Thursday, September 25, 2008

Governor's commission on global warming tentatively says NO to new coal-fired power plants

The Morning News

Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Panel Tentatively Endorses Ban On New Plants

By Peggy Harris
LITTLE ROCK -- An Arkansas commission studying ways to reduce global warming tentatively endorsed a ban Thursday on new coal-fired power plants, saying a proposed $1.5 billion facility in Hempstead County shouldn't open until at least 2020.

The preliminary proposal would allow the John W. Turk Jr. plant near Fulton to open eight years later than planned, when new "sequestration" technology presumably would be available to capture harmful carbon dioxide emissions and store them in the ground. The plant could open sooner if the technology becomes available.

Under the proposal, the $1.3 billion Plum Point plant being built near Osceola could open as planned in 2010 but operators would have to retrofit the plant with the new anti-pollution technology once it becomes available.

Any other new coal-fired power plants in Arkansas would have to have the new technology when they open.

Currently, sequestration is not in use at any commercial power plant in the country. But the new technology is among the many innovations being discussed nationally and worldwide to reverse global warming.

State Rep. Kathy Webb, who chairs the Governor's Commission on Global Warming, said the draft proposal was one of about 50 the group has analyzed over the last several months with the help of consultants. The panel expects to have its final recommendations in a report to Gov. Mike Beebe by Oct. 31. Legislators could consider the measures when they meet in regular session next year.

Webb, D-Little Rock, said the proposed ban has been among the most controversial of the draft recommendations.

Coal-fired power plants and automobiles are the leading producers of carbon dioxide, the chief culprit of global warming. They also are a primary generator of electricity in the U.S. and considered essential to economic growth.

Commission members from the energy industry Thursday voiced opposition to the proposed ban.

Gary Voight, chief executive of Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation, said scrapping plans for new plants would mean using "dirtier" inefficient plants that produce more pollution and fail to meet consumer demand.

He said a ban would effectively make it more difficult for utilities to produce electricity economically and free up more money to invest in energy-efficient technology. In addition, Voight said, the Arkansas Public Service Commission has already imposed conditions on Southwestern Electric Power Co. to address pollution at the planned 600-megawatt plant in Hempstead County.

"This is a bad plan. It's retroactive regulation," said Voight, whose cooperative plans partly own the SWEPCO plant. "The commission has already ruled that SWEPCO must evaluate all carbon sequestration and capture technologies as available in the future so this (proposal) is pointless. It's a waste of time, and we should all vote against it and get it off the table."

Other commissioners spoke of the seriousness of global warming and the need to take strong action.

"This is what Congress is talking about. This is what a lot, a lot of scientists are concerned about. New coal plants, we're talking about moratorium until sequestration," said Art Hobson, a physics professor at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

Commissioner Kevin Smith, the former state senator from Stuttgart, said without a moratorium Arkansas could become "the new Pittsburgh -- not the Natural State." And commissioner Rob Fisher, executive director of The Ecological Conservation Organization, said the proposal was the most important recommendation the panel could make.

"If we don't pass this option, everything else we do is pointless," he said.

The commission endorsed the recommendation by a vote of 11-10.

Kacee Kirschvink, a spokeswoman for SWEPCO, said the Turk plant would be one of the cleanest coal plants in North America. She said it would use "ultra-supercritical" technology that requires less fuel and produces less carbon dioxide. In addition, she said, the plant could be retrofitted for newer technology once it becomes available.

"It would not be good public policy to change the rules now after much planning and investment has been done to meet the energy needs of SWEPCO's customers," she said.

Shreveport, La.-based SWEPCO wants to open the plant in 2012 and has begun site work, while awaiting an air-quality permit from state environmental regulators. SWEPCO is a part of Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power Co.

David Byford, a spokesman for Plum Point developers Dynegy Inc., said the commission proposal was in the early stages and Dynegy might comment later after further study.

Web Watch:

Arkansas Governors Commission on Global Warming

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Oil shale production threatens wildlife, human life

Help Stop a Grave New Threat to Wildlife, Public Lands and Water!‏
From: Dominique Burgunder-Johnson, National Wildlife Federation (
Sent: Fri 9/19/08 8:15 PM
Reply-to: Dominique Burgunder-Johnson, National Wildlife Federation (

Stop the Senate from Putting More Wildlife Habitat and
Natural Resources on the Chopping Block

Drilling for oil and natural gas, and mining for coal has already taken a dramatic toll on our country's public lands, wildlife habitat and natural resources.

