Thursday, March 24, 2011

Something Arkansas does NOT need now: Disastrous House Bill 1895 could be voted on by Arkansas Senate tomorrow

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Get local news about Arkansas legislative issues at the Arkansas Citizens First Congress site.

Important Legislative Update:
The Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWECPO) has drafted HB 1895 which would make it much easier for utilities to get power plants approved under the radar, hurt ratepayers and cut the public out of the commenting process. The bill can be found at
This bill is bad on several levels:
1) HB 1895, written by the utility Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO), would change the utility law that is the subject of pending litigation in suits where SWEPCO is a party. Changing the law right before a judge makes a ruling is not a tactic of which I want my legislature to be a part.
2) This bill would create a “declaration of need” proceeding to determine whether there should be more electricity production in Arkansas, but not create public notice requirements for the proceeding. If a government agency is conducting a decision making process that could later on affect my utility rates, I want to make sure that I’m given the opportunity to be a part of that discussion. And I won’t know how to attend if the law doesn’t require me to be notified.
3) HB 1895 would tip the scales to the utilities so that they can pressure government to raise electric rates even more. The bill would create a separate “declaration of need” proceeding where a determination for the need of increased electric capacity would provide the basis for utilities to recover new costs through increased rates. We, the ratepayers, would be stuck with higher bills. Unfortunately, it has already passed the Arkansas House. It is possible that this bill will wind up on the Senate floor, and we need concerned citizens to call their senators now and urge them to vote NO on HB 1895. In order to find your own senator, visit:
For more information about the bill, please contact: Lev Guter Associate Field Organizer Sierra Club - Arkansas (941) 779-3337

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why we needed Fayetteville's newly approved streamside ordinance many years ago: A few photos of stream abuse witnessed March 21, 2011

Please click on individual images to ENLARGE views of pollution headed directly to Spout Spring Branch without the polluted water being allowed to soak in and be cleansed before heading to Beaver Lake.

Unpleasant looking runoff from storm drain on north edge of Fifteenth Street. Is it caused by naturally occurring algae or by whatever a homeowner on South College Avenue dumped from a bucket shown in photo below?

Drain entrance still wet two hours after I watched a guy dump a bucket there. Material appeared to be white paint chips and thick plastic-like goo that could be material from a paint can.

Flow from storm drain above enters Spout Spring Branch on north side of 15th Street.

The gel-like material at first glance looked like icicles but the the temperature hadn't been below freezing for more than a week.

Seeds from pod of vine milkweed knocked down by Arkansas Highway Department machines dredging ditch the routes water from a storm drain on the south side of 15th Street directly into Spout Spring Branch. Milkweed plants of all varieties provide foliage to the caterpillars of monarchs and a few other species of butterfly and logically would be protected by a state highway department whose Web site touts its wildflower program.

Back on the northside of 15th Street, which is a state highway at that point, the water polluted by something but at least there is a remnant of vegetation including the same milkvine and a few other native species.

The highway workers dredged out part of the business owner's landscaping and widened and deepened the ditch. And hauled away the good soil to its dump in south Washington County.

Both the dumping of ANYTHING into a storm drain and the dredging of the ditch and allowing erosion violate best-management practices for watershed management and were already illegal before Fayetteville's new streamside ordinance was passed. If the ADEQ and the AHTD and the US Corps of Engineeers won't protect our water supply, maybe this new ordinance will embolden city officials to see that such things don't happen so often in the future.