Saturday, November 29, 2008

Washington Post says EPA, Interior to be transformed under Obama

EPA, Interior Dept. Chiefs Will Be Busy Erasing Bush's Mark
Friday 28 November 2008
by: Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post

Few federal agencies are expected to undergo as radical a transformation under President-elect Barack Obama as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department, which have been at the epicenter of many of the Bush administration's most intense scientific and environmental controversies.

The agencies have different mandates - the EPA holds sway over air and water pollution, while Interior administers the nation's vast federal land holdings as well as the Endangered Species Act - but both deal with some of the country's most pressing environmental concerns, such as climate change. And over the past eight years, many career employees and rank-and-file scientists have clashed with Bush appointees over a number of those of issues, including whether the federal government should allow California to regulate tailpipe emissions from automobiles and how best to prevent imperiled species from disappearing altogether.

In June 2007, Obama told reporters in Reno, Nev., that he would not hesitate to reverse many of the environmental policies Bush has enacted by executive order.

"I think the slow chipping away against clean air and clean water has been deeply disturbing," Obama added. "Much of it hasn't gone through Congress. It was done by fiat. That is something that can be changed by an administration, in part by reinvigorating the EPA, which has been demoralized."

Global warming policies are expected to mark one of the sharpest breaks between the Obama and the Bush administrations.

EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson overruled his career advisers in deciding to deny California authority to control tailpipe emissions and rejecting their conclusion that global warming poses a threat to public welfare, and Obama is likely to reverse both of those policies shortly after taking office. This month, the president-elect told delegates to the Governors' Global Climate Summit that he would push for a federal cap-and-trade system designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and then to cut them an additional 80 percent by 2050, targets Bush has never embraced.

"Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response," Obama said in a videotaped message. "The stakes are too high, the consequences too serious."

Jamie Rappaport Clark, executive vice president of the advocacy group Defenders of Wildlife, said that together, the two agencies will help shape the government's response to climate change.

Clark, who headed the Fish and Wildlife Service under President Bill Clinton, is not a formal Obama adviser, but many of her former Clinton colleagues are helping the transition team, including David Hayes, a partner at Latham & Watkins; John Leshy, a professor at the University of California's Hastings College of the Law; and Robert Sussman, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

"EPA will play the lead role in crafting a regulatory response," Clark said. "Interior has a huge role to play in adaptation" -- the effort to cope with climate changes that are already happening, such as drought and more frequent wildfires.

EPA spokesman Jonathan Shradar said Wednesday that the agency is focused on finalizing policies on coal-fired power plants and other matters, but he would not speculate on the task the next administration faces: "We'll let the next team decide what their priorities will be when they get here."

With escalating responsibilities, both agencies will need more resources after years when their budgets shrank, relatively speaking. The EPA received $7.5 billion from Congress in 2008, down from $7.8 billion in 2001. Interior has fared slightly better, getting $11.1 billion compared with $10.4 billion in 2001, but that represents more than a 10 percent cut in inflation-adjusted dollars.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who as chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has feuded with both Johnson and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne over global warming and other issues, said in an interview that she has high expectations of the people who will take their places.

"I'm expecting President-elect Obama to select people who really care about the issues they're in charge of, someone who believes in their mission and not someone who's going to undermine their mission," she said. "That's a sea change."

There is a long list of Democrats vying to take the helm of both agencies. The two leading contenders for EPA administrator are Mary Nichols, a favorite of Boxer's who chairs the California Air Resources Board, and Lisa Jackson, who is in the midst of switching from heading New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection to serving as chief of staff to New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine. Other possible nominees include Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen McGinty; Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles; former Sierra Club president and environmental activist Lisa Renstrom; and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a Pace University law professor and chairman of the Waterkeeper Alliance, another advocacy group.

The list for Interior is almost as long. Two House Democrats, Raul M. Grijalva (Ariz.) and Mike Thompson (Calif.) are contenders, but Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, former Oregon governor John Kitzhaber, National Trust for Historic Preservation President Richard Moe, as well as three former Interior officials - David Hayes, John Leshy and Clark at Defenders of Wildlife - have all been mentioned.

