Thursday, August 11, 2016

Attorney General Rutledge continues crusade against environmental protection

Posted By on Thu, Aug 11, 2016 at 5:01 PM

IDEOLOGICAL LEGAL WARRIOR: Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
  • IDEOLOGICAL LEGAL WARRIOR: Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge continues to expand her work in national legal arenas, particularly against efforts to protect the environment. She's more interested in protecting corporate interests.


* She joined like-minded state legal officers (Republicans) in complaining about EPA regulations to cut down haze. She is less concerned with haze than with the costs to utility companies to cut down the emissions that create the haze. The states should decide about sources of haze, she said.

“The EPA is proposing improper changes to the rules to wrest control from states like Arkansas that approach regional haze in a balanced way.” 

* She asked for a full 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals review (again along with other like-minded Republican legal officers) of a panel decision against Weyerhaeuser and in favor of the Fish and Wildlife Service declaration of some Weyerhaeuser land in Louisiana and Mississippi as potential habitat for an endangered species of frog. She said the decision imperils private property rights.  For a better explanation of this issue than you likely to read in a Rutledge news release, here's more on what's at issue on the dusky gopher frog.

At some time, it's worth deeper thought about the de facto anti-environment, pro-corporate-interest lobbying agency the Arkansas attorney general's office has become. It's carrying out a broad ideological agenda in courts and regulatory agencies across the country, a mission not contemplated for the office by the 1874 Constitution, I don't think. 

Back in May, Rutledge's office identified these 26 pending cases:

The State is an original plaintiff in the following cases:

West Virginia v. EPA(Clean Power Plan)
Arizona v. EPA (Ozone rule)
Florida v. EPA (Startup, Shutdown and Malfunction (SSM) SIP call)
North Dakota v. EPA(WOTUS)
Michigan v. EPA (MATS Rule)

The following is a list of amicus briefs the state has signed in 2016:

Labnet, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Labor (Rutledge is the lead)
Veasey v. Abbott
Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley
Murr v. Wisconsin
Associated Builders and Contractors of Arkansas v. U.S. Department of Labor (Rutledge is the lead)
American Humanist Association v. Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission
Trinity Industries, Inc. v. U.S. ex rel. Harman
Welch v. United States
Universal Health Services v. U.S. ex rel Escobar
Central United Ins Co. v. Burwell
Oklahoma v. FCC
Betterman v. Montana
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes
Whole Womens’ Health v. Cole
Ross v. Blake
United Student Aid Fund v. Bible
Stormans Inc. v. Wiesman
Baynes v. Cleland
Sheriff v. Gillie
New Jersey v. Maltese
Zubik v. Burwell
And to that add haze and dusky frogs.

I'm interested to see if the office's legal interests include the apparent re-emergence of payday lending in North Little Rock, with loans accompanied by "fees" that clearly amount to usurious interest under a long line of Arkansas court decisions. The attorney general has fought the payday lenders in recent years. So far, Rutledge has been silent on the point.

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