Darr seeks corporate welfare for lignite | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Darr seeks corporate welfare for lignite

Posted By on Tue, Mar 22, 2011 at 2:25 PM

Ain't it just like a double-talking Republican? Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, in a year when Republicans had to be pressed hard to increase Arkansas School for the Deaf spending by $6,000, is begging for taxpayer money to study lignite mining in South Arkansas.

Forget for a minute the environmental disaster of mining and burning lignite. Forget we live in a state with at least one coal plant too many under construction and a gas-fired power plant begging taxpayer subsidies to operate.

This one is real simple. If there's profit to be made in mining lignite, let the free market work. Let private enterprise put up the study money, let private investors raise the capital and then let private investors convince us they can operate without poisoning the rest of us.

These guys have no shame. Do Republicans EVER pay their own way? Or must they always take state tax money, as Darr wants here and as Jake Files is trying to do to subsidize would-be developers in Fort Smith? To name just two.

Tea Party, where are you?

DARR NEWS RELEASE

Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Mark A. Darr’s statement regarding the funding for the exploration of lignite.

Time is running out in the 88th General Assembly. With less than two weeks remaining there still remain several important state needs to be addressed. I firmly believe the Governor and the Legislature are doing their best to address such needs. In addition it is my hope that elected officials will not forget to supply needed funding for a study of the extraction of lignite (coal).

According to the Arkansas Bureau of Legislative Research, Arkansas has at least four billion tons of lignite available and possibly as much as nine million tons. The bulk of this lignite has been identified in an area forming a triangle between Texarkana, Crossett and Benton.

The funding of this study is the first step in a deliberate and thoughtful process. The study itself involves evaluating the performance of Arkansas lignite as a gasification and liquid fuels feedstock. It would also develop data on the actual performance of the lignite in a facility that would produce liquid fuels by direct and indirect liquefaction. Of course, future study of any potential environmental impact will be vital.

Currently there are several appropriation bills which would provide the necessary funding; for example Senate Bill 700 by Senator Jeremy Hutchinson and Senate Bill 106 by the Joint Budget Committee. The funding for these appropriation bills will ultimately be decided by the Revenue Stabilization Act. If legislation is not passed during this session, it will be another two years before such funding could be decided.

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