Regardless of who takes over at the agencies, the new leaders will face impatient scrutiny from green groups eager to change the government's trajectory on the environment. Frank O'Donnell, who heads the advocacy group Clean Air Watch, ticked off 10 initiatives he expects the new EPA administrator to undertake, including changing rules on emissions from coal-fired power plants and monitoring airborne lead pollution more closely.

"The Bush administration has cut so many special deals for industry that it could be a Herculean effort reversing them all," O'Donnell said. "The new team is going to have to muck out the regulatory stables."


Staff researcher Madonna Lebling contributed to this report.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Barbara Fitzpatrick's thoughts on the economy and climate change

Efficiency is the solution

What's not to like about energy efficiency ? Efficiency is conservative and liberal. It benefits the whole population while saving money and resources. Insisting on inefficiency is insisting on paying more than something's worth.

The two major problems staring us in the face are unemployment and climate change. Efficiency alone can solve about half of both. We need about 10 wedges to avoid the worst of extreme climate change, each wedge representing reduction of 1 billion metric tons of carbon by 2055. They include doubling world-fleet average miles per gallon and building efficiency and halving world average miles driven. Each one means jobs, good jobs, retrofitting and weatherizing buildings, manufacturing lines for cars that get 45, 55 or more mpg, rebuilding and running rail and mass transit for people and freight.

Other wedge "green"jobs replace existing coal plants-no new ones, pleaseby increasing gas-fired power plants fourfold, wind-powered plants 50-fold and photovoltaics 700-fold. More efficiency, letting nature do the sequestering, creates jobs protecting and restoring rainforests and wetlands, and replacing high-petroleum, high-water input, carbon-releasing corporate agriculture with family farms (producing 50 percent more for less petroleum and water while sequestering carbon ) will increase our national food security. American efficiency can create good jobs and rebuild the economy, giving America domestic and international security. The next president and Congress need to hear this. I'm going to tell them. How about you ?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bush moves to destroy wilderness protection

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What he can destroy in 60 days‏
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President for 60 More Days, Bush Tearing Apart Protection for America's Wilderness
Thursday 20 November 2008
by: Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian UK

Oil shale mining in Rocky Mountains gets go-ahead. "Midnight regulations" to dismantle safeguards.

Washington - George Bush is working at a breakneck pace to dismantle at least 10 major environmental safeguards protecting America's wildlife, national parks and rivers before he leaves office in January.

With barely 60 days to go until Bush hands over to Barack Obama, his White House is working methodically to weaken or reverse an array of regulations that protect America's wilderness from logging or mining operations, and compel factory farms to clean up dangerous waste.

In the latest such move this week, Bush opened up some 800,000 hectares (2m acres) of land in Rocky Mountain states for the development of oil shale, one of the dirtiest fuels on the planet. The law goes into effect on January 17, three days before Obama takes office.

The timing is crucial. Most regulations take effect 60 days after publication, and Bush wants the new rules in place before he leaves the White House on January 20. That will make it more difficult for Obama to undo them.

"There are probably going to be scores of rules that are issued between now and January 20," said John Walke, a senior attorney at the National Resources Defence Council. "And there are at least a dozen very controversial rules that will weaken public health and environment protection that have no business being adopted and would not be acceptable to the incoming Obama administration, based on stances he has taken as a senator and during the campaign."

The flurry of new rules - known as midnight regulations - is part of a broader campaign by the Bush administration to leave a lasting imprint on environmental policy. Some of the actions have provoked widespread protests such as the Bureau of Land Management's plans to auction off 20,000 hectares of oil and gas parcels within sight of Utah's Delicate Arch natural bridge.

The Bush administration is also accused of engaging in a parallel go-slow on court-ordered actions on the environment. "There are the midnight regulations that they are trying to force out before they leave office, and then there are the other things they are trying not to do before they go. A lot of the climate stuff falls into the category of things they would rather not do," said a career official at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Other presidents have worked up to the final moments of their presidency to impose their legacy on history. But Bush has been particularly organised in his campaign to roll back years of protections - not only on the environment, but workplace safety and employee rights.

"This is Bush trying to leave a legacy that supports his ideology," said Gary Bass, executive director of OMB Watch, an independent Washington thinktank that monitors the White House office of management and budget. "This was very strategic and it was in line of the ideology of the Bush administration which has been to put in place a free market and conservative agenda."

