McNeill

Mike McNeill is publisher and editor of magnoliareporter.com.

Mention “Green New Deal” to many South Arkansas residents and they’re liable to spit, curse and blast those libtards. But the people who write the paychecks of many of those same residents beg to differ. There’s nothing new about the “Green New Deal.” It is a concept that’s been around for a while. At its core is the idea that there should be more government and corporate investment in things like non-fossil fuel energy, and a broad spectrum of other changes across the economy to increase energy efficiency and reduce pollution. There’s also the concept of forest sequestration – using tree planting and promoting use of more wood in megastructures -- as a way to reduce mankind’s carbon footprint. There was a fair amount of Green New Deal in local news last week, even if nobody came right out and used the phrase. Albemarle Corporation, which signs more local paychecks than anybody, announced last week that it will be a founding member of ZETA. ZETA is an industry coalition that’s set a goal to achieve 100 percent electric vehicle sales by the year 2030 – within the decade. Albemarle is a world leader in the production of lithium for batteries. Albemarle has the capability to produce lithium in Columbia County, but doesn’t. ZETA will advocate electric battery policies that will create jobs in major new industries. That’s practically the definition of “Green New Deal.” Hydro, the Norwegian-based parent company of Magnolia’s Alumax Bath Enclosures, cut a deal last week with two other companies, including Panasonic, with the goal of becoming Europe’s leader in lithium battery production. Standard Lithium of El Dorado is all about the production of lithium from tail brine processed by Lanxess. The Hydro unit that’s working on lithium has nothing to do with the Magnolia operation. But perhaps the shaper wits at the Arkansas Department of Economic Development might say, umm, Albemarle, Hydro, Standard Lithium, Lanxess. All interested in lithium. All are producing it, or can produce it, in South Arkansas, or have available facilities and workforces. Maybe we could, like, get them together in a room and see what can be done to make South Arkansas the world hub for lithium and lithium battery production. And then there’s carbon sequestration. The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville is leading the way in “mass timber” architectural design. “Mass timber” is the concept that timber can and should be used in many instances where steel is currently preferred. Trees essentially eat carbon, so the more trees there are, and the more lumber-based construction there is – it’s just that much more carbon captured from the atmosphere. The place on the UAF campus where mass timber research will occur is the Anthony Timberlands Center for Design & Materials Innovation. Yes, THAT Anthony Timberlands, which includes the Magnolia oak flooring mill. John Ed Anthony contributed $7.5 million (half the cost) toward the center’s construction. Lastly, Magnolia’s Texas CLT, the former Unit Structures (and other ownerships), produces massive wooden mats capable of bearing heavy loads at construction and drilling sites. Texas CLT, too, is an example of an industry that uses large quantities of timber for a product that replaces steel. So, while you may not like a Green New Deal, your company may already be part of it.

Flooring. Thanks!

Part of the Green New Deal is a new age for railroads – both as a means for moving freight and the high-speed transportation of people. President-elect Joe Biden is known to be a big fan of passenger rail but it remains to be seen whether that will translate into meaningful programs for passenger rail. A change in direction can’t come too soon. Amtrak has already sliced South Arkansas’ only passenger rail line, the Texas Eagle, from seven to three days per week. Part of the reason is the pandemic, part of the reason is that Amtrak would rather not run cross-country passenger rail service outside of the major urban corridors. It’s expensive because there are so few riders. Of course, there are so few riders because the service is so poor. We don’t look for the government to be of great direct help, but it could render regulatory assistance to clear the way for private investment. China is building a maglev system capable of 350 mph + speed. That’s Dallas to Chicago in three hours. The same route on Amtrak is 19+ hours.

Then there are the electrical utilities in South Arkansas that can't seem to build solar-powered generation stations quickly enough.

Yes, we saw the trail camera photo of the panther in the southeastern corner of the county. And, the bear with cubs in the Huttig area a couple of weeks ago. Panthers and bears think they should have a piece of the Green New Deal in South Arkansas, too.

We have no idea whether, if ever, Magnolia has scored 76 points in a football game. It certainly hasn’t happened since we’ve been old enough to care about it. It’s got to be discouraging to score 55 points in a high school football game and lose, which is what Greenbrier experienced. Nineteen touchdowns between the two teams. The football playoff game was a tribute to the athleticism of both teams.

Magnolia will not have a Christmas parade this year.

Mike McNeill is publisher and editor of magnoliareporter.com. Email him at news@magnoliareporter.com or call him at 870-904-3865.

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