Saturday, January 24, 2009

January 25, 2009, annual meeting of FNHA features water-quality presentations

"Troubled Water: Preserving and Restoring Arkansas' Most Valuable Resource"

will be the program theme for FNHA’s annual meeting at 2:00 pm on January 25, 2009,

in the Walker meeting room of the Fayetteville Public Library.

Two leading experts on water issues in Arkansas, Martin Maner and Marty Matlock, will discuss Arkansas’ persistent water concerns and will talk with us about what they are doing and what we, as citizens, can do to protect the quality of our water and to help restore water quality where it has deteriorated.

Martin Maner is Director of Watershed Management with Central Arkansas Water, a metropolitan system which traces its history to the springs and wells of the early 1800s and which currently provides water to nearly 400,000 users. Central Arkansas Water, which is publicly owned, emphasizes a regional approach to water needs and has won numerous EPA awards for its commitment to water quality. Before becoming Director of Watershed Management for the utility, Maner was chief of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality’s Water Division.

Marty Matlock is Associate Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the University of Arkansas and has conducted research on a variety of ecological issues. One groundbreaking project which has drawn national attention combines urban stream ecological services restoration with outdoor classrooms, greenway trails and park development. Matlock's ecological engineering group collaborates closely with the University of Arkansas Community Design Center, in the School of Architecture, as well as with city and state officials to demonstrate more natural designs for stormwater systems. Among other activities, he will be working with the Springdale water utility in 2009 on the Clear Creek stream restoration project.

Please plan to join us the afternoon of January 25, and encourage your friends and neighbors to come along. Refreshments will be served. The annual business meeting will be brief, and there will be opportunities to learn more about an essential resource on which we and all living things depend.

Barbara Elaine Boland
Green Infrastructure Planning, Project Coordinator
Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association
148 E Spring Street
Fayetteville, AR 72701
(479) 521-2801 home
(479) 387-6724 cell

"Green Infrastructure is our nation's life support system - an interconnected network of waterways, wetlands, woodlands, wildlife habitats, and other natural areas; greenways, parks and other conservation lands; working farms, ranches and forests; and wilderness and other open spaces that support native species, maintain natural ecological processes, sustain air and water resources and contribute to the health and quality of life for America's communities and people." USDA Forest Service, Green Infrastructure Working Group's definition of Green Infrastructure.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mayor Lioneld Jordan's 2009 state-of-the-city address to the city council

Partners in Progress

Mayor Lioneld Jordan

State of the City
January 20, 2009

I am privileged to serve as Mayor of our wonderful city, and I am humbled by the
responsibility that the people have entrusted to me. I am honored to be your servant, and I
will work every day to make our community better for every citizen. That is my solemn
pledge to you.

Thanks to the vision of Mayor Dan Coody, the dedicated effort of our fine Aldermen, the
hard work of our outstanding city employees, and the contributions of many individual
residents who share our civic concerns, I am pleased to report to the City Council and to
my fellow citizens that the State of our City is sound.

We begin the year with a balanced city budget, solid progress on improving our
infrastructure, dedicated police officers and fire fighters who assure our safety, and a
commitment to institutional and individual partnerships to nurture and sustain the things
we love about this great community.

We also begin the year facing many new challenges and we must be prepared to face
those together with resolve. We are not immune from the problems of a faltering national
economy, and we must anticipate and be prepared for the consequences of any revenue
shortfall. We must be responsible stewards of our tax dollars, and we must maintain
essential city services for our citizens. Toward that end, I have already begun to identify
potential cost savings and have implemented a more effective management structure to
improve efficiency and control costs. Our staff already has offered many good solutions,
and we will institute an ongoing, frequent, consistent review of cost/benefit analysis of
operations and projects to assure the services and quality of life that our citizens expect
and deserve.

I believe in leadership by example, and I have proposed to cut the mayor’s salary and roll
it back to last year’s level. I have signed an affidavit that I will not avail myself of the
special lifetime retirement plan funded from general revenues. I have asked to return the
$5,000 annual car allowance formerly paid to the mayor and instead, to use a vehicle
from the city fleet when necessary to travel on city business. We have already achieved
some savings in the salaries of top staff, and I will continue to look for savings in all
areas of city operations. My staff and I are partners in this effort.

