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Hutchinson vows to fight EPA on clean air rules

Posted: August 5, 2014 - 7:38am

LITTLE ROCK — Republican gubernatorial hopeful Asa Hutchinson on Monday said he'd push for Arkansas to join a lawsuit challenging the federal government's proposed new rules for power-plant pollution, limits that he says threaten the state's ability to create new jobs.

Hutchinson said if elected he'd ask the attorney general to join 12 other states in challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2030, with 2005 levels as the starting point. The rules are intended to curb global warming. The plan would require Arkansas to reduce carbon emissions by nearly 45 percent by 2030.

"As governor, I will cause Arkansas to join the 12 other states ... in challenging the new burdensome EPA rules as being a federal overreach, as hurting Arkansas ratepayers, hurting our industrial growth and I will fight for Arkansas in opposing these new EPA rules," Hutchinson said in a news conference at his campaign headquarters.

Hutchinson said he expected the cost of joining the suit to be minimal, and said he would also seek a resolution from the Legislature before joining the challenge. He also left open the possibility of hiring outside counsel if the AG doesn't agree to join the suit.

The proposed rules have been well-received by the state's environmental groups, but businesses and utilities foresee problems on the horizon if the federal EPA puts the regulations in place. Hutchinson cited a study from the National Association of Manufacturers that estimated the cost to Arkansas to be more than 10,000 lost jobs and $240 million in compliance costs.

Hutchinson is running against Democratic nominee Mike Ross. The two ex-congressmen are running to succeed Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe, who is barred by term limits from seeking re-election.

Ross said he has a long-standing history of standing up to the EPA and said he had vowed earlier Monday in a speech to the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas to do everything in his power to fight the EPA rules.

"The EPA's recent attempts to go after electric generating facilities disrupts the balance between protecting our state's beautiful natural resources and the energy needs that support our way of life and keep energy costs low for working families in Arkansas," Ross said in a statement released by his campaign.

Hutchinson made the announcement the same day Attorney General Dustin McDaniel met with the EPA's general counsel to discuss the impact the rules would have on Arkansas. McDaniel is a Democrat and barred by term limits from seeking re-election this fall.

"The proposed rule will require Arkansas to make a very large reduction in emissions, but does not appear to consider the unique circumstances facing the state in doing so," McDaniel wrote in a letter to EPA General Counsel Avi Garbow. "The implications for my state will be far reaching and will have a great economic hardship on rate paying customers."

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lachowsj 08/05/14 - 08:09 am
Sad to see

It is sad to see that on this important issue there is a race to the bottom between Hutchinson and Ross. Hutchinson's stance is not surprising. I would have expected Ross's position to be more nuanced, something along the lines of acknowledging the threat that carbon emissions pose but touting his ability to negotiate rules that take into account Arkansas's energy needs. Instead, he talks about his "long-standing history of standing up to the EPA."

Meanwhile in California, Governor Jerry Brown continues to push the boldest environmental protection program in the country. And after working through a massive deficit he has the state economy booming. He has proven true his assertion that investments in clean energy produce two to three times as many jobs per dollar as gas, oil or coal, and that alternative energy programs tend to be locally based and thus keep revenue within the state.

I know Ross is trailing in the polls. But he will never win trying to out-Republican the Republican.

mikeng1994 08/05/14 - 08:22 am

Regardless of party affiliation, a person should be able to take a stance on an issue that may contradict their party's traditional view. While I will not vote for Ross because of other issues, I applaud him in the instance for not riding the party line on everything.

One of the greatest presidents we ever had was Teddy Roosevelt. His party actually did not like him very much because he listened to both sides and then made his decision on what he felt was right for the country.

As I see it, we can follow these much to strict EPA rules all the while putting good hard working people out of a job and into the welfare lines, or we can can look for other ways to reduce emissions on other things as well. Then everyone works and every one eats.

Why not offer huge rebates to help offset CNG conversion costs in cars? There are lots of things we could look at before putting people out of work.

crypted quill
crypted quill 08/05/14 - 08:29 am
"I know Ross is trailing in

"I know Ross is trailing in the polls. But he will never win trying to out-Republican the Republican."


[Researchers Warn of 'Bias' in Landline-Only Phone Polls]

"The implications for pollsters are clear: Polls that rely too much on landline participation -- or call only landlines -- are going to reach far too many older and whiter voters, and not nearly enough younger or Hispanic voters. "The potential for bias due to undercoverage remains a real threat to surveys conducted only on landline telephones," the CDC report states.

While this problem was just beginning to wreak havoc with survey research and its practices in the latter half of the last decade, the trends from the CDC's reports accentuate the seriousness of the problem."


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