Buffalo River 


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  • 23 Mar 2019 8:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    MASTERSON ONLINE: Senate and Farm Bureau in lockstep

    by Mike Masterson | Today at 1:56 a.m.

    Wow! Did you see how most of our elected senators fell right into lockstep last week with former dairy farmer Senator Gary Stubblefield's terrible bill (aka the Superfluous Stubblefield Stinker) who is carrying water for the Arkansas Farm Bureau?

    Looks to me as if far too few complacent Arkansans have made their voices heard in Stubblefield and company's latest attempt to needlessly circumvent the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (cough) in favor of handing regulatory oversight over hog factories to the woefully unprepared Arkansas Natural Resources Commission and local Soil Conservation Districts.

    And now federal environmental regulators rightfully are reviewing this truly onerous piece of lawmaking as it heads over to the House. Has anyone asked why the Farm Bureau and Stubblefield felt it the least bit necessary to develop and push such unjustifiable legislation? Let's all think real hard on that.

    Short of turning our obviously lobbyist-compliant state government completely over to the Farm Bureau, there's still time for you to contact your state representative where this contrived legislative end run around our existing laws was next headed as of last week, as well as reaching out to the governor's office. Survival of our popular and beloved National Buffalo River is up to you now, valued readers.

  • 22 Mar 2019 7:34 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Protect environment

    Everyone who breathes air and drinks water cares about Arkansas Senate Bill 550--which would transfer hog and other farm permitting authority from one state agency to another and allow people applying for manure waste system permits to waive public notification requirements--no matter what work you do or how you live. It affects the basics for survival in this world.

    As individuals, we should not consider giving up our health and well-being for money or power. If we don't, as a society, change our attitudes and expectations for our lives, we will never be happy. We will never conquer the things that bring us down. Say hello to more stress and resulting disease. They are the friends of misplaced priorities.

    Farmers, non-farmers, everybody: Protect our environment.


    Little Rock

  • 22 Mar 2019 7:33 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Protect our resources

    Please stop Senate Bill 550.

    We must protect all water quality in Arkansas. Protecting the Buffalo and its watershed is important on so many levels. But this bill will put all Arkansas watersheds, rivers, lakes and streams in jeopardy.

    This bill, backed of course by the powerful shortsighted Farm Bureau of which we are members, is not in the best interests of Arkansas or the people who live here.

    Look to the other states that have had their water quality decimated by ill-advised policies on this very issue. They are shutting down the operations after the water has been compromised.

    Arkansas should lead the country in protecting natural resources, especially something as essential as water.



  • 21 Mar 2019 7:14 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Bill to change how Arkansas farms get permits draws EPA review

    Effect on federal rules, enforcement seen at issue in state-authority switch

    by Emily Walkenhorst | Today at 4:30 a.m.

    Federal environmental regulators are reviewing an Arkansas Senate bill that would change how hog farms and other farms are permitted, concerned that it might have implications for the Clean Water Act and the state's implementation of that act.

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 6 Administrator Anne Idsal wrote a letter to Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality Director Becky Keogh, dated Wednesday, stating that an initial review of the bill showed that it "merits further evaluation to determine its effect" on federal rules and enforcement.

    Senate Bill 550, sponsored by Sen. Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch, would transfer "concentrated animal feeding operation" permitting authority from the state Department of Environmental Quality to the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission. The commission would decide whether to permit farms' liquid waste management systems and would issue permits approved by local conservation districts for liquid waste disposal. The commission also could overturn the disapproval of a disposal permit or a disapproval of part of one.

    Currently, the commission reviews liquid waste disposal plans, formally called "nutrient management plans," and determines whether they meet the commission's standards. The plans are then submitted as part of farms' operating permit applications to the Department of Environmental Quality.

    Stubblefield and the Arkansas Farm Bureau, which initiated the bill, said Wednesday that they did not believe the review would find that the bill would violate federal laws.

    "The proposed law only pertains to state regulations not federal law, therefore EPA should say this is a state matter," Stubblefield wrote in an email to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

    The department stood by its previously raised concerns.

    "ADEQ agrees with EPA that SB550 raises concerns regarding potential impacts to state programs and ADEQ's delegated authority to protect water quality," the department said in a statement to the newspaper. "The Arkansas program to protect water quality must remain at least as stringent as federal requirements and this bill does not provide adequate assurances that it will satisfy EPA requirements.”

    The EPA did not immediately respond to telephone and email requests for comment Wednesday.