The campaign got under way in May when the White House chief of staff, Joshua Bolten, wrote to government agencies asking them to forward proposals for rule changes. Bolten had initially set a November 1 deadline on rule-making. The White House denies that the flurry of rule changes is politically motivated. "What the chief of staff wanted to avoid was this very charge that we would be trying to, in the dark of night in the last days of the administration, be rushing regulations into place ahead of the incoming, next administration," Tony Fratto, the White House spokesman, told reporters.

But OMB Watch notes that the office of management and budget website shows 83 rules reviewed from September 1 to October 31 this year - about double its workload in 2007, 2006 and 2005.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration cut short the timeframe for public comment. In one instance, officials claimed to have reviewed 300,000 comments about changes to wildlife protection within the space of a week.

The new regulations include a provision that would free industrial-scale pig and cattle farms from complying with the Clean Water Act so long as they declare they are not dumping animal waste in lakes and rivers. The rule was finalised on October 31. Mountain-top mining operations will also be exempt from the Clean Water Act, allowing them to dump debris in rivers and lakes. The rule is still under review at the OMB. Coal-fired power plants will no longer be required to install pollution controls or clean up soot and smog pollution.

Yet another of the new rules, which has generated publicity, would allow the Pentagon and other government agencies to embark on new projects without first undertaking studies on the potential dangers to wildlife.

Announcements of further rule changes are expected in the next few days including one that would weaken regulation of perchlorate, a toxin in rocket fuel that can affect brain development in children, in drinking water.

The Bush strategy has prompted a fightback from environmentalists, the Democratic-controlled Congress, and members of the Obama transition team.

John Podesta, who is overseeing the transition, has said that Obama will review the last-minute actions, and will seek to repeal those that are "not in the interests of the country".

Pollute, Baby, Pollute

The last-minute rules passed during the "midnight hours" of the George Bush presidency differ from his predecessors because they are basically a project of deregulation - not regulation. Among the most far-reaching:

Industrial-size pig, cow and chicken farms can disregard the Clean Water Act and air pollution controls.

The interior department can approve development such as mining or logging without consulting wildlife managers about their impact.

Restrictions will be eased so power plants can operate near national parks and wilderness areas.

Pollution controls on new power plants will be downgraded.

Mountain-top mine operators could dump waste into rivers and streams.

2m acres of land in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado opened to development of oil shales, the dirtiest fuel on Earth.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Marsha Melnichak's passing leaves an empty spot in the hearts of Fayetteville residents

Please click on image to ENLARGE photo of Marsha Melnichak (right) and friends visiting the Fayetteville Farmer's Market on October 25, 2008.

Marsha Melnichak died in her sleep Thursday night November 20, 2008, or early this morning, at Washington Regional Hospital in Fayetteville, Arkansas, I was told.
Having visited her Wednesday night at the hospital, I knew her time was short. During the meeting of the Telecommunication Board on Tuesday night, several people spoke off camera of their sadness that she would likely never again attend such meetings and report on them with her clear sense of reality and highly developed ability to sort through the chaff and find the significant points of such city meetings. She earned universal respect from city workers, public officials and area residents who read her news stories.
Few people reach Marsha's high level of competence and integrity in reporting the news.
She covered the beginning of the mayoral campaign well, and it was clear in brief conversations in the weeks since she found herself unable to work that one of her concerns was not being able to continue her work and be on hand next Tuesday to report on the final chapter.
Maybe she realized that she would not be with us by this time. Most of us did not.
Her absence should be a reminder that, whatever goals we set, pursuing them with honesty, good humor and grace is as important as the result.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Clean Air Arkansas to meet November 19 in Fayetteville

Clean Air Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR
November 19, 2008 Meeting
Agenda & Notes

Welcome! Introductions

Review Turk Jr. Coal Plant, Hope, AR
No New Coal Rally
What is next?

Shady Point II Plant, Shady Point, OK
Oklahoma City Meeting, Nov. 13, 2008
What is next?

Roles of Organizations
Clean Air Arkansas
Carbon Caps Task Force
Audubon Arkansas
Sierra Club
Ecological Conservation Organization
ARK-OKL Alliance (no name yet)
Repower Arkansas

Statewide No New Coal Day to Beebe?
Meet at City Hall
Dec. 8-15, weekday lunch hour?

