Arkansas Environment

Georgia-Pacific says it plans invest $37 million at its lumber operations in Gurdon to expand production capacity at the lumber mill by about 60 percent. Improvements at the mill include installing a new continuous dry kiln and planer mill, among other infrastructure improvements.

The project is expected to be finished next year. The company said Thursday that it's also considering additional investments - totaling about $20 million - at the nearby Gurdon plywood mill that would increase the mill's efficiency and capacity and further reduce air emissions.

The former Superfund site is in Greene County near Paragould.

The site of a former auto equipment company in northeast Arkansas has been removed from a national list of one of the most environmentally dangerous places in the country. On Wednesday the Environmental Protection Agency removed the former Monroe Auto Equipment Company site near Paragould from a list of Superfund sites.

EPA spokesperson Jennah Durant said the plant stopped using the area to dispose of waste in 1978 and the site was hazardous for decades.

A company affiliated with the University of Arkansas that makes a compostable bag as a substitute for plastic bags has been awarded a $741,221 grant by The National Science Foundation.

The grant to cycleWood Solutions announced Monday will help the company accelerate the commercialization of the Xylobag. Company officials say Ozark Natural Foods in Fayetteville is stocking the bags and that there are commitments from two undisclosed retail chains to stock the bags.

City of Little Rock

Pulaski County will seek bids until Friday from private contractors to operate a new recycling rewards program. The plan is intended to replace a previous, smaller rewards program that covered Little Rock, North Little Rock and Sherwood, which ended because it wasn’t engaging residents. The new county-wide recycling incentives program will encourage local businesses to donate rewards to individuals and schools that recycle. The deadline for contract worth up to $150,000 is Friday afternoon.

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and the Arkansas Public Service Commission are meeting next month over the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed Clean Power Plan.

The public meeting will assess the state's pollution reduction target under EPA's alternate proposals and offer an economic analysis and a grid reliability study.

The federal agency issued its Clean Power Plan proposal in June, which for the first time regulates carbon pollution from existing power plants. The EPA plans to finalize the rule by June 1, 2015.

Inside C & H Hog Farms near Mount Judea
Jacqueline Froelich / KUAF

Minnesota-based food processor Cargill says it has no plans to shutter or relocate an Arkansas hog farm, despite concerns from environmentalists who say the operation poses a pollution threat to the Buffalo River nearby.

A Cargill spokesman said Monday the company is committed to installing newer technology at its Mount Judea facility and has already self-imposed a moratorium on expansion of hog production in the watershed area.

At least four conservation groups have raised concerns that manure runoff could affect the quality of one of Arkansas' crown jewels.

Beginning this weekend, Arkansans will have the opportunity to beautify their state during the annual Great Arkansas Cleanup, which will last until the end of October. Volunteers will be mobilizing with the help of the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission, part of the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Department. Liz Philpott is the lead coordinator of volunteers for the commission. She says helpers like to pick specific recreation areas to clean up.

U.S. Sen. John Boozman
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Senator John Boozman said he plans to fight back against air pollution regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency. The Republican from Rogers spoke to the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Arkansas in Little Rock Thursday praising their influence and promising to try and halt the EPA’s plan to reduce carbon emissions in the state 44 percent by 2030.

Boozman, as he has done in the past, doubted the science behind carbon emissions and pointed to economic concerns.

Arkansas Times

A Whirlpool spokesman says a toxic chemical found in the groundwater of a Fort Smith Boys & Girls Club does not pose a health risk.

The Times Record reports spokesman Jeff Noel announced the results of the company's summer testing on Thursday. The chemical is linked to increased cancer risk.

The club's director says the testing detected the chemical in one out of nine groundwater samples. It was not found in the soil or surface water.

The company's former plant in Fort Smith used trichloroethylene as a degreasing solvent from the 1960s through the early 1980s.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

The Environmental Protection Agency’s draft of a rule to cut the nation’s power plant emissions by a rate of 30 percent by 2030 has the state’s utilities, business leaders and environmental groups at odds. Thursday, those stakeholders presented their differing views on how Arkansas fits into the national goal of lowering emissions.

Teresa Marks, director of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, welcomed the various stakeholders for a meeting focusing on the economic impacts of the drafted rule.