LITTLE ROCK — A federal appeals court Tuesday rejected a challenge by Arkansas and other states to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

LITTLE ROCK — A federal appeals court Tuesday rejected a challenge by Arkansas and other states to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.


The EPA proposed the Clean Power Plan, which is aimed at reducing emissions that contribute to climate change, in June. The proposal seeks to reduce CO2 emissions nationwide by 30 percent by 2030, but Arkansas — a coal power-heavy-state — would be required to reduce its emissions by 45 percent.


A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said in an opinion Tuesday it is too soon for a legal challenge.


"EPA has not yet issued a final rule. It has issued only a proposed rule," Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote in the opinion. "Petitioners nonetheless ask the court to jump into the fray now. They want us to do something that they candidly acknowledge we have never done before: review the legality of a proposed rule."


Arkansas is one of 14 states that joined in the lawsuit, along with the nation’s largest coal companies. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said Tuesday in a statement issued by her office:


"While I am disappointed with the court’s ruling today, it does not change that the rule is an egregious overstep that will cost Arkansas jobs and the potential for economic growth. As attorney general, I am committed to taking all available action to stop an overreaching EPA.


"Procedural hurdles like this instance will occur, but it should be noted that today’s ruling from the court says nothing about the legality of the EPA’s rule. The court indicates that the final rule is now imminent, and I stand ready to join attorneys general from across the country to protect our states."


Glen Hooks, director of the Arkansas chapter of the Sierra Club, applauded the ruling.


"Today’s federal court ruling could have been predicted by a first-semester law school student," he said in a statement. "Attorney General Leslie Rutledge chose to challenge a draft form of the Clean Power Plan, choosing for her own political reasons to not even wait until the plan was final before suing. Challenging a rule that is not even past the draft stage is frivolous and an utter waste of Arkansas taxpayer resources. The court was exactly right in dismissing the challenge as premature."


Hooks said the plan, when finalized, will benefit Arkansas’s economy, environment and health.


"Attorney General Rutledge has chosen to challenge several key clean air and clean water protections during her first few months in office. The Arkansas Sierra Club urges Rutledge to instead stand up for Arkansans. Industry and polluters have their own attorneys — Arkansas needs our attorney general to work for the people, not the corporations," he said.