    Critics of the bill, which include environmental groups and water utilities, have expressed concern that environmental regulations and protections would be weakened under the bill, despite assurances from supporters that all regulations would remain intact. The bill does not state that current regulations must remain in place, but supporters have argued that that is implied.

    The bill is necessary, supporters say, because hog farmers must have their nutrient management plans approved by the commission and their operating permits approved by the department, meaning they must go through two agencies. One critic noted Tuesday that if the bill becomes law, the department may still be in charge of construction permits for farms that cover a certain amount of acreage.

    In the one-page EPA letter, Idsal wrote that the bill, if adopted, "would receive a review from EPA to determine whether the State program possesses adequate authority to issue permits that ensure compliance with the requirements of the Clean Water Act."

    Further, an initial review necessitates that the EPA consider the bill's "potential issues related to transferring authorities to another department in the State.

    "Specifically, SB550 may implicate federal requirements addressing discharges from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) into waters of the US, including permitting and public notice requirements, as well as requirements for unpermitted operations.”

    The letter refers to the Clean Water Act's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program and the state's "delegated authority to protect water quality."

    Currently, only one farm has a permit under the state's implementation of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program. That farm, C&H Hog Farms in Newton County, is operating under an expired permit but has applied for a state no-discharge permit and a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit to continue operating.

    All other hog farms are permitted under Regulation 5, which concerns no-discharge permits and implements the Arkansas Water and Air Pollution Control Act. Some dairy farms are permitted under Regulation 5. Poultry farms generally do not require permits but have their nutrient management plans reviewed and approved by conservation districts.

    John Bailey, environmental and regulatory affairs manager for the Arkansas Farm Bureau, said Wednesday that the Farm Bureau would not support the bill if it also transferred National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits to the commission.

    "I think it's clear to me in the letter that she hasn't seen Senate Bill 550," Bailey said.

    The bill doesn't specifically refer to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. It does mention the Arkansas Water and Air Pollution Control Act in one section that refers to noncompliant activities being subject to regulation under the law. Permitting is referred to in other sections.

    The letter refers to "public notice requirements," which can be waived by the applicant under the bill.

    Numerous critics of the bill have said that would keep the public in the dark about any farm applications.

    Bailey said Wednesday that applicants would be able to waive only the timeliness requirement, which says that regulators must make or notice decisions within a certain time period. That's how current law is written, but it states that applicants can waive the "timeliness requirement," while the proposed bill states that applicants can waive the "notification period requirements."

    Many have interpreted the new language to mean any notification period requirements can be waived, including the requirement to notify the public.

    When asked why the bill changes that language if it retains the same intent, Bailey said the Farm Bureau was told by the Bureau of Legislative Research that the new phrase was safer legally.

    The EPA routinely reviews state policies regarding federal programs, as well as permits and permit modifications classified as "major." The EPA must approve a state's ability to implement federal programs, such as the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. Otherwise, the EPA would control the program's operation in the state.

    In 2013, a previous Region 6 administration temporarily revoked Arkansas' ability to issue National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits after a state law changed how the state calculates water flow affecting utilities and industries. Lawmakers later repealed Act 954 to regain permitting authority.

    Staff members explained to commissioners during the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission's meeting Wednesday that the agency would not take a position on the bill.

    "We are ready to accept that challenge if it's brought to us," commission Executive Director Bruce Holland told commissioners.

    Commissioners would adopt any pertinent regulations, if the bill became law. Holland said he would recommend that commissioners adopt the regulations as they exist at the Department of Environmental Quality.

    Bailey said the Farm Bureau would oppose efforts to adopt anything other than the current regulations.

    Other concerns raised about the bill include a less accessible complaint process before the commission; a lack of a third-party rule-making process at the commission; the potential for weaker regulations to expose drinking water sources to excess algae-causing phosphorus; a history of pollution related to excess poultry waste in the Illinois River watershed; and fear that C&H Hog Farms could apply for another permit from the commission and remain open in spite of an order to close by the Department of Environmental Quality.

    Supporters of the bill have said C&H must continue its current permit application, which they say would remain under the department's purview until litigation regarding it is resolved.

  • 21 Mar 2019 6:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Arkansas Times

    Governor expresses resistance to shift of pig waste regulation

    Posted By Max Brantley on Thu, Mar 21, 2019 at 3:23 PM

      Gov. Asa Hutchinson has weighed in with resistance to the Farm Bureau legislation to ease regulation of liquid animal waste from the likes of factory hog farms by shifting oversight from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to the farmer-friendly Arkansas Natural Resources Commission.

