Attorney General Pruitt to Appeal EPA Decision on Regional Haze Rule
AG seeking to preserve right of Oklahoma to determine energy and environmental policies
OKLAHOMA CITY - Attorney General Scott Pruitt said he will appeal today's decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to institute a federal regional haze plan in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. The decision goes against Oklahoma's right to implement a state plan that will allow a more gradual transition that meets the standards of the rule, and spares Oklahoma utility consumers substantial rate increases.
"As Attorney General, it is my job to preserve Oklahoma's right to formulate a state plan that meets the standards of the Regional Haze Rule. The Clean Air Act clearly recognizes that Oklahomans, and not federal bureaucrats, are best situated to determine energy and environmental policies," Pruitt said. "This action by the Obama Administration once again ignores the state's ability to craft an Oklahoma solution. We will continue to fight this intrusion by appealing today's decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit."
The Regional Haze Rule requires agencies to work together to improve visibility at national parks and wilderness areas by 2064. The rule deals only with aesthetics and is not based on health. Oklahoma's industry leaders, elected officials, utility companies, consumer protection advocates and energy producers spent months creating a State Implementation Plan (SIP) to address the requirements of the rule in multiple parts of the state. The state plan accomplished the regional haze requirements by 2026.
In March, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson informed the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality that the federal government planned to implement their own regional haze plan. Based on the latest estimates, the federal plan could increase Oklahoma utility rates by more than 13 percent.
In response to Administrator Jackson's action, Attorney General Pruitt sued the EPA in May on behalf of the State in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. The lawsuit claims the EPA did not meet the deadline to file a Federal Implementation Plan, nor follow the required approval process. The lawsuit in district court remains ongoing.
"I am disappointed but not surprised that EPA has decided to enter into a consent decree with environmental groups and impose a federal plan for regional haze on our state, instead of working with Oklahomans on our reasonable state plan," U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe said.
"EPA's plan does nothing to address air quality with respect to public health; it simply mandates controls on Oklahoma utilities to meet an aesthetic standard, even though Oklahoma continues to make gains in air quality. While our state plan is effective and affordable, EPA's plan will impose around $2 billion in costs, and Oklahoma families will have to foot the bill. Like so many of EPA's rules, it will be all economic pain for no meaningful environmental benefits.
"Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Governor Mary Fallin, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, and the Oklahoma Corporation Commission have come together in support of our state plan, and this matter was the subject of a lengthy hearing at the Corporation Commission, which also included contributions from Oklahoma's utilities and energy industries. I stand with them in support Oklahoma's plan as we continue to work to together to fight against EPA's unreasonable mandates."