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Environment

President Grants Gov. Hutchinson’s Request for Federal Disaster Declaration

Jun 15, 2017
Ann Kenda, Arkansas Public Media

LITTLE ROCK – President Trump today granted Governor Asa Hutchinson’s request for a major disaster declaration for the state of Arkansas as a result of damages due to severe storms, tornadoes and flooding during the period of April 26 to May 19, 2017. The declaration will allow residents and governmental bodies in the affected areas0who meet certain criteria to apply for assistance.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The six members of Arkansas' congressional delegation have written to President Donald Trump in support of a federal disaster declaration for the state as a result of severe storms, flooding and tornadoes that struck the state in April and May.

Republican Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton and Reps. Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman say in a letter sent Tuesday that state and local officials are working to clean up and rebuild following the storms, but that federal assistance is needed to help in the recovery.

Ann Kenda, Arkansas Public Media

LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson today submitted his formal request for a federal disaster declaration to the Trump administration for 31 Arkansas counties affected by severe storms, flooding and tornadoes in April and May.

Talk Business and Politics

Despite objections from world leaders, big business, Democrats, and people within his party and family, President Donald Trump announced Thursday (June 1) he’s removing the U.S. from the historic Paris Climate Accord.

It means the U.S. will join Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries not participating, and Nicaragua didn’t join because officials didn’t think the agreement went far enough to protect the environment.

“I was elected to serve the people of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” Trump said unapologetically during a press conference on the White House grounds.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — About 26,000 customers of a Memphis power company are still without electricity in the aftermath of a Memorial Day weekend storm that hit the Tennessee city with strong winds.

Memphis Light, Gas & Water said Thursday its crews are working with about 90 other utility companies to restore power to parts of the city that remain in the dark.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared 23 Arkansas counties disaster areas after recent flooding.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says in a news release Friday he was informed of the designation from Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. Counties designated as disasters include Faulkner, Lonoke and Randolph.

Perdue visited the state in early May and said in his letter to the governor that there were sufficient production losses in those counties to warrant a designation.

Another 23 counties were designated contiguous disaster areas.

Rural Arkansas has so much to offer in terms of picturesque surroundings and low cost of living that it should be marketed as the newest retirement hot spot, according to participants of the 2017 Rural Development Conference in Hot Springs this week.

Community leaders gathered at the Convention Center to discuss the quality of life issues for rural residents, such as internet access, better-paying jobs and healthcare.

Despite the perception that health care appointments are hard to come by in rural Arkansas, county judge John Thomison said Lawrence County fares pretty well for medical care.

Talk Business and Politics

U. S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, joined Tuesday (May 23) with civil rights icon U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia and U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont to introduce legislation expanding boundaries of the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site.

Ann Kenda, Arkansas Public Media

"Devastating."

That's the only way Kary Story, Mayor of Pocahontas, can describe the record flooding coming to his city.  The National Weather Service in Memphis on Tuesday issued a Flash Flood Warning for southeastern Randolph County, and central Lawrence County.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Residents of a Memphis neighborhood are being told to avoid approaching, detaining or feeding a black bear that's been roaming the area for two days.

Memphis police say officers are looking for the bear, which was seen by people in the Frayser neighborhood in north Memphis on Thursday and Friday.

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officials are leading the investigation into the bear's whereabouts. Frayser has woods that could attract the bear and allow it to avoid people as it moves through the area.

Taking a stand inside Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington, President Donald Trump on March 28th signed an executive order releasing the coal, oil and natural gas industries from pollution mitigation and thresholds set forth by the previous administration.

Speaking to a crowd of supporters, including industry executives and coal miners, Trump said his Energy Independence Executive Order fulfills a campaign promise for a "new energy revolution."

"Today, I'm taking bold action to follow through on that promise. My administration is putting an end to the war on coal.  We're going to have clean coal, really clean coal.  With today’s executive action, I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations. … And we're going to have safety, we're going to have clean water, we're going to have clear air."

City of Jonesboro

A second public meeting has been added for Jonesboro residents to discuss five potential pedestrian and bicycle trail projects for the city.

In addition to this week’s meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 23, a second meeting has be scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday, April 3. Both meetings will be held in City Council chambers at the Municipal Center, 300 S. Church St.

Three of the projects will be selected for submission to the 2018 Transportation Alternative Program and Recreational Trails Program for funding through the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department.

Talk Business & Politics

Members of Arkansas’ Congressional delegation plan to send a letter to newly appointed U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry asking him to reverse the Obama Administration’s participation in the controversial Clean Line project through Arkansas.

