Bumpers Predicts AP&L Will Control Its Pollution

Arkansas Gov. Dale Bumpers predicted yesterday that Arkansas Power and Light's controversial coal-burning power plant will not be built "until every technology available has been used" for pollution control.

He said also that unless AP&L; cann assure that farmers around the plant will incur no damage from its operation, he sees no reason why a "deposit in reverse"--a method of insuring damage claims will be paid promptly--should not be established.

Bumpers, who was in the Boston area for a meeting of the executive committee of the National Governors Conference, spoke about the AP&L; project following a seminar on southern politics.

Study Without Delays

He said it would not be improper for Harvard to research the environmental impact and economic necessity of the project "providing it is not a dilatory action."

The University has been asked by the Arkansas Community Organization for Reform Now (ACORN) to undertake such an investigation, to back the request for a deposit fund, and to intervene with ACORN in hearings before the Arkansas Public Service Commission.

Harvard owns 561,000 shares of stock in Middle South Utilities Inc., the holding company which owns AP&L;, and is the utility system's largest single stockholder.

The final decision on whether the plant is acceptable would be made by the Arkansas Public Service Commission. "If the plant is determined to be ecologically feasible, it ought to be built. If it isn't, it should not be." Bumpers said. "I have told the PSC to get all the information required to make a decision, and to make one."

To be judged environmentally acceptable, the plant would have to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency's clean air standards and would have to operate without significantly degrading the current quality of Arkansas's air, Bumpers said.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that the Clean Air Act requires not only that minimum standards be met, but also that no significant reductions in air quality in cleaner areas occur.

Power generated by the proposed AP&L; plant would be distributed among Middle South's five other utilities. Asked whether he would accept a reduction in Arkansas's air quality to supply other states with power, Bumpers said, "We are now a consuming, rather than a producing state. You can't have your cake and eat it too."