Now, Congress is considering a proposal to develop a new dangerous energy source--oil shale-- for TWO MILLION acres of America's public lands!

Photo by Chris Evans, The Pembina Institute.

Oil shale extraction will yield impacts similiar to the syncrude oil sands mine in Alberta.

Please urge Congress to extend the moratorium on commercial oil shale development!

Oil shale production is 130% more carbon dioxide intensive than conventional drilling and gasoline production, which means it would continue to fuel global warming—the already single greatest threat to wildlife.


OUR WATER: Oil shale production will require upwards of 315 million gallons of water a dayThis is scarce water we already need for drinking, agriculture, livestock and wildlife.

OUR WILDLIFE: Oil shale development would put at risk millions of acres of wildlife habitat, and continue to raise the harmful impacts of global warming pollution for wildlife and their habitats.

OUR WAY OF LIFE: Preserving America's public lands are an important part of our country's conservation tradition. Oil shale development threatens to dramatically change the face of some of our most treasured places.

Congress is moving in the wrong direction to break America's oil addiction.

Please ask your Members of Congress to be the difference that moves America's energy policies in a bold new direction.

Thanks so much for speaking up!


Dominique Burgunder-Johnson
Online Grassroots Coordinator
National Wildlife Federation

Inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future.

© 2008 National Wildlife Federation. All rights reserved.
11100 Wildlife Center Dr., Reston VA 20190 | 1-800-822-9919 | Contact us

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A chance to testify against coal-fired power plant

This is James with ECO. I want to thank you for your support with our grassroots campaign to stop the proposed coal-fired power plant in Hempstead County.
If you would like to learn more about this campaign or volunteer please contact me for more information as well as check out our website:
Next Thursday September 18th at 6pm at the University of Arkansas Community College in Hope there will be a public hearing regarding SWEPCO’s air permit. The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) is reviewing the permit to determine if the plant meets the federal rules regarding mercury emissions.
This is a very important hearing and we need people to go down to Hope that evening to speak out against the plant. Even if you do not feel like speaking at the hearing just coming and holding a sign or wearing a NO COAL T-SHIRT will make a huge difference.
We have organized car pools so far in three cities across the state (Little Rock, Conway, and Fayetteville). Here are the contacts for each location if you are able to come or if you have family or friends in other parts of the state who would like to attend.

Little Rock: Conway: Fayetteville:
Departure Time: 2pm Departure Time: 2pm Departure Time: 11am
Joe Sundell Molly McGuire Maggie Bailey
501-416-4640 940-368-7183 479-225-8396

We are planning a press event with all these groups as well as locals from Hempstead County at 5:30pm right before the hearing so it is essential that we get on the road on schedule.

Prior to the hearing we will be sending out talking points for those who are coming but if you are not able to join us you can send in your comments to ADEQ via email as well.

For more information about the status of the plant and the hearing please view this article:

Thanks for your support. Please contact us to find out how you can help with this important event!

"All great questions must be raised by great
voices, and the greatest voice is the voice of
the people - speaking out - in prose, or painting
or poetry or music; speaking out - in homes and
halls, streets and farms, courts and cafes - let
that voice speak and the stillness you hear will
be the gratitude of mankind."
Robert F. Kennedy

Friday, September 12, 2008

OMNI folk traveling to support effort to stop coal-fired power plants

Testimony in Little Rock‏
From: Omnicenter Communications on behalf of Gladys tiffany (
Sent: Fri 9/12/08 12:17 AM
Reply-to: Gladys tiffany (
Omni is a coalition member of "Clean Air Arkansas", a group trying to block coal-fired power plants trying very hard to move into Arkansas and Oklahoma. Last Tuesday a group of us went to Little Rock to testify before the Global Warming Commission. A physician talked about health problems from coal plants, an outdoorsman talked about the effect on wildlife and sensitive habitat, a businessman talked about the effects of the acid rain on forestry, a traveler told about the awful air they'd seen in China on a recent trip, and some of us just said we like to breath.
Our friends on the Commission said we were pretty effective. We even impressed the coal plant supporters, which means that at the next event the supporters will be "loaded for bear," as they say. They can be pretty pursuasive.
Are you concerned about those coal-fired plants moving in? Do you know that the Shady Point II plant in Poteau OK is seeking a permit to double its size, and belch its pollution from Fort Smith to Joplin? That's our air they're planning to pollute.
We haven't given up the argument yet, but we're running out of time. Next Thursday a friendly member of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has scheduled a hearing to let the public speak their mind about the Turk plant at Hope. We need some concerned citizens who can spend the day helping to make a splash there. Can you go? Or can you take a vehicle with a few other folks along? You don't need to testify if you don't want. Concerned people are what we need.
Please reply if you can help with this. Pass it to a friend if you know someone who needs to hear.
Thanks Omni folks,

