Thursday, September 25, 2008

Governor's commission on global warming tentatively says NO to new coal-fired power plants

The Morning News

Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Panel Tentatively Endorses Ban On New Plants

By Peggy Harris
LITTLE ROCK -- An Arkansas commission studying ways to reduce global warming tentatively endorsed a ban Thursday on new coal-fired power plants, saying a proposed $1.5 billion facility in Hempstead County shouldn't open until at least 2020.

The preliminary proposal would allow the John W. Turk Jr. plant near Fulton to open eight years later than planned, when new "sequestration" technology presumably would be available to capture harmful carbon dioxide emissions and store them in the ground. The plant could open sooner if the technology becomes available.

Under the proposal, the $1.3 billion Plum Point plant being built near Osceola could open as planned in 2010 but operators would have to retrofit the plant with the new anti-pollution technology once it becomes available.

Any other new coal-fired power plants in Arkansas would have to have the new technology when they open.

Currently, sequestration is not in use at any commercial power plant in the country. But the new technology is among the many innovations being discussed nationally and worldwide to reverse global warming.

State Rep. Kathy Webb, who chairs the Governor's Commission on Global Warming, said the draft proposal was one of about 50 the group has analyzed over the last several months with the help of consultants. The panel expects to have its final recommendations in a report to Gov. Mike Beebe by Oct. 31. Legislators could consider the measures when they meet in regular session next year.

Webb, D-Little Rock, said the proposed ban has been among the most controversial of the draft recommendations.

Coal-fired power plants and automobiles are the leading producers of carbon dioxide, the chief culprit of global warming. They also are a primary generator of electricity in the U.S. and considered essential to economic growth.

Commission members from the energy industry Thursday voiced opposition to the proposed ban.

Gary Voight, chief executive of Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation, said scrapping plans for new plants would mean using "dirtier" inefficient plants that produce more pollution and fail to meet consumer demand.

He said a ban would effectively make it more difficult for utilities to produce electricity economically and free up more money to invest in energy-efficient technology. In addition, Voight said, the Arkansas Public Service Commission has already imposed conditions on Southwestern Electric Power Co. to address pollution at the planned 600-megawatt plant in Hempstead County.

"This is a bad plan. It's retroactive regulation," said Voight, whose cooperative plans partly own the SWEPCO plant. "The commission has already ruled that SWEPCO must evaluate all carbon sequestration and capture technologies as available in the future so this (proposal) is pointless. It's a waste of time, and we should all vote against it and get it off the table."

Other commissioners spoke of the seriousness of global warming and the need to take strong action.

"This is what Congress is talking about. This is what a lot, a lot of scientists are concerned about. New coal plants, we're talking about moratorium until sequestration," said Art Hobson, a physics professor at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

Commissioner Kevin Smith, the former state senator from Stuttgart, said without a moratorium Arkansas could become "the new Pittsburgh -- not the Natural State." And commissioner Rob Fisher, executive director of The Ecological Conservation Organization, said the proposal was the most important recommendation the panel could make.

"If we don't pass this option, everything else we do is pointless," he said.

The commission endorsed the recommendation by a vote of 11-10.

Kacee Kirschvink, a spokeswoman for SWEPCO, said the Turk plant would be one of the cleanest coal plants in North America. She said it would use "ultra-supercritical" technology that requires less fuel and produces less carbon dioxide. In addition, she said, the plant could be retrofitted for newer technology once it becomes available.

"It would not be good public policy to change the rules now after much planning and investment has been done to meet the energy needs of SWEPCO's customers," she said.

Shreveport, La.-based SWEPCO wants to open the plant in 2012 and has begun site work, while awaiting an air-quality permit from state environmental regulators. SWEPCO is a part of Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power Co.

David Byford, a spokesman for Plum Point developers Dynegy Inc., said the commission proposal was in the early stages and Dynegy might comment later after further study.

Web Watch:

Arkansas Governors Commission on Global Warming

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

W Center St paving half done. Blacktop expected today. Traffic Saturday

Please click on images to ENLARGE photos from late Thursday on West Center Street at its crossing of Tanglewood Branch, a tributary of Spout Spring Branch, which is a tributary of the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River, which flows into the White River near the maximum southern backup area of Beaver Lake allowed by federal statute. In other words, this is an impaired part of the Beaver Lake watershed. Getting this work done fast is a benefit to the watershed. The potential for massive siltation and pollution of the watershed from this spot was significant had it not been repaired rapidly.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Happy World Water Monitoring Day

Happy World Water Monitoring Day!

Today, September 18, is officially World Water Monitoring Day—an international education and outreach program that builds public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources by engaging citizens to conduct basic monitoring of their local waterbodies.

Visit our website to learn how you can join thousands of others around the world in this growing, global initiative!