      The move would end a strict state agency-controlled permitting process, end strict public notice requirements and otherwise provide a regulatory scheme far less burdensome to the manure producers.

      Hutchinson's statement is not surprising. It follows comments by his appointee as head of Natural Resources, former Republican Sen. Bruce Holland, who said if his agency did take over regulation he'd want it to adopt regulations mirroring those at ADEQ, a prospect the Farm Bureau does not find pleasing.

      He issued this statement, first reported on Twitter by KATV:

      "It is important that adequate protections remain in place so that we can continue our diligent work to protect the Buffalo National River. Historically, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) has been the agency of record for this type of permitting, and they already have the necessary expertise in place to make a determination on a Regulation 5 application. I am confident in the current process at ADEQ, and I continue to have reservations with regard to SB550 and the transfer of Regulation 5 permitting authority from the ADEQ to the Arkansas Natural Resource Commission (ANRC). I will continue to monitor this legislation closely.”

    • 21 Mar 2019 6:38 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


      LITTLE ROCK (KATV) — An effort to move regulatory authority on liquid livestock waste permits over to another state entity is causing a stink at the Arkansas State Capitol.

      SB550, filed by Rep. Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch, would transfer permitting authority from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission.

      The Central Arkansas Water system is opposing this bill because it doesn’t guarantee the same standards and protocols will be used.

      “The bill as its currently written doesn't really restrict where it can go," said Randy Easley, CAW’s Director of Water Quality." "We're concerned about our watershed so potentially those liquid waste could then be put in other areas particularly of interest to drinking water utilities that are more sensitive to some pollutants."

      On Wednesday, the director of ADEQ received a letter from the United States Environmental Protection Agency stating they were keeping a close eye on the legislation. The letter also states that if adopted, the EPA would need to further review if the state program possesses adequate authority to issue permits while still complying with the Clean Water Act.

      An ADEQ spokesperson told KATV they’re also concerned and released this statement:

      “ADEQ has a number of significant and technical concerns about SB550. ADEQ agrees with EPA that SB550 raises concerns regarding potential impacts to state programs and ADEQ's delegated authority to protect water quality. The Arkansas program to protect water quality must remain at least as stringent as federal requirements and this bill does not provide adequate assurances that it will satisfy EPA requirements.”

      The Arkansas Farm Bureau, who is pushing for this legislation, claims it’s about making the permitting process easier for hog, dairy and poultry farmers.

      "We've had farmers for the last 15-20 years looking to see a simplification in their permitting process,” said AFB’s governmental relations spokesperson, Matt King. “We're not talking about reducing any regulations or anything like that. Right now you have farmers who have both a hog farm and poultry farm and even some dairies that are having to go to one agency to get this permit, another agency to get another permit."

      On Thursday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson released a statement and said he has reservations about changing the current process.

      "It is important that adequate protections remain in place so that we can continue our diligent work to protect the Buffalo National River. Historically, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) has been the agency of record for this type of permitting, and they already have the necessary expertise in place to make a determination on a Regulation 5 application. I am confident in the current process at ADEQ, and I continue to have reservations with regard to SB550 and the transfer of Regulation 5 permitting authority from the ADEQ to the Arkansas Natural Resource Commission (ANRC). I will continue to monitor this legislation closely.” 

      SB550 passed through the Arkansas Senate on Tuesday. 

    • 20 Mar 2019 7:29 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


      Arkansas farm-permits bill progresses; authority shift given Senate nod

      by Emily Walkenhorst 

      A bill that would transfer hog and other farm permitting authority from one state agency to another passed in the Arkansas Senate on Tuesday after a brief discussion over whether the bill says what its sponsor claims it says.

      Senate Bill 550 amends current law focused primarily on dry animal litter and poultry farms, gives the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission the responsibility to issue concentrated animal feeding operation permits, and gives decision-making power to local conservation districts on manure disposal permits. That authority is currently under the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.

      The bill also allows people applying for manure waste system permits to "waive" public notification requirements.

      Concentrated animal feeding operations can include dairy and other farms of certain sizes. All hog farms must get permits if they operate liquid waste management operations, which nearly all hog farms do.

      Currently, the department has more than 100 active hog farm permits, according to state data.

      Agricultural groups have favored the bill, while environmental groups and water utilities have opposed it.

