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Lignite Mining in Saline: The Phoenix of Bauxite Riches or the Rape of Resources?

I want to hear more about the idea of lignite mining. I mean now that I've heard anything at all and the "town meeting" planned to explain it to residents has passed over a week ago.

The Courier published an article today/Sunday at the bottom of the front page about State Rep. Garry Smith, a Democrat from Camden, along with folks from SAU and the Ark. Geological Survey having come to Benton for a town meeting on January 6th to "inform residents about the potential of lignite mining."

I looked on The Courier's website for a link to the full story there but maybe it'll appear Monday or Tuesday and here it is now. What I did find online was an article from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette from Dec 30th, telling about the meetings and even giving a time, date and place, but raise your hand if you saw that article. It said about the meetings, "Financial, geological, and environmental information related to the production of crude oil from lignite will be provided to those who attend."

The Courier article says there were over 40 people at the meeting. I suppose that could feel crowded if you're in the Chamber conference room where the meeting was held. <snark>Had they really thought they were getting the word out, I guess they would have secured a larger venue, in hopes of accommodating a larger amount of residents to tell of the benefits.</snark> 40 people is .0025% of Saline County's population, and some people were there as a requirement of their job. Heck, there had to be 40 people present to jump in icy waters Saturday morning for the Polar Bear Plunge!  

But look, who am I to judge what exactly these visitors to Benton had up their sleeves? I said at the start of this literary masterpiece that I want to know more about lignite, and the fact is, I don't know much. It could be that we don't have a worry in the world about environmental impact or becoming a ghost town after mining's done, or whether dirty trucks will infiltrate our suburbs or whether we should send our sons to do this work because we don't of know the health risks.

I know there are some well-read and sharp-minded members here at MySaline.com. The Courier article mentioned a town in North Dakota that was making banking up to their rib cages through mining lignite, something that Benton has a lot of, and it's high quality too. What dirty coal has to do with clean energy is beyond me. Help me out here and go past what I found tonight. Let's have a real town meeting on this issue once we find some facts. Is it easy money or pie in the sky?

Google "lignite" and you might find, like I did, the top three results are these:

 

  1. Lignite - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Lignite, often referred to as brown coal, or Rosebud coal by Northern Pacific Railroad, is a soft brown fuel with characteristics that put it somewhere ...
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lignite 




  2. Fossil Fuels: Lignite Lignite is a low rank, brownish-black coal that produces less than 8300 British thermal units (Btu) per pound on a moist, mineral-matter-free basis (1). ...

    www.geology.ar.gov/fossil_fuels/lignite.htm 



  3. Lignite Energy Council » Home The primary objective of the Lignite Energy Council is to maintain a viable lignite coal industry and enhance development of the region's lignite coal ...

    www.lignite.com/ 



More related links:

 

 

 

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There are many many more uses for synthetic oil than just autos. Factories of all types use synthetic derivatives (oil, hydraulic fluid, etc).

 

I do agree that industry should be the investors, not government BUT for much of the past 20 years or so government has a proven track record of standing in the way of industry. My guess is they want to know that the state has some 'skin in the game' and will not pull the rug out from under them and their investment. 

Nao Ueda said:

I was also present at the meeting.

 

Since lignite does not transport well, and Arkansas does not have a lignite power plant, proponents want to turn it into synthetic fuel. Rep. Garry Smith (D-Camden), who appears to be the spokesperson for lignite proponents and was present at the meeting, claims that Lion Oil is ready to buy synthetic fuel derived from lignite. He wants the Arkansas legislature to allocate $3 million to further test lignite for commercial uses.

 

There are many problems to his argument for lignite:

 

1) When most automakers are turning to natural gas and electricity to power their next generation vehicles, how much of market demand will there be for synthetic fuel derived from lignite, which is the dirtiest and lowest grade of coal?

 

2) EPA is becoming more strict on emissions from mobile sources, e.g., cars. How much of market demand will there be for synthetic fuel derived from lignite?

 

3) According to the presenters, Arkansas lignite has the potential of generating $640 billion. If that's the case, why are they asking the legislatuer to allocate mere $3 million? Why aren't investors financing the cost of study? Why are they asking the government to subsidize the study?

 

4) If Lion Oil is interested in buying synthetic fuel derived from lignite, why aren't they interested in mining lignite themselves instead of buying from a third-party? Why aren't they allocating $3 million to study commercial potential for lignite? As Rep. Smith said, Lion Oil just finished constructing $250 million+ refining facility. $3 million is nothing for them.

 

There are many unanswered questions, and I advise caution. So far, this sounds to me like ethanol bubble that ended up busting.

Proponents specifically said at the meeting that the fuel produced will be for auto and jet fuel.

Doug Stracener said:

There are many many more uses for synthetic oil than just autos. Factories of all types use synthetic derivatives (oil, hydraulic fluid, etc).

 

I do agree that industry should be the investors, not government BUT for much of the past 20 years or so government has a proven track record of standing in the way of industry. My guess is they want to know that the state has some 'skin in the game' and will not pull the rug out from under them and their investment. 

Nao Ueda said:

I was also present at the meeting.

 

Since lignite does not transport well, and Arkansas does not have a lignite power plant, proponents want to turn it into synthetic fuel. Rep. Garry Smith (D-Camden), who appears to be the spokesperson for lignite proponents and was present at the meeting, claims that Lion Oil is ready to buy synthetic fuel derived from lignite. He wants the Arkansas legislature to allocate $3 million to further test lignite for commercial uses.

 

There are many problems to his argument for lignite:

 

1) When most automakers are turning to natural gas and electricity to power their next generation vehicles, how much of market demand will there be for synthetic fuel derived from lignite, which is the dirtiest and lowest grade of coal?

 

2) EPA is becoming more strict on emissions from mobile sources, e.g., cars. How much of market demand will there be for synthetic fuel derived from lignite?

 

3) According to the presenters, Arkansas lignite has the potential of generating $640 billion. If that's the case, why are they asking the legislatuer to allocate mere $3 million? Why aren't investors financing the cost of study? Why are they asking the government to subsidize the study?

 

4) If Lion Oil is interested in buying synthetic fuel derived from lignite, why aren't they interested in mining lignite themselves instead of buying from a third-party? Why aren't they allocating $3 million to study commercial potential for lignite? As Rep. Smith said, Lion Oil just finished constructing $250 million+ refining facility. $3 million is nothing for them.

 

There are many unanswered questions, and I advise caution. So far, this sounds to me like ethanol bubble that ended up busting.

Well I guess Saline County can forget about lignite for jobs.  It would not pass the smell test.  Too bad! We did need the jobs.

What ever happen to EPA?  They want in everything else.

I believe they were wanting to provide jobs and of course it takes dollars to make dollars.

The Appalachian people have got a lot of issues and its not just strip mining.  We can send dollars to every blamed

country in the universe but can't take care of our own people. We have got to supply jobs for people to make a living

or we are going to wind up like some other countries in tents.

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