Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Environmentalists not allowed to participate in coal conference in Hope, Arkansas


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Environmentalists excluded from conference on coal power
Thursday, Jul 17, 2008

By John Lyon
Arkansas News Bureau
LITTLE ROCK - Environmentalists have been barred from participating in an industry-sponsored conference that will examine Arkansas' role in the development and use of clean coal technologies, a spokesman for the Sierra Club said Wednesday.

Former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and U.S. Rep Mike Ross, D-Prescott, are the scheduled keynote speakers for the Arkansas Clean Coal Technology Conference, set for today and Friday at the University of Arkansas Community College in Hope.

A news release from one of the conference's sponsors, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, says the conference will focus on "Arkansas' role in the development and deployment of advanced clean coal technologies as well as the associated environmental, economic and public policy concerns."

Glen Hooks, regional representative of the Sierra Club, said the Sierra Club and Audubon Arkansas asked to participate in the conference and provide alternative viewpoints but were told they could not.

"They said that's not what this is about, they've already got the panel set up," Hooks said. "So we were invited to attend but not necessarily to participate in the official part of the program."

There is "not really any environmental representative on the panels at all," Hooks said.
Ken Smith, executive director of Audubon Arkansas, did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

Leah Arnold, spokeswoman for American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, said she was not aware that the Sierra Club or Audubon Arkansas had asked to participate, but she said the conference is not a forum on whether coal power should be abandoned.
"We don't think that coal should be taken out. We believe that coal is going to continue - it's going to have to continue - to be a part of Arkansas' energy mix. You can't just do away with 47 percent of (the state's) electricity like that," she said.
The conference will be held about 12 miles from the site of a planned $1.52 billion, 600-megawatt coal-fired power plant Southwestern Electric Power Co. hopes to build near Fulton. The state Public Service Commission has approved SWEPCO's plans, but the state Department of Environmental Quality is still considering whether to grant an air permit for the proposed plant.
Arnold said the conference will include discussion of technology that would allow carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants to be stored permanently underground. The technology is 10 to 15 years away from being a reality, she said.
"Clean coal" technology would not be available when the SWEPCO plant near Fulton goes into operation, but the technology could be added to it and all other power plants when it does become available, Arnold said.
Hooks said America cannot afford to produce additional millions of tons of carbon dioxide every year while waiting for clean coal technology to be developed.
"By all accounts, we're at or near the tipping point when it comes to global warming," he said.

The conference also is sponsored by the Center for Legislative Energy and Environmental Research and the Southern States Energy Board.

s article at:

 Check the box to include the list of links referenced in the article.

Monday, July 28, 2008

EPA denying California waiver for air pollution standards tougher than federal rules

EPA denying CA waiver for air pol tougher standards‏
From: Frances Alexander (fran@deane-alexander.com)

Bush's Puppets
Friday 25 July 2008
by: Bill Becker, Climate Progress

EPA administrator Stephen Johnson neglects his federal oath.

Some of us had high hopes for Stephen Johnson when President Bush appointed him in March 2005 as administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Johnson was not a former oil-industry lobbyist or Halliburton executive. He was a career civil servant who had been with the federal government for 24 years. He was a scientist, not a political hack, and he had served under both Democrat and Republican presidents.

I could relate, although my federal career was the reverse of Johnson's.

I started as a political appointee under President George H.W. Bush, then served the next 15 years as a careerist at the Department of Energy. During that time, I learned that there are a lot of good feds out there - people who work hard and take risks for what they believe is in the public's best interest. It requires backbone at times to resist improper political pressures and to carry out the oath of office that federal employees take, promising to "well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."

It now appears that Johnson is not fulfilling that oath. There's new evidence that he has allowed the White House to usurp his duty to enforce one of the nation's most important environmental laws, the Clean Air Act. Under the Act, it is the Administrator of EPA, not the president, who is the decider on enforcement issues. The president does not have the legal authority to dictate what those decisions will be.

But that's not the way the game is played in this Administration. From time to time, we get a glimpse back stage to see that President Bush, Vice President Cheney and their deputies are pulling the strings in a show of raw petro-politics, the law and the contrary advice of experts notwithstanding.

One such glimpse came this week from former EPA official Jason Burnett -- an admitted and unrepentant Democrat. Burnett told Congress that Johnson allowed the White House to overrule him on California's request for a waiver under the Clean Air Act. The waiver would have allowed the state to implement its own standards for greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, in excess of those set by the federal government.

The Clean Air Act specifically allows California to be more aggressive than the federal government on matters like this, so long as the Administrator grants a waiver. Once California is given the go-ahead, other states are allowed to adopt its standards. Seventeen states indicated they would adopt the California standard for vehicle emissions once Johnson signed the waiver.

Instead, Johnson denied the request in February 2008 after sitting on it for nearly three years, an unusual outcome given that EPA had approved all 50 of California's previous waiver applications over the last 40 years.

The denial was Johnson's right under the law, assuming it was his decision and was based soundly on the criteria established by the Act. But Burnett says that Johnson originally intended to grant the waiver, believing it was justified until he was overruled by the White House.

