with no regard for anything except profit, resulting in what we now know as the dust bowl,” Cox said.
To see the entire Oklahoma Farm Bureau’s resolution committee report cited in this article, visit: www.orwp.net/press/OKFB_Water_2015.pdf.