Wesley Brown/ Talk Business & Politics

Wesley Brown is the Business Editor for Talk Business & Politics. He can be reached by email at wesbrocomm@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @BrownOnBusiness.

After a dismal fiscal 2015, Australian mining giant BHP Billiton has unveiled plans to essentially mothball the company’s drilling operations in the Fayetteville and Haynesville dry-gas shale plays until commodity prices rebound in the future.

In its recently released results for the fiscal year 2015, which ended June 30, BHP reported earnings from continuing operations of $1.30 per American Depositary shares (ADS), down $74.5% from $5.11 per ADS a year ago. Revenues for full-year fiscal 2015 totaled $44.6 billion, down 21.4% from $56.8 billion in the year-ago period.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently announced that telecom carriers in Arkansas will receive more than $54 million from the Connect America Fund to provide broadband services in rural and remote areas of the state with little or no high-speed Internet access.

This is the second phase of funding through the federal program created in 2011 under the Universal Service Fund, the controversial federal subsidy program established by the 1996 Telecom Act to promote universal access to telecommunications services in rural and remote areas.

Joint Light Tactical Vehicle JLTV
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Anticipation is building with an announcement expected soon about where the next generation of military combat vehicle will be built.

Last week, Arkansas Economic Development Commission executive director Mike Preston revealed that the U.S. Department of Defense has told him the award of the highly-coveted Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) will be announced on one of the next three Fridays – Aug. 28, Sept. 4, or Sept. 11.

Natural Gas Drilling Mt. Vernon in Faulkner County
Arkansas Times

Arkansas severance tax collections tumbled nearly 59% in the first month of state’s fiscal year 2016 as Fayetteville Shale drillers were unable to sustain production levels due to continued weak natural gas prices, spending cuts and fewer operating rigs.

According to monthly tax data compiled by the Revenue Division of the Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration, state tax revenue for natural gas production in July (the first month of fiscal 2016) came in at $3.48 million, compared to $8.4 million a year ago.

Leslie Rutledge Attorney General
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the creation of the Arkansas Cooperative Disability Investigations Program (CDI), a joint state-federal initiative to prevent fraud in disability programs administered by the federal Social Security Administration (SSA).

According to Rutledge, Arkansas is now the 29th CDI unit to take part in the federal initiative, which began in 1998 to investigate questionable statements and activities of Social Security claimants, medical providers and other parties to prevent potential fraud in the federal program.

Fayetteville-based Sage Partners announced Monday that it has leased 55,882 square feet of space at the former Hawker facility at Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport to Mountain Home aviation services firm Fly Arkansas LLC.

Fly Arkansas plans to begin operations at the airport facility in October 2015, offering aircraft leasing, rental, management and other aviation services. This is the company’s third Fixed Based Operator (FBO) facility, and it’s first in Little Rock, company officials said.

Arkansas and U.S. motorists will likely see pump prices continue to move lower for the rest of the year, and may well see local gas prices ratchet down near the two dollar level ahead of the holiday season, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s short-term energy outlook released Tuesday (Aug. 11).

white bluff entergy power plant coal energy
Arkansas Business

Entergy Arkansas Inc. on Friday proposed what it called “a more reasonable, long-term, multi-unit approach to address Arkansas’ regional haze” in response to the federal Environment Protection Agency’s rejection of the state’s earlier plan to improve visibility in wilderness areas.

The proposal comes only days after the EPA on Monday released its final rules on President Obama’s far-reaching and controversial “Clean Power Plan,” putting the nation on track to cut carbon pollution from the power sector 32% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Power Lines

A day after President Obama unveiled the centerpiece of his climate change proposal, representatives from Entergy Arkansas Inc. and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC) are taking a wait-and-see approach before responding publicly to how they will deal with the historic environmental mandate.

Grid operator Southwest Power Pool (SPP) released its third and final analysis of the potential impact of the Environmental Protection Agency’s draft Clean Power Plan, saying it would cost an estimated $3.3 billion annually in new generation capital investment and energy production costs to comply with the federal “dirty air” mandate.