The regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency has told Arkansas it’s reviewing legislation to shift oversight of liquid animal waste handling from the Department of Environmental Quality to the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission.

Farm Bureau-backed SB 550 by Sen. Gary Stubblefield was approved in the Senate yesterday. Even its proponents seem to acknowledge that operators of factory hog farms and others who produce liquid manure expect an easier regulatory scheme under NRC, generally friendly to farmers and without the same scientific infrastructure as ADEQ. Permitting would be easier and controlled by local conservation boards, not the scientist-stocked staff of ADEQ. It would ease public notice requirements as well.

ADEQ had raised concerns during committee testimony about whether the bill could conflict with federal clean water requirements. The farm lobby has disputed that.

The EPA letter below went to Becky Keogh, director of ADEQ, from Anne Idsal, regional EPA administrator.