by Max Brantley
Gas lobbyists have turned up the pressure this morning as committee consideration begins of legislation to protect landowners and the environment as gas exploration continues in Arkansas.
The Arkansas Public Policy Panel, which is working for the legislation, offers a persuasive assessment of gas industry regulation in this report, an independent analysis far from unfriendly to the industry.
It says that there are valid concerns about air and water quality. That there are good actors (some of whom still make mistakes), but there are bad actors that regulations can address. That gas prices will support "best practices." That other states have adopted the sorts of permits and regulations recommended in pending legislation.
The report, sadly, notes the dark side of the Natural State, as quoted by the Policy Panel:
They say that better regulations are likely in NY and PA — but that AR's "friendlier regulatory climate means more of the new costs (of better operating procedures) could be optional." WE HOPE that's not the case — Arkansas shouldn't get left behind from advancements on doing this safely.
But we always do. Southwestern Energy's lobbying email says the predictable things: They are regulated enough by state agencies and more regulation will cost jobs. Funny, that hasn't been the case in other states. Poor, but friendly Arkansas buys this line every time.
SPEAKING OF GAS: Sheffield Nelson today criticized Chesapeake Energy for drilling for gas under Brewer Lake, Conway's water supply. The Conway chamber surely would be happy to reassure Sheffield about this. Arkansans for Gas Drilling Accountability have a different view, however.