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President Pro Tempore Jonathan Dismang
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Senator Randy Laverty Named Chairman of Energy Council

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by Amy Glover Bryant, for the Arkansas Energy Forum

In 2012, Randy Laverty will complete his second term in the Arkansas Senate. He has served District 2 since 2003. Prior to his service in the State Senate, he served three consecutive terms, 1995 - 2000, representing District 23 in the Arkansas House of Representatives. He counts himself blessed to have served his state.
"Before term limits, I had the unique opportunity to serve for four years with some legendary legislators from whom I learned a lot," said Laverty. "The first thing I learned was that I knew a lot less than I thought."
He also learned that the idea of a 'part-time legislator' is a fallacy. It is clear when you sit down to talk to him that this is a man that has dedicated his life to making himself accessible to the people he represents.
Senator Randy Laverty is a member of the Legislature's Joint Energy Committee and gives a good bit of his attention to the energy issues of Arkansas. In fact, his legislative duties require much of his attention. He chairs several legislative committees including the powerful Senate Efficiency Committee; he is Vice-Chairman of Senate Public Health and Administrative Rules and Regulations Committee and is a member of Legislative Council; Senate Agriculture and Economic Development and numerous other committees and subcommittees.
Senator Laverty recently assumed another role vitally important to our state's future, Chairmanship of the Energy Council. The Energy Council is comprised of 12-energy producing states, five Canadian provinces and the South American nation of Venezuela. Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and New Mexico founded the council in 1975.
Through his work with the Energy Council Senator Laverty recently enjoyed hosting Paula Caldwell St. Onge, Canadian Consul General, and Henry Wells, Canadian Political and Economic Relations Officer, in the Arkansas Senate (picture above) while they were in the state to attend a news conference at Welspun, an international pipe manufacturer.
For the second time in its three-year history of operation in Arkansas, Welspun announced it will expand again, this time with the addition of 200 jobs and an additional $100 million investment in the Little Rock facility. The managing director at Welspun, Rajesh Mandawewala, was quoted saying, "[W]e believe that with this investment, we will catapult Little Rock as an important destination in the "World of Pipe." Pipe produced by Welspun is primarily used in the oil and gas industry.

The Welspun operation is certainly complementary to the oil and gas industry activities in the state. "Arkansas's established natural resources in oil and natural gas will have a significant impact for the future of Arkansas," said Laverty. "What is important is how we work with industry to regulate and manage issues such as the transportation of the liquid by-products of fracturing, the issue of noise and the very remote possibility that drilling for natural gas will impact our water quality. We've done a good job of giving an attentive ear to all these and taking action when it has been necessary." He is also a strong proponent of wind energy and looks forward to seeing the energy option develop in West Central Arkansas as it is in Oklahoma and Texas.
Like his father-in-law, Hilary Jones, Senator Randy Laverty is deeply interested in the people of Arkansas and believes that the purpose of politics is to help ordinary people live their lives better. He also believes that he can make a difference and believes he has an obligation to try.
Laverty has seen what overzealous environmental concerns can do to everyday Arkansans first-hand. Laverty watched the family of his wife, Virginia Jones Laverty, lose their homestead on the Buffalo River. The story is recounted in President Bill Clinton's book, "My Life."
Hilary Jones lost his land on the Buffalo River in a fight with the government. The experience made a lifelong impact on his future son-in-law and ignited a concern in Laverty for those who operate under the auspices of "the greater good" while preventing economic progress such as the exploration of the Fayetteville Shale.
While the critics want us to move away from drilling for fossil fuels in the Fayetteville Shale and the dense shale fields of South Arkansas, Laverty asks that we imagine what would happen to Arkansans if we had a true energy crisis, one deeper than that seen in the 70s.
"Our energy consumption is connected to all aspects of our everyday lives and any crisis would have a lasting impact not only on today's markets, but also the market economy we leave for our children and grandchildren," said Laverty. "We have ample resources. Not to work toward energy independence is the worst part of judgment."
In addition to managing a small beef cattle operation with his wife on their 154 acre farm in Newton County, Laverty also spent 18 years with the Department of Human Services. He has seen how poverty impacts education and educational levels impact health. He is enthused about the economic impact the Fayetteville Shale, the development of wind energy and the exploration of dense shale in Southern Arkansas has to improve the lives, educational levels and health of every day Arkansans. He imagines we may even see improvement of our standings on lists such as teen pregnancy rates, tobacco use and incidences of stroke as a result.
A benefactor of a liver transplant that saved his life in July 2009, Laverty is thankful for much and his thankfulness and the hope this experience inspired in him exudes from him.
"Arkansas is on the cusp of some great things," said Laverty. "We are a fiscally responsible state and I am proud of what the Governor and the General Assembly has been able to accomplish in the last few years. Better yet, we are poised to accomplish even more and to do even better."

 


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