Even in uncertain economic times, we must be bold in our efforts to develop and
implement a strategic economic development plan for our city. Not only can this lead to
increased revenues without a tax increase, but more importantly, it can help assure green
jobs, good jobs that pay a living wage, allowing individuals and working families to have
the basic necessities and a better life. We already know that we need greater efficiency in
the development approval process, a workforce trained for the jobs of the future, and
better methods to accurately measure the results of our efforts. We can draw on the
suggestions of recent studies and the work of my outstanding Transition Team to craft a
plan that is consistent with Governor Mike Beebe’s long-term strategic plan to help
achieve economic improvement for our state through collaboration and cooperation.

To that end, know that I am serious, and within six weeks I will host a Community
Summit on the Future of Fayetteville that will be open to every citizen and I will consider
all views in forging our own economic and community development strategy. We must
have the participation of the business community and advocates for working families,
students and retirees, public institutions and private citizens, as partners in our shared
progress. We will have, within 90 days, an economic and community development
strategy that considers support for existing small businesses as well as nurturing new
opportunities, and together we will work to make it a reality. A slow national economy is
no excuse for inaction but an opportunity for us to move quickly and prepare now for our
shared future.

My first and immediate goal will be to do everything possible to secure and support the
establishment of a Satellite Campus of the University of Arkansas Medical School and a
Regional Trauma Center in Fayetteville. In the longer view, we should also develop a
close relationship with Arkansas Children’s Hospital and seek a regional presence for that
institution. This commitment clearly illustrates the close connection between economic
development and our quality of life.

The University of Arkansas is a priceless resource, and it is one that helps define
Fayetteville. We must be active partners in progress with the University, drawing on the
vast local resources of knowledge and expertise as we grow together and achieve our
mutual goals. From the development of knowledge-based industry, to community design
plans, to solving social service needs, to collaborating on support for a vibrant arts
culture, the possibilities are limitless. I will actively reach out and pursue this partnership.

The economic, environmental, and cultural aspects of Fayetteville’s advancement are
deeply interconnected. For example, any consideration of transportation policy must
consider getting to work, moving goods, access to cultural resources, and environmental
impact, requiring an integrated and connected system of streets, mass transit, multi-use
trails, bike lanes, sidewalks, and parking, along with a revised transportation impact fee
to help growth pay for itself. We will pursue the development of each of these elements,
and we will urge the Regional Mobility Authority to support a feasibility study and
planning for a future light rail system.

As we consider infrastructure development, we must seize the same opportunities. My
administration will go beyond the current recycling program to implementation of a
comprehensive waste minimization program for our entire community. We are pursuing
the idea of solar greenhouses to kill pathogens and reduce the volume of bio-solids now
going to landfills. We are investigating an effective Hillside Development Ordinance and
a storm water utility to better control the primary transmitter of pollutants into our water
supply, and we will implement and enforce a better plan for the protection of riparian
zones. We will be active partners with the “Green Infrastructure” project being developed
with the help of the Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association, Arkansas Forestry
Commission, the city’s Urban Forestry program, the Tree and Landscape Committee, and
citizen volunteers. Our ongoing city sustainability efforts can also be expanded and
shared to benefit the entire community, evidenced by our new initiative to provide and
exchange CFL light bulbs in the apartments at Hillcrest Towers. In each instance, we will
be partners in progress.

One major change that will be implemented is a reorganization of our Parks and
Recreation Department. While much attention in the past has been focused on sports
playing fields, we know that our outdoor public spaces can serve other essential
functions. I will propose a new division, to be implemented without additional costs, that
emphasizes our community heritage and citizen participation. Examples to be considered
will be increasing the number of way-finding signs and local historical markers, planting
of native trees and grasses in portions of the parks, establishing a community garden
program in appropriate neighborhood parks, opening a convenient dog park, and
partnering with the University, the County, the Fayetteville School District, the
Washington County Historical Society, and private citizens to identify, preserve, and
promote our historic buildings and other cultural resources. In conjunction with these
changes, I will appoint a volunteer citizen task force on Festivals and Community Events
to seek a closer partnership with the Convention and Visitors Bureau to identify needs
and opportunities, and we will promote the “creative economy” in Fayetteville by
developing a comprehensive Cultural Plan, in partnership with the Fayetteville Arts
Council, the University, local artists, entertainment businesses, and concerned local

