Rutledge Marks 100 Days in OfficeWed, Apr 22, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today marked her 100th day in office by highlighting several achievements made during her administration. She took office on Jan. 13, 2015.
“I am proud of the accomplishments that have been achieved during the first 100 days of my administration,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “We have pushed back on federal overreach, fought to uphold Arkansas’s lethal injection statute and worked hard to protect Arkansans from predators and con artists. While it is good to note these achievements, there is much more to do as we continue to serve the people of Arkansas.”
The following are highlights of Attorney General Rutledge’s first 100 days.
ExxonMobil consent decree:
On her 100th day in office, Rutledge announced that a consent decree has been reached with ExxonMobil Pipeline Company and Mobil Pipe Line Company (ExxonMobil) to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act and State environmental laws stemming from the 2013 crude oil spill from the Pegasus Pipeline in Mayflower. ExxonMobil will pay $1 million in State civil penalties, $600,000 toward water quality-based Supplemental Environmental Projects and $280,000 to the Attorney General’s Office for litigation costs. ExxonMobil will also pay $3.19 million in federal civil penalties and perform measures to improve pipeline safety and spill response.
Arkansas joined a coalition of 18 other states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Department of Justice to reach a settlement to resolve allegations that Standard & Poor’s Financial Services misled investors when it rated structured finance securities leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. Arkansas received $21.5 million from the settlement. Rutledge will distribute this money to support public safety and law enforcement programs, sexual assault victims, career education and workforce training, Safe Schools Initiative, Missing Persons Program, Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, and volunteer fire departments.
Arkansas joined Texas, Louisiana and Nebraska in a federal lawsuit filed against the U.S. Department of Labor, challenging the agency’s rule that would have changed the definition of the term “spouse” under the Family Medical Leave Act to adopt same-sex marriage nationwide. The court agreed with the states, and an injunction is currently in place.
Arkansas is part of a 26-state coalition fighting the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s deferred-action program regarding immigration. An injunction is in place preventing President Obama’s executive actions from moving forward.
Rutledge testified before a U.S. House of Representatives Government Reform & Oversight Subcommittee on the Interior to discuss the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed 111(d) rule that seeks to reduce carbon emissions from electric generating units, as well as other EPA proposals and their impacts on states.
And she testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry to discuss how Arkansas would be adversely affected by a rule proposed by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers purporting to clarify the agencies’ regulatory jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act regarding “navigable waters.”
Arkansas Amendment 83:
Rutledge submitted a motion to the Arkansas Supreme Court requesting a second oral argument in the appeal of the challenge against Amendment 83, the law that defines marriages in Arkansas as between one man and one woman, to the Arkansas Constitution.
David Raymond West of Jacksonville pleaded guilty to child pornography charges and was sentenced to 20 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction on five counts of distributing, viewing or possessing sexually explicit conduct involving a child, a Class C felony. West will be required to register as a sex offender. Agents with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes Unit arrested West after executing a search warrant at West’s residence. Agents conducted a forensic exam on West’s computer and found evidence that he downloaded and viewed child pornography.
State’s lethal injection statute upheld:
After months of ongoing litigation, the Arkansas Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Arkansas’s death penalty law that provides for executions to occur by lethal injection.
Tristan S. Gill of Bradley County was sentenced to five years in the Arkansas Department of Correction, with three years suspended, on one count of adult abuse and one count of criminal use of property. While Gill was employed as a residential care technician at Southeast Arkansas Human Development Center, he used a spray bottle belonging to the facility to spray bleach in a developmentally disabled client’s face. The victim suffered chemical burns on his face and blistering for several days but no permanent injury.
The Attorney General’s Office will hire its first solicitor general to assist with the growing number of large multi-state consumer protection cases and increasingly complex appellate matters at the state and national levels.
Attorney General and ADEQ Reach Consent Decree with ExxonMobilWed, Apr 22, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Director Becky Keogh today announced that a consent decree has been reached with ExxonMobil Pipeline Company and Mobil Pipe Line Company (ExxonMobil) to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act and State environmental laws stemming from the 2013 crude oil spill from the Pegasus Pipeline in Mayflower.
ExxonMobil will pay $1 million in State civil penalties, $600,000 toward water quality-based Supplemental Environmental Projects and $280,000 to the Attorney General’s Office for litigation costs. ExxonMobil will also pay $3.19 million in federal civil penalties and perform measures to improve pipeline safety and spill response.
