A proposed environmental regulation would update Arkansas' rules to include state laws and federal regulations that go back as far as 1997

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A proposed environmental regulation would update Arkansas’ rules to include state laws and federal regulations that go back as far as 1997.

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality is publicly presenting a draft of the air regulation on Monday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported .

The proposed regulation would add language incorporating several state laws and federal regulations approved in the past 20 years but never mentioned in the state’s environmental regulations, including laws regarding specific toxic gas emissions and related public health. The proposal would also remove references to regulatory programs no longer in effect.

Most entities applying for air permits already have environmental experts who know the rules regardless of whether they’re specified in state regulations, said Stuart Spencer, the department’s associate director who oversees the office of air quality.

But Spencer said updating the regulations will provide clarity and consistency to anyone else who takes an interest in Arkansas’ air regulations.

“We’re essentially providing an easier road map for our citizens and for our regulated community,” he said.

One change to the department’s air regulations would be incorporating a 1999 law that created limits for how much an entity could be responsible for exposing workers and the public to hydrogen sulfide. The toxic gas can cause eye irritation, poor memory, balance problems and breathing difficulties.

The limits are 80 parts of hydrogen sulfide per billion parts of air in residential areas and 100 parts per billion in nonresidential areas, both over eight-hour averaging periods, according to the law, which excludes aspects of major industries from the standards like natural gas gathering and wastewater treatment facilities.

Spencer said the draft regulation doesn’t expand upon the law’s language.

Stakeholders have until Aug. 20 to provide feedback on the draft.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com