Finally, I want to reiterate and make clear my unwavering commitment to Open
Government. This administration is dedicated to access, transparency, inclusion, timely
responses, personal recognition, and exceptional customer service for our citizens, and
we will be held accountable to those we serve. From Town Hall Meetings to an improved
interactive city website to information on civic literacy to empowered Neighborhood
Associations, we are preparing to implement real changes to better provide information to
our citizens and, more importantly, to seek and consider ways for citizens to
communicate their ideas, arguments, suggestions, and problems to their city government.
My Transition Team has listened to your ideas and has made a series of steps we will be
implementing to assure an effective community conversation. We must be partners in the
progress of our community, and every citizen must have a voice and be treated with the
respect and dignity that they deserve. You have heard my ideas, I now ask our City
Council to help me work toward these goals and I look forward to hearing their input and
the input of citizens, especially how I can be a better mayor and do a better job for our

Thank you for your patience in listening as I share my plans and thank you for the
opportunity to serve you and our city.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Associated Press reports that motives of state commissioner questioned by opponents of coal-fired power plant

Critics Question Vote on Arkansas Coal-fired Plant 
By The Associated Press - 1/16/2009 11:40:01 AM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Opponents of a $1.5 billion project to build a coal-fired power plant in southwest Arkansas say a state commissioner who pushed a vote for construction to resume last month heads a company that is doing business with the plant's contractors.

In filings with the state Pollution Control and Ecology Commission, opponents say Lexicon Inc. or one of its arms has at least six projects with Shaw Group LLC and at least two with ABB Alstom Power. Shaw Group is the main contractor for Southwestern Electric Power Co.'s plant project near Fulton. Alstom is producing and installing the plant's generator turbines.

The filings Monday noted that Lexicon chairman Thomas Schueck is also a PC&E commissioner. Lexicon has several steel construction and fabrication subsidiaries.

Last month, Schueck proposed - and the commission approved - allowing plant construction to resume after an appeal by environmental opponents of the plant's air permit halted the work. Hundreds were put back to work while the appeal is pending before an administrative judge with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.

"Schueck's participation and vote at the Dec. 5 hearing may not have been totally motivated by current and potential business opportunities available to the Lexicon family of companies," said Rick Addison, a Dallas lawyer for the opponents. "The fact remains, however, that (the decision) was exceedingly favorable to, and financially lucrative for, Shaw Group and Alstom. That Commissioner Schueck could in turn benefit (even if only indirectly) from Shaw's and Alstom's prosperity also cannot be doubted."

Opponents asked that the financial ties of each commissioner be reviewed.

Administrative judge Michael O'Malley said he would treat the filings as he would any others in the appeal.

"And at some point I'll issue some type of order," he said.

Schueck did not immediately return a call for comment Friday.

(Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Copyright © 2009, Arkansas Business Limited Partnership. All Rights Reserved.

UPDATED: Arkansas House Members Delay Global Warming Hearing 
By The Associated Press - 1/13/2009 2:17:01 PM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Leaders of a joint energy panel agreed to delay until next week a hearing featuring critics of the governor's Commission on Global Warming after House members initially planned on skipping the Wednesday meeting.

The Joint Energy Committee rescheduled a hearing for next week featuring a member of the Governor's Commission on Global Warming along with other critics of the commission's recommendations. Richard Ford, an economics professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, said Tuesday that he doesn't believe the group properly studied whether global warming is a threat.

Ford and other critics of the commission had planned on presenting a "minority report" challenging the group's recommendations on ways to reduce global warming in the state.

Rep. Lance Reynolds and Sen. Kim Hendren told reporters Tuesday they agreed to hold the hearing next week, hours after Reynolds announced that House members wouldn't attend the meeting originally scheduled for Wednesday. Reynolds, who said he consulted with House Speaker Robbie Wills, said he didn't see the point of the hearing since no legislation has been filed on the global warming panel.

Hendren backtracked from comments he made earlier Tuesday accusing Wills of abusing his authority and said the spat over whether to hold the hearing was a miscommunication between both chambers.

"We should have communicated before we canceled meetings like that," said Hendren, R-Gravette.

