arkansas environment
6:58 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

State Legislators Pass Resolution Against Proposed EPA Restrictions

State lawmakers are opposing the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rules to reduce CO2 emissions in Arkansas 44 percent by 2030. 

On Tuesday, the Arkansas Senate and House committees on Insurance and Commerce passed a resolution against the plan.

Duane Highley, President and CEO of the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation, told lawmakers the new regulations would mean replacing coal energy. He said that would lead to an increase electricity rates and could drive away industry. 

According to Highley, Arkansas needs more time to develop an alternative plan for C02 reduction in collaboration with other states.

"We'd really like to see multi-state cooperation on compliance with this rule. If the state goes alone, the rate impact will be about twice as large as if we could partner with neighboring states to achieve compliance," He said.

Teresa Marks, Director of the state's Department of Environmental Quality, spoke to lawmakers the Senate about potential economic impacts of the proposed regulation.

"We do feel the number is too stringent. We have done some extensive research into that and we will be commenting on that to the EPA in the hope that that will change in the final rule. Certainly when the rule is finalized and we know exactly what the EPA is going to expect of us there's legal challenges that could be made," said Marks.

Glen Hooks of the Sierra Club of Arkansas said recently the proposed rules are a step forward for the state.

"For the first time, some of our older, dirty plants will actually have to take in consideration the amount of carbon dioxide that they're pumping into our air.  Currently there are no limits on that," Hooks said.

"Power plants can do as much as they need to do and we're seeing those effects on climate disruption.  So power plants in Arkansas, especially dirty coal-fired plants will have to begin limiting that," he added.

The United States is responsible for 17 percent of the world's C02 emissions. Coal power, which emits high levels of C02, supplied over half of Arkansas's electric energy last year.

The state's Department of Environmental Quality must respond to the EPA's proposed regulations by October 15. The rule should be finalized June of 2015, at which point the state can file suit against the requirements.