Count me unshocked. Environmental groups weren't consulted before the Game and Fish Commission entered an agreement to lease wildlife management areas for gas drilling.
Where's the water to come from to "frac" these wells -- something like 3 million gallons for each of dozens of wells? Where's the waste to go? Who'll be watching for pollution from drilling chemicals? Does it matter as long as the money rolls in?
Questions for another day.
Just remember, when a gas company like Chesapeake pays $29 million to get gas, it expects to get the gas. Even if it means condemning somebody's front yard.
UPDATE: Gov. Beebe is quoted in the linked article as saying he thought the public had adequate input into the deal. His spokesman tells me that’s a reference to discussions of gas leasing at Game and Fish Commission meetings. Wildlife Federation must have been absent from those sessions, I guess. Spokesman Matt DeCample also said Beebe had not been involved in the negotiations, but became aware of them close to the end. He said the governor remained hopeful that some of the money would go to state agencies that regulate gas exploration and that he took assurance of good operations from the best management agreement struck between Game and Fish and Chesapeake.
Does the governor’s acquiescence mean he signs off on the notion that Game and Fish is exempt from the statute that requires the state land commissioner to oversee mineral leasing of public lands and deposit revenues into the general fund? DeCample said he'd defer an opinion on that to the attorney general, who mealy-mouthed the other day that Game and Fish appears to be a power unto itself in the Arkansas firmament. Since the lawyer-governor did NOT object to Game and Fish annexing all the loot, you can draw your own conclusions, of course.