The commission released a set of 54 recommendations last year, and Commission Co-chair Kathy Webb said she plans on introducing several bills based on the commission's report.

Ford said he doesn't believe the panel properly studied whether global warming is a threat.

"I do not believe the commission followed the law and reviewed the scientific literature as the law told us we had to to do our job," Ford said.

The decision means the energy panel will hear from the commission's critics before hearing from the commission itself. Reynolds, D-Quitman, said he would welcome a meeting with the commission.

Webb, D-Little Rock, said she disagreed with Ford's argument that the commission didn't follow the law.

"I think there are some folks who don't want to see us accomplish anything, but I think those folks are in the minority," Webb said.

Webb has said the legislation will include "lead by example" measures that will promote energy-efficient state government buildings and more hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles in the state fleet.

(Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Copyright © 2009, Arkansas Business Limited Partnership. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Skeptical member of commission attacks global-warming commission's report in meeting with legislators

The Morning News
Local News for Northwest Arkansas
Member Criticizes Global Warming Commission
By John Lyon
LITTLE ROCK -- A member of the state Governor's Commission on Global Warming told lawmakers Wednesday they should be skeptical of the panel's recommendations for combating climate change.
Richard Ford, a professor of economics at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, spoke at an informal meeting requested by Sen. Percy Malone, D-Arkadelphia, former Senate chairman of the Joint Committee on Energy.
"I don't think we followed the law as given," Ford said.
Ford said the 2007 law that created the commission directed the body to "study the scientific data, literature and research on global warming to determine whether global warming is an immediate threat to the citizens in the state of Arkansas." He said that never happened.
"It was implicitly assumed that global warming is a pending catastrophe, that it had to be addressed, basically by limiting (carbon) emissions," he said.
The commission presented to the governor late last year a report containing 54 recommendations for reducing the state's contributions to climate change, including a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants until pollution-control technology improves.
"I would ask you to be skeptical of many of the recommendations -- most of them," Ford said. "Be skeptical of the cost numbers. I several times pointed out that they were estimates on the low side because they just flat did not include everything."
The commission's report includes analysis of the costs to implement 29 of its recommendations. It estimates the net cost at $3.7 billion between 2009 and 2025.
Lawmakers also heard presentations by others with skeptical views of global warming.
Art Hobson, professor emeritus of physics at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and also a commission member, said in an interview Wednesday he believed the commission did follow the law.
Hobson noted the title of the legislation creating the commission states in part that its purpose is "to establish a global warming pollution reduction goal and comprehensive strategic plan."
"It didn't seem to me that we were really directed to study the underlying science," Hobson said, though he said as a scientist he would have been happy to discuss the scientific evidence of global warming.
Hobson also said he disagreed with Ford's assertion that the commission's cost estimates were inadequate.
"A lot of these policy options that we recommended would save money for Arkansas, and some would cost money. Those were very carefully worked out by CCS (the Center for Climate Strategies)," he said.
CCS, a nonprofit group based in Harrisburg, Pa., provided consulting services to the commission while it was preparing its report. Hobson said he has heard complaints that the group "roped Arkansas into doing this and into hiring CCS," but he said in fact it was the other way around.
"The commission was appointed, and then we looked around at each other and said, 'Well, what do we do now? How are we going to develop these ideas?' Then some of the people who were supporting the idea of the commission looked around and found CCS," he said.
Malone said he had hoped Ford and the other speakers could address an official meeting of the Joint Committee on Energy, but the scheduling of Wednesday's meeting conflicted with committee rules, so an informal meeting was held instead.
Malone encouraged people with other points of view to contact the committee's new Senate chairman, Sen. Kim Hendren, R-Gravette, and ask to make a presentation.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Antrim Caskey reports on coal-ash spill in Tennessee on the AlterNet

Can America Clean Up from Its Worst Environmental Disaster? [Contains Photo Slideshow]
By Antrim Caskey, AlterNet. Posted January 5, 2009.

With the breaking of a coal waste dam in Tennessee, environmental and human health is threatened by millions of pounds of toxic chemicals. Tools

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Editor's Note: You can watch an incredible photo slideshow of the effects of the coal ash sludge spill at the bottom of this story.

