LITTLE ROCK — A challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Federal Implementation Plan for regional haze in Arkansas has been challenged in federal court in a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, and constitutes an overreaching federal regulation with no basis in law or science, according to Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.


“Imposing a federal directive that goes far beyond what is required and ignores the interest of the state has become the norm, not the exception for the EPA,” said Rutledge in a press release, saying that the EPA ignored a plan written by Arkansas in favor of its own plan, which she said would negatively impact the state and cause utility rates to rise.


Glen Hooks, director of the Arkansas Sierra Club, said in a press release issued in response that the plan, intended to reduce pollution in the Upper Buffalo and Caney Creek areas, was implemented after the state submitted a plan after the deadline that was rejected for failure to meet Clean Air Act requirements. Hooks said the law required the EPA to then write a plan for the state.


“Given Attorney General Rutledge’s frequent knee-jerk attacks against clean air protections; today’s filing is not a surprise. It has become all too common for our state’s chief lawyer to use her office to battle common-sense protections that will improve our health, our environment and — in this case — air quality in our state’s parks,” said Hooks, in a press release from the Sierra Club.


The release said, because Arkansas failed to submit a plan in time that could meet the requirements, federal law requires the EPA to write and submit a plan in its place, and that claims the EPA is forcing its plan on the state are “ludicrous.”


Calling the EPA plan “a big win” for Arkansas, Hooks said, “It is important to emphasize that the same pollutants that impair visibility also harm public health”