ACORN, Power and Light


Harvard went through an intricate three-way shuffle last week in its slow progress toward taking a stand on a controversial coal-burning plant in Arkansas.

Arkansas Community Organization for Reform Now (ACORN), an Arkansas organizing group, has been soliciting Harvard's help for the past month in assuring that the plant will not pollute the Arkansas air, water and crops.

Harvard is the largest single stockholder in Middle South Utilities, Inc., a New York City holding company that owns Arkansas Power and Light, the company planning to build the 2800-megawatt plant. Middle South also owns four other Southern utilities.

ACORN first distributed and gave to President Bok a petition--with the help of Harvard-Radcliffe Ecology Action--asking Harvard to study the plant and recommend that AP&L supply it with sulfur dioxide emission controls. Sixteen national organizations, including the United Steelworkers union and Friends of the Earth, have also written Bok letters asking him to support ACORN's requests.

Last Monday, ACORN's efforts got an official response for the first time as the Corporation Subcommittee on Shareholder Responsibility considered the issue of the plant.


The Corporation Subcommittee decided to pass the issue on to the student-faculty-alumni Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility, which met the next day. The ACSR also played hot-potato with the issue, passing it on to the Investment Responsibility Research Center, an organization founded by Harvard and other universities and headed by Stephen Farber '63, special assistant to Bok.

The investor research center is now working with the ACSR to establish the terms of its investigation of the plant, and will probably conduct a quick study before the Arkansas Public Service Commission holds its licensing hearing on the plant early next year.

However, ACORN is not completely pleased with the way things have turned out, because it feels that the research group, because of its close ties to Harvard, will not be completely impartial.

The Arkansas plant is one of three proposed Middle South plants now under attack from environmentalists. Louisiana and Mississippi Power and Light Companies are both planning nuclear plants, and both plants are being contested in hearings before the Atomic Energy Commission on the grounds that their safety features are inadequate.

In both cases, one person, acting with negligible community support, is opposing the plants. In neither case has any appeal been made for Harvard's help.

The Crimson also reported last week that three Middle South subsidiaries--Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi Power and Light Companies--have work forces that are only 5.6 per cent black and 16.6 per cent women.

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