Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge testified before a congressional committee in Washington Thursday, saying proposed regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency would be an "economic disaster" for Arkansas.
The House Oversight Subcommittee on the Interior heard from officials about the Clean Power Plan, which in Arkansas would require cutting carbon emissions by 44 percent by 2030.
"My opposition to this rule begs the question whether I am for clean air. I certainly am and I can say confidently that all 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 usages," Rutledge said.
She also suggested the proposed standards for ground level ozone were "unnecessarily stringent" and not meeting them would hurt manufacturing in Arkansas and "set back any economic recovery that we have achieved in the past few years."
The plan also includes changes to the definition of the waters of the United States, which Rutledge suggested would create confusion for farmers and ranchers in determining who has jurisdiction.
Glen Hooks with the Sierra Club of Arkansas responded to Rutledge’s testimony saying he was disappointed that she is "working against clean air protections, working against water protection, working against modernizing our state’s energy grid to move toward clean energy."
He disputed Rutledge’s assertion that the proposed standards would negatively impact the economy, saying they could actually benefit the state.
"If we take the opportunity to draft the Clean Power Plan in a smart and intelligent way here in Arkansas, we can create thousands of new, good-paying jobs while we’re also protecting the environment and improving public health," Hooks said. "I’m talking about solar jobs, I’m talking about wind jobs, I’m talking about jobs related to energy efficiency, the installation and manufacturing of all these things."
He said the state has five dirty coal-fired power plants that spew millions of tons of carbon and other pollutants into the atmosphere that directly impacts the health of Arkansans.