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.”