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Lawsuits & Litigation

Arkansas Sues Environmental Protection Agency

— February 17, 2023

Arkansas claims that the E.P.A. and Biden administration’s rejection of the state’s pollution-control rule could devastate the local economy.

Arkansas has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to reject the Natural State’s plan to comply with recently-enacted rules intended to prevent cross-border pollution from coal-fired power plants and other industrial sites.

According to The Associated Press, Arkansas filed its complaint in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit.

In its lawsuit, the state claimed that the Environmental Protection Agency had inappropriately declined Little Rock’s attempt to meet its “good neighbor” obligations under the Clean Air Act.

FOX News notes that a 2015 EPA rule prohibits states from adding to ozone pollution outside of their individual borders and boundaries.

When states do not submit “good neighbor” proposals, or when the E.P.A. finds such a proposal inadequate, the federal government’s overarching guidance takes effect to protect other states from polluting industries.

Air pollution at sunrise; image by SD-Pictures, via Pixabay, CC0.
Air pollution at sunrise; image by SD-Pictures, via Pixabay, CC0.

The E.P.A., notes The Associated Press, recently rejected “good neighbor” plans from Arkansas and another 18 states.

FOX News notes that Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin said that the E.P.A. rejected the state’s proposal because its emissions could impact the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston metropolitan areas—considerations Griffin claims the federal government had never mentioned.

In a statement announcing the lawsuit, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the E.P.A. has refused to let the state revise its plan, which was originally submitted for consideration in 2019.

“Critical Arkansas industries, and more importantly, Arkansas workers and their families, stand to be affected by this out-of-control federal overreach,” Sanders said in a press conference.

“We were hoping that if they had some issues with the plan that we would be able to work with them and revise it,” Griffin said. “Instead what they are wanting to do is impose a one size fits all plan.”

Griffin suggested that the Biden administration’s preferred solution simply does not suit Arkansas’ circumstances—and that increased regulations could hurt the state’s economies and force many businesses to cease operations.

“The federal plan doesn’t consider the uniqueness of our economy,” Griffin said. “Whether it be the steel manufacturing, whether it be our energy sector or our agriculture sector.”

Sanders, similarly, said that the White House and E.P.A. are overstepping their authority in a way that could damage the Natural State’s economy.

“Our rules would have reduced pollution without reducing jobs,” she said. “What we saw was a perfect balance. However, the Biden administration has rejected Arkansas’ plan, and they used anecdotal evidence and crude, inaccurate analyses, to say Arkansas is letting polluters off the hook.”


Arkansas files lawsuit challenging EPA’s decision to reject the state’s plan to prevent air pollution

Arkansas challenges EPA’s rejection of state ozone plan

Gov. Sanders announces lawsuit against EPA

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