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Oversight Subcommittee on the Interior Testimony

Rutledge Delivers Testimony Before U.S. House Oversight Subcommittee on the Interior

Thu, Feb 26, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today appeared before the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Subcommittee on the Interior to offer testimony on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations and their impact on the states.

A copy of Rutledge’s testimony is available upon request by contacting Judd Deere at judd.deere@arkansasag.gov.

Rutledge’s remarks are below, as prepared for delivery:

Chairwoman Lummis, Ranking Member Lawrence, members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to speak to this committee today. My name is Leslie Rutledge and I am the Attorney General of Arkansas. I am here today to give you a sense of how our state, one that has a rich natural heritage and is known across the nation as the Natural State for its rolling hills, dense woodlands, and miles of rivers and lakes, will be impacted by overreaching regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Specifically, the EPA exceeds its legal authority in three recently proposed rules – the Clean Power Plan, more stringent ground-level ozone standards and changes to the definition of the Waters of the United States.

Clean Power Plan

As Attorney General, I represent the interests of Arkansas’s utility ratepayers. These are hardworking Arkansans; some own their own small business, while others might maintain their multi-generational family farm. From Fayetteville to Warren, and Texarkana to Jonesboro, and all points in between, I have heard great concern about the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan.

The rule will require Arkansas to meet an almost 45% reduction in carbon emissions from electric generating units by 2030. This is the 6th highest rate of reduction in the nation, imposed upon a state that currently ranks 46th in per capita income. This is a rule that the EPA does not have the legal authority to issue.

The EPA regulates coal-fired power plants, such as the one in Independence County where I grew up, under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act, not Section 111(d). In fact, the law cannot be any clearer - it specifically prohibits the EPA from invoking Section 111(d) where the “source category...is regulated under section [112]....”

The proposed rule mandates what each state must achieve, rather than providing guidelines and appropriate procedures for states to use in establishing standards of performance within their state. This is a serious overreach of the EPA’s authority and different from the implementation of any other limits set under the Clean Air Act.

My opposition to this rule may beg the question as to whether I am for clean air. I certainly am, and I would say confidently that my fellow Arkansans are in favor of clean air. But the rule goes beyond the EPA’s authority to regulate air pollution – it imposes a misguided national energy policy and seeks to control the states’ regulation of energy generation and usage.

Ozone Standards

Also under the Clean Air Act, the EPA has proposed unnecessarily stringent ground-level ozone standards. The proposed rule reduces the current standard of 75 parts per million to somewhere between 65 and 70 parts per million, perhaps even as low as 60 parts per million. A decrease to 60 parts per million will have a devastating effect on Arkansas. At that level, all of Arkansas would likely be in non-attainment. Anyone who has visited Arkansas would be hard-pressed to believe that our beautiful mountains and the tourism industry they support have a smog problem. Years of nonattainment would directly impact permitted operations of our manufacturing sector and set back any economic recovery that we have achieved in the past few years.

Waters of the United States

Likewise, the EPA’s attempt to “clarify” the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act is so expansive that it could likely control land use activities over most of the United States. As Arkansas’s Attorney General, this is a major concern for me, because this would drastically impact, among others, Arkansas’s farmers and ranchers. Rather than clarifying, the proposed rule is more complicated than current law. The process for determining jurisdiction becomes a maze for both regulators and the public to navigate.

As I have already mentioned, Arkansas’s agricultural community would be left with increased uncertainty over the Clean Water Act. Agriculture is essential to our economy. According to the Arkansas Farm Bureau, agriculture provides $16 billion annually and one out of every six jobs in the state.

While the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have repeatedly offered verbal assurances that agriculture need not worry about the scope of the proposed definition of “waters of the United States,” farmers in Arkansas are worried because of the actions of the agencies, not their words. For example, in 2014, the Corps took action against a Tennessee row crop farm determining part of the field to be “waters of the United States.” Arkansas farmers worry that everyday activities like that of the farm in our neighboring state, such as plowing and the appropriate application of pesticides and fertilizer, will subject them to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.

Conclusion

While each of these rules would cause great harm to Arkansas on its own, the cumulative effect cannot be overstated. The Obama Administration is intent on following an agenda that ignores the plain language of the laws passed by Congress and has created a perfect storm of federal regulations that will result in economic disaster for a state like Arkansas. Arkansans believe in protecting our environment and we take great pride in being the Natural State, and we also take pride in supplying the world with food and in growing jobs in our state.

I want to thank the Committee once again for inviting me today to speak to you and for your time and consideration of this issue that is very important to me. I am happy to answer any questions that you may have.

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Testify before Oversight Subcommittee on the Interior

Rutledge to Testify before House Oversight Subcommittee on the Interior

Tue, Feb 24, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced today that she will appear before the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Subcommittee on the Interior on Thursday, Feb. 26, to offer testimony on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulations and their impacts on the states. Rutledge released the following statement:

“It is an honor for me to accept the invitation of Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) to appear before a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The EPA continues to pile on burdensome regulations that negatively impact states' existing industry and strain their ability to attract future economic development. This is an important hearing, and I am proud to bring Arkansas’s perspective to the conversation.

