A federal judge is being asked to issue a summary judgment in a lawsuit by an environmental group wanting Arkansas and federal officials to finalize plans for implementation of the so-called regional haze rule. It would limit pollution in national parks and wildlife areas largely created by coal-fired power plants.
Glen Hooks, executive director of the Arkansas chapter of the Sierra Club says officials have so far failed to adequately respond.
"There were clear statutory guidelines that Congress set for both the state and then subsequently the EPA to come up with a plan to reduce regional haze pollution in Arkansas. Neither the EPA or the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality met those deadlines and so we sued to make this happen," Hooks said.
But some, including Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, are challenging the rule. Last month her office was allowed to intervene in the case, arguing the lawsuit would "impose an arbitrary deadline" for agencies to approve a plan. A statement at the time also said it would lead to higher utility bills for Arkansas utility customers.
Rutledge spokesman Judd Deer said in an email Tuesday, "We are still reviewing the Sierra Club's motion and will be responding appropriately. Attorney General Rutledge is prepared to fully litigate this case to protect Arkansas utility ratepayers from increased costs."
The rule has already prompted Entergy Arkansas to propose closing one of its dirtiest coal-fired power plants, the White Bluff facility near Redfield. Company officials said last month that retrofitting it to meet the standards by installing scrubbers would cost about $1 billion.