Arkansas joining states challenging EPA on emissions

WASHINGTON -- Arkansas has been allowed to intervene in a lawsuit challenging a proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule limiting carbon emissions nationwide, state Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced Monday.

The case is being heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. It stems from a proposed rule, 111(d), from the agency that requires a 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions across the nation by 2030.

The proposed rule would mean about a 45 percent reduction in Arkansas because of the state's reliance on coal-fired plants. Only five states have a percentage reduction goal greater than Arkansas', and energy industry officials have said Arkansas will have to eliminate some of its five coal-fired power plants to comply.

Rutledge has said the rule would negatively impact economic development and electric ratepayers in Arkansas.

"The 111(d) rule from the EPA mandates the standards that Arkansas must achieve, rather than providing guidelines for Arkansas to use in its efforts to reduce carbon pollution," she said. "This rule goes beyond the EPA's authority granted by Congress and seeks to impose a national energy policy that will harm Arkansas' economy."

Arkansas joins Alabama, Alaska, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming in trying to block the rule.

A coalition of states and cities have moved to intervene in favor of the rule, saying it is necessary to fight climate change. Led by New York, those in favor are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, as well as New York City and the District of Columbia.

In a statement, Arkansas Sierra Club Director Glen Hooks disagreed with Rutledge about whether the rule gives states flexibility in how to it reduces pollution.

"Unfortunately, one of Attorney General Rutledge's very first actions was to sue the EPA in an attempt to stop the Clean Power Plan. This action is misguided and does nothing to help Arkansas. Passing the Clean Power Plan will create thousands of clean energy jobs for Arkansans while cleaning up our air and improving health," he said. "Our Arkansas officials should work to improve our air, our health, and our economy -- not do the bidding of the dirty coal industry to maintain the status quo."

Metro on 03/10/2015

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