Arkansas Environment

Arkansas Natural Gas Drilling Declines, With Fewest Rigs In Decade

Apr 7, 2015
Natural Gas Drilling Mt. Vernon in Faulkner County
Arkansas Times

Arkansas’ rig count has fallen to levels not seen in nearly a decade as natural gas drillers and oilfield equipment firms continue to cut capital spending as oil and gas prices search for a bottom.

At the same time, Arkansas severance tax collections hit a sudden headwind, falling precipitously by 47.5% from $6.08 million a year ago to nearly $3.19 million in February. State tax revenue for natural gas production also fell nearly 50% from $6.27 million in January, according to tax data compiled by the Revenue Division of the Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration.

Leslie Rutledge attorney general

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge testified before a congressional committee in Washington Thursday, saying proposed regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency would be an "economic disaster" for Arkansas.

The House Oversight Subcommittee on the Interior heard from officials about the Clean Power Plan, which in Arkansas would require cutting carbon emissions by 44 percent by 2030.

Leslie Rutledge attorney general
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge says she will testify before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee.

Rutledge announced Tuesday that she has accepted an invitation to testify Thursday before the Oversight Subcommittee on the Interior and will discuss U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations and the impact of those regulations on the states.

Rutledge said in a statement that "the EPA continues to pile on burdensome regulations" that she says harms Arkansas' existing industry and makes it difficult to attract new industry.

The period for written public comments on three air pollution control regulations has been extended until Feb. 17. Arkansas environmental officials announced the extension on Wednesday.

Officials say the proposed changes are necessary in order to adopt the EPA's National Ambient Air Quality Standards for things like lead, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and ozone.

The proposed changes will give the state the authority to implement air pollution control programs and to issue permits.

For Smith National Historic Site / National Park Service

Arkansas’s second largest city, Fort Smith, will embark on 12-year, $255 million upgrade to its sewer and water treatment operations as part of a settlement regarding a decade of Clean Water Act violations. KUAR’s Jacob Kauffman talked to the Environmental Protection Agency’s chief of the Municipal Enforcement Branch Loren Denton about where untreated waste ended up and the prospects of cleaner water.

Previously proposed routes for SWEPCO's Shipe Road-Kings River Transmission Line Project.

A controversial $116 million transmission line proposal for northwest Arkansas is being withdrawn by Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO). The company said in a statement Tuesday that there is no longer enough demand to justify the project.

The high-voltage power line has drawn opposition as it has been reviewed by the Arkansas Public Service Commission. Pat Costner, director of Save the Ozarks, organized opposition to the once-proposed power line based on property and environmental concerns.

Arkansas will receive $13.5 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help with the state’s water infrastructure and inspection.

The money will be used by two state agencies and local communities to install, upgrade and replace water infrastructure across the state.

State Plan: Divert Surface Water To Make Up For Groundwater Loss

Dec 9, 2014

Between $3.4 billion and $7.8 billion should be invested in the infrastructure needed to help Arkansas take advantage of surface water instead of unsustainably pumping from depleting groundwater sources. The good news: The state has more than enough surface water to take care of its needs.

Arkansas Times

A federal judge says he won't certify a complaint against Whirlpool Corp. as a class-action lawsuit because he is not sure whether residents of a polluted Arkansas neighborhood or the company is the driving force behind it.

The Southwest Times Record reported Thursday that U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes III rejected a joint motion seeking class-action status and the approval of a proposed settlement.

A degreasing solvent leaked into groundwater near the plant, reducing property values. Benton Harbor, Michigan-based Whirlpool closed the plant in 2012.

Arkansas Times

Whirlpool Corp. says in its new quarterly report that chemical injections this year at its closed Fort Smith facility decreased groundwater contamination levels.

The company's former plant used trichloroethylene, known as TCE, as a degreasing solvent from the late 1960s through the early 1980s. The chemical is now known to be linked to increased cancer risk.