Late night action at the state Senate included ratification of the SWEPCO/Arkansas Electric Co-op takeover of the utility regulatory process. They already own the Public Service Commission. Now the courts have been told to go to hell in considering PSC rulings.
Though the legislation is, in theory, not retroactive, it will be presented to the Arkansas Supreme Court and federal courts as proof of official legislative satisfaction with the procedurally inadequate and environmentally dismissive rulings that cleared the way for a SWEPCO coal burner in Hempstead County. Air and water have few lobbyists in the legislature. They buy few drinks and steaks. They take few legislators to conferences and fun-time outings. They make few campaign contributions. The power companies have wallets that never run empty of ratepayer-provided cash. A shoutout to Republican Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson:
Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, R-Little Rock, warned the bill’s passage would mean less public notice of plant construction and fewer opportunities for people to voice opposition to power plants.
“I want the Turk plant to be built, but I don’t want to do anything with the people’s right to contest something,” Hutchinson said.