Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is praising President Donald Trump’s executive order Tuesday telling federal agencies to rewrite environmental regulations. She was part of a coalition of 29 entities involved in litigation against the Environmental Protection Agency over the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan.
In a written statement Tuesday, Rutledge said:
The unlawful Clean Power Plan would have brought great harm to ratepayers across Arkansas, which is why I joined a lawsuit in 2015 seeking to stop it. Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an unprecedented stay, halting the plan from moving forward. And thanks to the action of President Trump today, the EPA can return to the drawing board to craft a plan that seeks input from the states and actually protects the environment, not push the agenda of a liberal few.
To meet the guidelines, Entergy Arkansas had proposed closing two of power plants with high carbon emissions. Just days after the EPA announced final rules for the plan in August 2015, the utility giant proposed closing the White Bluff Power Plant near Redfield in Jefferson County. It also discussed closing the Independence plant in Newark over 11 years.
Julie Munsell, a spokeswoman for Entergy Arkansas, said in an email Tuesday that the company is reviewing the executive order and doesn't have anything more to say at this point about whether it will follow through on closing the plants.
That's a concern for Glen Hooks, director of the Arkansas chapter of the Sierra Club. His group has been in discussions with the utility in recent years and agreed not to challenge letting the plants continue to operate without expensive scrubbers that would be needed to comply with the Clean Power Plan as long as firm shutdown dates were in place.
"I'm hopeful that Entergy won't back away from their plans to retire these older power plants, but repealing the Clean Power Plan certainly does remove some incentives for people to do that," Hooks said. "I think right now we're on track to meet the Clean Power Plan in Arkansas and around the country for carbon reductions. Getting in the way of that really shows a disinterest in public health."