LITTLE ROCK — Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt visited Arkansas on Thursday as part of a cross-country “state action tour.”


Pruitt, a former Oklahoma attorney general, took part in a breakfast roundtable hosted by The Poultry Federation and met at the state Capitol with Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and members of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, according to Pruitt’s office.


Pruitt also announced that the EPA has approved Arkansas’ list of water quality standards, which identifies the state’s impaired waters. A total of 335 bodies of water in the state are now considered to meet Arkansas’ water quality standards, and 76 waters that were considered impaired in 2008 are no longer classified as such.


The list “recognizes water quality improvements made under Governor Hutchinson’s leadership,” Pruitt said in a statement.


Hutchinson said in a statement, “Arkansas has taken great strides to protect and to enhance our natural environment, and this decision underscores that effort. I also appreciate Administrator Pruitt for listening to the states about how regulations affect our citizens. The clear and efficient regulations from EPA under his leadership — as well as the agency’s focus on a more balanced partnership with the states — is good news for Arkansans.”


Rutledge issued a statement praising Pruitt for announcing last month that the EPA would move to rescind its “waters of the United States” rule, which was issued during former President Barack Obama’s term and sought to clarify which waters are under the agency’s jurisdiction. Rutledge joined a lawsuit challenging the rule, which she called federal overreach.


“Administrator Pruitt’s decision last month to completely re-evaluate the WOTUS rule, minimizing the regulatory burden on countless landowners, demonstrates his commitment to building stronger relationships with state partners. Preserving and protecting our clean air and clean water through a cooperative, lawful and thoughtful process based on science and data is a priority for Arkansas,” Rutledge said Thursday.


Glen Hooks, director of the Arkansas chapter of the Sierra Club, issued a statement criticizing Pruitt for promoting “the Trump administration’s anti-environmental agenda, including rollbacks to the federal Clean Water Act.”


“Since assuming office back in February, Administrator Pruitt has proposed rolling back dozens of existing environmental protections — recklessly creating new threats to the health and quality of life of Arkansas families,” Hooks said.


Pruitt was a controversial pick by Trump to head the EPA. He sued that agency numerous times while serving as Oklahoma attorney general, and he has said he rejects the scientific consensus that human activity is a primary contributor to climate change.


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Contact John Lyon at jlyon@arkansasnews.com and follow him on Twitter at @johnlyon09.