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mulberry River watershed threatened by companies wanting to drill for natural gas

Keep Arkansas Natural
Jesse Edmondson

Whitmar Exploration, out of Denver, CO, is proposing four natural
gas wells in the Ozark National Forest in Franklin County,
Arkansas. They are located along the Pig Trail, Hwy. 23, and
within the immediate drainage to the Mulberry River. Whitmar has received its drilling permits from AR Oil and Gas
Commission, although the area they have leased is expected
to have little probabability of being productive. If these
wells were promising, it is likely that Chesapeake and SEECO
would have already claimed stakes. The development of the
Fayetteville Shale play is fast-growing, as many companies
stand to benefit from Arkansas' resources. However, signing
over our most precious natural areas in Arkansas to high-risk,
low probability gas well drilling is a decision that the public
needs to address before it is too late. While some of these
companies have assured the state that they are eco-friendly,
there is still little known about environmental, recreational,
and social risk associated with hydro-fracturing the Fayetteville
Shale. Reserve pits for drilling waste are thought to be
designed to handle significant rain events. However, with the
state underhanded to inspect reserve pits and compliance
on a regular basis, who will be informed when toxic materials
spill into Mountain Creek, Fane Creek, and the Mulberry
River? How can we trust the reserve pits to handle surface
run-off like that associated with remnants of Hurricane Gustav?

Please consider writing the following voicing their concerns:

Points to consider:

Why is it necessary to allow high-risk drilling in Arkansas's
most precious public lands?

Is the financial benefit to the state going to outweigh the
tourism and recreation industry, environmental degradation, and
loss of historical significance to these natural sites?

Have all the possible environmental risks been assessed?

Will drilling be seen and heard from the Pig Trail or from
Mulberry River (drilling itself or permanent compression
stations if well is productive)?

The Indiana bat, an endangered species, resides within close distance to these sites.
How will these sites affect animal behaviors and migration?

These sites will be disrupting to public hunting. What are
the effects on deer, turkey, and other game in the Ozark
National Forest?

Have all surface and groundwater risks been assessed so as to
not threaten the Mulberry River?

From where will the millions of gallons of water required for
hydro-fracturing come? If trucked in, how will this affect the
fragile physical condition, traffic, and safety of the Pig

Where will reserve pit fluid be taken before reclamation? Will
and where will it be land-applied?

Public Comment period to the U.S. Forest Service ends on
September 12, 2008, this Friday. Please write to each District
Ranger to express your concerns regarding the Whitmar Exploration Company
ARES53687 #1-13H and 2-13H Gas Well Project:

U.S. Forest Service
Patricia A. Kowalewycz, District Ranger
Pleasant Hill Ranger District
2591 Hwy 21
Clarksville, AR 72830

U.S. Forest Service
Gary Williams, District Ranger
Boston Mountain Ranger District
1803 N. 18th Street
Ozark, AR 72949

Whitmar Exploration (Company Drilling in Franklin County)
555 17th St. Suite 880
Denver, CO 80202

Governor Beebe
State Capitol Room 250
Little Rock, AR 72201

Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission
Directors Office
301 Natural Resources Dr.
Ste 102
Little Rock, AR 72205

Arkansas Geologic Commission
Bekki White, Director and State Geologist
Vardelle Parham Geology Center
3815 West Roosevelt Road
Little Rock, AR 72204

Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality
Teresa Marks, Director
5301 Northshore Drive
North Little Rock, AR 72118-5317

Friday, September 5, 2008

Carbon Caps Task Force meeting at 1:15 p.m. Sunday

Carbon Caps Task Force – Agenda 2008 09 07 – 1:15pm @ Omni
Brief – Approve Minutes of the last meeting
Establish Committees – the attendants of this meeting constitute a temporary voting committee
Voting Committee (2 youth, 2 out-of-town citizens-at-large, 1 member of the omni steering committee, 2 members-at-large of Omni)
Fundraising Committee (3-4 members)
Strategic Planning Committee (3-4 members)
Direct Action Committee (3-4 members)
Planetwork Toolkit – state coordinator outreach
Brief PSA Report
Authorize $100 for printing to Clean Air Arkansas
Discuss September/October Actions
Ads – rules for purchasing ads
Only purchase dual-purpose ads (such as to advertise an action)
State Lobby Day – Sept 9
vans? RSVP to
Omni Book Forum – Sept 12
National Park(ing) Day – Sept 19
Green Jobs Now – Sept 27
Twist of Green – Oct 3-5