Harriman, TN - On December 26, 2008, the Roane County Codes Enforcement Office condemned three homes along Swan Pond Circle Road in Harriman, Tennessee, four days after 5.4 million cubic yards, more than 1 billion gallons, of coal combustion waste (CCW) slurry surged, "like a tsunami" according to residents, into the confluence of the Emory and Clinch Rivers after breaking a 40-acre holding pond at the Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA) Kingston coal-fired power plant.

The Schean family lake house, which they had spent that last 3.5 years restoring from a beaten up lakeside shack, was thrown off its foundation across the road thirty feet. Fifty-three-year-old James Schean was asleep in bed when the earthen retaining wall broke, sending a wave of coal sludge through his home; Schean escaped by kicking out the bedroom window and clamoring out of the house, just as emergency personnel arrived at the scene. Neither his wife nor his daughter were in the house at the time.

DeAnna Copeland, a neighbor of the Scheans, expressed her dismay at the destruction of the Schean lake-house, "every waking moment they were working on that house." The Schean house, the bass boat and James' red pick up truck all lay under a dark grey sludge, which was punctuated with household items, toys, and clothing that had been expelled from the house.

Many of the residents of Harriman and the surrounding river-front properties and forested peninsulas say they moved here to live out the latter part of their lives in a beautiful river setting -- many "cashed in everything" to buy river-front homes, like the Copeland family. As one of the police officers at a checkpoint along Swan Pond Circle Road said, "Sunday night, people went to bed with lake-side property; when they woke up Monday morning, it was gone."

Chris Copeland was startled awake at 12:40 am Monday morning, December 22. Copeland got dressed and drove his car down to the shore and put his high beams on to see what was going on. "I could hear things breaking and popping -- at first I thought it was a storm...I could see what looked like ocean waves going over our cove, then trees and debris," Copeland recalled. "I thought that the Melton Hill Dam had collapsed." Copeland, a fire fighter at the Oak Ridge National Laboratories, immediately called 911.

Copeland was up all night and "hasn't slept very well since," he admitted. Subsequently, his wife DeAnna and two young daughters, have gone to Florida to stay with relatives. Copeland said that he wanted to get his children away from the mess and he was not sure when they would come back.

This is not the first time that the coal ash containment ponds have breached at the Kingston Fossil plant. There have been two in recent years, one in 2003 and in 2006. Danny Collins, the manager of the Rockwood Municipal Airport, said that he'd noticed a green ooze coming from the retention wall of the waste pond for the last year and a half.

But this environmental disaster may be the worst in the country's history and the threats to health and the environment are severe, as the residents are beginning to learn. Clean up crews expressed their shock at the size and scope of the accident. "I ain't seen anything like this ever before," said one worker, who asked not to be identified by name because "TVA told us not to say anything. Fifteen years ago there was a tornado here -- it was nothing compared to this," he explained.

Residents in the affected area expressed frustration at TVA's response to citizens. DeAnna Copeland likened it to going to the emergency room for care and being put in a waiting room. "First they send the receptionist to check on you; next they send the candy striper. We need the doctor!"

In the wake of the spill, Kingston City Councilman Brant Williams called an emergency community meeting to be held at the Kingston Community Center, on Sunday, December 28. Five of the seven council members attended along with the Mayor Troy Beets, who also heads the City council, Ron Kilgore, CEO of TVA and Ron Hall, the Kingston plant manager.

According to Kilgore, 3 homes have been condemned, 42 homes were damaged in some way; at least 63 pieces of equipment are currently engaged in clean up efforts, "24-7." One by one, citizens raised their hands to make comments and ask questions. Mayor Beets handed each person a microphone, which usually ended up back in the hands of TVA CEO Ron Kilgore, who answered questions for hours.

Considering the magnitude of the spill, citizens were almost eerily polite; there was much talk of "not wanting to bash TVA." Some residents affected by the coal sludge spill expressed concern that if they spoke out against TVA that family members who did business with the company could lose their jobs.

Citizens listened to Kilgore enumerate the TVA plan of action: first to ensure public safety, second, to contain the spill, and third, the recovery stage. Kilgore repeatedly described planned efforts to monitor the water, air and soil around the spill but never explained to the approximately 300 people why these precautions were being taken.

