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Protecting Arkansas

Protecting Arkansas

Thu, Aug 6, 2015

LITTLE ROCK – Today, an op-ed written by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge appeared in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The piece detailed why Rutledge has challenged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on its Waters of the U.S. rule.

Having grown up near the banks of the White River in the Ozark foothills, I fully appreciate the clean water that helps make us the Natural State. Like all Arkansans, I want to protect our clean water for future generations, but there is currently a push from aggressive Washington, D.C. bureaucrats to control all water in Arkansas, even roadside ditches, because they think they know how to protect our clean water better than we do. On June 29, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) published the final Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule to be implemented on August 28. The new rule, at over 370 pages, seeks to expand the definition of the Clean Water Act’s “navigable waters” to include small tributaries and other bodies of water close to lakes and rivers, but instead of clarifying an already confusing federal law, it only adds greater uncertainty.

The EPA and the Corps chose to blatantly ignore that Congress recognized that the States should retain their authority over State land and water resources. However, I firmly believe that Arkansas, not Washington, knows how to ensure protection of our clean waters without creating severe economic harm for farmers, businesses and towns, and more importantly, without destroying the property rights of landowners.

With the new WOTUS rule, the EPA has unlawfully exceeded the limitations that Congress intentionally placed on the federal agencies under the Clean Water Act.

In response, I have partnered with 12 other States and filed a lawsuit to challenge the legality of the WOTUS rule. The EPA and the Corps have overstepped the limits of the law by attempting to expand the federal government’s authority over small streams, tributaries and even ditches within our State. It is my duty as Attorney General to protect the interests of the many farmers, landowners and small business owners across Arkansas by preventing implementation of this harmful rule.

I firmly believe that Arkansas is in the best position to safeguard its clean water resources so the needs of the State’s agricultural and business communities are protected. Across the country, the States have shown a superior ability to communicate with local businesses on the meaning of environmental rules and, even more importantly, how those rules will be enforced.

This is not the first time the EPA or the Corps have attempted to reach beyond their jurisdiction. The U.S. Supreme Court has already had to step in twice when the agencies have attempted to exceed their legal authority through unlawful enforcement of the Clean Water Act. In 2001 and 2006, the Supreme Court ruled against the Corps and its interpretation of the Clean Water Act. But now the agencies are attempting to take advantage of the court’s ambiguity in those decisions by expanding the court’s narrow rulings to meet their policy goals.

While on the surface the WOTUS rule works to make it more clear which bodies of water are included under the definition, it brings potentially dangerous consequences for the agricultural community and other landowners. The final rule includes tributaries that show “any physical signs of flowing water,” even if they are not running year round, and ditches that could potentially “carry pollution downstream.” There is no doubt that the rule defines what bodies of water are included because it gives the agencies authority over almost every body of water.

This rule creates a high probability that a landowner or farmer will be subject to new, major regulations, burdensome permitting and hefty fines by the EPA and the Corps. Noncompliance could result in fines of up to $37,500 per day and criminal charges.

The States’ victory in the recent Supreme Court decision in Michigan v. EPA helps to serve as a reminder to the EPA that it is not above the law and of the consequences for audacious disregard of its limitations. As the court emphasized in this case the need for serious consideration of costs in the regulatory process, I am concerned that the WOTUS rule will not provide greater protection for Arkansas’s water resources and will impose greater costs on Arkansans through unnecessary and overly bureaucratic regulations.

Rest assured, I will fight to protect Arkansas from Washington bureaucrats seeking to advance policy goals without Congressional authority, and I look forward to joining you in enjoying Arkansas’s clean water for generations to come.

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Request to EPA for Stay in Clean Power Plan

Rutledge Joins with 15 Other States to ask the EPA for Stay in its Clean Power Plan

Wed, Aug 5, 2015

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today released a statement after she joined 15 other States to ask the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for an immediate stay of its Clean Power Plan pending the outcome of an impending legal challenge to the rule.

“The EPA’s Clean Power Plan is the wrong direction,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “When it was announced earlier this week, I indicated that I was prepared to take any and all appropriate legal action to protect Arkansans from this unlawful plan, and that is exactly what I, and 15 other States, have done today. This stay is an important first step as legal action is planned.”

The stay request filed today with the EPA asks the agency to halt implementation of the plan until the courts have a chance to rule on its legality.

“Absent an immediate stay, the Section 111(d) Rule will coerce the States to expend enormous public resources and to put aside sovereign priorities to prepare State Plans of unprecedented scope and complexity,” the States write in the stay request. “In addition, the States’ citizens will be forced to pay higher energy bills as power plants shut down. In the end, the courts are likely to conclude that the Section 111(d) Rule is unlawful. At the very minimum, the States and their citizens should not be forced to suffer these serious harms until the courts have had an opportunity to review the Rule’s legality.”

The coalition has asked that the EPA take action on this stay request by Friday, Aug. 7.

Rutledge was joined in this request by the States of Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming, and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

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EPA’s Clean Power Plan ‘Unlawful’ and ‘Out-of-Touch’

Rutledge Calls EPA’s Clean Power Plan ‘Unlawful’ and ‘Out-of-Touch’

Mon, Aug 3, 2015

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today released a statement following the announcement from President Barack Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the final Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through implementation of section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act.

