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Judge denies litter injunction motion

In State of Oklahoma v. Tyson Foods, Inc., et al., the Oklahoma Farm Bureau (OFB) was granted permission by the federal court in the Northern District of Oklahoma to file an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief about the State of Oklahoma’s motion to halt the use of poultry litter in the Illinois River watershed. In their preliminary injunction motion, the State claimed poultry litter was solid waste, and that the fecal bacteria from poultry litter application was causing a substantial and immediate threat to the health and safety of people who use the Illinois River, its tributaries and the groundwater of the basin.

On September 29, 2008, Judge Gregory Frizzell denied the State of Oklahoma's injunction motion saying the State had not met its burden of proof. Further, the Court discounted the testimony of two of the State's expert witnesses, saying their testimony and conclusions presented at the hearing were "not sufficiently reliable" and the experts' work had not been peer reviewed or published.

Oklahoma Farm Bureau's friend of the court brief contained statements from several poultry litter users within the Illinois River watershed about how they lawfully use litter and how the use of poultry litter benefits their agriculture operations.

The lawsuit was originally filed in 2005, with the State suing 14 poultry companies who have growers in the Illinois River watershed and the State saying that poultry litter application is causing a nuisance and pollution. The State is seeking remediation of the watershed and damages, and is claiming that poultry litter contains hazardous waste and should be regulated under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (Superfund law). Further, the State is claiming poultry litter is solid waste under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

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