A couple of things worth checking out today and throughout the rest of the week.
It's been a shame that I haven't been able to keep a closer eye on the UCA Honor's College Challenge Week this year. This year's focus is on local food. Last week was quite hectic, what with Max out on vacation. All of my blogging energy was spent on the Arkansas Blog. Tonight, there will be a screening of the documentary Food Fight: Revolution Never Tasted So Good. It will be screened at 7 p.m. in the McCastlain Hall Ballroom. The film's creator, Chris Taylor, will be on hand to discuss his work and answer questions. For more info on tonight's even, and to see what's happening the rest of this week, go here.
Today, Arkansas Business Leaders for a Clean Energy Economy released a report that shows strong federal clean energy and climate legislation would create jobs, increase incomes and boost the economy in Arkansas. According to the report, moving further toward energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and away from carbon pollution would create 25,000 jobs, boost the average Arkansan's income by $1,230 and grow the state's GDP by $1.2 billion.
Entegra Power Group, which owns and operates a natural gas fired power plant in El Dorado, told the Arkansas Public Service Commission they could produce more power - cleaner, and for less money - than the existing White Bluff coal-fired power plant near Redfield, Ark. The White Bluff plant is owned by Entergy Arkansas, Inc. Entergy filed a petition with the PSC in March, seeking a declaratory order finding that new environmental controls were in the public interest and necessary for the plant to meet state regulations. These required improvements would cost, according to Entergy's estimate, $1.04 billion, which would come from rate-payers here in Arkansas. Entegra filed a petition to intervene in the proceedings yesterday, saying the natural gas plant near Magnolia "is an existing reasonable capacity energy resource located within the state of Arkansas that... provides Entergy with a cleaner, lower cost alternative to White Bluff and the proposed environmental controls project."
In the spirit of Blog Action Day, I'm joining with thousands of other bloggers to raise awareness about climate change. If you're looking for a Little Rock angle here, mark your calendars for October 24, the International Day of Climate Action. Audubon Arkansas, together with the Sierra Club, 1 Sky and Village Commons, will host the Little Rock 350 Climate Action Rally and Concert, featuring local musicians and speakers. Rep. Kathy Webb will be the keynote speaker. Want to know what else you can do? Nao, over at GreenAR by the Day, has more info, including a list of 5 easy things you can do to support the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act introduced by Sens. Boxer and Kerry. Lincoln and Pryor are, as you might imagine, on the fence. Groups from Arkansas are lobbying on behalf of the legislation, including Arkansas Business Leaders for a Cleaner Energy Economy. Visit their website here.
From Max's post on this subject earlier: The state Pollution Control and Ecology Commission this morning denied a request from the Sierra Club and Audubon Arkansas to stop construction on American Electric Power's coal-fired plant in Hempstead County during court appeals.
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It looks like some big time oil and gas companies like Chesapeake and Range Resources are trying to hang their hydraulic fracturing service contractors out to dry. That's the impression I get from this piece from Reuters. Companies like Chesapeake produce natural gas but they don't actual get it out of the ground themselves. They hire companies like Halliburton (yes, that Halliburton) to do it for them. The chemical content of fracturing fluid has always been kept secret by these companies because, they claim, the formula for the fluid is proprietary information. Now, probably because of backlash from environmentalists across the country, companies like Chesapeake and Range are calling on these companies to release information on what chemicals they're using. The industry line is that these chemicals are harmless, but tell that to a farmer in Louisiana who lost 19 head of cattle because the cows drank some fracturing fluid near a well site. Companies like Halliburton claim that 99 percent of the fluid is pure water, which may be true. But if you're using 5 million gallons to frack a well, then that 1 percent is actually about 10,000 gallons of chemicals. Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon said "We need to disclose the checmicals that we are using and search for alternatives to the checmicals we are using." Now, why would you need to seek alternatives if the ones you were already using were harmless.
Stepping up: Coal Power is Poison is stepping up their ad campaign against the controversial coal-fired power plant near Texarkana. The group will start running the above advertisement in the Democrat-Gazette starting tomorrow morning.
In Focus: Green business will be one of the topics discussed at the Little Rock Sustainability Summit on Saturday, September 26. [Arkansas Business].
Shifting Deadline: Mother Jones says the deadline for passing the Waxman-Markey bill is shifting more than melting glaciers. According to an article by Rachel Morris, "the Senate has jettisoned the deadline for the bill, and momentum to quickly pass legisltion appears to be vanishing." [Mother Jones].
Greenies Unite: Repower America will host an organizational meeting in Russellville tonight at 7:00. [GreenAR by the Day]. Not-so Hot Air: Gov. Beebe says that while Arkansas might not be a big wind producer, the state will be a leader in supplying the wind industry with the parts it needs to harness that power.
Made in America Town Hall: Tonight, at Pulaski Technical College, Repower Arkansas will host a roundtable discussion on the benefits of transitioning to a clean energy economy. Panelists include Mary Ann Shope, vice president for economic development at Pulaski Tech; Stephen Walker, director of development at Phoenix Renewable Energy; April Ambrose, sustainability coordinator for Viridian USA; JD Lowery, sustainability project manager for Viridian USA; Christopher Charlton, Greenway Equipment/John Deere, and Bill Ball, CEO of Steller Sun Solar. Promises to be interesting. More details here.
Coal is dirty. SWEPCO is asking for a rate increase in Texas, partly to help pay for the Turk Plant being built in Hempstead County, Arkansas. According to the East Texas Review:
Just caught an absolutely beautiful video, produced by the Sierra Club, that tells the troubled story of ranchers in New Mexico. The scenery is jaw-dropping. Of course, the story is not so awe-inspiring. It's the tale of a ranching family, on the the land for six generations, whose land has been destroyed, whose livelihood has been killed, by the oil and gas industry. At 28 minutes, it's pretty long, but the story is very interesting and truly tragic. Give it a watch. It's a great production. From the site:
The Turk power plant as of May of this year. Just Stop it Already!: The Sierra Club and the National Audubon Society filed a request with the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission to hault construction on the John W. Turk Jr. power plant in Hempstead County. The Arkansas Public Service Commission recently found that the plants owner American Electric Power had not gone through the proper process of obtaining the permit to build the plant. AEP and SWEPCO decided to continue construction on the plant as they appealed the decision.
G-R-E-E-D: A leaked memo reveals that the American Petroleum institute asked oil company employees, retirees and current contractors to turn out in opposition to climate change legislation. Hey, it worked for health care. Democracy Now has more. Photo: ProPublica Dirty Business: The EPA has determined that water wells near the town of Pavillion, WY contain chemicals that are used in the hydraulic fracturing process. I've been told by officials in Arkansas that there's no way that a water well could be contaminated with fracking fluid. I've heard Arkansans say differently. Ask the guy in the picture above if it's possible. ProPublica has the story. The Switchboard blog from the NRDC has more.
Ring Ring: The ever-dilligent GreenAR by the Day has all you need to know about Mark Pryor's Tele-Town Hall meeting tonight. Of course, most of the questions taken by the senator will likely revolve around death panels and how health care reform threatens the constitution.
According to Arkansas Business, Chesapeake Energy Corp. has admitted there's a possibility that wells drilled in Texas' lead to a series of earthquakes earlier this summer. Hopefully this is not a sign of things to come. That whole New Madrid thing is pretty serious business.
It's Happening Here Too: Fugitive emissions from gas well sites are caught on an infra-red video camera. The footage is from a well-site in Texas and was obtained by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.