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Blogger/Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lignite, a Natural Opportunity for Arkansas - Also About Jobs for Arkansans

by Arkansas Lt. Governor Mark A. Darr: It is my goal as your Lt. Governor to be an advocate for economic development and the creation of jobs in Arkansas. In discussions with a number of researchers, legislators, and businesspeople, it is clear to me that Arkansas possesses a real opportunity in the form of lignite coal.

On February 18th, I had the opportunity to attend a town hall in Texarkana organized by Rep. Prissy Hickerson on the economic benefits of lignite mining. Other state legislators were also in attendance and presentations were given by Rep. Garry Smith [D-Camden] and Richard Wilson of the Arkansas Bureau of Legislative Research.

According to their briefing, researchers have confirmed that Arkansas has at least four billion recoverable tons of lignite available and possibly as much as nine billion tons. Such a supply would last for generations into the future and help America reduce its dependence on foreign sources of energy.

The economy of South Arkansas is hurting. Unemployment in the Fourth Congressional District is currently just above eight percent. Our state needs jobs. The timber industry has for decades been a backbone of South Arkansas’ economy, however, it has seen some decline in recent years. The mining of lignite can create a new economic engine for this vital region of our state. Tapping our bountiful natural resources could create these necessary jobs and infuse hundreds of millions of dollars into the economy.

In Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, lignite is mined and mainly used to generate electricity. However, new technologies are being developed to turn lignite coal into synthetic fuels, which adds a great deal of economic value to this resource. Micro-refineries can be placed at a mine and the lignite can be converted to crude oil right on-site. The oil could then be put into tanker trucks and taken to a refinery, such as the Lion Oil refinery in El Dorado, and developed into diesel fuel and other chemical products.

To properly develop and market this resource, more exploration has to be done. The Arkansas Geological Survey and researchers from Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia are currently seeking about $3 million dollars in state funds so they can complete research and testing and document the extent and quality of our lignite deposits. This information is valuable and necessary so that the best locations for mining operations can be determined.

I would urge you to contact your state senators and representatives and ask them to support this. While most of Arkansas’ lignite is in South Arkansas, the economic effects would be felt statewide. Mining operations will start with construction jobs and then lead to jobs from mining companies and service providers. Their salaries will be reinvested into the economy to support small businesses. Revenues will be collected by the state to benefit education and roads. As South Arkansas becomes more prosperous, so will the rest of Arkansas.

Once surface mining operations are completed, the land will not be left bare. The land can be reclaimed and returned to a natural state. This effort is not an anti-environmental pursuit. It is about using our God-given resources to improve peoples’ lives. It is about energy independence for America. It is also about jobs – jobs we need in South Arkansas.

Tags: Arkansas, Lt. Governor, Mark Darr, Lignite, brown coal, Arkansas economy, economic development, jobs, South Arkansas, East Arkansas, 1st Congressional District, 4th Congressional District, energy independence, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 3:58 PM - Post Link


Anonymous Barbara Dalby said...

Thanks for this post. I guess I was one of your subscribers who ignored the article, but it wasn't intentional.

Anonymous Debbie Wylie said...

I remembering reading the article after I started reading it! It makes good economical sense to me Bill!

Anonymous Barbara Gordon said...

Lt. Gov. Darr should be Gov. Darr.

Anonymous Ron Dupree said...

Anyone but weasel Beebe and his sidekick McLiberal.

Blogger Bill Smith said...

Yes Gov. - :) I mean Lt Gov Darr makes lots of good sense. We had a previous great Lt. Gov -- Win Rockefeller who had tremendous economic ideas but was not used by the then Governor and allowed to promote Arkansas. If unleashed, Win, the richest resident billionaire in Arkansas would have talked with the right people and brought business to Arkansas.


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