Rutledge Joins 16 States in Challenging the EPA’s Rejection of Plans Regarding Startup, Shutdown or Malfunction of Power Plants
August 11, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that she has joined Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in a 17-State coalition to challenge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for illegally invalidating the individual air quality protection plans in those States. In June, the EPA issued a final rule requiring 35 States, including Arkansas, to revise their individual State Implementation Plans (SIP) governing excess emissions during startup, shutdown or malfunction.
The States, led by Florida, have filed a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit asking the Court to review the EPA’s final rule. Besides the clear violation of State’s rights enumerated in the Clean Air Act, the final rule also stands to stall or reverse progress already achieved in improving air quality in each State.
“Once again, the EPA is choosing to put the political interests of the Sierra Club ahead of Arkansans,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “In yet another ‘sue and settle’ case, the EPA is rushing to appease the interests of the Sierra Club and force 35 States to alter their SIPs even though the plans are already succeeding. The EPA is completely ignoring the scope of its authority under the Clean Air Act in order to force another overreaching rule on Arkansans.”
For decades, States have ensured compliance with the standards set for startup, shutdown or malfunction through their individual SIPs.
The EPA’s final rule illegally requiring the states to change their previously approved SIPs came after the Agency agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club. The EPA’s rush to settle the matter has led the agency to adopt an illegal final rule that is in conflict with the Clean Air Act and infringes on Arkansas’s right to determine the most effective strategy for achieving air quality standards.
The Clean Air Act establishes a cooperative-federalism approach to regulating the nation’s air quality and dictates that the EPA has the primary responsibility to identify air pollutants that pose a threat to public health. Through the Act, the EPA is charged to set national air quality standards, but the Act gives States the primary responsibility to determine how to achieve those standards.
In addition to Arkansas and Florida, Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia have also joined this challenge.