Arkansas Environment

Federal regulators say they will let Arkansas enforce a portion of its own haze-reduction program, prompting criticism from environmentalists who say the plan is too weak.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Monday it had approved Arkansas' proposal for reducing nitrogen oxide, which with sulfur dioxide contributes to haze.

Clean Line
Arkansas Business

Arkansas's congressional delegation has asked U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry to block plans for a power line across the state, arguing that recent setbacks make it unlikely for the project to continue.

Delegation members sent a letter to Perry on Tuesday urging the Energy Department to either "pause or terminate" the $2.5 billion Clean Line Energy project. The project is expected to bring several hundred miles of wind power lines through Arkansas, which landowners say would lower property values.

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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.

Bruce Westerman
c-span.org

Arkansas Congressman Bruce Westerman’s bill to change how federal forests are managed passed in the U.S. House on Wednesday and is headed to the Senate. Last year a similar version of Westerman’s Resilient Federal Forests Act passed the House but stalled in the Senate. The Republican lawmaker tells KUAR this time around he expects better results in the upper chamber.

Listen to the full interview in the link posted above.

There’s a new superintendent at Pinnacle Mountain State Park. Josh Jeffers was named to the post on Monday, which administers more than 2,300 acres of wetlands, prairies, forests, and of course – Pinnacle Mountain. Jeffers says he intends to focus his energies on attracting youth from diverse backgrounds in Little Rock schools.

Assistant Pro Tempore 1st District Senator Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot).
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

President Donald Trump has appointed an Arkansas state Senator as the federal representative on the Southern States Energy Board. Eddie Joe Williams says he’ll be sworn into the new post in 30 to 45 days, and in the meantime he’ll resign as state Senator.

He’s held an elected office of kind or another in the Cabot area since the early 2000’s. He was elected to the Senate in 2010. A special election will have to be called to fill out the remainder of his term.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday that it will let farmers keep spraying the weedkilling chemical dicamba on Monsanto's new dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton. The decision is a victory for the biotech giant and the farmers who want to use the company's newest weedkilling technology.

Arkansas Nuclear One Entergy power plant
Wikipedia

Arkansas leaders are responding to the expected announcement Tuesday from the head of the federal Environmental Protection Agency to roll back Obama-era regulations.

The Clean Power Plan was intended to significantly curb pollution by regulating the carbon emissions from different types of power plants. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge was part of a 29-state coalition challenging the legality of the plan. In February 2016 the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to stay compliance with the regulations while it waited to judge legal merits of the plan.

On a recent summer afternoon, workers and trucks buzzed in and out of a pump station under construction in DeValls Bluff.  Several miles away, the site of what will eventually be a 100-acre regulating reservoir is currently filled with dirt.

Already 17 years in the making, the project tends to spark cycles of controversy among those who say it’s a badly needed solution to the region’s water woes and those who say it’s too large of a financial and environmental burden.  Such woes include rapidly dwindling ground water.

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