Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 17, 2013

High court filing: Morrisey’s EPA challenge welcomed

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — The decision by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey to join eight other states in filing a significant brief in the U.S. Supreme Court against the federal Environmental Protection Agency is a welcomed and long overdue move for the Mountain State.

In fact, this is the first time in nearly two decades that an attorney general from West Virginia has led  in the authoring of a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court involving the EPA. It’s an important move, and another step by Morrisey in keeping his campaign promises when it comes to fighting the over-reach of the EPA.

“Coal and natural gas are a critical component of our nation’s electrical grid and our state’s economy. West Virginia is the second largest producer of coal, and our natural gas industry is booming. This move by the EPA is just one more effort to slam the door on energy-producing states,” Morrisey said in announcing the Supreme Court brief last week. “It is a blatant attempt to promote a reckless agenda that picks winners and losers and puts our nation’s goal for energy independence in a tenuous position.”

West Virginia’s amicus, or friend of the court brief, correctly argues that the EPA exceeded its authority under the federal Clean Air Act when the agency promulgated a rule in 2011 announcing new air pollution cuts and imposing federal implementation plans on states. The brief argues the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to give states an opportunity to decide how to meet new air pollution standards. 

West Virginia was joined on the brief by a bipartisan group of attorney generals representing the states of Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. The brief supports 15 other states, as well as industry groups and labor organizations, who sued the EPA on the same issue in 2011.

In August 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down the regulation, saying that it “exceeds the agency’s statutory authority.”  Morrisey said the high court agreed to review the rule earlier this year.

 “Our office is very concerned about the Environmental Protection Agency’s cross-state air pollution rule targeting coal- and natural gas-fired power plants,” Morrisey said. “The agency’s rule imposes one-size-fits-all federal plans on power plants and utilities, costing them $2.4 billion per year to comply. This issue is something that I thought our office should have been involved in fighting aggressively when the regulations were announced, and I believe this step will help protect West Virginia’s interests.”

The parties to the case will present oral arguments before the Supreme Court in December. A decision is expected by next June. 

We applaud Morrisey for standing up for the state’s coal industry, and those coal miners and their families who will be adversely impacted by Washington’s overreach. The ongoing efforts by the Obama administration and the EPA to control emissions from power plants is having real-life consequences on families in both West Virginia and Virginia. In fact, one needs to look no further than neighboring Giles County, Va., for evidence of the harm of these new rules. Appalachian Power’s coal-powered plant — a long-time regional employer — is now scheduled to be shuttered. Dozens of good paying jobs are being lost thanks to these crippling new EPA rules.

Morrisey says West Virginia officials cannot idly sit by and allow politicians and bureaucrats in Washington to kill good-paying jobs and cripple the state’s economy. We agree. Taking this argument to the high court is a correct step.