LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Thursday that her administration was mounting a legal challenge against a recent Environmental Protection Agency ruling.
Citing “federal overreach” and “Biden’s war on American industry,” Sanders said her administration would fight the recent EPA ruling requiring it to follow an agency-mandated plan instead of a plan Arkansas had submitted.
“I’ve asked Attorney General Griffin to sue the EPA to get bureaucratic tyrants in Washington off Arkansans’ backs,” Sanders said. “Critical Arkansas industries – and more importantly, Arkansas workers and their families – stand to be affected by this federal overreach. The Biden Administration is threatening dozens of Arkansas businesses and thousands of Arkansas jobs.”
The governor explained that the issue is the state’s response to the EPA’s 2015 Ozone Air Quality Standards, which lowered allowable ozone levels. States were allowed to submit plans for how they would meet the reduced levels, which Arkansas did in 2019, she said.
The EPA recently rejected the Arkansas plan and, the governor explained, required it and 24 other states to follow what she called a “one size fits all” plan the EPA generated. The governor said the EPA claimed the state had “let polluters off the hook” in rejecting the plan.
Sanders repeatedly called the EPA plan overreaching. As an example of overreach, she said the EPA ruling would impact and possibly lead to the shutdown of the Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Harry L. Oswald Generating Station at Wrightsville, where she held the news conference.
Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin, echoing Sanders’ claim of federal overreach, said the state was on “strong legal footing” in filing its challenge to the EPA ruling.
Griffin indicated that the Arkansas-submitted plan was rejected on Monday, Feb. 13.
The attorney general went on to say “the goalposts have been moved” by the EPA in rejecting the Arkansas plan and mandating the agency’s own plan. The EPA used 2017 data from the upper midwest in creating the data for the 2015 changes but used data from the Dallas-Fort Worth metro in citing the need for Arkansas to follow the EPA-mandated plan, he said.
“Today I joined with Governor Sanders’ Department of Energy and Environment in challenging President Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency’s disapproval of Arkansas’s State Implementation Plan under the Clean Air Act. The Biden administration rejected our thoughtful SIP without giving us the opportunity to revise it,” Griffin said. “Further, their decision to disapprove was based on the impact of Arkansas emissions on the metropolitan areas of Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, a standard different than what we were originally told.
“The Biden administration has acted beyond its authority,” Griffin said.
The petition for review had been filed in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, the attorney general said.