Category Archives: Politics

AR Legislator Introduces a Bill to Ban Plastic Bags

Arkansas Times reports that State Senator Denny Altes (R-Fort Smith) who was recently elected to the State House has filed a bill to prohibit stores from using plastic bags. The bill aims to encourage the use of reusable shopping bags. Click here to read the bill. Altes exempts the use of paper bags from his proposal.



No matter how many steps you have taken to reduce your environmental footprint, you will inevitably run up against limits to individual actions. Right now I don’t have the option to buy renewable energy from my utility providers. Many of the roads that I bike have no bike lane. Buses come once every half an hour, and the service ends early in the evening. The United States still has no comprehensive climate and energy policy. My car still runs on foreign gasoline.

Individual actions just aren’t enough to protect the environment. That’s why it’s so important to cast your vote. People we elect could protect the environment or destroy it. They could promote renewable energy or offshore drilling. They could raise or lower vehicle fuel efficiency standards. They could fight climate change or deny it.

Some people think there is little to no difference among candidates regarding their environmental positions. I disagree. Oftentimes, there are significant differences. Check your candidates’ environmental positions by visiting Project Vote Smart’s website at

Voting takes only a few minutes, but impacts are ever-lasting. So, get out and vote today!

Friday To-Do: President of American Petroleum Institute to Speak at Clinton School

American Petroleum Institute (API) President Jack Gerard will give a Clinton School lecture about his industry’s role in the American economy, particularly its ability to create jobs. The oil and natural gas industry is responsible for 9.2 million American jobs, according to API, the national trade association representing the oil and natural gas industry.

API is also responsible for killing federal climate and energy legislation by funding the likes of Claiborne Deming, former Murphy Oil CEO. Deming traveled all over Arkansas to spread the gospel that the cap-and-trade bill will kill the U.S. economy. Between January 2009 and June 2010, API spent $11 million to lobby Congress to defeat pollution reductions and to maintain tax loopholes. During the same period, the oil industry spent $543 million to lobby Congress.

WHEN: Friday, October 22 – 12 p.m.

WHERE: University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service – Sturgis Hall

Reserve your seats by emailing or calling (501)683-5239.

Register for Symposium on Economic & Environmental Issues in AR

All of us have a stake in the economic and environmental sustainability of our state.

This symposium brings together a diverse group of scholars to share original research, stimulate and encourage educational initiatives and promote increased collaboration among private and public organizations.

Hosted by the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Public Policy Center, the Symposium will be held at the U of A Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service State Office in Little Rock.

The fee is $25 for pre-registration, $30 day of the event and $15 for students. A CD containing each researcher’s executive summary, PowerPoint presentations and other materials will be mailed to all participants. Continuing Education credits may apply.

To register and to view the agenda, click here.

For more information, contact Debbie at or call (501) 671-2299.

How Senate & White House Killed Climate Legislation

This week’s New Yorker has a behind-the-scene story on how the Senate and the White House missed their best chance to pass federal climate and energy legislation.

Since I spent the last year working to support comprehensive federal climate and energy legislation, I found the article to be extremely insightful. Generally, I find President Obama to be doing a good job, but with regards to climate change, he did not lead. His refusal to lead, combined with the Senate inaction, killed the bill in July 2010.

Check out the article by clicking here.

Treehugger also has a list of seven things that killed the climate bill. I agree with the list but will add the eighth factor that contributed to the bill’s demise – apathetic American public.

As Ryan Lizza reports in his New Yorker article, the Pew Research Center conducted a poll in January 2010 asking Americans to rank the importance of twenty-one issues. Climate change came in last.

Why would our representatives do something about climate change when it is of no importance to us?

It is easy to blame politicians for not doing something about climate change, but what have you done about climate change? How many times did you talk to your representatives about climate change this year? How many times did you voice your support for climate action this year?

It takes all of us – the White House, the Senate and American public – to deal with climate change.

Next time the Congress decides to deal with climate change, please don’t remain silent. Talk to your representatives. Voice your support. Because if we don’t, we will miss the boat again, and we can no longer afford to not deal with climate change.

Hurry! Register for 1st Annual Going Green in the Delta Expo

WHAT: 1st Annual Green Expo: Going Green in the Delta

WHEN: Thursday-Saturday, August 26-28

WHERE: Phillips Community College (1000 Campus Drive) in Helena-West Helena

The greening of business, development, government and consumer products and services has only just begun in the Arkansas Delta. Rising energy costs, new laws, and growing demand for environmentally friendly consumer products and services will continue to drive the green marketplace. The Going Green in the Delta Expo will provide an exciting opportunity for green leaders in the Delta from all levels of Arkansas government, business and industry, and education to take stock of the progress of the green economy, identify commonalities across sectors, and map out goals for a greener, healthier future.

Through speaker presentations, workshops, and hands-on weatherization event, participants will learn why going green is important to Delta communities.

Expo objectives are to:

  • Promote open dialogue about best practices for a green economy in the Delta
  • Showcase energy efficiency green entrepreneurship and products/ services
  • Enhance visibility of green businesses in the Delta and their contribution to the merging economy
  • Raise awareness of green job training opportunities and grant opportunities.
  • Create networking opportunities for those interested in growing green strategies in the Delta

The Going Green in the Delta Expo will kick off on the evening of Thursday, August 26 with homegrown talent Phillip Stackhouse and his jazz-blues ensemble providing music.

On Friday, August 27, featured speakers include Jerome Ringo, former president of Apollo Alliance, Dr. Eric Olson, author of Better Green Businesses, and Martha Jane Murray with Clinton Climate Initiative, as well as other state and local presenters. Expo workshops will include such topics as green jobs and training opportunities, weatherization and energy efficiency, and information on rebates and tax credit opportunities.

On Saturday, August 28, expo attendees have an opportunity to weatherize Wofford Chapel Missionary Baptist Church.

It is a full day of excitement that will inspire all to go green in the Delta!

To register to attend the expo, visit

For more information, contact Jake Coffey at or call (501) 526-5570.

Hosted by Office of Community-Based Public Health, College of Public Health, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas, Boys Girls Adults Community Development Center, Walnut Street Works/Tri County Rural Health Network, National Wildlife Federation, Audubon Arkansas, Arkansas Interfaith Power & Light, Clinton Climate Initiative, U.S. Green Building Council – Arkansas Chapter, Village Commons, Mid Delta Community Services, Arkansas Clean Energy Works Coalition, and the Green Jobs and Houses for Healthy Families VISTA Project.

AR Energy Office Announces Increased Energy Star Appliance Rebate Amounts

The Arkansas Energy Office announced last week that it has increased the amounts for its Energy Star Appliance Rebate Program. The increased amounts apply to new purchases and will be retroactive for those who have already received rebates,

The program provides mail-in rebates for consumers who replace their refrigerators, clothes washers, and water heaters with products that qualify for an Energy Star Rating. The rebate amount for qualified refrigerators increased from $125 to $275; clothes washers from $175 to $225; and water heaters from $200 to $300.

Since the rebate program began in March 2010, about $832,000 of the original $2.74 million remained last week.

Those who have already received rebates do not need to do anything to receive the additional rebate money.

The Arkansas program is part of a $300 million nationwide effort to encourage energy efficiency. The program is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

For more information, visit