Arkansas challenges EPA’s rejection of state ozone plan


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to reject its plan to comply with federal rules that are supposed to assure the state’s coal-fired power plants and industrial sites don’t pollute the air in other states.

The state filed a petition with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals over the EPA disapproving the state’s plan to meet the “good neighbor” obligations under the Clean Air Act. The EPA rejected plans from Arkansas and 18 other states this week.

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a Republican, said the agency isn’t allowing her state to revise its plan, which was submitted 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 at a news conference with Attorney General Tim Griffin announcing the lawsuit.

A 2015 EPA rule blocks states from adding to ozone pollution outside their boundaries. Last year the agency announced its plan to limit downwind pollution from power plants. In cases where a state has not submitted a “good neighbor” proposal — or in cases where EPA rejects one — the federal plan would take effect to protect downwind states.

The EPA didn’t immediately have a comment about the lawsuit when contacted by The Associated Press. The agency has said its plan will help states meet air quality standards and improve health in communities affected by smog.

Griffin said the EPA rejected Arkansas’ proposal based on the impact its emissions would have on the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston metropolitan areas, which Griffin said was a different standard than the state was originally told it would be held to.

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