Jacqueline Froelich

Jacqueline Froelich is an investigative journalist and has been a news producer for KUAF National Public Radio since 1998. She covers politics, the environment, energy, business, education, history, race and culture. Her radio segments have been nationally syndicated. She is also a station-based national correspondent for NPR in Washington DC., and recipient of eight national and state broadcast awards. 

More than 150 wood pellet manufacturing mills operate across the U.S., many supplying the domestic woodstove pellet market with home heating fuel.

More than a quarter are industrial pellet mills, grinding thousands of acres of forest into biomass for overseas export to electrical utilities stoking retrofitted coal-fire furnaces with "densified" wood.

The largest mills, concentrated in the southeastern U.S., claim to sustainably harvest timber, from both hardwood and softwood forests. But a new mill, Highland Pellets in Pine Bluff, which harvests only fast-growing Southern softwood pine may be among the greenest.

Still, the calculated ecological costs and benefits of forest biomass remain hazy.

Clean Line Energy Partners, headquartered in Houston, Texas intends to build five long-haul, high-voltage clean power transmission lines across at least 10 states. 

Together, the “Clean Lines” could transport more than 15,000 megawatts of new industrial wind energy generated in Kansas, Iowa, Texas and Oklahoma to utility markets across the eastern half of the U.S. 

But progress along all the clean lines, including a controversial route through Arkansas, remains tangled by opposition.

A public-private partnership is pushing ahead with plans to build the nation's largest wind farm — the second largest in the world — in western Oklahoma.

The Wind Catcher Energy Connection Project is a collaborative venture by Invenergy, a global renewable energy design firm based in Chicago, Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO) and Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) which serves three states, including western Arkansas.

The wind project, scheduled to go on line in late 2020, will yield low-cost clean power as well as jobs.

Seven months after the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled Fayetteville's LGBT-inclusive civil rights ordinance did not comport with state law, a lower court must now decide if that law is even constitutional.

In Washington County Circuit Court before Judge Doug Martin, lawyers on both sides argued over discovery motions and the right to stay administration of Fayetteville's civil rights ordinance and enforcement commission. In place for two years, the ordinance was established explicitly to protect LGBT residents and visitors from discrimination -- because state law does not. 

Vietnam veteran James Kaelin stands on a dirt road staring into an empty scrub forest once part of Fort Chaffee, a U.S. Army Training camp east of Fort Smith, Arkansas. 

“They won’t even admit to this being a test site to anybody,” Kaelin says. “But I have information showing the Army tested Agent Orange, Agent White and Agent Blue on seven different locations on Fort Chaffee in 1966 and 1967 without knowledge to the general public. It was top secret.”

Arkansas Licensed Lay Midwives are regulated by the Arkansas Department of Health. Current rules require mothers to prove they are medically fit to endure a midwife-assisted birth by undergoing two medical assessments with a qualified medical provider or public health clinician. Midwives must relinquish care of any client found to be at risk, or risk losing their license.

Inside Dr. Tammy Post's medical clinic lobby on Willow Springs Road in Johnson, a silvery wall fountain trickles; beyond the water feature is a spacious suite of examination rooms. Post, a board certified family and osteopathic medical practitioner says she’s interested in alternative medicine but never imagined she would become an advocate for medical marijuana.

“I was one of those doctors that thought marijuana was all the myths we believed about a gateway drug,” she says. “I believed it to be illicit and dangerous, like ecstasy and heroin and cocaine.”

Over the past two months, Post has certified more than a hundred patients for Arkansas Department of Health medical marijuana registry identification cards. That's roughly one of every eight approved statewide so far.  

Tuvala native and noted Republic of the Marshall Islands political leader, Tony de Brum, died Monday in the capital city of Majuro. De Brum is also widely recognized as a global nuclear disarmament and international climate change treaty negotiator.

De Brum often traveled from the Marshall Islands  to the Arkansas Ozarks, where an estimated 13,000 Marshallese migrants are now settled, to visit family and friends and take advantage of employment, educational and health care opportunities.

Marshallese are able to freely travel and live anywhere in the U.S. for as long as they wish with only a passport because of de Brum’s enduring political efforts.

Several toddlers huddle under an oak tree on the Harrison town square pretending to burn something.

"P-wish," a little boy says.  "I’m going to light the fire up!”

Their parents stand a few feet away, with roughly 60 other Ku Klux Klan members holding placards as a gay pride parade goes by. The air vibrates with chants and counter-chants, some of the anti-LGBTQ shouts vulgar. The Klan protestors follow the pride procession for several blocks, converging on a local park where parade members are staging a small festival. Protestors are barred from the gated event so take up positions around the perimeter. Many are mothers pushing infants in strollers, children and teenagers, as well as single women, all members of the Christian Revival Center, operated by Pastor and Ku Klux Klan leader, Thomas Robb. 

  

Dr. Sheldon Riklon walks into an examination room inside Community Clinic in Springdale and greets his patient.

"Iakwe," he says, and slides a stool over to Haem Mea, a shy Marshallese elder. The two speak softly to one another for a few moments.

Then he poses this question: So what's it like to have a real Marshallese doctor in town?

“Really helpful,” Mea says, grinning.

Riklon is one of only two U.S. trained Marshallese doctors in the world. He relocated from the Hawaiin islands last year to Northwest Arkansas where the largest population of migrants from the Republic of the Marshall Islands in the world now reside.

Dr. Riklon practices family medicine at Community Clinic, a federally qualified health center which last year served more than 36,000 middle- to low-income patients in Benton and Washington Counties, thousands of them Marshallese. And many of them are really sick. 

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