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Environmentalists discuss water pollution concerns at Capitol

OKLAHOMA CITY - Led by former Attorney General and recent gubernatorial candidate Drew Edmonson, environmentalist leaders gathered to discuss water pollution in our state.

"We have rivers that are drying up. We have rivers that are being drawn down by businesses," said Johnson Grimm-Bridgwater with the Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club.

According to a release, Edmonson "believes that in failing to clean up the Illinois River, the State of Oklahoma is failing our children."

"I believe it requires immediate and urgent attention. Our rivers, lakes, and streams, are all at a nonrecoverable tipping point," said Pat Daly with Trout Unlimited. "They simply cannot absorb more nitrogen, more chemical discharges."

The representatives from various groups also learned to lobby on behalf of their interests.

At a news conference, they say the water is affected by multiple businesses, including the poultry industry.

"Frankly just the noise, the air pollution, the smell, it's really becoming devastating to those communities," said Grimm-Bridgwater of the chicken houses.

"As Cherokees it's not just a way of life, it's our religion. When we pray, we go to the water," explained Pam Kingfisher.

"Oklahoma has meaningful water quality limits for scenic rivers like the Illinois River, however those limits, approved by the EPA and by the Oklahoma legislature are not being enforced," said Ed Brocksmith with Save the Illinois River (STIR).

The group also advocated for HB1403 against SB1003.

"In essence allows the very people polluting Oklahoma to get off scot-free and not even have to tell Oklahoma citizens exactly what happened," Grimm-Bridgwater said about SB1003.

For now, they hope the new state leader will step in to protect Oklahoma's waters.

"We believe Governor Stitt has the expertise and recognizes the economic importance of protecting Oklahoma's water and we implore him to do it," said Brocksmith.

The group was set to meet with the governor Wednesday but Governor Stitt was unable to meet with them. The environmentalists relayed their message, including their desire for the governor to set up a task force dedicated to alleviation pollution concerns.

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