Attorney General Rutledge said, “This consent decree is a critical victory for the State and the Mayflower community. ExxonMobil was responsible for the damage to the environment and for disrupting lives of Arkansans. Today, ExxonMobil is being held accountable for the estimated 134,000 gallons of oil that flowed out of the ruptured pipeline.”
Director Keogh said, “This settlement marks an important step forward. The civil penalty of $1 million will greatly supplement funds available for use to address emergency actions and to address contaminated sites across Arkansas. ADEQ has agreed to the use of $600,000 in the form of a Supplemental Environmental Project where the immediate local community will realize benefits. The project will improve water quality in Lake Conway and its watershed under a plan approved by and overseen by ADEQ.”
Under the terms of the consent decree, ExxonMobil commits to complying with all Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) requirements before reactivating the Pegasus pipeline, which has been idle since the spill.
If the pipeline is reopened, ExxonMobil is required to pursue additional pipeline safety measures to help prevent future ruptures. The company will also be required to improve its spill response capabilities by providing additional training to its oil spill first responders, and it will establish caches of spill response equipment and supplies at three strategically located sites near the pipeline, including one cache located near Mayflower.
On March 29, 2013, the Pegasus Pipeline, carrying Canadian heavy crude oil from Illinois to Texas, ruptured in the Northwoods neighborhood of Mayflower. Oil flowed through the neighborhood, contaminating homes and yards, before entering a creek, wetlands and a Lake Conway cove. The spill volume has been estimated at approximately 3,190 barrels, or 134,000 gallons.
The complaint in the case, filed jointly with the United States, on June 13, 2013, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, alleges that ExxonMobil discharged crude oil in violation of Sections 301 and 311 of the Clean Water Act. The complaint also asserts State claims for civil penalties for improper storage of hazardous waste generated during the cleanup and for water and air pollution violations pursuant to the Arkansas Water and Air Pollution Control Act and the Arkansas Hazardous Waste Management Act.
The consent decree, submitted to the court, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court review and approval.
Rutledge Holds 1st Rutledge Roundtable in JonesboroTue, Apr 21, 2015
JONESBORO – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released the following statement today after holding the first of what will be a regular series of Rutledge Roundtables. Last Friday, April 17, Rutledge met with more than 15 community and business leaders in Jonesboro to discuss issues critical to the region and the State.
“I am excited to launch the Rutledge Roundtables. As I travel the State and hold meetings at the Attorney General’s Office in Little Rock, I want to create a robust dialogue with members of the community. These discussions will allow me to detail the services my office provides, as well as offer them an opportunity to share their concerns with me.”
The first Rutledge Roundtable was held at the Front Page Café in Jonesboro.
To participate in future Roundtables, contact the Attorney General’s Office at (501) 682-3651 or Cindy.Murphy@arkansasag.gov.
Rutledge: Court Hears Arguments Challenging the EPA’s Proposed 111(d) RuleThu, Apr 16, 2015
Occurs same day that the EPA is holding a public hearing in Arkansas to discuss the federal implementation plan for regional haze
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia heard oral arguments in the federal lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed 111(d) rule that seeks to reduce carbon emissions from electric generating units. At the request of Attorney General Rutledge, Arkansas was granted intervention in this case on March 9. These arguments occurred on the same day that the EPA held a public hearing in Arkansas on the federal implementation plan for regional haze. Rutledge released the following statement:
“Today, the D.C. Circuit has heard that this proposed rule goes beyond the EPA’s authority, granted by Congress in the Clean Air Act, and seeks to impose a national energy policy that will harm the U.S. economy. Requiring states to reduce carbon emission by 30 percent in 15 years would simply put many out of business, leaving Arkansas unable to maintain steady job growth.
“Also today, the EPA is holding a hearing in Arkansas to receive public comments on a federal plan to address regional haze. This plan, along with the 111(d) rule, could force large numbers of power plants across the U.S. to close, including ones in Arkansas. I hope the EPA will listen to the concerns of the public at this hearing. In the Natural State, we value clean air and clean water, but this type of federal overreach will lead to reduced economic growth – something the people of Arkansas cannot afford.”