As Robert Sussman of the Center for American Progress has pointed out, this is not the first time that Johnson has pushed key environmental decisions into EPA's black hole or has overruled the recommendations of his former colleagues among the agency's scientists and professional staff. Sussman documents other decisions by Johnson that raise "disturbing questions about his ability to carry out the spirit and letter of the nation's environmental laws and his acquiescence in a White House political agenda seemingly bent on blocking the agency from taking action compelled by court decisions and long-standing Clean Air Act precedents."

The most significant of these has been EPA and White House stalling tactics on climate action since the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last year that the agency has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. To trigger the regulatory process, all Johnson has to do is to declare that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare - an obvious conclusion based both on the Court's decision and on an overwhelming body of scientific evidence.

Nevertheless, 16 months after the Supreme Court ruling, EPA announced earlier this month that it would not proceed with regulation while Bush is still in office.

But back to the California waiver: Last January, Johnson told a congressional committee under oath that "I made the decision" to deny California's request. Burnett's latest testimony indicates otherwise. When a House subcommittee asked Johnson for the real story last May, he refused to talk about his conversations with the White House, claiming executive privilege.

In case there has been any doubt, Burnett's testimony supports the case that public officials such as Johnson (along with the parade of other Administration officials who have recently declared executive privilege or acute amnesia) are merely puppets of the West Wing, even when Congress has delegated them direct responsibility to administer the law.

And in case there has been any doubt, the plot of the puppet-show was made transparent by other Administration decisions in recent days. One lifted the ban imposed by Bush's father on offshore oil production. In another, just announced, the Department of Interior released draft rules to pave the way for oil shale production on public lands in the West. Congress has placed a moratorium on final oil-shale rules, but the moratorium is scheduled to expire on Oct. 1. Interior Secretary Dick Kempthorne is quoted as saying he'll move swiftly to make the rules final when the moratorium expires.

Oil shale production would be a disaster of several dimensions. It is extremely energy and water intensive, and its use would be another major setback to the goal of reducing the nation's carbon emissions. Oil shale production would divert precious water from Western cities and farms, creating another fuel-or-food problem, and sink more money and time into another questionable carbon-intensive resource that will make meaningful climate action more difficult and expensive, if not impossible.

There's no mystery here. The White House is blocking action on climate change while setting the stage for the oil industry to feed America's addiction to that carbon-intensive fuel for many years to come.

With only six months left on stage, the puppet masters are hard at work. It's a disappointment that someone like Johnson, who has made public service his career, is allowing his integrity to be destroyed by a president who shows little regard for him, the nation's long-term welfare, or the law.


Bill Becker is executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project, an initiative to help the next President of the United States take decisive action on global warming and energy security in his or her first 100 days in office.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Letters supporting grants to build trails in Arkansas needed NOW!

From: Terry Eastin teastin@lynks.com
Date: July 23, 2008 7:43:08 PM CDT

Subject: Arkansas Trail Fund - last request for letters

Everyone -

Thank you so much for your support of the trail legislation initiative! We are 87 letters strong as of today, July 23rd. A significant number of the mayors of Arkansas' largest cities and many smaller towns have sent well-crafted letters indicating their support for economic, health, and conservation reasons. Many organizations, including those one might not expect (economic and health arenas), have also given this initiative their support. Even more of you individually took the time to share your thoughts and send your letters.

This is the last post I will send requesting letters. The deadline was extended to August 1st last week, but, if letters come in shortly after the deadline, they will be accepted until the packet is finalized. I am expecting the count to extend 100 letters.

Once the project is completed, I send a report to all who helped.

Thank you very much, and please forward this last message. Again, if you have questions, please feel free to contact me at teastin@lynks.com, or by phone at 479-236-0938.

Terry Eastin
Co-Chair, 2008 National Trails Symposium


Please distribute the letter below and both attachments to every organization news outlet, email network, agency, mayor, city council, county judge, and trail enthusiast you know. If trail enthusiasts want to see an Arkansas Trails Fund established in the 2009 legislative season, NOW is the time to act! The response date has been extended to August 1, so, please help move this project forward with your letters to me either by email or regular mail. If you have questions, please feel free to contact. We are over half way to our goal of 100+ letters.

Attached is a letter from me explaining the project, a report prepared for the Legislative Committee on Agriculture, Economics, and Forestry, as well as, an Arkansas trail funding summary that illustrates the strong demand for our current minimal trail grant resources.

Even if you have already sent a letter yourself, please forward this request to other trail friends and enthusiasts. Your voices will be heard.

My address is

858 N. Jackson Drive
Fayetteville, AR 72701

Best Regards,
Terry Eastin

Letters supporting grants to build trails in Arkansas needed NOW!

From: Terry Eastin teastin@lynks.com
Date: July 23, 2008 7:43:08 PM CDT

Subject: Arkansas Trail Fund - last request for letters

Everyone -

Thank you so much for your support of the trail legislation initiative! We are 87 letters strong as of today, July 23rd. A significant number of the mayors of Arkansas' largest cities and many smaller towns have sent well-crafted letters indicating their support for economic, health, and conservation reasons. Many organizations, including those one might not expect (economic and health arenas), have also given this initiative their support. Even more of you individually took the time to share your thoughts and send your letters.

