The pipeline cometh
Construction began this week on a 185-mile natural gas pipeline that will originate in Conway County, travel through White County and terminate in Mississippi. The Fayetteville Express Pipeline (FEP) will cost $1.25 billion and is a joint venture between Energy Transfer Part-ners and Kinder Morgan Energy Partners.
The announcement raises questions as to how land easements will be acquired. Interstate gas lines are common carriers under the law and are granted the power of eminent domain. That has occasionally presented problems, particularly when pipelines gather gas from wells to ship to interstate lines.
Companies have faced lawsuits after failing to properly negotiate with landowners before claiming eminent domain.
State Rep. Jonathan Dismang, R-Beebe, introduced a bill in the 2009 legislative session to stop gathering-line companies from using emi-nent domain. The bill was defeated, the result of a massive lobbying effort by the gas industry. He said he's hopeful eminent domain issues won't be a problem as construction for the FEP gets underway.
“It's my understanding that everything is going to be acquired through negotiations and that the companies involved would not use eminent domain for the easements,” Dismang said. “They're going to pay a fair amount or figure out an alternate route.”
There's an Arkansas angle in this year's race for Maine governor. The leading Democratic candidate (primary is in June) is Libby Mitchell of Augusta, who is president of the Maine Senate and a former House speaker. The Arkansas angle is her husband, Jim Mitchell, a Little Rock native and 1960 graduate of Hall High who's a lawyer and probate judge. His sister, Starr Mitchell of Little Rock, passes along his recent honor as the Maine ACLU's person of the year. Bill Clinton, who appointed Libby Mitchell to the Board of the Federal Home Loan Bank in Boston when he was president, recently endorsed her. She's running as a Clean Elections candidate. She will qualify for public campaign financing by taking no PAC or corporate money and no individual contribution of more than $100.
Every year the Siemens Foundation awards $2,000 scholarships to a male and female high school student in each state for top scores on Advanced Placement tests in math and science. This year, both Arkansas winners are students at Little Rock Central High School — Yi Wu and Helio Liu. Both, by the way, will be featured in the Arkansas Times' annual Academic All-Star issue, to appear April 29.