We all benefit from a reliable, sustainable water supply. Help us work to protect our water for future generations.

This past legislative session, CPASA worked to quash a piece of legislation that would have been a major shift in who would have the opportunity to protest groundwater applications. While several special interest groups tried to frame this legislation as dealing with permitting of chicken farms in Northeastern Oklahoma, it in fact made it all but impossible for protests to be accepted by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) from anyone other than those within a stone’s throw of a proposed well. This would have had huge ramifications since we all understand basic science and that the withdrawal of water and its impacts are not limited to the fence line. We owe a huge shout out to Speaker McCall for listening to CPASA’s concerns and not allowing this bill to move forward. Be sure and thank him!

 

Most of the rest of the legislation we were tracking died a quick and abrupt death when the Capitol shut down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the Legislature did return to finish business for the session, they were forced to follow social distancing guidelines and largely work remotely just like the rest of us. The few times they did return to the building to conduct business they were primarily focused on legislation that was directly related to either the FY2021 budget or Coronavirus response legislation. Most other bills were set aside and died when the Legislature adjourned for the year. For more details on specific legislation, please click here to go to the latest legislative update.

 

CPASA also has a number of issues pending and impending and some require action by our dedicated members.

 

CPASA's Petition for Rulemaking before the Oklahoma Department of Mines

 

CPASA seeks to increase transparency by making it easier for members of the public to access non-coal surface mining applications electronically.

 

It is vital for members of the public to weigh in on this-including you!  The ODM is accepting written comments, which can be very short. CPASA's Amended Petition for Rulemaking is attached here so you can see exactly what was requested. We've also attached a sample letter here to help you get started in drafting your own letter to the Department of Mines.

 

Please mail your comments to:

Oklahoma Department of Mines

2915 N. Classen Blvd., Ste 213

Oklahoma City, OK 73106

 

We are waiting on the Department of Mines to provide dates for public participation in the proposed rulemaking with different options available for citizens depending on their risk comfort.  We will let you know when we find out more details but, in the meantime, please send your written comments supporting CPASA's petition!!

 

Mining Updates

 

Arbuckle Aggregates, LLC

 

As you may recall, the Oklahoma Water Resources Board approved Arbuckle Aggregates’ surface water permit with a 2 cubic feet per second (cfs) flow restriction.  One of CPASA’s concerns about the application was the OWRB’s failure to recognize their responsibility to ensure water quality when considering the amount of withdrawal. In response to this concern, a board member asked the OWRB’s general counsel explicitly whether the Board must consider water quality and the general counsel responded, “no.” Shortly after the OWRB’s decision on this permit, a Delaware County Court found that the OWRB is legally required to consider water quality in its permitting decisions.  This court decision prompted CPASA to request a Motion for Reconsideration which was denied by the OWRB at their February meeting. Consequently, CPASA has appealed the OWRB's approval of Arbuckle Aggregates' surface water permit to the district court in Johnston County. 

 

Also, Arbuckle Aggregates has gone to notice to increase its bonded area from 15 acres to 575 acres. CPASA will be filing a protest and we strongly implore you to do the same. Protests must be received by the Oklahoma Department of Mines no later than July 9th. Verbiage for your protest need not be long and only need to include your concern about expansion of a mining operation in the Arbuckle Simpson.

 

Individual protests may be mailed to:

Oklahoma Department of Mines

2915 N. Classen Blvd., Ste 213

Oklahoma City, OK 73106

 

Arbuckle Stone, LLC

 

This is a new operation seeking to mine dimensional stone.  The owner, Cody Rhodes, has been to a number of CPASA meetings and has been open with how he intends to operate.

 

We will be meeting with Mr. Rhodes in the next week or so and have high hopes that we can reach some sort of resolution whereby a condition is placed on the permit that prevents it from becoming anything other than a de minimis mine for the duration of HB2471 (i.e., until Phase II and rulemaking are complete). 

 

Ashby Investments, LLC

 

CPASA protested this mining application and a hearing was held by the Department of Mines. We are still waiting for the ruling to be issued by the hearing examiner.

 

Jennings Stone Company, Inc/Pontotoc Sands

 

The formal hearing on CPASA and others protest to the expansion of this mine has been pushed back and is now scheduled for August 13-14, 2020.

 

If you own property along the Blue River, we would love to talk to you about the potential for impact from this operation.  If you are already feeling the impacts of Pontotoc Sands, we would really appreciate your reaching out as soon as possible!

 

Meridian Aggregates Company, LP

 

You may have noticed the legal notice for Meridian's revision to permit #LE-1304 in the Johnston County Sentinel.  CPASA investigated this requested revision and it does not overlie the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer and, as such, CPASA will not be protesting.

 

Oklahoma Water Resources Board Applications

 

Lazy S Ranch Properties, LLC

 

CPASA protested a groundwater application made by Lazy S Ranch Properties, LLC and awaits the assignment of a hearing examiner.

 

Jerry Lamb

 

Mr. Lamb filed an application for 320 acre-feet from the Blue River with a diversion point located between Roff and Fittstown (generally).  We are reaching out to Mr. Lamb to see if he is amiable to conditioning his permit to allow for a minimum baseflow to protect downstream users.

 

Thank you again for your partnership and dedication to helping us protect the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer, the lifeblood of this treasured area that so many of us call home. We definitely couldn’t do it without you!

 

Amy Anne Ford
President

CPASA recently filed a Petition for Rulemaking with the Oklahoma Department of Mines (“ODM”) requesting the ODM change its rules to do the following:

 

  1. Require non-coal mining applicants to submit an electronic version of the application along with a hard copy; and

  2. Require the ODM to post the electronic version online at the time the applicant publishes notice of its application to the public. 

 

The purpose of CPASA’s request is to promote transparency and make it easier for the public to access the information contained in non-coal mining applications.  Currently, the public must either go to the courthouse in the county of the proposed application or to the ODM’s office in Oklahoma City to view an application.  Obtaining copies of the application are oftentimes difficult and extremely expensive, costing hundreds of dollars for poor quality copies.  

 

The ODM is currently accepting written comments regarding CPASA’s request.  Those comments should be mailed to:

 

Oklahoma Department of Mines

2915 N. Classen Blvd., Ste. 213

Oklahoma City, OK 73106

 

The ODM initially intended to hold a hearing for public comments on April 2, 2020.  However, given the pandemic caused by COVID-19, CPASA agreed with the ODM that the hearing should be postponed.  I will inform you of that date once it is set.  In the meantime, I encourage you to submit comments supporting CPASA’s proposed rule changes!  These are common-sense changes that will not be burdensome on mining applicants, but will be immensely helpful to the public.  A copy of CPASA’s Petition for Rulemaking can be found here

Timeline of Mining Issues in the Arbuckle Simpson
Get Involved

If you live, work or enjoy the many family attractions in South Central Oklahoma we need you! It's up to all of us to protect our most precious natural resource.

About

CPASA is an all-volunteer organization of citizens from throughout Oklahoma and other states working together to protect the sustainability of the Arbuckle Simpson Aquifer in South Central Oklahoma.

© 2015 by Citizens for the Protection of the Arbuckle Simpson Aquifer. CPASA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

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