This is the last post I will send requesting letters. The deadline was extended to August 1st last week, but, if letters come in shortly after the deadline, they will be accepted until the packet is finalized. I am expecting the count to extend 100 letters.

Once the project is completed, I send a report to all who helped.

Thank you very much, and please forward this last message. Again, if you have questions, please feel free to contact me at teastin@lynks.com, or by phone at 479-236-0938.

Terry Eastin
Co-Chair, 2008 National Trails Symposium


Please distribute the letter below and both attachments to every organization news outlet, email network, agency, mayor, city council, county judge, and trail enthusiast you know. If trail enthusiasts want to see an Arkansas Trails Fund established in the 2009 legislative season, NOW is the time to act! The response date has been extended to August 1, so, please help move this project forward with your letters to me either by email or regular mail. If you have questions, please feel free to contact. We are over half way to our goal of 100+ letters.

Attached is a letter from me explaining the project, a report prepared for the Legislative Committee on Agriculture, Economics, and Forestry, as well as, an Arkansas trail funding summary that illustrates the strong demand for our current minimal trail grant resources.

Even if you have already sent a letter yourself, please forward this request to other trail friends and enthusiasts. Your voices will be heard.

My address is

858 N. Jackson Drive
Fayetteville, AR 72701

Best Regards,
Terry Eastin

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Discovery Farms program highlighted on its Web site and in Northwest Arkansas Times story

Please click link to read about
Discovery Farms environmental program in Wisconsin

Please click on link to read
Northwest Arkansas Times story on Discovery Farms environmental program in Wisconsin

Dairy farmer discusses program that monitors environmental data
BY TRISH HOLLENBECK Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Tuesday, July 22, 2008
URL: http://www.nwanews.com/nwat/News/67369/
SPRINGDALE — Joe Bragger says he believes farmers and nonfarmers can work together to solve environmental and economic problems.

There are fringe groups out there that will never be happy with anything he does, Bragger, a dairy farmer who also raises chickens and beef cattle on his family’s farm in west-central Wisconsin, said Monday.

But then there are the rest of the people who farmers can work with to get things done, he said in an interview after giving a speech about Wisconsin’s Discovery Farms Program during Arkansas Farm Bureau’s 60 th annual Officers & Leaders Conference at the Holiday Inn in Springdale.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Papal message in Australia is strong on environment's importance

ABC news report:
Pope Benedict has addressed thousands of World Youth Day pilgrims gathered at Barangaroo who have waited hours to watch his official welcome.

Pilgrims cheered and waved the flags of numerous different nations as the Pope's motorcade was driven towards the stage at east Darling Harbour, where he gave an official welcome.

He was greeted by troupes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dancers as well as a group from the Pacific nation of Tokelau.

The Catholic Archibishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, also made a short speech to welcome the Pontiff.

Pope Benedict led the crowd in a short prayer and thanked Cardinal Pell as well as Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson for their "warm welcome".

The Pope also thanked Aboriginal elders who had welcomed him before boarding a boat from Rose Bay, as well as the Aboriginal dancers who greeted him as he walked up the ramp to the large stage at Barangaroo.

"I am deeply moved to stand on your land, knowing the suffering and injustices it has borne, but aware too of the healing and hope that are now at work," he said.

From the red stage at Barangaroo, which is in similar colour tones to the papal garments, Pope Benedict smiled and waved to the estimated several hundred thousand pilgrims.

The Pope began his address with prayers and blessings, but his speech repeatedly referred to the need to care for the environment, acknowledging that climate change means there will be hard times ahead around the globe.

"God's creation is one and it is good. The concerns for non-violence, sustainable development, justice and peace, and care for our environment are of vital importance for humanity," Pope Benedict said.

"Perhaps reluctantly, we come to acknowledge that there are also scars which mark the surface of our earth - erosion, deforestation, the squandering of the world's mineral and ocean resources in order to fuel an insatiable consumption.

"Some of you come from island nations whose very existence is threatened by rising water levels, others from nations suffering the effects of devastating drought.

"God's wondrous creation is sometimes experienced as almost hostile to its stewards, even something dangerous."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Gore lays facts of climate change on the table

Gore Calls for US to Use Renewable Energy by 2018
Friday 18 July 2008
by: David Stout, The New York Times

Former Vice President Al Gore introduced an ambitious plan to rely completely on clean, renewable energy within the next decade.
(Photo: Breakthrough)
Washington - Former Vice President Al Gore said on Thursday that Americans must abandon fossil fuels within a decade and rely on the sun, the winds and other environmentally friendly sources of electric power, or risk losing their national security as well as their creature comforts.

"The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk," Mr. Gore said in a speech to an energy conference here. "The future of human civilization is at stake."

