Okla. AG now seeking U.S. SC review of regional haze lawsuit

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Nov 14, 2013

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said Thursday he intends to seek U.S. Supreme Court review of the state's regional haze lawsuit against the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Thursday morning, Pruitt testified before a U.S. House subcommittee on energy and power about the importance of Oklahoma's regional haze challenge.

"At stake is the ability of Oklahoma and other states to develop and implement state-based solutions. The EPA exceeded its authority when it denied the state's plan to address regional haze," the attorney general said.

"Oklahomans need to understand the regional haze rule is not about health, it is about visibility in a state wildlife area that Oklahoma leaders want to protect."

He continued, "We developed a commonsense plan to address regional haze, but as part of its anti-fossil fuel agenda, the EPA rejected the state's plan in favor of a federal plan that will significantly raise utility rates for Oklahomans."

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 U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit stayed implementation of the federal plan last June.

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

Pruitt filed a request for a rehearing before the full court in September.

The Tenth Circuit recently denied the en banc request.

Pruitt's petition for certiorari at the Supreme Court is due in January.

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

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