EPA Ruling-What does this mean for coal?

League of Women Voters Issues Paper (CAA’s Role)-due Early January
Resources for the Arkansas Voter, Where to go for info on:
• Coal Plants
• GCGW recommendations
• Repower Arkansas
• Carbon Caps Task Force-PLANETwork


EPA can no longer ignore pollution by coal-fired power plants

Welcome to the first day of our clean energy future.

The Sierra Club received word yesterday that we have won a major decision; the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) will no longer be able to ignore global warming pollution caused by coal-fired power plants [1].
This victory can be the turning point in our fight for clean energy.
We've stopped virtually all new coal plants dead in their tracks.
This ruling means new and proposed coal plants (over 150 have been proposed in the last two years) must now go back to the drawing board to address their carbon dioxide emissions.
This victory would not have been possible without your support. Will you help keep the clean energy momentum going by donating to the Sierra Club today?
With coal as the single largest cause of our nation's global warming pollution, this is a critical step to ensuring a clean energy future.
And it's just the beginning. The ruling gives us the framework we need to make real progress on replacing coal with new clean energy solutions that will repower our economy and help fight climate change.
We need your help now more than ever. We can seize upon this decision and make it the turning point in our fight for clean energy. Please consider donating to the Sierra Club today.
This major breakthrough will strengthen the efforts of Sierra Club activists from all over the country who have been engaged in fighting new coal plants. Our mandate to put an end to dirty coal has just gotten that much stronger.
This ruling opens a number of new doors to our fight. From giving the Obama administration a clean slate to regulate carbon emissions to fighting for the retirement of the fleet of existing, old, dirty coal plants, there is a lot of work to get started on.

Bruce Nilles
National Director, Sierra Club Coal Campaign

1 Bryan Walsh, "Environmentalists Win Big EPA Ruling on Coal Emissions", TIME, Thursday November 13, 2008.,8599,1859049,00.html

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Climate Project announces grant to RepowerArkansas

RepowerArkansas NEWS RELEASE

The Statewide Coalition RepowerArkansas Receives The First Grant Awarded from
National Organization: The Climate Project


Robert McAfee, of Hackett, AR, one of the 1,000 trained by Al Gore, has been awarded the first ever grant from The Climate Project (TCP) ( to fund a statewide coalition Repower Arkansas. The coalition formed to promote awareness of the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, creating renewable power and green collar jobs. The strategy of the coalition is to develop a citizen alert network to inform the Arkansas General Assembly that the public wants the recommendations from the Arkansas Governor’s Commission to be adopted as law. By enacting these policy options many new green collar jobs can be created. This is a real opportunity for Arkansas to become a leader in repowering energy supplies with clean, renewable energy sources like solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and others.
Robert is a climatologist and an environmental educator. Since December 2006 he has given over 50 presentations of Mr. Gore’s slide show. Four other Arkansas TCP presenters, Kevin Smith, of Helena, Brent Robinson, Fayetteville, Robert Huston, Van Buren, and Cindy Fribourgh of Little Rock will also work with the coalition. Robert and Kevin served on the Governor’s Commission on Global Warming. The final report of the commission was presented to Governor Beebe on October 31.
Over the next three months members of the coalition will travel to communities around the state to discuss the climate crisis with citizens and share the opportunity of green collar jobs for economic development. Green-collar jobs pay family wages and provide opportunities for advancement for a career with increasing skills and wages. While some green jobs require advanced technical skills, most are middle-skill jobs requiring more education than high school, but less than a four-year degree. Much of the work to green our economy involves transforming the places that we live and work, and the way we travel. Repower Arkansas will enlist the support of citizens to inform the General Assembly of the publics growing desire for clean energy and green jobs.
The first event will be November 18th at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, from 7-10pm. These presentations will incorporate the major themes of the Climate Project and The WE Can Solve It Campaign with Arkansas specific applications from the Global Warming Commission’s policy options.
Further information can be obtained at
CONTACTS: Robert McAfee;
Joanna Pollock;
Charlotte Wales