EPA stops the destruction of wetland in the Yazoo River watershed of Mississippi

September 5, 2008
Outdoorsmen and environmentalists win a major battle. Now, how about some help with the equally bad project in Arkansas that would pump water from the lower White River basin to farms on the Grand Prairie. The late Wayne Hampton of Stuttgart, a former legislator, highway commissioner and Game and Fish Commissoner and a farmer who protected the environment by "keeping the water where it fell" and storing it for irrigation and to flood the hardwoods for waterfowl in tanks or ponds on his own 4,000-acre farm near Lodge Corner. He fought hard all the way to congress to stop that project and another environmentally destructive navigation lock and dam where the White River enters the Mississippi on the north side of Big Island.
For more on the Yazoo drainage project, please see
Wayne would have applauded this victory for the wild things and I hope it is now dropped from all planning.
Dear Aubrey,
I am thrilled to report that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Clean Water Act veto for the Yazoo Pumps, putting an end to this outrageously destructive project once and for all. This historic victory would not have been possible without your help in speaking out against this project.
I hope you will help us again and thank the EPA for its historic and environmentally responsible decision.
The EPA’s decision is a victory for clean water, natural flood protection and taxpayers and it proves that the actions of individuals like you make a difference. The EPA received more than 47,600 emails and comments and more than 99.9 percent urged the EPA to stop the Yazoo Pumps. This outpouring of public support was critical in the face of the tremendous pressure placed on the EPA to approve this wasteful project.
The Yazoo Pumps would have used $220 million of your federal tax dollars to drain and damage up to 200,000 acres of some of the richest wetlands in the nation, an area larger than all 5 boroughs of New York City, that have the capacity to store roughly 200 billion gallons of floodwaters.
Eliminating this free natural flood protection would have been unconscionable, especially when we know that climate change is causing more frequent and intense storms and floods.
Please let the EPA know that you support their decision and appreciate their leadership in protecting these wetlands.
Rebecca R. Wodder
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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Wind power coming to Benton County, Arkansas

The Morning News

Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Wind Energy To Be Studied In Benton County

By Scarlet Sims
BENTONVILLE -- A proposed tower that measures the temperature and speed of wind in Sulfur Springs could bring new economic opportunities to Benton County, said Aaron Weigel, development manager of Tradewind Energy.

The Benton County Planning Board's Technical Advisory Committee reviewed plans Wednesday to put a 195-foot-tall meteorological tower on 80 acres off Sibley Road. The Planning Board will decide whether to approve the tower's construction during its regular board meeting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17.

The tower is not a cell tower, but fell under the county's tower regulations, said planing director Ashley Pope. Weigel requested a variance because the tower does not withstand as much high wind as a cell tower must.

Nothing is located within 600 feet of the proposed tower site.

"It's really out in the middle of the pasture," Planning Director Ashley Pope said.

The NRG Systems tower is the strongest model available, Weigel said. Some towers have withstood tornadoes, he said. About 1,500 towers have been installed nationwide, and Tradewind has about 50 towers.

Models show Northwest Arkansas should have around 14 miles per hour wind, which will make wind power energy profitable, Weigel said. The proposed tower will help Tradewind prove turbines are viable, he said.

One tower is already monitoring wind in Oklahoma, a state listed as one of the top 10 states with wind-energy potential. Arkansas may have wind potential, according to a 1991 study. Weigel said wind is affected by trees and elevation and may be different than Oklahoma. He said he hopes to lease another site for another tower to study wind in northwest Benton County soon.

Tradewind plans to lease the property for the tower for five years, Weigel said. If the project is viable, turbines could begin being built in three years, Weigel said. He estimated the cost of the total project to be $300 million to $500 million. That means more tax money for the county and more work for subcontractors, Weigel said.

"It's a large economic boon for the area," he said.

Fast Fact

Oklahoma is listed as No. 8 of the top 20 states that have wind energy potential, according to the American Wind Energy Association Web site. Arkansas has moderate to good wind energy potential, meaning the state has winds above 6 meters per second.

Source: American Wind Energy Association.