“Arkansas is uniquely positioned on this topic because of our rich natural heritage. In the Natural State, we place a high value on clean air and clean water as we protect our state for future generations, and as Attorney General, I will not sit idly by while this administration pushes policy objectives that will ultimately hurt job growth and Arkansas’s ability to compete across the country and the globe.”

On Feb. 13, Rutledge announced that Arkansas would seek to intervene in the suit against the EPA’s proposed 111(d) rule because of the significant and costly impact it would have on the Arkansas economy and its utility ratepayers. Arkansas is required to meet the sixth most stringent obligation of all the states under the proposed rule.

Also scheduled to testify is Montana Attorney General Tim Fox, NERA Economic Consulting Vice President Anne Smith and NERA Economic Consulting Vice President David Harrison.

The hearing, which is open to the public, is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. ET and will be chaired by Rep. Cynthia Lummis (WY-At Large). A live video stream, provided by the committee, will be broadcast here.

According to its website, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has legislative jurisdiction over the District of Columbia, the government procurement process, federal personnel systems, the Postal Service and other matters. The primary responsibility is oversight of virtually everything government does – from national security to homeland security grants, from federal workforce policies to regulatory reform and reorganization authority, from information technology procurements at individual agencies to government-wide data security standards.

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Rutledge Applauds Ruling

Rutledge Applauds Ruling Blocking the President’s Unilateral Action on Immigration

Tue, Feb 17, 2015

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced today that Texas U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen issued a temporary injunction halting the Obama Administration’s November 2014 unilateral action on immigration. Arkansas is part of a 26-state coalition fighting the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s deferred action program. Rutledge released the following statement:

“This ruling, which blocks the President’s unlawful executive action on immigration nationwide, is an important victory in reigning in a President who has attempted to bypass Congress. As I stated when the State joined the lawsuit, this federal administrative action on immigration is another example of overreach and raises important questions about public input into the administrative process, the conflict between the discretionary powers of the executive branch and the constitutional requirement of the President to faithfully enforce the laws.

“As this case moves forward, I will stand against the President’s unconstitutional and unilateral action in order to protect the interest of all Arkansans.”

Joining Arkansas in the lawsuit are: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

At the request of then Attorney General-elect Rutledge, Arkansas joined the lawsuit on Dec. 10 after the case was filed on Dec. 3 by then Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and 16 other attorneys general.

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Legacy of Daisy Bates

Rutledge: We Honor the Legacy of Daisy Bates

Mon, Feb 16, 2015

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued the following statement in honor of Daisy Bates Day:

“On a day when we honor our nation’s presidents, in Arkansas, we also honor a woman who was a driving force in the fight for racial equality in our state and country. Daisy Bates helped break the racial barrier by providing critical support to nine brave Little Rock students struggling to integrate Little Rock Central High School. It is fitting that we honor this courageous woman during Black History Month.”

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EPA’s Proposed 111(d) Rule Intervention

Rutledge Seeks to Intervene in EPA’s Proposed 111(d) Rule

Fri, Feb 13, 2015

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced today that she has filed a motion to intervene in a federal lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed 111(d) rule. Rutledge released the following statement:

“This proposed rule from the EPA is yet another example of an overreaching federal government that will harm Arkansas’s utility ratepayers, as well as have a devastating impact on the economy as a whole. As Attorney General, I will always seek to protect Arkansans. The EPA should withdraw this rule immediately.”

Arkansas is seeking to intervene in the suit against the EPA because of the significant and costly impact it would have on the Arkansas economy and its utility ratepayers. Rutledge is seeking to intervene in order to join the lawsuit with attorneys general from West Virginia, Alabama, Alaska, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wyoming and Kentucky.

As indicated in the motion, Arkansas is required to meet the sixth most stringent obligation of all the states under the proposed 111(d) rule, yet Arkansas ranks 46th in per capita income. The EPA proposes emissions rate reductions of 41 percent and 44 percent as interim and final requirements. The drastic reductions required under the proposed rule will negatively impact existing industry, future economic development and electric ratepayers in the State of Arkansas.

On June 18, 2014, Ohio-based coal company Murray Energy Corporation filed a petition for an extraordinary writ in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., challenging the EPA's authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. Coal-fired power plants already are regulated under a separate section of the Clean Air Act, and the law expressly prohibits the double regulation of such plants. On August 15, 2014, Murray Energy Corporation filed a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals challenging the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. In an order on Nov. 13, 2014, these cases were consolidated.

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Salute to Veteran Patients Week

Rutledge Marks National Salute to Veteran Patients Week with Visit to Fayetteville VA Facility

Fri, Feb 13, 2015

FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge made her first official visit to northwest Arkansas with a stop at the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks to mark National Salute to Veteran Patients Week. Rutledge released the following statement:

“I can think of no better way to spend my first official visit to northwest Arkansas than by visiting with the men and women who have given so much to preserve and protect everything we hold dear. The National Salute to Veteran Patients Week is about paying tribute to veterans, raising awareness of the role VA medical centers have in our communities and to encourage citizens to visit our hospitalized veterans. I am proud to participate in this effort and to show Arkansas’s veterans our appreciation.”

During the visit, Rutledge received a tour of the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks and visited with patients, thanking them for their service. Rutledge helped distribute valentines made by local elementary school children to veterans as part of the hospital’s National Salute to Veterans event. Arkansas is home to over 250,000 veterans.

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