He addressed the safety of clean up crews and admitted that he pulled them off task when rains came over the weekend after the spill, "you can imagine that it is kind of dangerous working with this stuff," he said. However, when a citizen later quoted back his statement and questioned health and safety issues, Kilgore said that he was describing the slickness endangering the workers, not the actual content of the spilled waste.

But there may be good reason for alarm. Activists representing United Mountain Defense, River Keepers and Citizen Coal Council distributed information about coal ash and its dangers at the meeting. Stephen Smith of demanded that Kilgore tell the crowd what is in the coal ash. Kilgore refused to answer saying only that, "we are concentrating our efforts on clean up."

Chris Irwin, with United Mountain Defense, spoke to the crowd warning them that this community meeting was "nothing more than a public relations snow job." As reported in the New York Times, December 30, TVA finally revealed an inventory of the Kingston Fossil Plant waste generation in detail : "In just one year, the plant's byproducts included 45,000 pounds of arsenic, 49,000 pounds of lead, 1.4 million pounds of barium, 91,000 pounds of chromium and 140,000 pounds of manganese. Those metals can cause cancer, liver damage and neurological complications, among other health problems. And the holding pond ... contained many decades' worth of these deposits."

Subsequently, independent tests of the water quality at the spill site and downstream, in coordination with Appalachian Voices and the Waterkeeper Alliance's Upper Watauga Riverkeeper Program, were conducted and analyzed this week. The results are frightening. Tests were conducted at the Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry labs at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. At the Kingston plant's canal intake, the tests revealed arsenic levels 300 times what federal laws allow; all samples contained "elevated levels of arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury , nickel and thallium," according to Appalachian Voices' website.

Dr. Shea Tuberty, Associate Professor of Biology, one of the scientists conducting the tests concluded, "The ecosystems around Kingston and Harriman are going to be in trouble, the aquatic ones for some time, until nature is able to bury these compounds in the environment," said Tuberty. "I don't know how long that will take, maybe generations."

The coal disaster at Kingston has clued Americans in to the real consequences of coal. We use coal-fired power for almost half of our daily electricity use; when you turn on your lights, your plasma TV or laptop computer, you are probably using coal. The coal industry, which has come under sustained attack, especially in the wake of global climate change, is spending tens of millions of dollars on a public relations war to convince Americans that coal is good and clean.

But many residents of Appalachia who live with the daily effects are strenuously opposed. Long before this latest disaster, citizens in the Coal River valley in southern West Virginia have pointed to the threats of massive sludge ponds in their neighborhood: Brushy Fork, which contains 9 billion gallons of sludge and the 2.8 billion gallons that sit above Marsh Fork Elementary School, which according to reports written between 1998 and 2005 by the Mine Safety and Health Administration, is at risk for failure which could fatally impact 1,000 people downstream. From the Coal River Valley -- and across the nation -- the people cry for Marsh Fork Elementary to be moved away from the toxic waste dump which has accrued hundreds of repeated violations. But West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, III has refused this community's requests. Massey Energy, which runs the operation, assures West Virginians that their dam is safe and inspected regularly. But that is also what TVA assured the people of Kingston.

Clearly corporate responsibility is an issue when it comes to the threats posed by coal. In the case of Kingston, environmental organizations like Greenpeace are calling for criminal charges against TVA. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is planning to sue TVA under the Federal Clean Water Act. Additionally, Roane County land developers are suing TVA for $165 million. And many are hoping that the Kingston spill will be the impetus to help Americans commit to the immediate transition away from coal to clean, renewable energy.

See more stories tagged with: global warming, climate change, coal, tennessee, clean coal, mountaintop removing, mining, spill, tva
Antrim Caskey is a Brooklyn-based independent photojournalist whose work focuses on community and social justice issues. Caskey has been reporting on the human and environmental costs of Mountaintop Removal/Valley Fill coal mining since May, 2005.