A drug testing program for Arkansans seeking help from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, or TANF, is one step closer to becoming law. A House committee on Tuesday passed the bill to extend a two year trial run indefinitely.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee motorists can try their hand at coming up with a winning safety message for the overhead message signs on the state interstate highways.

The state Department of Transportation says it's holding a contest again this year for a catchy safety message.

Last year's winning entries were "Turn signals, the original instant messaging"; "Get the cell off your phone and drive"; "Practice safe text. Don't do it while driving"; "You're in Tennessee. Volunteer to drive safe"; and "Ain't nobody got time for a wreck. Slow it down."

federaltax.net

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has a challenge for lawmakers seeking alternatives to his proposal to hike the state's fuel taxes to help tackle $10 billion backlog in bridge and road programs.

In the Republican governor's words: "Show me the math on your plan."

Haslam said Tuesday he doesn't want to use general fund tax revenues paid for by Tennesseans to pay for roads used heavily by out-of-state drivers. He argues the fuel taxes paid at the pump come from those who actually use state roads.

Tribal representatives and environmentalists are promising an encampment similar to the ongoing protest against the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota to oppose the Diamond Pipeline planned from Oklahoma through Arkansas to Tennessee.

Mekasi Camp Horinek of the Ponca Nation and the Bold Oklahoma protest group said Monday there "definitely" will be an encampment in Oklahoma, but declined to say where or when.

Critics of the project say the pipeline threatens the environment, rivers and Indian burial grounds.

In the autumn of 1965, on a 640-acre parcel near the tiny Ozarks community of Strickler, ground was broken on a secret nuclear fission energy test reactor operated by the Atomic Energy Commission and a consortium of 17 southern electric utilities.

After just four years, the Southwest Experimental Fast Oxide Reactor went dark. It was acquired a few years later by the big university up the road 20 miles—totally decommissioned. University scientists hoped to use it for nuclear research, but the program failed to launch. The site remained sealed. Now the U.S. Department of Energy has offered money to help tear it down.

But first media — as well as hundreds of curious locals — were briefly allowed inside.

The historic Southwest Experimental Fast Oxide Reactor, referred to as SEFOR, located 20 miles southwest of Fayetteville, Arkansas will finally be dismantled, and some nearby residents are wondering what might leak out.

Pixabay

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that Ameren Missouri's coal-fired power plant near St. Louis violates the Clean Air Act and has created "significantly more pollution" since modifications were made.

U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel's ruling Monday could require St. Louis-based Ameren to install additional pollution control equipment at the Rush Island power plant in Jefferson County. Ameren Missouri called the ruling disappointing and said an appeal is planned.

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has completed review of a drilling study beneath two wastewater sewage lagoons on C&H Hog Farms, an industrial swine breeding operation located six miles upstream of the Buffalo National River near Mt. Judea in Newton County. C&H Hog Farms is currently permitted to house 4,000 piglets and 2500 sows at any given time.

A bill to establish an official state dinosaur advanced out of a House committee Wednesday Democratic State Rep. Greg Leding of Fayetteville is the measure’s sponsor. The resolution, HCR1003, would make Arkansaurus Fridayi the official dinosaur of Arkansas.

Click here for more information on the bill and the dinosaur.

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — President Barack Obama's administration has scaled back new safety measures for the sprawling network of fuel pipelines that crisscross the United States after oil industry complaints over the cost.

The administration has released long-delayed regulations for almost 200,000 miles of pipelines that transport oil, gasoline and other hazardous liquids.

The changes Friday include more rigorous inspections of lines in rural areas and new requirements for leak detection systems.

Pixabay

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — How high is too high for a pile of chicken manure?

Eight feet, apparently.

Chicken waste is an excellent fertilizer, but with the growing season still weeks away it's piling up in barns across the South. To reduce the risk of fire from spontaneous combustion, poultry experts are warning farmers that piles 6½- to 7-feet high are high enough. One pile caught fire in western Arkansas this week, triggering a wildfire that destroyed a mobile home.

The Department of Human Services has virtually erased a backlog of Medicaid eligibility cases that had reached 140,000 people earlier this year, Director Cindy Gillespie said in a letter sent to Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday (Jan. 11).

As of Dec. 30, there were 692 overdue cases. Some individuals’ applications dated back to 2014.

“Based on a review of the remaining cases, all individuals have coverage and the only work that remains is simply clean-up of case files,” wrote Gillespie, who began working in her position in March.

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