Governor Vetoes EPA Bill Supported by Attorney General

Governor Mary Fallin on Friday vetoed a bill sent to her by the Oklahoma legislature and promoted by Attorney General Scott Pruitt, that would force the state to develop a State Implementation Plan or SIP to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan regarding carbon emissions. It came only a few days after she had issued an executive order prohibiting the state or its agencies from submitting such a SIP, as the Governor joined others in declaring the proposed rules “EPA overreach.”

The measure she voted, SB 676 would have expanded the attorney general’s input on the controversial carbon rules. It would have allowed the Department of Environmental Quality to develop the SIP in order to comply with EPA rules, then give the Attorney General Scott Pruitt an opportunity to reject the SIP if he found it to be unconstitutional.

“The development of such a state plan involves dozens of state and private entities and thousands of hours of study and negotiations,” said the governor in her veto message. “It is a massive undertaking and requires the commitment of untold amounts of financial and time resources. It is also an unnecessary one, given that the Legislature, Attorney General and I are in agreement that the state should, in fact, not implement a SIP.”

She contends the bill which has been described as an attempt to fight overbearing EPA regulations, inadvertently does the opposite and at great expense to the state.

“I stand with our Legislature and our attorney general in opposing the EPA’s unconstitutional and ill-conceived power grab,” said the Governor. “However, we do not need to spend a lot of time and money to develop a plan that we have no intention of implementing and every intention of rejecting, which is what this bill requires.”

She said her executive order offers the state “the clearest path to fighting these EPA carbon mandates.”

The Clean Air Plan, as pushed by the Obama administration and EPA administrator Gina McCarthy mandates a 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from power plants in every state and each state has been asked to develop a SIP for compliance.

But Oklahoma’s already sued the EPA and just last week, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard the challenge to the President’s use of the Clean Air Act, section 111-d to justify the EPA’s proposed mandates. Attorney General Pruitt already contends the action is unconstitutional and unlawful. He also argued it is part of the President’s war on coal and will result in higher electrical rates for consumers.

Senator Greg Treat (R-Oklahoma City) was the author of the measure and told The Oklahoman he was disappointed but not surprised.

“I suspect the executive order was nothing but a press release providing cover for a veto,” Treat told the newspaper’s Paul Monies. “The governor’s office has fought us at every turn after it hit the House. I think they’ve been rying to poison this bill the whole time.”

At last word, Sen. Treat was still deciding whether to attempt a veto override. Attorney General Pruitt was also disappointed and said so in a statement released by his office.

“Senate Bill 676 would not have been a great expense to the state,” said Pruitt. “Rather, it ensured Oklahoma would not be forced to submit a compliance plan to the EPA that violated state, or federal law.” He also vowed to continue challenging what he called the EPA’s “unlawful and overreaching Clean Power Plan.”