“Today, the EPA has once again decided to move forward with a plan that goes beyond the rule of law,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Let me be clear. I favor clean air and will do everything I can to preserve it for future generations, but an out-of-touch plan that proposes even deeper cuts than the original 2014 version is not a balanced approach. In 2013, Arkansas received over half of its electricity from coal-fired power plants, and if this plan is fully implemented, Arkansas rate payers will certainly see their energy rates increase. The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, the Arkansas Public Service Commission and other State stakeholders are in a much better position to protect the State's clean air. Today's plan is simply the wrong direction and completely ignores the concerns that have been raised over the past several years about anticipated cost increases. My office continues to review the unlawful Clean Power Plan and is prepared to take any and all appropriate legal action to prevent its implementation.”

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Mississippi County Woman

Rutledge Announces Medicaid Fraud Arrest of Mississippi County Woman

Sat, Aug 1, 2015

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the arrest of a Mississippi County woman by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

Lenisha Nicole Daniels, 31, of Blytheville, was arrested on one count of Medicaid fraud. On Monday, July 27, she turned herself into the Pulaski County Jail where she posted bond and was released. Daniels is accused of billing the Arkansas Medicaid Program $1,900 for Medicaid services she did not perform. Plea and arraignment hearings will be set in Pulaski County District Court at a later date.

Medicaid fraud occurs when Medicaid providers use the Medicaid program to obtain money to which they are not entitled.

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Medicaid Fraud Convictions Announced

Attorney General Announces Medicaid Fraud Convictions

Thu, Jul 30, 2015

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the convictions of a Jefferson County woman and a Mississippi County woman for Medicaid fraud. The two women pleaded guilty in unrelated cases in the Pulaski County Courts. Each will serve a period of probation and pay restitution to the Arkansas Medicaid Program and fines totaling over $7,000. Additionally, the Medicaid fraud convictions will be reported to federal authorities and may result in the defendants being excluded from participation as providers in the Medicaid and Medicare program for a period of up to 10 years.

“These convictions demonstrate the commitment of the Attorney General’s Office to combatting fraud in the Medicaid system,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Medicaid fraud special investigators are working to detect individuals and organizations that are scamming the system or failing to provide all appropriate care to patients and clients dependent on the Arkansas Medicaid program.”

On Tuesday, Lucy Blackmon, 34, of Pine Bluff pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud, a Class A misdemeanor. Blackmon billed the Arkansas Medicaid Program for home health services while the patient was in the hospital. She was ordered to pay restitution of $233.28 and fines totaling $1,199.84.

On Wednesday, Linda Hunt, 55, of Blytheville pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud, a Class C felony. Hunt billed the Arkansas Medicaid Program for services she did not provide. She was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay $5,318.25 in restitution and $918.75 in fines. She paid $5,000 of the restitution to the Arkansas Medicaid Trust Fund at the time of sentencing.

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Lee Rudofsky as Solicitor General

Rutledge Welcomes Lee Rudofsky as State’s First Solicitor General

Thu, Jul 30, 2015

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the hiring of Lee Rudofsky as the State’s first solicitor general. Rudofsky comes to the Attorney General’s Office from Walmart where he has served as an assistant general counsel since 2014.

“I am truly excited to welcome Lee as the State’s first solicitor general,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Lee brings a wealth of experience and expertise from the public and private sectors, as well as being one of the top litigators in the country. Arkansas was one of only a few States without a solicitor general, and as part of my commitment to make the Attorney General’s Office the top law firm in the State, I felt the position was needed to assist with the growing number of large multi-state consumer protection cases and the increasing appellate matters at the State and national levels. Lee is a highly respected attorney across the legal profession, and the State is truly fortunate that he has chosen to bring his talents to the Attorney General’s Office. I am confident that he will work every day to uphold the rule of law and improve the lives of Arkansans.”

“I am humbled by the confidence of Attorney General Rutledge,” said Solicitor General Rudofsky. “I look forward to joining Attorney General Rutledge as she protects Arkansans from criminals and scam artists and pushes back against an overreaching federal government. It is an honor to serve Arkansans as the State’s first solicitor general.”

Rudofsky, a native of New York, is a 2005 graduate of Harvard Law School. He received his Bachelor of Science degree and Master of Public Administration from Cornell University in 2001 and 2002, respectively. Prior to assuming the role of assistant general counsel for Walmart, Rudofsky spent several years at the Washington, D.C. office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP litigating complex commercial and constitutional cases. In 2009, while at Kirkland & Ellis, Rudofsky was an adjunct professor at the George Mason University School of Law where he taught a seminar on environmental and administrative law. In 2012, he served as deputy general counsel for Romney for President Inc. He was also deputy general counsel to the Steve Poizner for Governor 2010 campaign. His clerkships have included the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Office of Counsel to the Governor of Massachusetts and Office of Counsel to the President of the United States during the George W. Bush administration. Rudofsky currently resides in Bentonville, but he will be relocating to the central Arkansas area soon.

Rutledge testified before the Arkansas General Assembly Joint Budget Subcommittee on Personnel on March 10 to request approval for the reclassification of a current position to solicitor general. The subcommittee unanimously passed the reclassification. The position does not increase the number of authorized employees at the Attorney General’s Office and did not increase the requested appropriation.

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