header photo

Save Greers Ferry Lake

Greers Ferry Lake Needs Your Help!

Greers Ferry Lake Future: Water or Gas??

News Release Mar 8, 2011

The secret is finally out! Area residents are shocked to learn that the Dept of the Army has issued a license to conduct a seismic survey and blasting, over, across, in and upon lands of the United States. This was done with no public hearing, no public input, no environmental evaluation, and apparently without approval of the Little Rock Corps of Engineers' Chief Engineer. On November 22, 2010 a luncheon was held to introduce Col Masset to the Heber Springs community. Following the meeting, the Colonel and staff met with Directors of Save Greers Ferry Lake, Inc (SGFL). The Directors expressed concerns over construction changes for a new water intake at Cove Creek and the fact that no authority seemed to have any restrictions against gas extraction drilling UNDER Greers Ferry Lake. None of the Corps staff revealed that the license for a seismic survey in, and around, Greers Ferry Lake had been granted almost two months earlier. Only through a chance statement by an individual having knowledge of the survey through a Chesapeake representative, was the plan finally revealed to the public.

Since then, a copy of the license was obtained and is posted HERE on the Save Greers Ferry Lake, Inc. website. This prompted inquiries regarding the purpose and extent of the survey. These inquiries and letters to the editor triggered a number of public notices of position statements and explanations of the survey process. All articles stressed that no drilling under the lake was approved or permitted. Mr Raines of Chesapeake Energy Corp contacted SGFL, Inc to assure that there were no plans to drill under the lake. He was asked why money and efforts were then expended to search an area where gas would not be extracted. He indicated that a “complete geological picture” was needed to extract gas from areas not under the lake. Why this was needed, when wells within a mile of the lake and drillings within a tenth of a mile, were already in operation without benefit of an in-lake survey was not made clear.

Additional questioning did not reveal any guarantees that later plans by Chesapeake, or others (including the Australian firm BHP Billiton, now buying Chesapeake interests), would not include drilling under the lake. Further implication that drilling would not occur under the lake was offered by stating that the US Bureau of Land Management would be very unlikely to grant permits for under lake drilling. This statement did create wonder as to why BLM intentions had been sought, if not coupled with interest in drilling under the lake. When Mr. Raines was asked if Chesapeake would NOT drill under the lake, even if BLM permits were available, Mr Raines responded, “I can't say that.” He also declined to take part in, or provide a Chesapeake representative, for a public discussion.

The possibility of environmental harm to one of the cleanest lakes in the United States and a regional water supply for tens of thousands of Arkansans seems to far outweigh the need for more gas which is now glutted on the market near $4/MMbtu. Mr Raines' assurances of Chesapeake's respect for the environment are not reinforced by recent drilling operations. Gas wells within a mile of the lake, lines within a tenth of a mile of the shoreline, across the road from businesses and residences, bulldozed “war zones”, 24/7 noise and light aggravation, and Poison Gas signs are destroying the clean, peaceful, natural environment that has been the prime attraction of the Greers Ferry Lake area. Gas companies have the option of leaving a buffer zone around the lake but have chosen not to do so. Even more demoralizing to concerns for protection of natural assets in the area is BHP Billiton's reputation for having a high incident of environmental disasters and limited gas extraction experience. With thousands of acres leased to draw gas from, why can't they spare the gas that might be found under the ONE lake that supplies many thousands of Arkansans with essential clean water??

The Bureau of Land Management is not inclined to exhibit conservative leasing practices during times of high national debt. The gas industry is exempt from many federal regulatory restrictions and Arkansas has little regulation in place to guarantee against irreversible harm to this regional water source and number one tourist attraction. Severance taxes are not adequate to cover road damages and are divided among all 75 counties, not just those affected by drilling. AR Oil & Gas Commission has no representatives from this area.

The conclusion I draw from questioning is that gas drilling will be done anywhere a permit can be obtained!! Please urge your legislators to insist that the US Bureau of Land Management deny gas permits UNDER and AROUND Greers Ferry Lake! Contact Arkansas legislators to pass proposed drilling regulations NOW while legislature is in session!

Leonard Uecker

Save Greers Ferry Lake, Inc