by Max Brantley
The conservation community is buzzing louder still about legislation expected from Sen. Bob Johnson, 2005's would-be despoiler of Lake Maumelle, who's now carrying water, so to speak, for Chesapeake, the energy company hoping to pull billions in gas out of the Fayetteville shale and leave neither severance tax money nor enlightened land protection policies behind.
We've mentioned this corporate anti-lawsuit bill previously. It's an end-of-the-session special, but hallway buzz is that there has been a rift among some potential legislative sponsors and that Stephens exploration interests might even be having cold feet about climbing on board. Stephens' conventional gas production poses less risk to the environment than shale exploration and, last we heard, existing law hasn't prevented Stephens from making a decent profit in Arkansas under existing laws to protect the land..
Here's one analysis of what Johnson's expected bill would do:
This is based on a draft of the bill, which hasn't been filed and could well be changed. When filed, it will be described as a land protection measure. Cue laugh track.