LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Wednesday joined with officials in 15 other states in asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for an immediate stay of its Clean Power Plan pending the outcome of a planned legal challenge to the rule.

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Wednesday joined with officials in 15 other states in asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for an immediate stay of its Clean Power Plan pending the outcome of a planned legal challenge to the rule.


"The EPA’s Clean Power Plan is the wrong direction," Rutledge said in a news release. "When it was announced earlier this week, I indicated that I was prepared to take any and all appropriate legal action to protect Arkansans from this unlawful plan, and that is exactly what I, and 15 other states, have done today. This stay is an important first step as legal action is planned."


The states contend that the EPA has exceeded its authority under the Clean Air Act and the U.S. Constitution.


The request states, "Absent an immediate stay, the Section 111(d) Rule will coerce the states to expend enormous public resources and to put aside sovereign priorities to prepare state plans of unprecedented scope and complexity. In addition, the states’ citizens will be forced to pay higher energy bills as power plants shut down.


"In the end, the courts are likely to conclude that the Section 111(d) Rule is unlawful. At the very minimum, the States and their citizens should not be forced to suffer these serious harms until the courts have had an opportunity to review the rule’s legality."


The states asked the EPA to take action on the request by Friday. Other states joining in the request are Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.


The Clean Power Plan is an EPA rule requiring states to prepare plans for meeting targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, which the EPA has never limited before. Arkansas will have to reduce CO2 emissions by 36.5 percent by 2030 under the rule.


Rutledge previously joined several other states in a lawsuit challenging a draft version of the rule, but a federal appeals court tossed the suit, saying it was premature because the rule had not been finalized. President Barack Obama unveiled the final version of the rule Monday.