Arkansas is halting its effort to craft and implement a plan to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.
The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and Arkansas Public Service Commission said in a statement on Tuesday that stakeholder meetings will cease as a result of last month’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to stay the EPA’s plan to reduce carbon emission to curb climate change.
The statement follows speculation from state officials following the Feb. 9 Supreme Court ruling that the nature of compliance talks might change but that they'd continue to work toward the goal of implementation. Chris Hickey reported on it then for KUAR.
In an interview, John Bethel, the executive director of the Public Service Commission, says discussions surrounding the rule's potential implementation should carry on, however. “The stakeholder process will continue to evaluate what steps will be necessary to comply with the plan should it be upheld. Those activities might proceed on a modified time line once we understand more what that might be,” Bethel said.
The ADEQ's Keogh agreed that although the meetings with stakeholders will likely take a different shape, the process will continue in some form.
“Obviously we'll proceed to make sure that our actions are consistent with the action of the Supreme Court ruling in terms of preserving our planning or our resources in an appropriate level before we know the final outcome,” she said.
A statement from ADEQ Director Becky Keogh and Public Service Commission Chairman Ted Thomas:
On February 9, 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States issued an order staying the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). As a result, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and Arkansas Public Service Commission (the Agencies) will not hold the CPP Stakeholder meeting previously planned for March 2016. The State is not bound to CPP deadlines during the stay and, as such, is no longer required to make an Initial Submittal by September 6, 2016. Therefore, the March stakeholder meeting is no longer necessary. The Agencies, in consultation with Stakeholders, will continue to evaluate the impacts of potential environmental and energy policies in the State. However, this evaluation will occur on a timeline and in a context that makes sense for Arkansas. The State will not implement a state plan to comply with the CPP during the stay.
The Agencies will continue to follow modeling efforts by the private sector of potential future energy and environmental policy scenarios. Continued assessment and optimization of energy sector modeling is appropriate so that the energy sector will be prepared for all possible outcomes. As such, the Agencies plan to have a technical session on energy sector modeling later this year.
The Agencies appreciate all of the feedback that has been provided. The Agencies look forward to continued input on the potential impacts of energy and environmental policy on the energy system, the environment, the economy, and our citizens.