Mr. Gore called for the kind of concerted national effort that enabled Americans to walk on the moon 39 years ago this month, just eight years after President John F. Kennedy famously embraced that goal. He said the goal of producing all of the nation's electricity from "renewable energy and truly clean, carbon-free sources" within 10 years is not some farfetched vision, although he said it would require fundamental changes in political thinking and personal expectations.

"This goal is achievable, affordable and transformative," Mr. Gore said in remarks prepared for the conference. "It represents a challenge to all Americans, in every walk of life - to our political leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, and to every citizen."

Although Mr. Gore has made global warming and energy conservation his signature issues, winning a Nobel Prize for his efforts, his speech on Thursday argued that the reasons for renouncing fossil fuels go far beyond concern for the climate.

In it, he cited military-intelligence studies warning of "dangerous national security implications" tied to climate change, including the possibility of "hundreds of millions of climate refugees" causing instability around the world, and said the United States is dangerously vulnerable because of its reliance on foreign oil.

Doubtless aware that his remarks would be met with skepticism, or even ridicule, in some quarters, Mr. Gore insisted in his speech that the goal of carbon-free power is not only achievable but practical, and that businesses would embrace it once they saw that it made fundamental economic sense.

Mr. Gore said the most important policy change in the transformation would be taxes on carbon dioxide production, with an accompanying reduction in payroll taxes. "We should tax what we burn, not what we earn," his prepared remarks said.

The former vice president said in his speech that he could not recall a worse confluence of problems facing the country: higher gasoline prices, jobs being "outsourced," the home mortgage industry in turmoil. "Meanwhile, the war in Iraq continues, and now the war in Afghanistan appears to be getting worse," he said.

By calling for new political leadership and speaking disdainfully of "defenders of the status quo," Mr. Gore was hurling a dart at the man who defeated him for the presidency in 2000, George W. Bush. Critics of Mr. Bush say that his policies are too often colored by his background in the oil business.

A crucial shortcoming in the country's political leadership is a failure to view interlocking problems as basically one problem that is "deeply ironic in its simplicity," Mr. Gore said, namely "our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels."

"We're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet," Mr. Gore said. "Every bit of that's got to change."

And it can change, he said, citing some scientists' estimates that enough solar energy falls on the surface of the earth in 40 minutes to meet the world's energy needs for a year, and that the winds that blow across the Midwest every day could meet the country's daily electricity needs.

Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, immediately praised Mr. Gore's speech. "For decades, Al Gore has challenged the skeptics in Washington on climate change and awakened the conscience of a nation to the urgency of this threat," Mr. Obama said.

A shift away from fossil fuels would make the United States a leader instead of a sometime rebel on energy and conservation issues worldwide, Mr. Gore said. Nor, he said, would the hard work of people who toil on oil rigs and deep in the earth be for naught. "We should guarantee good jobs in the fresh air and sunshine for any coal miner displaced by impacts on the coal industry," he said by way of example. "Every single one of them."

"Of course, there are those who will tell us that this can't be done," he conceded. "But even those who reap the profits of the carbon age have to recognize the inevitability of its demise. As one OPEC oil minister observed, 'The Stone Age didn't end because of a shortage of stones.'"

Friday, July 11, 2008

Governor's commission on global warming wants to hear from you


Mr. Aubra Anthony, Forestry
1501 North Jefferson
El Dorado, Arkansas 71730
(870) 862‐3414, aanthony@anthonyforest.com
Pres & CEO of Anthony Forest Products Co.

Mr. Nick Brown, Public Energy
4907 North Lookout
Little Rock, Arkansas 72205
(501) 614‐3213, nbrown@spp.org
Formerly with Forest Stewardship Council, worked for World Wildlife Fed.

Rep. Joan Cash, At Large
1301 Thrush Road
Jonesboro, Arkansas 72401
(870) 802‐0406, jcash@ritternet.com
Rep in Ark legislature.

Mr. Steve Cousins, Ark Chamber of Commerce
1000 McHenry, PO Bo x7005
El Dorado, Arkansas 71731
(870) 864‐1120, Steve.cousins@lionoil.com
Chair of Ark Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Jerry Farris, Scientist
3613 Alabama Road
Jonesboro, Arkansas 72401
(870) 933‐8295, jlfarris@astate.edu
9. Aquatic toxicologist at Ark State Univ, Jonesboro.

Mr. Rob Fisher, At Large
4319 North Lookout Drive
Little Rock, Arkansas 72205
(501) 372‐7895, fisher@ecoconservation.org

Dr. Richard Ford, Economist
17000 Lawson Road
Little Rock, Arkansas 72210
(501) 821‐1700, rkford@ualr.edu
Economist at UALR, Pres of UALR Gen Assembly.

Mr. Miles Goggans, Agriculture
16 Greathouse Bend
Little Rock, Arkansas 72207
(501) 374‐9500, mmg@goggansinc.com
Former chief of staff for Sen. David Pryor.

Dr. Art Hobson, Scientist
525 North Olive
Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701
(479) 575‐5918, ahobson@uark.edu
Physicist, UA Fayetteville

Mr. Kevan Inboden, Municipal Energy
Post Office Box 1289
Jonesboro, Arkansas 72403
(870) 930-3325, kinboden@jonesborocwl.org

Mr. Christopher Ladner, Sustainable Energy Construction
2919 Shenandoah Valley Drive, Suite 701
Little Rock, Arkansas 72212
(501) 661‐0621, chris.ladner@ecointegration.net
Green Building Council representative.

