The heads of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) and the Public Service Commission (PSC) said today that they wouldn’t be using taxpayer resources to implement a state plan for President Obama’s unpopular, stayed Clean Power Plan (CPP) until the issue is resolved in the courts.
The Supreme Court issued a stay of the CPP last month — meaning that implementation of the rule by the federal government will be blocked while it’s being challenged in court. Even if the lawsuit failed, the legal challenges it has triggered will likely not be completed before Obama leaves office; that means that a very different President — such as a conservative Republican — could be in office when implementation restarts. Plaintiffs in this lawsuit consist of various industry groups, energy producers, and a bipartisan group of 29 states (including Arkansas). The stay left the states with a choice: continue using taxpayer resources on a state plan for CPP that has been stayed — and that very well could be ruled unconstitutional — or pause all use of state taxpayer resources for developing a plan until the courts rule on its constitutionality.
The Obama administration wanted the states to continue using taxpayer resources to develop a plan. But conservative state Attorney Generals such as Texas’s Ken Paxton and West Virginia’s Patrick Morrisey said states should stop using state resources to develop a plan until the judicial review process is finished.
Fortunately, both Becky Keogh (ADEQ Director) and Ted Thomas (APSC Chairman) announced today that their respective agencies will not be using state resources to develop a state plan for the CPP.
On February 9, 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States issued an order staying the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). As a result, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and Arkansas Public Service Commission (the Agencies) will not hold the CPP Stakeholder meeting previously planned for March 2016. The State is not bound to CPP deadlines during the stay and, as such, is no longer required to make an Initial Submittal by September 6, 2016. Therefore, the March stakeholder meeting is no longer necessary. The Agencies, in consultation with Stakeholders, will continue to evaluate the impacts of potential environmental and energy policies in the State. However, this evaluation will occur on a timeline and in a context that makes sense for Arkansas. The State will not implement a state plan to comply with the CPP during the stay.
This is a good decision for Arkansas taxpayers. Public funds shouldn’t be spent complying with a plan with such an uncertain future.