Arkansas Attorney General Mike Beebe, a Democrat who is running for governor, has asked the Supreme Court to "stop the State of Oklahoma from attempting to impose Oklahoma laws upon Arkansas farmers and poultry companies," according to a press release from Beebe's office.
What's the issue? The state of Oklahoma thinks poultry plants in Arkansas are polluting the Illinois river, and has sued the companies they feel are responsible. As Arkansas Daily Blog reports:
Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson is suing 14 poultry companies (including Tyson Foods, George's and Simmons Foods) for polluting Oklahoma streams and lakes with poultry waste disposed improperly.
Beebe says the lawsuit violates the terms of the 1970 Arkansas River Basin Compact, which is supposed to deal with water quality issues involving both states.
There's no doubt that the massive poultry industry (which -- shameless plug -- Southern Exposure won a National Magazine Award for investigating in the 1990s) is a notoriously high-pollution industry. The conglomerate Tyson Foods, a powerful force in Arkansas politics on both sides of the aisle, has an especially checkered record.
Glenn Hooks, spokesman for the Sierra Club of Arkansas, says the state of Oklahoma has a point, and Beebe's stident defense of poultry interests sends a bad message:
This is not a complex matter of Arkansas and Oklahoma state sovereignty: rather, it's a simple case of being a good neighbor. Quite simply, some Arkansas chicken companies are polluting the water of our downstream neighbors in Oklahoma. The thought that our Attorney General is defending the rights of Arkansas companies to foul the waters of Oklahoma with chicken droppings is hardly an inspiring one. Rather than dragging Oklahoma into the U.S. Supreme Court, I encourage our Attorney General to use his power and prestige to encourage less pollution and cleaner water here in the Natural State.