Arkansas regulators begin meetings on EPA’s new dirty air rules

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 64 views 

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) and the Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC) will hold their first stakeholders’ meeting under Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) to discuss how to implement President Obama’s historic Clean Power Plan in Arkansas. The meeting comes just over two months after the U.S.

Environmental Protection Agency issued final rules on the far-reaching climate change plan on Aug. 3.

The stakeholders’ meeting is scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at ADEQ headquarters, located at 5301 Northshore Drive in North Little Rock. The agenda includes opening remarks from ADEQ Director Becky Keogh and PSC Chairman Ted Thomas, followed by a presentation from Stuart Spencer, ADEQ’s associate director in the Office of Air Quality.

The get-together with state regulators and varied interest groups supporting and opposing the new rules follows a first-time visit to Arkansas by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on Wednesday where she defended criticism of the president’s plan to regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act.

Keogh and Thomas held a press conference Aug. 30 at ADEQ’s offices to outline the state’s response to what they called a “relaxed” emission standard for putting Arkansas on track to cut carbon pollution from the power sector 36% below 2005 levels by 2030.

The final rules on President Obama’s far-reaching and controversial Clean Power Plan takes into account the more than 4.3 million comments received from states and stakeholders across the country following the first draft on June 2, 2014. Under the plan, each state will have an emission-cutting goal assigned to it and must submit a proposal to the EPA on how it will meet the target. Under the earlier proposal, Arkansas would have been required to reduce carbon emissions by 44%, but the final rule change lowers the requirement to 36%.

ADEQ officials have said Arkansas will have flexibility to meet EPA’s goal by using the energy sources that work best for it and by cutting energy waste. To date, all 50 states have demand-side energy efficiency programs; 37 have implemented renewable portfolio standards or goals; and 10 have adopted market-based greenhouse gas emissions programs.

ADEQ and PSC officials said the primary purpose of the Friday’s all-day meeting is to provide the stakeholders with an opportunity to present their initial observations and analyses on EPA’s finalized Clean Power Plan in a roundtable format.

The day will include a number of focused discussions on the direct and indirect effects of the Clean Power Plan, as well as expectations and anticipated outcomes for the stakeholder process, ADEQ officials said.