Statewide coalition to promote recommendations of global-warming commission

RepowerArkansas NEWS RELEASE

Statewide Coalition Forms to Promote
Global Warming Commission Recommendations

RepowerArkansas: Green-collar Jobs in the Natural State to Provide Economic Solutions for the Climate Crisis

Repower Arkansas is a statewide coalition of organizations and individuals committed to rallying the legislature to adopt the recommendations of Governor Beebe's Global Warming Commission. By enacting these policy options many new green collar jobs can be created. This is a real opportunity for Arkansas to become a leader in repowering energy supplies with clean, renewable energy sources like solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and others.
The coalition, which is steadily growing, includes organizations, such as, the OMNI Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology, the Carbon Caps Task Force, Ecological Conservation Organization (ECO), Planet Works, Social Sustenance, Arkansas Climate Awareness Project (ARCAP), and the Thinking Like a Mountain Institute. These groups are working with the national organizations “The Climate Project” and “The WE Can Solve It Campaign” to inform the Arkansas public of the opportunities to simultaneously reduce global warming and create thousands of green collar jobs.
Over the next three months members of the coalition will travel to communities around the state to discuss the climate crisis with citizens and share the opportunity of green collar jobs for economic development. Green-collar jobs pay family wages and provide opportunities for advancement for a career with increasing skills and wages. While some green jobs require advanced technical skills, most are middle-skill jobs requiring more education than high school, but less than a four-year degree. Much of the work to green our economy involves transforming the places that we live and work, and the way we travel. Repower Arkansas will enlist the support of citizens to inform the General Assembly of the publics growing desire for clean energy and green jobs.
The first event will be November 18th at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, from 7-10pm. These presentations will incorporate the major themes of the Climate Project and The WE Can Solve It Campaign with Arkansas specific applications from the Global Warming Commission’s policy options.
The coalition believes that the best way to start an economic boom for Arkansas and address the climate crisis is for the 2009 legislative session to approve public policy that enacts the recommendations of Governor Beebe's Global Warming Commission. Further information can be obtained at
CONTACTS: Robert McAfee;
Joanna Pollock;
Charlotte Wales

Carbon Caps Task Force meeting at 1:30 p.m. today at the Fayetteville, Arkansas, public library

Carbon Caps Task Force meeting at 1:30 p.m. today at the Fayetteville, Arkansas, public library.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Arkansas panel ignores environmental hazards and issues air permit for coal-fired power plant

Utility gets air permit for plant
Posted on Thursday, November 6, 2008
The final air permit for a $ 1. 6 billion coal-fired power plant to be built in Hempstead County was issued Wednesday by state environmental regulators.

Southwestern Electric Power Co. spokesman Scott McCloud said the company is “extremely pleased” to complete a two-year process that involved two public hearings and hundreds of comments from residents.

Yet any euphoria that plant supporters may experience could be short-lived, as opponents of the project 15 miles northeast of Texarkana plan to appeal the decision.

“I am confident there will be an appeal,” said Chuck Nestrud, a Little Rock attorney who represents private hunting clubs and owners of 18, 000 acres near the site. “But right now we’re not sure which parties would participate.”

McCloud said, “Of course, there is always the possibility of another appeal, and if that occurs, who knows what will happen ? But today is a good day.”

Such a move must be filed with the Arkansas Pollution Control Ecology Commission within 30 days, said Doug Szenher, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.

If so, it would place a stay on the permit, he said. That would block SWEPCO’s plans to immediately start full-scale construction on the John W. Turk Jr. power plant, which is expected to take four years to complete.

It would also join two other appeals filed against the 600-megawatt facility.

One is before the 8 th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis. It contests a federal judge’s July ruling that certain types of construction are allowed before obtaining an air permit.

The other is before the Arkansas Court of Appeals. It contends that the Arkansas Public Service Commission’s 2-1 approval of the plant in November 2007 was improper because it ruled on SWEPCO’s need to provide additional power and need for the Turk plant itself in separate hearings.

Once plant construction begins, it would create up to 1, 400 jobs at the height of the project and 110 permanent jobs once the plant is completed, SWEPCO said. The project would generate about $ 38 million in sales and property tax revenue and an annual payroll of $ 9 million to southwest Arkansas.

