Dodging the bullet
The recent natural gas study released by the University of Arkansas for the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce shows only the positive side of the equation without counter balancing the minuses. With natural gas market prices only a third to a half of production costs, over-extended companies are compelled to keep drilling anyway, adding to an already existing glut, to keep undeveloped, aging leases from expiring.
Everyone needs to keep on a happy face so that investors do not get spooked and foreign capital from lease sales continues to bail out the cash-strapped exploration and production (E&P) companies. Shale gas well production drops rapidly after the first three years. The decline requires more new wells just to maintain production. Having developed the "hot spots" first, wells drilled in the remaining reserves will be less productive. Balance what Arkansas's gas cheerleaders say with what investment analysts see regarding the health of this industry and you will hear a very different story. Many are concerned about an industry that has over-expanded by risking another economic bubble. The price of gas must and will increase if E & P companies are to continue. Will vehicle fleet conversions to CNG and power plant use of natural gas be a wise economic move when this happens? How much of the profit is flowing out of Arkansas and the U.S.? Has production of the Fayetteville Shale peaked?
Gas profits helped Arkansas dodge the recession bullet. Watch out for the ricochet.
Joyce E. Hale
Canoeists don't mar Buffalo
In Jay Barth's column about the 40th anniversary of the Buffalo National River ("Remembering why the Buffalo flows"), he noted that someone said that canoeists' trash mars the scenery.
I have canoed the Buffalo River (and also the Current River in Missouri) and I have a real problem with the statement that the canoeists are trashing the river. I have guests who come from out of state, and we have canoed the river and picked up trash that someone else threw out. The canoe outfitters furnish everyone that rents a canoe with mesh bags and all along the river there are receptacles for trash. I have noticed that where back roads access the river is where all the trash appears.
Why would someone drive 200 miles to a special place to canoe just to dump their trash? I have heard this story too many times, and it's just the same old disgruntled negative attitude. I am an "outsider" who has lived here for 21 years and this is my observation: Canoeists and hikers do not trash out their place of recreation.
I have also observed that the Park Service has not always been a good neighbor. They have not gone out of the way to cultivate a good relationship with local people.
Too much Womack
Just recently, I canceled my subscription to Rep. Steve Womack's weekly newsletter, "From the Front." Despite the fact that his beliefs are in direct conflict with mine, I signed up to receive Mr. Womack's newsletters because he was the one Arkansas congressman who went out of his way to be accessible to his constituents. He responded to every one of my appeals. He sincerely believes in what he is doing and does not take his position for granted, which is quite refreshing these days. But his fervent worship at the altar of the military-industrial complex has become too much for me to stomach. In almost every newsletter his schedule included a visit to some local high school or event spurring kids on to join the military or congratulating them for doing so. The last straw was his e-mail waxing ecstatic about being appointed to some obscure post at West Point Military Academy. Womack's blind devotion to an institution whose primary purpose is to kill and destroy, and his efforts to recruit kids into becoming cannon fodder for the furtherance of this institution, is not OK. It's morally repugnant.
Everyone should donate
I have been surprised to find out that many folks are not aware of the $50 tax credit — a credit off the bottom line of your tax bill, not a deduction from taxable income — that can be received by donating $50 or more to an Arkansas candidate running for local or state office. Federal election candidates are not eligible, but Arkansas-based PACs are eligible. If the dictum "all politics is local" is true, this is an excellent opportunity for everyone to get involved in political issues. Everyone who pays Arkansas taxes should give a donation to a campaign.
The ordinance in Little Rock requiring limo and sedan operators to charge a minimum of $100 for limos and $30 for sedans/SUVs is wrong. The law gives taxi companies favoritism in order for them to have higher profits compared to their limo counterparts, which hurts customer choices and services available. The law is an attack on free expression because both parties involved can't make choices on prices as well as services offered. This law is the extension of crony capitalism instead of free markets determining prices and services offered as well as an infringement on constitutional rights. It should be repealed.
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