Dr. Elizabeth (Betty) Martin, Union (AFL-CIO)
2825 East Weston Place
Fayetteville, Arkansas 72703
(479) 575‐5840, plantvirology@cox.net
Biological & agricultural engineering. Fayetteville. Plant Pathology.

Dr. Robert McAfee, Climatologist
2610 West Hackett Road
Hackett, Arkansas 72937
(479) 638‐8371, robertmca1@aol.com
An Al Gore trainee.

Mr. Bill Reed, House Appointee
P.O. Bo x927
Stuttgart, Arkansas 72160
(870) 673‐5212, breed@riceland.com
CEO of Riceland Corp

Dr. Cindy Sagers, Environmental Nonprofit
435 North Olive
Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701
(479) 575‐5547, csagers@uark.edu
UA Dept of biology, former chair of Sierra Club's Ozark Headwaters group.

Mr. Jeffrey Short, Environmental Nonprofit
122 Riverpark Drive
Malvern, Arkansas 72104
(501) 337‐7107, bashman@earthlink.net
Retired AF Colonel, scientist, biologist, organic farmer.

Mr. Hugh McDonald, Industry
CEO of Entergy Arkansas

Mr. Kevin Smith, Ark Senate appointee
135 Waverly Wood Drive
Helena, AR 72342
(870)816-5122, kasmith@suddenlinkmail.com
Former state senator, did the Al Gore training.

Mr. Gary Voigt, Environmental Nonprofit
23871 North Cold Springs Road
Paron, Arkansas 72122
(501) 570‐2260, g.voigt@aecc.com ,
Works for the Rural Elect Coops.

Rep. Kathy Webb, House Appointee.
14 Pilot Point Place
Little Rock, AR 72205 (501) 412‐6443, kathy@lillysdimsum.com
State Representative, co-chair of GW Commission.

Commission Advisory Body

Mr. Richard Bell
Arkansas Agriculture Department
1 Natural Resources Drive
Little Rock, Arkansas 72205
(501) 683‐4851, richard.bell@aad.ar.gov

Mr. Lawrence Bengal
Oil and Gas Commission
301 Natural Resources Drive, Suite 102
Little Rock, Arkansas 72205
(501) 683‐5816, larry.bengal@aogc.state.ar.us

Mr. John Bethel
Public Service Commission
P.O. Bo x400, 1000 Center Street
Little Rock, Arkansas 72203‐0400
(501) 682‐2051, john_bethel@psc.state.ar.us

Mr. Richard Davies
Parks and Tourism
One Capitol Mall
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201
(501) 682‐7777, Richard.davies@arkansas.gov

Ms. Maria Haley
Economic Development
One Capitol Mall, Fourth Floor
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201
(501) 682‐2124, m.haley@1800arkansas.com

Ms. Nancy Ledbetter *
Game and Fish Commission
#2 Natural Resources Drive
Little Rock, Arkansas 72205
(501) 223‐6318, nledbetter@agfc.state.ar.us

Mr. Lynn Malbrough *
Highway and Transportation
10324 Interstate 30, P.O. Box 2261
Little Rock, Arkansas 72203‐2261
(501) 569‐2000, lynn.malbrough@arkansashighways.com

Ms. Teresa Marks
Department of Environmental Quality
5301 North Shore Drive
North Little Rock, Arkansas 72218
(501) 682‐0959, marks@adeq.state.ar.us

Mr. John Shannon
Forestry Commission
3821 West Roosevelt Road
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201
(501) 296‐1941, john.shannon@mail.state.ar.us

Mr. Randy Young
Natural Resources Commission
101 East Capitol Avenue, Suite 350
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201
(501) 682‐3961, randy.young@arkansas.gov


Thursday, July 10, 2008

American basket flower (Centaurea Americana) blooming on World Peace Wetland Prairie and other unmowed places throughout northwest Arkansas

Please click on image to ENLARGE photo of American basketflower made on July 10, 2008.