An updated version of the WWMD instructional and promotional DVD is now available. To receive a free copy, please e-mail your request to

Send Us Your Stories!

For those of you who have already participated or plan to take part this year, please submit a short write-up of your activities along with photographs to share on the WWMD website. The program's story is best told through yours!

You may unsubscribe to this list at any time
by sending a blank email to:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Big, blue hose takes water beyond nasty construction site

Please click on image to ENLARGE photo of view northeast from W. Center Street where Sweetser crew members are rapidly replacing an old rock-walled storm drain with a new concrete culvert. The big, blue plastic hose is designed to collect water flowing from the Dickson Street area to be pumped across the street to reenter Tanglewood Branch downstream. This reduces the load of mud from the construction site and thus the load of silt flowing toward Beaver Lake.

Clear water pumped from upstream of the construction site enters Tanglewood Branch to thin out the silt-laden yellow water that escaped the site on Monday and Tuesday. The 70- or 80-year-old rock-lined tunnel recently collapsed under the north lane of West Center Street, creating an emergency repair need on a busy street near the University of Arkansas.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Tattered brownish monarch likely has traveled a long way from the northeast and just trying to keep up its strength to produce progeny to migrate

Please click on image to ENLARGE photos of monarch on flowers in the World Peace Wetland Prairie peace circle.

Advisory group continues planning to protect watershed

The Morning News

Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Watershed Group Examines Preservation Options

By Caleb Fort
An adivsory group was briefed Thursday on possible ways to prevent pollution of the Beaver Lake Watershed.

Options discussed included construction, stream and wastewater management, and using chicken waste for energy.

About 20 people attended the Beaver Lake Watershed Policy Advisory Group meeting at the Botanical Garden of The Ozarks.

The group was started by the Northwest Arkansas Council to create a strategy for managing the watershed, which provides drinking water to about 350,000 people.

By targeting urban land activities, stream disturbance, wastewater, and fertilizer, manure and litter, the group might be able to "get the biggest bang for the buck" said Kimberly Brewer, associate director of Tetra Tech.

Tetra Tech is a Pasadena, Calif., environmental engineering and consulting company that will guide the group.

Brewer said there are several ways to reduce the impact developed areas have on the watershed, many of which involve making sure rain water has a chance to soak into the ground instead of running off into streams.

Construction sites can also cause problems, said Barry Tonning, director of applied research for Tetra Tech.

Without controls like silt fences and good grading exposed dirt on construction sites can run off during storms and end up in the lake, Tonning said.

"Sediment is a notorious carrier for nitrogen, phosphorous, herbicides, pesticides -- all kinds of stuff," he said.

Matthew Van Eps, associate director of the Watershed Conservation Resource Center, discussed several options for controlling stream erosion, including bank reinforcement and rerouting the channel.

Brewer talked about existing measures to prevent poultry farms from polluting the water supply. She also talked about turning chicken waste into fuel.

Finally, Tonning presented possibilities for making septic tanks more effective. One option was clustered treatment centers that would treat the waste from several tanks before discharging it into the ground.

Group members were asked to write down their opinions of the different options presented so Tetra Tech will know which ones to research further.

The results of that research will be presented at the group's next meeting, probably in November.

Beaver Lake watershed protectors to have booth at Twist of Green Festival Oct. 4 and 5th in Fayetteville. See Web site link at right

ABLE will have a booth at the Fayetteville Twist of Green Festival on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 4th & 5th, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. This festival will be held on the Fayetteville Square. We will have 55 gallon barrels of water and a Secchi disk there to do Secchi disk demonstrations. We are looking for ABLE members who can volunteer to staff the booth for a two-hour shift on one or both of the days. We will have an experienced booth person with you (probably a board member). If you can help, please email me at with your phone number and I will contact you to make arrangements. Thanks for your support!

Doug Timmons
President, ABLE - Association for Beaver Lake Environment / ABLE Website Information‏
Sent: Fri 9/05/08 4:21 PM
This is an e-mail from ' - Association for Beaver Lake Environment '

Dear ABLE member,

Did you know that our website has some terrific weblinks. Please login at when you have a moment and take a tour. Click on weblinks, then click on the “resources” link and you will see six links to some terrific resources. One of those is the Beaver Lake “real-time” elevation (with 2 hours). If you would like to see other weblinks added, please email me at with the website address and I will take a look. Thanks!

Please take a visit to the Community Forum, Members Area. I have added a topic and would like your feedback. Just click on the topic, then click on reply to give your opinion. Thank You! You can also add topics related to Beaver Lake.

We need your ideas! If you think ABLE should be taking action on any specific issues, please email me at

We need your Beaver Lake pictures for the website! If you have digital photos of storm events, wildlife, pollution, or other interesting pictures of Beaver Lake, please email them to me at

Thanks for your support!