      Sponsor Sen. Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch, said he introduced the bill to allow farmers who have dry poultry operations, in addition to liquid animal waste operations, to work with a single agency in the permitting process.

      The bill passed Tuesday 25-5, with three people voting present and two not voting.

      Sens. Will Bond, D-Little Rock; Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock; Keith Ingram, D-West Memphis; Mark Johnson, R-Little Rock; and Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville, voted against the bill. Sens. Eddie Cheatham, D-Crossett; Linda Chesterfield, D-Little Rock; and Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, voted present. Sens. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, and Dave Wallace, R-Leachville, did not vote.

      The House Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development is to consider the bill as a special order of business March 27.

      Stubblefield spoke for several minutes about misconceptions that he said people were emailing to senators, but two of the things Stubblefield stated were refuted by two other senators.

      Ingram took issue with Stubblefield's characterization that the Natural Resources Commission would issue the permits.

      Stubblefield has presented the bill as transferring all hog farm permitting responsibility to the commission, Ingram said, "but that's not really true." A portion of the bill stipulates that waste management permits would be determined by local conservation districts, Ingram said. Each county has a conservation district.

      The commission could only affirm or overturn a conservation district decision to deny an application or to deny a portion of the application, according to the bill's language, Ingram said.

      Stubblefield stood by his presentation and said conservation districts approve nutrient management plans and refer their decisions to the commission, which would issue the permit.

      "This bill transfers all permits to" the commission, he said.

      "OK, but I don't think that's what this reads," Ingram said.

      Proposed Ark. Code Ann. 15-20-1115 refers to "liquid livestock litter utilization" and concerns "livestock litter management plans." Such plans spell out the process for disposal of animal manure generated by the waste management system, such as how and how much animal manure farmers will be allowed to apply to land as fertilizer.

      Under the proposed subsection (c), the "liquid livestock litter management plan is subject to approval by the board of directors of the conservation district where the majority of the land ... is located."

      It continues, saying that an applicant can appeal a disapproval of a management plan or the disapproval of a provision in a management plan to the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission's executive director.

      Subsection (d) goes on to state that an approved plan "constitutes a permit to apply nutrients consistent with the liquid livestock litter management plan."

      Proposed Ark. Code Ann. 15-20-1116 concerns "liquid livestock waste system permits." In the bill's definitions, "liquid livestock litter management system" refers to the "collection, storage, distribution, or disposal of livestock litter in liquid form."

      That section of the bill says the commission is the agency that would act on permit applications.

      Waste system permits that are active once the commission begins accepting permit applications would be transferred to the commission "without modification," the section reads.

      The commission must adopt final rules by July 1, 2020, according to the bill, and the commission must begin accepting permit applications by Jan. 1, 2021.

      Other than Stubblefield, three senators -- Blake Johnson, R-Corning, and Alan Clark, R-Lonsdale, and Ricky Hill, R-Cabot -- spoke in favor of the bill. Bond spoke against it.

      Bond said the measure should be rejected in the spirit of Arkansas' nickname, the Natural State.

      Senators in favor of the bill argued that farmers are good stewards of their land and that commission workers are good at what they do.

      "Keeping the state the Natural State, I don't think, is up for debate," Clark said.

      Bond spoke for several minutes and fielded a handful of questions from senators.

      While Stubblefield told senators that the commission would have to write regulations that are just as stringent as the Environmental Quality Department's, Bond contended that the bill doesn't state that.

      Critics of the bill have expressed concern that it would get rid of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality's Regulation 5, under which liquid animal waste systems and waste management plans are currently permitted.

      The current law, Ark. Code Ann. 15-20-1114, states that the law "shall not supersede" the existing requirements of the Arkansas Water and Air Pollution Control Act, but that waste management plans will not be subject to the law "or any regulations adopted under" the law. The department's Regulation 5, which covers all hog farms in the state except C&H Hog Farms in Newton County, is adopted under the law.

      C&H Hog Farms, a 6,503-head hog farm near the Buffalo National River that had its permit denied last year, has a Regulation 6 permit that has expired, which is what prompted its owners to apply for a Regulation 5 permit, that was subsequently denied.

      Environmental groups have opposed the farm's operation within the river's watershed and say it poses a threat to the river's water quality.

      The commission may determine that certain activities are not in compliance with the law and shall be subject to regulation under the law, the bill continues.

      The bill's passage would negate Regulation 5's moratorium on any new medium or large hog farms in the Buffalo River watershed, critics say.

