CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton are spearheading a 24-state coalition urging President-elect Donald Trump and congressional leaders to withdraw President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
The bipartisan letter – addressed Dec. 14 to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, Senate President Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan – suggests a four-point strategy that begins with Trump signing an executive order the day he takes office. It says the order is necessary to show states and regulated entities that the Trump administration and the Environmental Protection Agency will not enforce the rule.
“An executive order on day one is critical,” Morrisey wrote in the letter. “The order should explain that it is the administration’s view that the (Clean Power Plan) is unlawful and that EPA lacks authority to enforce it.”
The coalition also wants Trump to follow that with formal administrative action to withdraw the Clean Power Plan and related matters in court. The AGs say such action will properly effectuate the rule’s withdrawal, while negotiating an end to pending litigation.
Finally, the coalition wants Congress take longer-term legislative action. The proposed legislative fix aims to prevent the EPA from drafting similarly unlawful and/or more extreme rules in the future. The coalition suggests the Trump administration work with Congress to adopt such legislation.
West Virginia and Texas led a 27-state coalition challenging the EPA’s Power Plan on Oct. 23, 2015, the day it was published. That coalition then halted the rule’s enforcement by winning a stay of the regulation Feb. 9, 2016, before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The legal challenge argues the Clean Power Plan exceeded EPA’s congressional authority by transforming the nation’s energy industry, double regulating coal-fired power plants and forcing states to fundamentally shift their energy portfolios away from coal-fired generation. It also argues the plan violates the U.S. Constitution by attempting to commandeer and coerce the states into carrying out federal energy policy.
Those challenging the regulation in West Virginia v. EPA await a final ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The court heard oral arguments Sept. 27, 2016.
West Virginia and Texas signed this week’s letter with Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming, along with the Mississippi and North Carolina Departments of Environmental Quality.