Rutledge sought the motion to intervene on Feb. 13 to join the lawsuit with attorneys general from West Virginia, Alabama, Alaska, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wyoming and Kentucky. Wisconsin was granted intervention after Arkansas.
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 Arkansas.
Rutledge testified about this proposed EPA rule, as well as other EPA policies at the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Subcommittee on the Interior in February. Click here for a copy of Rutledge’s opening statement, or a video can be found here.
Rutledge Announces Child Safety Poster Contest WinnersThu, Apr 16, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the winners of the 2015 Child Safety Poster Contest, which is sponsored annually by the Attorney General’s Office. This year’s poster theme was Bring Our Missing Children Home. Rutledge released the following statement:
“I want to congratulate this year’s winners of the Child Safety Poster Contest. There were a record number of participants with 1,171 entries. Students from across the State submitted posters with the winners coming from North Little Rock, Pine Bluff, Cabot, Mena, West Memphis, Little Rock and my own elementary school, Southside in Independence County. These students did an excellent job highlighting this year’s theme, and I am extremely impressed by the talent of our young Arkansans.”
Attorney General Rutledge also extended her appreciation to the three contest judges, Melinda Faubel with AT&T, Cynthia Hass with the Arkansas Arts Council and Paul Leopoulos with the Thea Foundation. AT&T also helped sponsor the contest, BK Moulding donated supplies to mat each poster and the Thea Foundation is hosting this evening’s reception, where the winning entries will be on display.
This evening’s reception at the Thea Foundation, located at 401 Main St. in North Little Rock, is open to the public and media. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
- Carter Brown, Stagecoach Elementary School (Cabot), 1st Place
- Rhamiya Smith, Faulk Elementary School (West Memphis), 2nd Place
- Arabella Johnston, Lakewood Elementary School (North Little Rock), 3rd Place
- Tevarious Jones, Faulk Elementary School (West Memphis), 1st Place
- Sasha Walker, Edgewood Elementary School (Pine Bluff), 2nd Place
- Jacob Acosta, Eastside Elementary School (Cabot), 3rd Place
- Fatima Adame, Faulk Elementary School (West Memphis), 1st Place
- Rylee Lemley, Southside Elementary School (Independence County), 2nd Place
- Elizabeth Hardcastle, Southside Elementary School (Independence County), 3rd Place
- Vincent DeLuca, Carver Elementary School (Little Rock), 1st Place
- Kiylee Hughes, Holly Harshman Elementary School (Mena), 2nd Place
- Lina Mesa, Stagecoach Elementary School (Cabot), 3rd Place
- Mason Smith, Magness Creek Elementary School (Cabot), 1st Place
- Matiyah Rowland, Carver Elementary School (Little Rock), 2nd Place
- Jadyn Cook, Lakewood Elementary School (North Little Rock), 3rd Place
- Sarah Grenier, Holly Harshman Elementary School (Mena), 1st Place
- Amanda Booth, Holly Harshman Elementary School (Mena), 2nd Place
- Isabella Balkenhol, Holly Harshman Elementary School (Mena), 3rd Place
The winning fifth grade poster, submitted by Sarah Grenier, will be entered into the National Missing Children’s Day Poster Contest, hosted by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Information about the 2016 contest will be announced later this year.
Rutledge to Hold First Statewide Tele-Town Hall on Arkansas FOIAMon, Apr 13, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that she will hold a statewide tele-town hall meeting to educate the public about the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Rutledge released the following statement:
“Arkansas has a strong FOIA that is regarded across the country as one of the best at holding government accountable and helping citizens stay informed. As the people’s lawyer, I am committed to protecting the democratic ideal of an open and transparent government and helping educate Arkansans about the FOIA. I am excited to use technology in an innovative way to help bring Arkansans closer to their government.”
The statewide tele-town hall will be held at 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 23. For those interested in participating, please sign up by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, telephone number and city.
The tele-town hall will be the first in a series of informational meetings, both traditional as well as webcast, to inform Arkansans about the FOIA.
All that is needed to participate is a telephone. Participants will be given an opportunity to ask Attorney General Rutledge questions related to the FOIA. Those who have signed up in advance will receive an automated phone call just before the tele-town hall begins and will receive instructions on how to participate.
Print copies of the 16th edition of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Handbook are available upon request from the Attorney General’s Office, and an electronic copy of the handbook is available on the Attorney General’s website by visiting arkansasag.gov/media-center/foia.