Doug Timmons
President, ABLE

Report finds state water supply threatened by many problems

Report sounds alarm on state water supply
Posted on Friday, September 5, 2008
Providing tax credits for water conservation, developing alternative crops and appointing a “water czar” are among the suggestions in a report released Thursday on protecting Arkansas ’ water supply.

The report, commissioned by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, calls for a statewide discussion on the state’s rivers, lakes and aquifers, which it says are threatened by pollution and a lack of management.

“Most folks believe we’re at a critical juncture,” said ecologist Kent Thornton, one of the report’s authors. He warned, “If we move into a crisis mode, we will have to respond as did Atlanta and areas in the Southeast,” where water-use restrictions have been imposed in response to a drought.

Conducted by Little Rock engineering and environmental consulting firm FTN Associates, the report is based on a review of studies on water issues, interviews with 75 officials and other people involved in water issues and a telephone survey of 407 people across the state.

Thornton and foundation officials presented the results Thursday at a meeting of about 50 people at the Capital Hotel in Little Rock.

The foundation is printing 2, 000 copies of the report that it will distribute to state legislators, agency officials and others. It also will be available on the foundation’s Web site, www. wrfoundation. org.

According to the report, the state’s water use increased 55 percent from 1980 and 2000, including a doubling of water use for irrigation.

That has caused a problem in eastern Arkansas, where the groundwater from the Mississippi River alluvial aquifer and deeper Sparta aquifer are being depleted. The report cites studies that have predicted the alluvial aquifer will be unable to supply good-quality water by 2015. The Sparta aquifer will run dry in 2030.

A plan that would divert water from the White River to irrigate rice farms in eastern Arkansas has been stalled by a federal lawsuit claiming it would harm the ivory-billed woodpecker’s habitat.

The Mid-Arkansas Water Alliance, a group of 26 water utilities, is seeking permission to tap Greers Ferry Lake and Lake Ouachita. During a drought in 2005, some of the utilities ran low on water had to ask residents to cut back, said Steve Morgan, director of regionalism and future water sources with Central Arkansas Water and president of the alliance.

“We’ve been astonished by how well everyone is working together,” Morgan said.

Pollution, especially from storm water runoff, is another threat. According to the report, 78 miles of streams designated for drinking-water use have water quality that falls below drinking-water standards.

The report doesn’t make recommendation but presents dozens of suggestions from interview participants. Those include tax credits or other incentives to families or businesses who install water conservation equipment or maintain easements to improve stream quality. Farmers could also switch to crops that use less water, such as switch grass or timber.

The Rockefeller foundation paid FTN Associates just under $ 200, 000 to conduct the study and evaluate its impact, foundation President Sherece West said. It also provided $ 70, 000 to the Arkansas Educational Television Network for a documentary, highlighting issues in the report, that aired in April.

Copyright © 2001-2008 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact:

Elkins suing to get detention ponds fixed on site of stalled development

ELKINS CITY COUNCIL : Council files suit to mend stagnant ponds
BY DUSTIN TRACY Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Friday, September 5, 2008
ELKINS — The city is off to court. At Thursday night’s council meeting, aldermen voted 5-0 to sue all parties involved with the construction of two retention ponds in the Stokenbury Farms Subdivision.

The decision came after two years of deliberation with developers, construction companies and engineers involved with the project. Mayor Jack Ladyman said the ponds are filling up but not draining. No houses have been constructed on the lots. Ladyman said the contractor, Gene Nichols of GN Contractors LLC, has tried to fix the drainage problem with both two-acre ponds but has been unsuccessful.

“ They’re overgrown and the water’s staying, ” Ladyman said. “ We don’t want to leave it there for the people when they move in. ”

City Attorney Danny Wright recommended the city take action on the problem before the $ 2 million bond on the project expires on Sept. 15. Wright said that the case will either go to court or the developers will have to come up with a reasonable bond extension to work on fixing the ponds.

The subdivision is about a mile down Stokenbury Road. Parties included in the lawsuit are Jason Ingalls of Northstar Engineering, Barry Graves of Stokenbury Farms LLC, Merchants Bonding and Nichols.

The city came to a frustrating conclusion after it had to hire its own third-party engineering firm to look at the ponds, confirm that there was a problem and come up with several ways the problem could be remedied.

“ The potential solutions have already been outlined, ” Alderman Jeremy Stevens said.

The council also discussed a way to deal with an animal problem that the city’s been facing for several years. Ladyman has formed a committee to look into other city’s animal control ordinances, mainly the city of Prairie Grove, to adopt and use in Elkins.

“ We are continuing to get a lot of calls on animals, so we do need to keep moving forward on (the ordinance ) we just need to make sure we get it right, ” Ladyman said.