American basketflower photos and description˜

Japanese prove that one can leave his carbon footprint at the door

> Leave Your Carbon Footprint at the Door
> Japanese Model Home Touts
> Eco-Gadgets for G-8 Summit;
> Air-Washing the Laundry
> July 8, 2008; Page D1
> As leaders of the world's most powerful nations discuss climate change at the Group of Eight summit in northern Japan, Japan's big tech companies are displaying some of their most cutting-edge solutions in a nearby "zero emissions house."
> The single-story, 2,152-square-foot house generates all the energy required for a family of four, therefore eliminating carbon-dioxide emissions, according to the Japanese government. Products inside, many already on sale in Japan, include a washer that requires no water and an air conditioner that senses where people are in a room and automatically sends cool air in their direction rather than cooling empty space. Yet the eco-friendly products also carry a steeper price tag than traditional appliances.
> The house uses a wind-turbine generator and a photovoltaic generation system, which directly converts light into electricity, to produce about 15 kilowatts of energy a day, nearly five times the amount used by a regular household. The government has presented the house as one of its contributions toward helping the world cut greenhouse emissions in half by 2050.
> The zero-emissions house is an attempt by Japan's big tech companies to showcase their recent and growing focus on environmental technologies as a future area of growth.
> Sanyo Electric
> This washing machine made by Sanyo Electric Co. uses air to clean clothes instead of water.
> The waterless washer is Sanyo Electric Co.'s latest Aqua washer/dryer, a three-in-one machine that uses high-powered air, or ozone, to wash clothes without a single drop of water. The process of "ozonation" -- which disinfects bacteria on contact -- can air-wash clothes, removing about 80% of biodegradable stains without using any water at all, says Ryo Hagiwara, Sanyo's spokesman.
> The company says a full-cycle of air-wash uses about twice as much electricity as a regular wash, but only one-fifth the total energy of a comparable full wash and dry -- in part because the air wash doesn't need a drying system.
> The Aqua washer also has a regular wash setting that can purify and recycle water that had been used for a bath, thus reducing the amount of fresh water required by the machine to a mere half-bucket.
> The machine is available only in Japan and Taiwan, but the company says it hopes to make inroads eventually in the U.S. and Europe. Sanyo's Aqua washer costs 228,000 yen ($2,135) or about 80% more than an equivalent washer/dryer on the Japanese market.
> Human-Sensing AC
> The air conditioner is the new, human-sensing air-conditioner by Mitsubishi Electric Corp., which detects a person's motion and location using heat sensors. The machine, which is available only in Japan, then emits air waves specifically targeting the people. That can save up to 50% in energy use, the company says. Still, the air conditioner, which is built into a wall, costs a lofty 200,000 yen ($1,873), or about a third more than conventional air conditioners.
> Sharp Corp.
> A solar-powered TV made by Sharp Corp. is both thin and efficient, consuming half the energy of current models.
> There's also a low-energy television set. Sharp Corp., a leading solar-panel producer, is showing one of the world's thinnest liquid-crystal-display TVs, with a thickness of about three-fourths of an inch. The set, not yet on sale, consumes only half the energy of existing models, the company says.
> Sharp is also showing a solar-energy array whose solar cells can be made semitransparent, so they can be put into a window.
> Some ideas are simple. Sekisui House Ltd. is displaying a roof-top vegetation system that uses a thin film of moss grown on tile plates attached to the roof of the house.
> The housing company says the moss, which can be fitted alongside solar panels on the rooftop, can lower the temperature inside the house by one degree Celsius, helping reduce air-conditioning use. The company plans to start sales in Japan soon.
> Seeking Dominance
> Squeezed both by low-cost competitors from China and Taiwan and innovative companies like Apple Inc., the Japanese companies that dominated the global electronics industry for decades have been seeking ways to play up their technological manufacturing strengths and know-how to stay ahead.
> What's more, competition is fierce as rivals jump onto the environment-friendly technology bandwagon. Just last year, Sharp lost its No. 1 position to Germany's Q-Cell AG in global market share of solar panels.
> Japan's model home goes one step beyond previous zero-emissions homes by providing a fully furnished home using cutting-edge household appliances.
> Last year, the British government presented a carbon-free home that beefed up heat insulation by using triple-glazed windows, solar panels and low-energy lighting, among other things.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Government protection of wetland pathetic