      During a review next year, Department of Environmental Quality Director Becky Keogh is to decide whether to keep the moratorium. The moratorium is not explicitly referred to in the bill, but Stubblefield said the department would retain decision-making authority.

      Critics also worry about losing Regulation 5's requirement that facilities consider the Agricultural Waste Management Field Handbook. The handbook has recommendations on farm siting, geologic investigations and manure pond liners, among other things.

      In denying C&H's permit, state department regulators determined that C&H did not submit enough information to ensure the facility's site as safe, per handbook recommendations.

      Senators discussed the department's "mistakes" in the C&H permitting process and questioned the need for keeping permitting authority with the department. Bond argued that the department has improved its operations.

      The bill would not have any implications for C&H, Stubblefield said, because if C&H pulled its application, it would have to close. C&H remains open indefinitely while litigation related to its various permit denials remains in circuit court.

      Bond said he isn't sure that C&H wouldn't benefit because its owners may be able to apply for a new permit with the commission.

      Critics have noted other things that were not debated Tuesday in the Senate.

      The bill allows applicants to waive public notification during the permitting process for waste management systems. Existing law allows applicants only to waive the "timeliness requirement," which stipulates that the department shall make decisions within limited time frames.

      Stubblefield told senators Tuesday that his bill did not allow applicants to waive public notice requirements and that it allowed them only to waive the department's timeliness requirement.

      He said the state administrative procedures law requires public notice.

      Stubblefield submitted an amendment to his bill late Monday that would have changed the "notification period requirements" referred to in his bill back to "timeliness requirement" but later withdrew it.

      The Beaver Water District, the main water source for Northwest Arkansas, and Central Arkansas Water, the main water source for central Arkansas, oppose the bill. The utilities contend that the bill would loosen permitting requirements and possibly expose drinking water sources to excess algae-causing phosphorus.

      The Department of Environmental Quality has maintained that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could raise concerns about the law as it relates to protections of waters under the Clean Water Act. An Arkansas Farm Bureau representative who used to work for the department disputed that assertion at a Senate committee meeting last week.

      Many hog farms also need construction permits if they operate on enough acreage, said Jessie Green, executive director of the White River Waterkeeper and a former department engineer. The department would remain in charge of those, she said, without the ability to decide on the other permits.

      Further, Green said, complaints and inspections of facilities are not provided on the commission's website, unlike the department's website. And, unlike at the department, people who complain about a facility to the commission must submit their complaints in writing, have them notarized and mailed with their names on them.

      "That's a huge barrier to trying to get the public involved," Green said.

    • 20 Mar 2019 6:42 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      Fayetteville Flyer

      Fayetteville City Council votes to oppose

      Senate animal farm bill

      By Todd Gill

      The Fayetteville City Council on Tuesday voiced its opposition to a proposed Senate bill that would change the way animal farm permits are handled in Arkansas.

      The council voted 6-0 to support a resolution to oppose Senate Bill 550, which would transfer regulation of farm permits from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission.

      The bill was filed by Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R-Branch). Supporters say it would make the permitting process more efficient by moving farm permit approvals to one single state agency.

      Opponents say it’s a response to last year’s controversial permit application for C&H Hog Farms in Newton County, which was denied by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.

      Both the Central Arkansas Water District and the Beaver Water District have issued statements against the bill, partly because it would eliminate the current public notification requirements, but also because the groups say animal farms would operate in a “much more permissive environment,” and the prospect of liquid waste entering the water reservoirs would become a greater threat.

      Fayetteville City Attorney Kit Williams said Council member Teresa Turk requested that the resolution be drafted and presented at Tuesday’s council meeting.

      Turk said the lack of monitoring and oversight in the bill is cause for major concern when it comes to water quality.

      Mayor Jordan said the bill is one of the worst pieces of legislation he’s seen in a while.

      “There are two things I know,” said Jordan. “If you want to protect the environment, then you need to take care of your water and you need to take care of your air, and this bill is a fly in the face of both of those things.”

    • 19 Mar 2019 7:32 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      Greed over ecology

      Good gobbledygook! They walk among us and sit in the state Legislature.

      Just when we feel that the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has gotten the message about hog waste, porous limestone and the resulting harm to the our nationally treasured Buffalo River, the self-servers that walk the halls of the Capitol are about to put a monkey wrench into the equation. Supported by the Farm Bureau, which is nothing more than a front for Big Agriculture, fat cats are wanting to transfer oversight to the Natural Resources Commission, which does not have the tools to do the job.

