- Arkansas joins the list of states who are halting work on the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan compliance strategies, following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last month to stay the rule.
- In a joint letter from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and Arkansas Public Service Commission, regulators canceled a planning meeting scheduled for stakeholders this month.
- "The state will not implement a state plan to comply with the CPP during the stay," the letter said, though Arkansas will continue to evaluate the impacts of environmental policies on its own schedule.
- In February, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to stay the implementation of the Clean Power Plan, a move which halted some states' planning while others have continued on.
Arkansas has opted to halt CPP compliance planning during the Supreme Court's stay, a move which mirrors its involvement in a multi-state lawsuit aimed at overturning the law.
DEQ Director Becky Keogh and PSC Chairman Ted Thomas said Arkansas will "continue to evaluate the impacts of potential environmental and energy policies in the state," but added that "this evaluation will occur on a timeline and in a context that makes sense for Arkansas. The State will not implement a state plan to comply with the CPP during the stay."
Both agencies say they intend to continue following modeling efforts by the private sector of "potential future energy and environmental policy scenarios." And, they say a are planning a technical session on energy sector modeling later this year.
"Continued assessment and optimization of energy sector modeling is appropriate so that the energy sector will be prepared for all possible outcomes," they said. But work on the Clean Power Plan has been halted.
Arkansas joins Montana, which had some of the steepest carbon reduction goals, and Oklahoma, a staunch opponent of the CPP, in halting work.
"I have been clear that I think these rules were unfair," Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) said in a statement. "I am putting the work of the Clean Power Plan Council on hold."
"Since the Supreme Court has stayed implementation, Oklahoma no longer faces a September compliance date and can focus on assisting the attorney general on overturning this rule," Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment Michael Teague said.
The Clean Power Plan strives for a 32% reduction in carbon emissions from the power sector nationwide by 2030, but will be put on hold until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reviews the plan and any subsequent Supreme Court appeals are over.
The plan, which was first proposed in 2014, was finalized in summer 2015. Efforts to block the regulatory package from taking effect have been in motion since then. Under the plan, states were supposed to submit their implementation plans by September 2016, with compliance slated to begin in 2022.
Even if the rule is ultimately upheld, the Supreme Court's stay on implementation of the rule could significantly impact compliance timelines for states and utilities. As of right now, the EPA will be unable to enforce its September deadline for states to submit compliance plans or request an extension. The EPA will continue to work with states on compliance plans while litigation goes forward, according to the White House.
A hearing at the D.C. Circuit is set for June 2, 2016.