EPA Enforcement Is Faulted
Agency Official Cites Narrow Reading of Clean Water Act
By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 8, 2008; A06
An official administration guidance document on wetland policy is undermining enforcement of the Clean Water Act, said a March 4 memo written by the Environmental Protection Agency's chief enforcement officer.
The memo by Granta Y. Nakayama, EPA's assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance, was obtained by the advocacy group Greenpeace and released yesterday by two House Democratic committee chairmen. It highlights the confusion that has afflicted federal wetland protections since a 2006 Supreme Court decision.
That 5 to 4 decision, known as Rapanos v. United States, held that the Army Corps of Engineers had exceeded its authority when it denied two Michigan developers permits to build on wetland, but the court split on where the Corps should have drawn the line on what areas deserve protection.
A plurality made of up Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. proposed an across-the-board reduction in the Corps' regulatory role, but Justice Anthony M. Kennedy -- who cast the deciding vote -- called for a case-by-case approach in deciding how the government should proceed. That left the ruling open to interpretation.
In his memo to Benjamin Grumbles, EPA's assistant administrator for water, Nakayama wrote that the document the agency issued in June 2007 to guide regulators' decisions under the Rapanos decision is having "a significant impact on enforcement." Nakayama and his staff concluded that between July 2006 and December 2007, EPA's regional offices had decided not to pursue potential Clean Water Act violations in 304 cases "because of jurisdictional uncertainty."
Much of the controversy centers on what sort of waterway and accompanying wetland should qualify for protection. The administration's guidance instructs federal officials to focus on the "relevant reach" of a tributary, which translates into a single segment of a stream. In the memo, Nakayama argued that this definition "isolates the small tributary" and "ignores longstanding scientific ecosystem and watershed protection principles critical to meeting the goals" of the Clean Water Act.
Chairmen Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) of the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee and James L. Oberstar (D-Minn.) of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee sent a letter yesterday to EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson saying they have "grave concerns" about the way the agency is implementing the Clean Water Act.
The two noted that Nakayama concluded that in all, the Supreme Court decision and the subsequent guidance document "negatively affected approximately 500 enforcement cases" in nine months. They also questioned why EPA's Grumbles did not raise the issue when he testified before Oberstar's panel less than three months ago.
"This sudden reduction in enforcement activity will undermine the implementation of the Clean Water Act and adversely affect EPA's responsibility to protect the nation's waters," the congressmen wrote. "Yet instead of sounding the alarm about EPA's enforcement problems, the agency's public statements have minimized the impact of the Rapanos decision."
In response to a question about the congressional inquiry, EPA spokesman Jonathan Shradar said in an e-mail: "We will be reviewing the new request and will work with the chairmen to provide information on our enforcement program."
Eric Schaeffer, who used to head EPA's civil enforcement division and now heads the Environmental Integrity Project, an advocacy group, called Nakayama's memo "very significant. It lays out very clearly why you can't enforce one of the most important parts of the Clean Water Act."
EPA officials are not the only ones growing frustrated with the confusing legal interpretations of the Rapanos decision. Robert B. Propst, a senior judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Southern Division, wrote in a Nov. 7, 2007, decision that he was reassigning a wetland case "to another judge for trial. At least one of the reasons is that I am so perplexed by the way the law applicable to this case has developed that it would be inappropriate for me to try it again."
© 2008 The Washington Post Company
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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Please click on image to Enlarge type on cartoon about global climate change and carbon emissions.

Condo developers on Beaver Lake seeking extension of project approval from Benton County

To All ABLE Members,

I am sending this email to galvanize our ABLE membership to take action! The Grandview Heights condo developers are back, this time to request a two-year extension from the Benton County Planning Board. This is a chance to kill this project once and for all!

The Planning board meeting will be at 5:30 on Wednesday, July 16. It will be held in the Quorum Court room (3rd floor), in the Benton County Administration building. This building is just east of the courthouse located on the Bentonville Square. The room isn’t real large, so please get there between 4:30 and 5 if possible. If you are comfortable doing so, please plan on speaking during the public comment period. There is a 3-minute limit per person and of course you don’t have to use the full time. I will provide some talking points below. There are a lot of issues to talk about, so just pick a few points that you are comfortable talking about.

In addition to having people speak during the time allotted for public comment, it would be a good idea to over pack the room. This would send a message to the planning board that there are still many concerned citizens who do not want this project’s developers to do any more damage than they already have. So even if you don't speak, please be there and come early - the room will probably over fill. By the way - if we fill the room by 4:30 or 5 - there will not be room for the condo team to come in and sit down other than their speaker. I don't anticipate very many red shirts coming out to support the condos.

Some background for any of you who are wondering what the meeting is all about:

Grandview Heights was approved in 2005 with a list of 13 required items and a 2 year window in which to pull a building permit. The approval was for a 15-story condo building, and two additional buildings up to 25 stories each. The 2 years expire on July 21st. Now they are asking for a 2-year extension.

The main overriding issue is that the condo project is in such a mess financially; it is unlikely they can get a completion bond – one of the 13 items required by the County. If they can't get the completion bond (which requires a strong financial position) then they can't get a building permit and therefore cannot build the project.

What is the financial mess? They are in foreclosure on the property - 2 entities are fighting over who is first in line to foreclose. A foreclosure is a lawsuit - so both the seller of the property and a group that lent them money are suing the developer. There are also liens against the property for unpaid work done at the site. Neither the dirt work contractor nor the engineering firm has been paid and the team that designed the sewage treatment system also has not been paid. And, it is astonishing to me that the property taxes are delinquent. I'm not surprised the taxes weren't paid - I'm astonished that the developer has the nerve to go in and ask the same County for an extension! This alone should make them ineligible to ask for more time.

There are many other reasons not to give an extension. In 2 1/2 years, they have not completed any of the 13 requirements the County gave this project. The Arkansas Dept. of Environmental Quality denied their request for a sewage treatment facility. and – they never completed a fire study and therefore do not have the required agreement with the fire department.

Ultimately, the developers could not perform, scarred the land, and ripped off some local companies as well as the county taxpayers! Why would this planning board even consider an extension for this project?

The County Planning Regulations (Blue Book) state in Chapter I Section 5 (page 6):

"The planning board may modify, vary, or waive the requirements of this ordinance by an affirmative vote of two-thirds (2/3) vote of the total membership of the Benton County Planning Board. Note: a two-thirds vote of the attending quorum is not sufficient. The criteria to grant such modification, variances, or waiver shall be, without exception, and singularly because strict compliance with any provision of this ordinance would cause exceptional or undue hardship to the land developer. Additionally, extra expense, economic hardship, or additional outlay of capital funds or money shall never constitute grounds for exceptional or undue hardship".

