Editor’s note: Leslie Rutledge is the 56th attorney general of Arkansas. Elected on Nov. 4, 2014, she is the first woman and first Republican in Arkansas history to be elected to the office.
Opinions, commentary and other essays posted in this space are wholly the view of the author(s). They may not represent the opinion of the owners of Talk Business & Politics.
Bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., are committed to pushing a policy agenda that far exceeds the legal authority granted to the executive branch, and unfortunately this agenda is going to significantly harm Arkansas’ economy.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ignored the significant concerns voiced by a large number of states, businesses and other stakeholders surrounding the proposed Clean Power Plan and proceeded to push this unlawful policy agenda by publishing the plan in the Federal Register on Oct. 23.
Without hesitation, I joined a bipartisan group of state attorneys general, along with the Arizona Corporation Commission, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, in filing a lawsuit that challenges the CPP.
As Arkansas attorney general, I represent the interests of Arkansas’ utility ratepayers. These are hardworking Arkansans who must be protected from an overreaching federal government.
Some own their own small businesses, while others might maintain their multi-generational family farms. From Fayetteville to Warren, and Texarkana to Jonesboro, and all points in between, the Clean Power Plan, if fully implemented, will have a dramatically negative effect on our citizens. In a state like ours, where over half of the electricity is responsibly generated from coal-fired power plants, the impact will hit the pocketbooks of Arkansans. These increased costs will have severe consequences on our economy and will drive down job growth.
These negative effects would be felt across the state, in both urban and rural areas. Rural communities in Arkansas are already facing difficult economic times, having seen a loss of about 30,000 manufacturing jobs in recent years. Energy prices are guaranteed to increase under the EPA’s plan, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that the initiative will cost American taxpayers $51 billion.
Arkansas is already seeing the adverse consequences of numerous out-of-touch regulations from the EPA. In early August, Entergy Arkansas announced that it would cease all coal-fired operations at its White Bluff Electric Station in Jefferson County by 2028 due to increased regulatory costs. I am greatly concerned that White Bluff will not be the only plant forced to shut down.
PROHIBITED BY LAW
The law could not be clearer that the EPA does not have legal authority to implement this regulation. The EPA already regulates coal-fired power plants under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act. Earlier this year, I testified in front of a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee that the law specifically prohibits the EPA from invoking Section 111(d) where the “source category … is regulated under section  … .”
The rule mandates the emissions reductions each state must achieve rather than providing guidelines and appropriate procedures for states to use in establishing standards of performance. This is a serious overreach by the EPA, which is ignoring the limits of the authority under the Clean Air Act. The plan imposes a misguided and costly national energy policy to rid the nation of coal-fired power plants and seeks to usurp the states’ authority over energy generation and usage.
As Arkansans, we are truly blessed. Every day we get to live in a state known across the nation for its rich, natural heritage, which includes rolling hills, dense woodlands and miles of rivers and lakes. I grew up in the Ozark foothills on a cattle farm just outside of Batesville, and I fully appreciate and am committed to preserving the clean air and clean water that help make Arkansas a great place to call home. However, I do not favor, and I will challenge legally, any heavy-handed and unlawful regulations from Washington that will hurt Arkansans.