The city also got the results back from environmental tests run on the old Grahm’s Antique building on the corner of Arkansas 16 and First Avenue. The city agreed to sell the building to James R. Ball for $ 35, 000, less than half its appraised value of $ 75, 000. The sale was contingent on an environmental study to ensure that there are no underground

Copyright © 2001-2008 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact:

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Benton County Quorum Court candidates set forum from 5 to 8 p.m. today. Lacking a government channel, Benton County residents must attend or miss it


County Candidates' Forum

Benton County candidates running for contested races will answer questions during a political forum between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. today.

The Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce is hosting the event at NorthWest Arkansas Community College's Shoemaker Center. The session is free, open to the public and will have a question and answer session, according to the chamber.

General Elections will be held Nov. 4.

Traffic Enforcement Today

BENTONVILLE -- Police announced they'll be conducting special traffic enforcement today.

Officers will concentrate on speed and traffic control violations on North Walton Boulevard between Northwest 12th Street to U.S. 71, and Southwest Second Street from Northwest "J" Street to Elm Tree Road, said Sgt. David Green.

Special traffic enforcement by the Accident Reduction Unit occurs weekly. The unit looks out for any combination of the violations that most often lead to accidents, including running stop signs, running red lights, careless driving, tailgating and speeding.

Benton County Emergency Preparedness Fair

Benton County residents can learn how to prepare for emergencies during the Community Emergency Preparedness Fair at the Pinnacle Hills Promenade in Rogers from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13.

The county emergency management department and Wal-Mart's emergency management department have teamed up to host the event, according to a press release. Residents can view emergency response vehicles, register for prizes, participate in kid-friendly activities and meet the Northwest Arkansas Naturals mascot.

Benton County Town Hall Meeting Set

Benton County officials will talk about how the county is operating during a town hall meeting at Lost Bridge Village at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 6, Benton County Judge Gary Black said last week.

Representatives from the road department, Sheriff's Office, environmental services, planning office, 911 administration, central communications, emergency management, veteran services and the county fire marshal are expected to attend, according to a press release. Elected officials from various offices may also attend the meeting, which will be held at the Lost Bridge Village Community Room at 12477 Lodge Drive.

Residents and officials will talk about the county's future and the future of surrounding areas to the Lost Bridge Village community. Officials also plan to discuss problems and solutions.

Democratic Women To Discuss CASA

The Benton County Democratic Women's Club will learn about CASA of Northwest Arkansas at the Bentonville Clarion Hotel at 11:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 22, according to a press release.

Crystal Vickmark, Court Appointed Special Advocate of Northwest Arkansas executive director, will discuss how she has worked with vulnerable adults and foster care children during the past 11 years. Arkansas reached 276 children last year, according to the press release.

Vickmark has a master's degree in counseling from South Dakota State University and has been the Northwest Arkansas executive director for nearly five years.

This meeting is open to the public and the buffet lunch is available for $10. Please contact for reservations by Sept. 17.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Elect Tom Jones for JP seat ONE on the Benton County Quorum Court by writing in his name

This is an e-mail from ' - Association for Beaver Lake Environment '

Dear ABLE Member,

One of the most important things you can do to protect Beaver Lake is to participate in the political process to make sure that our county leaders are committed to protecting Beaver Lake. We have a county JP position up for grabs in November in District 1, which is the general area of northeast Benton County, and the lake areas of Beaver Shores, Prairie Creek, Lost Bridge, and Garfield areas. This is the seat that Chris Glass is vacating.

The candidate who filed at the last minute to fill his vacated seat is someone who fought tooth and nail against the Nuisance Ordinance, an ordinance that provides some protection to Beaver Lake.

This year, you do have a choice for District 1 JP. Tom Jones, a Harris McHaney Realtor from the Beaver Shores area, is running as a write-in candidate. Tom Jones is dedicated to protecting Beaver Lake. He is committed to a Land Use Plan, which is critical to providing protection of the lake area from harmful development projects. Tom Jones is a member of ABLE.

Tom Jones needs your help to win this election. Tom needs people to help him campaign, people who can volunteer some time, and of course, people who can donate some money for his campaign.

I would encourage you to get involved and help with time and money if possible. If you can donate, please send your donations to:

Tom Jones for JP1
16180 Black Oak Lane
Rogers, AR 72756

Tom needs other types of help including:
1. Supporters who are willing to stand at the polling sites with a reminder sign to “Vote a write-in for Tom Jones for JP1”.
2. Tom needs a list of volunteers willing to go door to door in the following areas: Beaver Shores, Prairie Creek, Forrest Park, Twin Lakes, Lost Bridge, NECCO Area, and Gateway. If you live in these areas and can help, please contact Tom!
3. If you know of any group/organization events in these areas where Tom could come to speak, please let him know. Tom’s contact information is:
Tom Jones,, Cell 479-644-4851, Toll-free 1-800-742-1382,
Office number 479-925-2020 x240

Please help if you are ABLE! Thank You!

Doug Timmons
President, ABLE