OKLAHOMA CITY (Legal Newsline) - Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said Wednesday he would appeal a decision by the federal Environmental Protection Agency to institute its own regional haze plan in the state's Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
The federal government's Regional Haze Rule requires agencies to work together to improve visibility at national parks and wilderness areas by 2064.
In March, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson informed the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality that the agency planned to implement its own regional haze plan in the state.
Pruitt, a Republican, argues that the agency'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 utility consumers substantial rate increases.
"As attorney general, it is my job to preserve Oklahoma's right to formulate a state plan that meets the standards of the Regional Haze Rule," he said in a statement.
"The Clean Air Act clearly recognizes that Oklahomans, and not federal bureaucrats, are best situated to determine energy and environmental policies. This action by the Obama administration once again ignores the state's ability to craft an Oklahoma solution."
Pruitt argues the federal plan, which could increase state utility rates by more than 13 percent, deals only with aesthetics and is not based on health.
Moreover, he says Oklahoma's industry leaders, elected officials, utility companies, consumer protection advocates and energy producers already spent months creating its State Implementation Plan to address the requirements of the federal rule in parts of the state.
"We will continue to fight this intrusion by appealing today's decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit," the attorney general said Wednesday.
Pruitt sued the EPA in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma in May.
The lawsuit, filed in response to the EPA's plan, claims the federal agency did not meet the deadline to file a Federal Implementation Plan and did not follow the required approval process.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at email@example.com.