Arkansas leaders are responding to the expected announcement Tuesday from the head of the federal Environmental Protection Agency to roll back Obama-era regulations.
The Clean Power Plan was intended to significantly curb pollution by regulating the carbon emissions from different types of power plants. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge was part of a 29-state coalition challenging the legality of the plan. In February 2016 the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to stay compliance with the regulations while it waited to judge legal merits of the plan.
A written from Rutledge, released by her office said, "The EPA, under new leadership, is putting common-sense, the environment and the American family ahead of a political agenda with the announced rollback of the so-called Clean Power Plan."
This plan was nothing short of illegal and would have led to significant energy rate hikes, hitting Arkansans directly in their pocketbooks – something no family or business owner can afford. By ending this plan, the EPA will hopefully return to the drawing board, seeking input from the states in order to craft a common sense, lawful rule that protects the environment and the American people.
Glen Hooks, president of the Arkansas chapter of the Sierra Club, disagrees with the attorney general’s economic evaluation of the rollback.
“Utilities have started buying more solar. They’ve started buying more wind. They’ve started retiring coal plants all across the country. Utilities are doing the smart thing environmentally," Hooks said. "They’re also doing the smart thing to protecting their consumers because right now solar and wind energy is becoming more and more efficient; it’s becoming more and more affordable for folks. I think what you’re going to see is the Clean Power Plan, if it exists or if it doesn’t exist, economic reality is that coal is going away, fossil fuels are going away and wind and solar are the answers to our future."
A representative from Entergy Arkansas, the state’s largest energy provider, wouldn't offer specifics, but said the trend has been toward reducing carbon emissions and that the utility will continue pursuing clean energy sources in its long-term planning while complying with all current federal regulations. Currently only five power plants in Arkansas are coal-burning plants, which would have received substantial reductions under the Clean Power Plan.