By Tom Kimmons
The Van Buren County Gas Advisory Board expired Dec. 31, 2012.
The all-volunteer board had conducted multiple monthly, bi-monthly and quarterly meetings for the public over the past two years.
Significant outcomes from board activities were in three areas: 1) The board helped to establish both surface water and ground water baselines for comparative uses in the future. Surface water test covered 18 sites in the county including three forks of the Little Red River, creeks, streams and springs. Ground water covered 72 wells that were pre-modeled and tested by the USGS. Also, a county-wide survey on effects of gas drilling was conducted; 2) The board and individual members of the board attended and testified at several public meetings on the inputs and causes of the recent earthquakes that occurred in and around the Fayetteville Shale area over the past few years. One result of this was a moratorium on deep well injection of waste from drill pads over a large part of the county. Since the moratorium was enacted the quakes have been fewer and less severe; 3) The board and individual members have encouraged the public to build coalitions with Southwestern Energy and state regulatory agencies to support natural gas extraction with safe and responsible Best Management Practices so that our county can have good jobs, royalties and taxes as well as good health, water and air. This coalition, working with all parties involved in the Fayetteville Shale, has printed a laminated contact sheet under the name Arkansans for Responsible Gas Development. The sheet list contact numbers and areas of responsibility for all state regulatory agencies for natural gas.