Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt filed a motion Wednesday to intervene in a possible settlement between an environmental group and the Environmental Protection Agency over nitrogen dioxide emissions in Oklahoma.
Pruitt said he filed the “friendly lawsuit” to protect the state’s interests in a settlement. In October, environmental group WildEarth Guardians sued the EPA in federal district court in Denver after the agency missed implementation deadlines for new rules on nitrogen dioxide emissions in Oklahoma and 10 other states.
Pruitt said he was concerned an out-of-state environmental group was using the courts to force the EPA to reject a state implementation plan for the new standards.
“Such ‘regulation through litigation’ undermines the rule of law by subverting due process for states and others affected by these settlement agreements,” Pruitt said in a news release.
The EPA issued new rules on nitrogen dioxide emissions in 2010 and gave states three years to develop implementation plans. In January 2011, former Gov. Brad Henry sent a letter to the EPA saying monitoring data showed Oklahoma was in compliance. A year later, EPA said all states either met the standards or were expected to meet the standards, despite a lack of monitoring data.
In an affidavit filed with Pruitt’s motion, the air quality division director at the state Department of Environmental Quality said the state was waiting for the EPA to issue guidance before coming up with a state implementation plan. The EPA guidance was delayed until September. DEQ issued a proposal in January and is gathering public comments.
Nitrogen dioxide can form ground-level ozone and soot, which can be harmful to health.