Legislative Pulse: Arkansas

Published March 5, 2015

[Editor’s Note: Arkansas State Rep. Nate Bell (R-District 2) is in his third term in the Arkansas House of Representatives, serving the citizens of Polk County and part of Montgomery County. Bell serves on the committee for Education and the State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee.]

Burnett: At a recent American Legislative Exchange Council meeting, you sponsored a model resolution based on Heartland Institute Science Director Jay Lehr’s plan to replace the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with an organization made up of representatives of the 50 state environmental agencies. [The Heartland Institute publishes Environment & Climate News.—ed.] Why do you think replacing the EPA would be a good idea?

Bell: It has become clear the EPA’s size and reach has grown well beyond its originally intended mission. Shifting regulatory responsibility to state environmental agencies will result in a regulatory agency that is more responsive to state concerns and is better able to protect the environment.

America needs strong environmental protections that are delivered efficiently and effectively. A state-led agency located in the heartland will be more capable of reaching those goals.

Burnett: What federal environmental or energy proposals and regulations are you watching, and why?

Bell: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed clean power plant rule for existing power plants, and its proposal to manage all waters of the United States, not just navigable water ways, will have big effects on Arkansas energy prices and Arkansas agriculture. I’m watching both of them closely.

Burnett: What state environmental and energy laws are you currently working on or taking a close look at?

Bell: A controversial Clean Line project [a proposal to construct a $2 billion, 700-mile long transmission line carrying electricicty from wind turbines in Oklahoma through Arkansas to Tennessee – ed] continues to be a subject of heated discussion in Arkansas.

I am working on an alternative energy proposal that will allow small- to medium-sized solar installations to sell power at a rate that truly reflects avoided costs, cost of infrastructure, etc. It’s been a multiyear project, and I hope to move it closer to reality.

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is a research fellow with The Heartland Institute.