Oklahoma Water Resources Board Vice Chairman Tom Buchanan states he will not step down after a water advocacy group from Antler, Oklahoma called for his resignation. The Oklahomans for Responsible Water Policy sent electronic letters to Buchanan, Governor Mary Fallin’s Office, and the OWRB stating that his “ill conceived plan” to transmit water from east to west Oklahoma lacks economic impact analyses, scientific based studies, or policy analyses, and that his role as OK Farm Bureau President conflicts with serving on the OWRB.
“No. I am not considering resignation, and have not been contacted by the Governor requesting resignation,” Buchanan commented.
The group maintains that there are no economic studies indicating that the State will benefit from transmission of water, that there is no scientific evidence of surplus water in eastern Oklahoma, and that no policy analyses have been conducted.
“You have been traveling around Oklahoma seemingly to argue the State’s position in Oklahoma’s water-rights litigation as fact, and actively seeking support for the transfer and sale of those waters under dispute,” Oklahomans for Responsible Water Policy stated in the resignation request.
Buchanan said that as of now there is no science or plan in place for the transmission of water but his interests are to develop water for the State of Oklahoma.
“I am not a scientist, an engineer, or a lawyer,” Buchanan said. “I don’t have a plan in place, but I am a very strong supporter of former Senator Robert S. Kerr to move water from east to west as his idea to develop Oklahoma’s water so all of Oklahoma will benefit.”
Additionally, the group argues that being President of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau and a board member of the OWRB is a conflict of interest, specifically involving a lawsuit where the OKFB Legal Foundation sued the OWRB regarding the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer Maximum Annual Yield Determination.
“Your dual roles as President of the OK Farm Bureau and as Vice-Chairman of the OWRB call into doubt your independence and impartiality,” the Oklahomans for Responsible Water Policy group stated.
“I was appointed by Governor Fallin to represent the irrigation and agriculture on the Water Resources Board,” said Buchanan addressing the concern. “As President of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau I represent agriculture and rural Oklahoma, so I see no conflict of interest in representation.”
Buchanan stated that as the OK Farm Bureau Legal Foundation had filed suit over the “Arbuckle-Simpson issues,” he has refused himself of any motion, vote, or executive session dealing with that matter when discussed by either entity.