So, someone needs to state that any vote for an extension would require 5 yes votes, and that there is no reason that the developers can give for an extension other than economic hardship, and that is specifically excluded in the Planning regulations as stated above.

If you cannot attend the meeting on the 16th, or do not wish to speak, please email your arguments to the Planning Director and Planning Board members below.

Planning Director Ashley Pope – apope@co.benton.ar.us
Bill Kneebone bkmj@centurytel.net
Caleb Henry chenry@ozarkcivil.com
Heath Ward Heath_Ward@cargill.com
Mark Gray markagray@earthlink.net
Scott Borman Scott.Borman@bwrpwa.com
Tim Sorey trs@sandcreek.us
Adele Lucus unknown

Please participate. Only through all of our efforts will we succeed!

I expect to hear a really slick sales pitch on the 16th from the developer’s attorney. It will probably be something like… “we have investors lined up, but they won’t invest unless you give us the additional time”. The media will all be there. Hope to see you on the 16th at 4:30 (meeting starts at 5:30)!

Doug Timmons
President, ABLE

Friday, July 4, 2008

Downtown General zone? Why not Neighborhood Conservation?

Please click on image of native-stone house and giant catalpa trees uphill from Spout Spring Branch in south Fayetteville, Arkansas. This lot and adjacent blocks in the area would be zoned Downtown General rather than Neighborhood Conservation if the Walker Park Neighborhood Master Plan is not revised.

When I advocated closer study of geography and existing homes in the Walker Park neighborhood before the rezoning plan is approved, I was thinking of many places.
Here is the intersection at the far northeast corner of the Walker Park master plan and it is in blue on the concept plan as "downtown general." I was wrong about that being Mary Carr's house, which is a block north on Huntsville.
Riparian zone of Spout Spring Branch starts part way down this lot this corner lot or it certainly starts in the adjoining lot. Any disruption of soil or anything else on this property would be within what should be the no-build zone to protect the Beaver Lake Watershed and would imperial the quality of the stream.

GIANT catalpa trees are pretty common in this part of town but are being taken down regularly. Here here are examples worth saving.

Native stone houses are disappearing rapidly in this part of town and here is an example worth saving. I know, it isn't of as high quality as the one removed from the land of the late Ray Adams on S. School Ave. to make way for Advance Auto, but it is a wonderful dwelling and of historic value.

Mill Ave., of course, is the extension of E. South Street leading northeastward from the narrow block that was discussed by Tony Wappel in the council meeting this past Tuesday.

Enjoy the holiday!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

July is buttonbush month in Northwest Arkansas wetland areas and along streams and ditches

PLEASE CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE PHOTO of Buttonbush inflorescence on World Peace Wetland Prairie on June 2, 2008.

I have been asked why I discourage people from using radical clearing methods on wetland prairies, especially small parcels and urban parcels such as World Peace Wetland Prairie.
One of the main reasons is that some prairie and wetland native species need to grow tall and strong and not be cut bank or burned off if they are to reach their full potential.
The buttonbush is among the easiest to identify in this category at this time of year. The buttonbush is a sure marker of wetland when found growing in the wild. Its value to many species of wildlife is well-documented. And it is among the better native species for protecting riparian zones of streams from eroding.

Read what Texas A&M's Aquaplant Website has to say about the amazing buttonbush.

Plant Identification


Description Management Options Other Photos

Cephalanthus occidentalis
Buttonbush is a woody shrub (3-10 feet tall) that occasionally grows into a small tree and can be found above water or in water up to 4 feet deep. It has shiny dark-green spear-or egg-shaped pointed leaves 3 to 6 inches long. The leaves are opposite or whorled in 3's or 4's along the stem. Flowers of buttonbush are easily identified by their greenish-white tube flowers in dense ball-shaped clusters about 1 inch in diameter. Seed heads are brown.
Submerged portions of all aquatic plants provide habitats for many micro and macro invertebrates. These invertebrates in turn are used as food by fish and other wildlife species (e.g. amphibians, reptiles, ducks, etc. ). After aquatic plants die, their decomposition by bacteria and fungi provides food (called "detritus") for many aquatic invertebrates. Buttonbush seeds are occasionally eaten by ducks but the bush itself is used for nesting by many bird species.

Emergent Plant Index
Alligator Weed
American Lotus
Banana Lily (Floating Heart)
Blue Flag
Bull Tongue
Common Reed
Cow Lily (Spatterdock)
Dollar Bonnet (Water Shield)
Floating Heart (Banana Lily)
Fragrant Water Lily (White Water Lily)
Giant Reed
Lizard's Tail
Mexican Water Lily (Yellow Water Lily) Pickerelweed
Smartweed (Water Pepper)
Soft Rush
Southern Watergrass
Spatterdock (Cow Lily)
Spike Rush
Water Pennywort
Water Pepper (Smartweed)
Water Primrose
Water Shield (Dollar Bonnet)
White Water Lily (Fragrant Water Lily)
Yellow Water Lily (Mexican Water Lily)
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