Pruitt slams federal EPA, files lawsuit

 Attorney General Scott Pruitt today (Tuesday, May 31) filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, challenging the agency’s denial of Oklahoma’s proposed implementation of a plan to reduce regional haze in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.

“According to The Clean Air Act, it is the responsibility of the state to create a plan to improve visibility and reduce regional haze in wildlife areas, and we are intent on preserving that right,” Pruitt said. “By ignoring Oklahoma’s plan, the EPA not only usurped the right of Oklahoma to set its own energy policy, but violated the process required by the Regional Haze Rule.”

The Regional Haze Rule requires agencies to work together to improve visibility at national parks and wilderness areas by 2064. Oklahoma’s industry leaders, elected officials, utility companies, consumer protection advocates and energy producers spent months creating a State Implementation Plan to address the requirements of the rule in multiple parts of the state, submitting it to the EPA more than a year ago. The plan accomplished the regional haze requirements by 2026.

In March, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson informed the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality that the federal government planned to implement their own regional haze plan. Based on the latest estimates, the federal plan may increase Oklahoma utility rates 13 percent to 20 percent over three years.

At the time of the March announcement, Pruitt immediately decried the federal agency’s plans. Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman and U.S. Rep. James Lankford also slammed the EPA actions.

Today, Governor Mary Fallin commented, “The EPA’s decision to disregard Oklahoma’s regional haze plan and implement their own is just the latest example of federal overreach. The Obama Administration has exhibited a pattern of support for policies that will hurt our families and businesses, destroy jobs and hamstring our state as it tries to emerge from the recession. I applaud Attorney General Pruitt for drawing this line in the sand and telling Washington that ‘enough is enough.’”

The complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, outlines claims that the EPA did not meet the deadline to file a Federal Implementation Plan, nor follow the required approval process.

“I fully support the lawsuit filed today by Attorney General Pruitt, which seeks to stop the EPA from rejecting Oklahoma’s affordable state implementation plan to reduce regional haze and improve visibility in national parks in favor of a much more expensive federal plan,” U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe said.

“The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality did the right thing: State officials worked with state utilities to construct a plan for regional haze that allows for fuel flexibility and balances environmental protection with the need for affordable energy.  EPA’s decision, on the other hand, could cost state utilities $2 billion while providing less environmental benefits than the state plan — and Oklahoma families, farmers and manufacturers would undoubtedly foot the bill.”

Sen. Inhofe concluded, “I hope the outcome of the lawsuit will ensure that Oklahoma can provide affordable energy while continuing its progress on reducing emissions. We can certainly do it without the EPA.”