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Appalachia is not "newsworthy" to the MSN
[Report this comment] Posted by: SeattlePackedSnowandCollidedCars on Jan 5, 2009 1:34 AM
Current rating: 1 [1 = poor; 5 = excellent]
as much as you want too this will get little to no traction becuase its in Appalachia thank to a TVA F up (a Federal agency)
[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »] [Rate this comment: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5]
What is dirty, and what is organic
[Report this comment] Posted by: bonzi on Jan 5, 2009 1:40 AM
Current rating: 2 [1 = poor; 5 = excellent]
No, I am not claiming that coal ash sludge is not harmful. The problem is that it is sludge (as opposed to dry ash) that has had years to leach all kinds of ash constituents into water part of it. The main danger from sludge retentions like this is "mechanical" - the sheer force of huge mass of mud suddenly released. Pile of dry ash covered with thin layer of soil and planted with grass would be much safer.

But remember when you are reading in some "sustainable/organic living" blog or magazine about making your own soap the way the pioneers did that the fireplace ash used in the process (or used as fertilizer) is the same as that from the power plant retaining pond. The fact is was not touched by "big corporations" does not make it any safer.
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» lol Posted by: EinMD
[Report this comment] Posted by: kinderdominion on Jan 5, 2009 4:07 AM
Current rating: Not yet rated [1 = poor; 5 = excellent]
This catastrophe makes me sad and angry. What can we do, those who are not from the area?
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» RE: comrade Posted by: EinMD
Accidents happen. It will get cleaned up.
[Report this comment] Posted by: AJR Journal on Jan 5, 2009 4:40 AM
Current rating: 1 [1 = poor; 5 = excellent]
Could it have been prevented? Probably.
Should the TVA be held accountable? Sure.
Is it the end of the World? Absolutely not.
The dike broke, it flooded, nobody was killed, and now it is getting cleaned up. Nobody is at risk of poisoning.
Everything will be all right.
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» Self-deluded bastardized "conservative". Posted by: maxpayne
» We can PREVENT these disasters, starting NOW Posted by: antrim
» RE: Accidents happen... Rumsfeld Redux Posted by: greenman
» RE: Accidents happen. It will get cleaned up. Posted by: bassey
Just like Hurricane Katrina but this time even more man made than the last.
[Report this comment] Posted by: maxpayne on Jan 5, 2009 5:58 AM
Current rating: Not yet rated [1 = poor; 5 = excellent]
Glad I don't live there is all I can say. This is what happens when phoney economic "libertarian" policies are given higher priority over sane economic policies and the environment. And thanks to privatization, there'll be no real cleanup.
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[Report this comment] Posted by: RTTEch82 on Jan 5, 2009 6:01 AM
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I really dont think we can. I think we have gone way beyond the point of no return. Sadly.

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[Report this comment] Posted by: woodsmoke19 on Jan 5, 2009 5:59 AM
Current rating: 5 [1 = poor; 5 = excellent]
Both Bonzi and AJR Journal appear to be poorly informed.I would assert that the main problem with these impoundments is not the "mechanical"problem when the dam breaks,which can be substantial no doubt,but the contents,the coal combustion waste,that is highly toxic and full of heavy metals,just like the waste that goes up and out the powerplant's smokestack,and the coal itself from which the waste products come.Because the retention ponds are not lined to prevent seepage,the liquid ash sludge seeps into the ground water without any dam breaking.I'm guessing that the ash is stored in the form of sludge so that it doesn't become airborne from the wind,which would be a daily PR problem.Covering dry coal ash with a thin layer of soil would only give the impression of"problem solved"when in fact the ash would then leach into the groundwater.Read the article to see the vast toxins released by this facility,and then multiply the numbers by the hundreds of coal-fired powerplants in this country and around the world. Wood ash and coal ash are completely different sustances and I can't understand why he/she would make this mistaken comparison. As for the comments from AJR Journal,no one is likely to drop dead on the spot from poisoning but the toxins have entered the river system,(read the article,)meaning that cities downstream that get their drinking water from the river will be adding coal waste to the toxins already present in the river water.When it rains,the ash sludge they can't scoop up with backhoes(look at the photos) will continue to wash into the river system;when the ash sludge dries out,it will become airborne and residents will be breathing it(along with the smokestack emissions.) Everything about coal is dirty and poisonous.I live in Appalachia and speak from experience.
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This is Not Good at All...
[Report this comment] Posted by: hooklinesinker on Jan 5, 2009 9:06 AM
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We have a new golf course in my hometown of Chesapeake, VA that was under construction for years. The reason it took so long was the builders were receiving money from a coal plant electrical generator (Dominion Virginia Power) for developing a subgrade of excess flash dust as an underlayment of the course. Then it all hit the fan when the toxic dangers of coal dust (fly ash) came out immediately after the course opened and a statute of limitations for claims expired.