However, the plant site is near one of Arkansas’ most ecologically sensitive areas. This includes 2, 000-acre Grassy Lake, which is home to alligators, migratory birds and some of Arkansas’ last cypress swamps and stands of virgin timber.

Environmental activists decried Environmental Quality Department’s decision, noting that the Governor’s Commission on Global Warming recently recommended a moratorium on any new coal-fired power plants in Arkansas until 2020.

“This battle is not over,” said Glen Hooks, senior regional representative for the Sierra Club. “Expect that Sierra Club and our allies will use every tool in our arsenal and fight this plant until absolutely all avenues have been exhausted, up to and including legal challenges.”

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Movie on the planet

The Planet Part 1 - Watch Online!

This outstanding documentary series outlines the challenges faced by humanity in the grip of global environmental change, making a strong case for mankind's own contribution to this life threatening problem. Not limited to climate change, The Planet examines global changes brought about by overpopulation, the destruction of plants and animals, high levels of consumption, growing economies and industrialized farming. Swedish filmmakers Michael Stenberg, Linus Torell, Johan Söderberg take this serious material to the next level, using unconventional aerial photography, archived instructional films and a thriving soundtrack to bring a scientific subject into the realm of artistic, contemporary documentary. Environmental experts interviewed for the series include Pulitzer Prize and National Medal of Science winner Jared Diamond ("Guns, Germs and Steel"), author and Stanford professor Gretchen Daily, Herman Daly, Will Steffen, George Monbiot, Norman Myers and Lester Brown.

Part 1: Global Change
The first episode of The Planet attempts to correct our use of the term "climate change", arguing that what humanity really faces is change to all aspects of the biosphere, including the decimation of resources, ongoing damage to natural services such as pollination, and the widespread extinction of plants and animals. This is a global change – one that reaches beyond the climate. Because it's global, it's a marked example of our growing dependence on the behavior of other nations.

The first people to feel such global changes are often the most unlikely – Inuit hunters whose fish are suffering mutations from e-waste, Australian ranchers fighting raging bushfires, Portuguese farmers facing ceaseless droughts, year in year out. We all share the planet, and the decisions we make now will affect not only our own lives, but the future of the whole world.

Visit our pages for The Planet Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

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Dick Bennett

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Morning News reports on the ADEQ's token effort to protect Arkansas watersheds from gas-drilling pollution

The Morning News

Local News for Northwest Arkansas

State Plans Closer Look At Drilling Water
By The Associated Press
LITTLE ROCK -- The top state environmental regulator her agency will increase inspections of areas where drilling companies store water used in boring through rock to reach natural gas deposits.
Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality Director Teresa Marks said Friday companies now send test samples to the department but that she wants the agency to start conducting its own tests.
Drilling has expanded rapidly across the Fayetteville Shale in north-central Arkansas, where higher natural gas prices have made it economically feasible to probe more difficult areas to extract gas. Drilling sites have lined storage ponds that contain water and rock from the drilling process.
Marks says random inspections at the ponds are to start immediately.
“A concern I have is we don’t know for sure what’s in those ponds,” Marks said Friday during the Arkansas Watershed Advisory Group and Arkansas Stream Team Watershed Conference. “They send us test samples, but we want to do testing ourselves.”
Marks says she has 17 inspectors, with eight of them working Fayetteville Shale. She says she needs to hire more inspectors to be able to handle the random testing.
Marks said that it would take a few months after the inspections to develop a report on the findings. There are a dozen sites that are allowed to store water that’s used during drilling, and three other companies are seeking ADEQ permits, she said.
“We want to do more testing and more research to determine the long-term effects the facilities could have on Arkansas,” Marks said.
The water can be used to irrigate crops, but soil and water samples must first be approved by ADEQ.
State Rep. Betty Pickett, D-Conway, who was at the gathering, said the Legislature should provide resources the ADEQ needs.
“This may be one of the biggest economic boons in Arkansas, and Arkansas needs it,” Pickett said. “Arkansas will be enriched by what’s going on, but while we bask in the dollar signs, we must not develop a blind eye for the environmental impact this will have. There’s no reason we have to trade one for the other.”
Shale drilling will contribute an estimated $22 billion to the state economy by 2012.
Pickett said she will encourage state regulatory agencies, such as the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission and the ADEQ to work closely together to keep an eye on the industry.