Arkansas Environment

Attorneys argued over state and federal powers for more than four hours Friday on an effort by 13 states to block a new rule that gives federal authorities jurisdiction over some state waters.

The states, led by North Dakota, argue that the rules from the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers illegally expand those agencies' powers under the federal Clean Water Act.

The law goes into effect next week. The states want the judge to order an injunction to suspend the new rules, which they say are causing confusion and anxiety.

Mayflower Oil Spill
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A settlement between the federal government, the state of Arkansas and ExxonMobil is now final over a lawsuit the governments had filed against the pipeline company over environmental violations arising from the 2013 Mayflower oil spill. U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker approved the agreement Wednesday.

13 states led by North Dakota are asking a federal judge in Bismarck to block a new rule that gives federal authorities jurisdiction over some state waters.

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says he will request a preliminary injunction Monday.

The states filed a lawsuit in June challenging the rule by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. The states say the new rule illegally expands the jurisdiction of those agencies under the federal Clean Water Act.

The law goes into effect Aug. 28.

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Arkansas Business

Entergy Arkansas Inc. on Friday proposed what it called “a more reasonable, long-term, multi-unit approach to address Arkansas’ regional haze” in response to the federal Environment Protection Agency’s rejection of the state’s earlier plan to improve visibility in wilderness areas.

The proposal comes only days after the EPA on Monday released its final rules on President Obama’s far-reaching and controversial “Clean Power Plan,” putting the nation on track to cut carbon pollution from the power sector 32% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Power Lines
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A day after President Obama unveiled the centerpiece of his climate change proposal, representatives from Entergy Arkansas Inc. and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC) are taking a wait-and-see approach before responding publicly to how they will deal with the historic environmental mandate.

Arkansas Nuclear One Entergy power plant
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Arkansas’s top elected officials, all Republicans, are roundly denouncing the finalized Clean Power Plan announced Monday by President Barack Obama’s administration as an expensive overreach of authority, while health and environmental advocates are praising the Environmental Protection Agency rule as a needed step to combat climate change and adverse health impacts tied to coal energy production. Meanwhile, the state's governor is calling for a plan of compliance to be developed despite his opposition to the federal rule.

A drainage ditch filled with oil from the Pegasus Pipeline rupture in Mayflower in 2014.
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Two subsidiaries of ExxonMobil say they won't move the Pegasus Pipeline from beneath the watershed where Central Arkansas gets most of its drinking water.

Earlier this month, Central Arkansas Water utility officials asked a federal judge to reject a proposed settlement among the companies and state and federal agencies over a 2013 oil spill in Mayflower unless the companies agreed to move the pipeline out of the Lake Maumelle watershed.

Biologists at the University of Arkansas are using a federal grant to track the migration of the familiar American woodcock, a bird whose population is slowly declining across eastern North America.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded nearly $50,000 for the project to the U.S. Geological Survey Arkansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, which is housed in the University of Arkansas Department of Biological Sciences.

The Arkansas Natural Resources Commission continues to hold public meetings across the state taking comments on its comprehensive water plan. In Little Rock, commission staff presented the plan and fielded questions from citizens on Wednesday.

 

Todd Fugitt, Geology Supervisor at the Commission, said the new plan would encompass nearly every aspect of water policy. It is the first such update in nearly 25 years, he said, primarily because a lack in funding has prevented the Commision from conducting one.

A Wall Street-based nonprofit initiative funded and chaired by billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Clinton administration Treasurer Hank Paulson released a report Tuesday that says Arkansas’ soybean production could decline by 25% due to warmer temperatures caused by climate change.

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