Okla. AG files appeal for rehearing on regional haze decision

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Sep 9, 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY (Legal Newsline) -- Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has filed a request for a rehearing before the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in its case against the Environmental Protection Agency's Regional Haze Rule.

In July, a three-judge panel voted 2-1 in favor of the federal agency.

"Our appeal for a rehearing before the full Tenth Circuit gives us an opportunity to continue the fight to preserve the state's ability to create an Oklahoma solution to address regional haze," Pruitt said in a statement last week. "Regional haze is about improving visibility, not about health. The Clean Air Act clearly gives states a primary role in implementing regulations to address regional haze.

"Oklahoma leaders crafted a commonsense plan to meet the goals of the Clean Air Act without imposing unnecessary rate hikes on Oklahomans. The EPA was wrong to ignore the Oklahoma plan and impose a federal plan."

The EPA's Regional Haze Rule requires agencies to work together to improve visibility at national parks and wilderness areas by 2064.

In March 2011, the EPA's then-Administrator Lisa Jackson informed the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality that the federal government planned to implement its own regional haze plan in the state's Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.

Pruitt, a Republican, argues the federal government's move goes against Oklahoma's right to implement a state plan that accomplishes the same haze requirements by 2026, but allows for a more gradual transition and spares state utility consumers substantial rate increases.

Utility officials also have estimated that the federal plan will increase utility rates for Oklahomans by 13 percent to 20 percent over three years.

The Tenth Circuit stayed implementation of the federal plan last June.

The three-judge panel issued its 51-page ruling July 19.

Pruitt filed the state's 17-page petition for panel or en banc hearing Tuesday.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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