      If we do not stop this travesty in the Legislature, the governor's faith will be tested about taking care of God's Earth. Obviously those devout Christians in the Senate adhere to greed over environmental responsibility.

    • 19 Mar 2019 7:28 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      MIKE MASTERSON: A real stinkerby Mike Masterson | Today at 2:15 a.m.

      Senate Bill 550, sponsored by state Sen. Gary Stubblefield, a former dairy farmer from Branch, aims to replace the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality's permitting system for hog factories with a far less demanding "certification" process by the Natural Resources Commission, which lacks knowledge or experience in preventing waste contamination of our state's water quality.

      Supported whole hog by the state's Farm Bureau (most visibly executive John Bailey, who in 2012 was a key player the state agency that wrongheadedly permitted C&H Hog Farms near a tributary of the Buffalo National River), Stubblefield's bill is likely the worst piece of needless legislation I've seen, so much so that I hereby deem it the "Superfluous Stubblefield Stinker."

      Obviously I'm not alone by a long shot, as evidenced by the following position statement (edited for space) by Central Arkansas Water. (The Beaver Water District of Northwest Arkansas has issued similar opposition to this legislation).

      "SB550 presents a threat to the health and well-being of the people of Arkansas. If enacted, this bill would completely change the way liquid animal waste disposal systems, which are used primarily by large swine to dispose of liquid swine waste, are regulated in Arkansas. Although characterized by supporters of the bill as an effort to achieve greater efficiency in the permitting process, SB550 has the potential to expose some of the state's most important natural resources, including public drinking water reservoirs, to liquid animal waste.

      "Currently ADEQ is charged with issuing permits and conducting oversight of [such] disposal systems. ADEQ's process is effective and fair. It balances the needs of swine and daily farmers with the right of the public to a safe and clean environment. It ensures the involvement of well-trained, knowledgeable professionals with years of experience.

      "SB550 would wipe out the current permitting process and oversight of these facilities and gut current regulatory protections. Public notification requirements would be eliminated. Minimum distance setback from neighbors, streams and lakes could be lost. Subsurface investigation requirements to determine suitability for waste lagoons would no longer be required. Anonymous complaints would not be accepted or investigated, and public reporting necessarily would be deterred. Established, effective enforcement protocol would go by the wayside. As a result, swine farms would operate in a much more permissive environment. And the prospect of liquid animal waste entering the water reservoirs of our great state would become a much greater threat."

      The statement concluded: "While swine farms serve a role in the state's economy and culture, that industry should not be bolstered at the expense of the state's water systems and all of the state's people who rely on clean, healthy drinking water every day. As a result, Central Arkansas Water urges each member of the House and Senate to vote to preserve the current liquid animal waste permitting regimen by opposing SB550."

      Those who care about preserving Arkansas' water quality in the country's first national river and elsewhere need to contact their elected representatives and senators and share your thoughts about the Superfluous Stubblefield Stinker. Time is critical.

      Smoke and water 

      Anyone else find it interesting that our state and national elected leaders showed up at the stump dump fire in Bella Vista to express concern over that legitimate health threat? They've declared it an emergency and pledged tens of millions in tax dollars to extinguish the mess.

      But what of the equally clear and present emergency along our treasured Buffalo National River? I've heard very little outcry from the same officials over the ongoing contamination and health threats within our Buffalo.

      I'm certainly not denigrating the need to get Bella Vista's subterranean blaze finally smothered. I am saying potential health threats posed to those who splash around in the Buffalo (officially ailing along 14.3 miles because of elevated nutrients and potentially dangerous pathogens) represent a serious state and national issue.

      That unacceptable situation surely deserves far more official attention and concern than it's received over the past six-plus years since C&H Hog Farms began spraying hog waste across hundreds of acres in the Buffalo's watershed. Some who've played in the Buffalo in recent years have reported becoming ill.

      While residents of the Trafalgar Road section of Bella Vista have suffered, the impairment of our Buffalo and 15 miles of its tributary Big Creek that flows along the factory's spray fields also potentially affects many livelihoods in and around impoverished Newton County.

      Wouldn't it have been refreshing to see our elected leaders stand beneath the river's majestic bluffs to denounce the pollution while vowing to spend whatever necessary to pinpoint and stop the cause of her sickness for the sake of all of Arkansas and millions of visitors?

      While Bella Vista residents can and should protest their serious dilemma, our river has no voice, vote, or ability to personally lobby and influence legislators.

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