Now, every homeowner whose property surrounds this course is finding out their groundwater (wells) is contaminated with heavy metals. The course owner and the electrical utility reports a chemical was sprayed onto the million cubic tons of fly ash to keep it from "leeching" into groundwater. Now it's been determined that didn't work. The electrical company has offered 8 million to help run city water/sewer to the affected homeowners, and yet the course owner is not offering a thing, so the subgrade of flay ash remains. This is a known hazard but everybody took someone else's word that it was safe without ensuring the accuracy of the statements of those in collusion. Sue the hell out of them!
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» RE: This is Not Good at All... Posted by: maxpayne
Toxic spill? What toxic spill? Now, back to celebrity rehab news!
[Report this comment] Posted by: monkeywrench on Jan 5, 2009 10:17 AM
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From the article:
"The coal disaster at Kingston has clued Americans in to the real consequences of coal."

The lack of reporting on this disaster should also clue all who eventually find out about it in on how it is being covered up by what we not-so-laughingly call "the mainstream media."

After reports on the day of the original break, there has been little or no reporting since on the aftermath of this massive toxic spill, even though this one is many times the size of the Exxon Valdez spill, which was reported on for weeks after it happened.

Is this conspicuous lack of reporting because Coal Country, unlike Alaska, has little tourism and so has been written off as not worth considering, or is it because entrenched dirty energy industries are trying to hold onto their business and profits and have the cooperation of the media to do it?

My money's on the latter; but, either way, it is obvious that the news has been cancelled, and all we get now from the infotainment industry is propaganda and pop culture garbage. It is also obvious that the lack of warning from the media about environmental tragedies such as this could potentially result in the deaths of people, so our MSM shares responsibility with the modern Robber Barons who create these disasters. It is outrageous that they will never be held accountable.
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Nuclear generated electricity can replace coal
[Report this comment] Posted by: jsong123 on Jan 5, 2009 10:34 AM
Current rating: 1 [1 = poor; 5 = excellent]
in case anyone is interested.
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» RE: Nuclear generated electricity can replace coal Posted by: halg
Age of self responsibility
[Report this comment] Posted by: JFlagg on Jan 5, 2009 10:56 AM
Current rating: 5 [1 = poor; 5 = excellent]
Do you live downstream from a coal fired power plant? If so you are most likely living in a State that has been the focus of many financially well-heeled organizations. They have a variety of names, many have "America" "Freedom" "Environmental" or many other words that would lead you to believe they were formed with the interest of Citizens in mind.
It may be time to take a fresh look at what you are being spoon-fed by energy companies and their many cover organizations.

There are some facts that even those opposed to science and place all their faith in God/Christ and Republicans must come to understand.

Coal is toxic. Mining for coal, burning coal, coal by-product storage all destroy the environment and the health of those that come into contact with it.

If you can see smoke from a coal plant, Move. If you can see or hear a coal mining operation, Move. It is important to note that if either of the two situations exist for you, you are probably living in a State that votes Republican and a majority of the people think that the EPA is a left-wing nutcase organization and should not have any control over business. BTW- Titanium does not vaporize
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Friday, January 2, 2009

The Morning News reports that Beebe acknowledges reality of global warming

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Why is muddy water flowing in a normally clear Ozark Mountain stream on a sunny New Year's Day?

Please click on images to ENLARGE view of muddy water flowing on New Year's Day into the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River.

For more images and a bit of explanation of this situation, please click the following link Silt-laden water pumped to the Town Branch by contractors flows to Beaver Lake
For a closer view of the pipe spewing water from Hill Place work site, please click on image to ENLARGE. Use cursor to move about and see the contrast between the flow from the pipe and the stream's normal clear water at right.

For more images and a bit of explanation of this situation, please click the following link Silt-laden water pumped to the Town Branch by contractors flows to Beaver Lake

Arkansas Business reports that new coal-fired plant will require additional replacement of another SWEPCO facility

AEP SWEPCO plans Ashdown facility to support Hope facility