PITTSBURGH — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey on Wednesday pledged to keep fighting for coal miners in West Virginia and elsewhere during the Rally to Support American Energy in Pittsburgh.
Morrisey joined West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and many others at the rally, which was attended by hundreds of West Virginians.
“I think it is critical that the states of West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania form a united front against the Environmental Protection Agency’s burdensome and illegal proposed regulation on existing power plants,” Morrisey said. “This shouldn’t be an issue of Democrat versus Republican; all three states are deeply dependent upon coal and the use of coal to power our economy, and not one of the states will emerge from these regulations unscathed.
"We must ensure that the EPA and the Obama administration know that we are watching them, and we will fight this illegal regulation in any way we can.”
Morrisey and the others joined coal, electric and energy workers and supporters at the rally, which was held at Highmark Stadium.
The purpose of the rally was to raise awareness about proposed changes to federal rules regarding pollution from coal-fired power plants. The EPA's proposed changes would cut carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2030.
The text of Morrisey's speech follows:Thank you for this opportunity to speak today. My name is Patrick Morrisey, and I am the Attorney General for the great state of West Virginia.I stand here together with you united in our outrage over the Obama Administration’s plans to use the Environmental Protection Agency to put you and our nation at risk. This plan, which seeks to cut emissions from existing power plants, could wreak havoc on our nation’s economy and be devastating for many of the people here today. Not only will energy jobs be put in jeopardy, but power plants may close or have to go through huge renovations in order to be compliant — if they even can become compliant.
This proposal will cause all of our electric bills to increase, taking even more of the limited money we have out of our wallets. But the EPA and President Obama don’t seem to care. Driven by their radical agenda, they will use any means necessary to achieve their goals, even if it means our workers have to take the brunt of this abuse.
But you matter. Your jobs matter. And the health, safety, and security of our nation and families matter. By a show of hands or a shout, how many of you work for a coal company, power company or business that supports those companies?
How many of you can’t afford to turn over more of your take home pay so this President can someday say he helped erase fossil fuels from our energy footprint? How many of you think that a nation without coal will provide enough energy on the coldest days of winter and hottest days of summer?
The EPA believes that our concerns are unfounded. Here’s what I say to that: Every single person who fears for his or her job because of this plan matters, and each of them deserve to be heard. The parent who worries about how he will buy food and clothes for his child matters. The job you work, whether underground, above ground, in an office, power plant, or out on the road matters.
I find it especially troublesome that the Obama Administration would dismiss our very real concerns when the policy at the plan’s core is blatantly illegal. And they know it.
But, as we all have seen from this Administration, laws don’t seem to matter. The EPA admits that the literal text of the Clean Air Act prohibits the rule, but they claim a one sentence clerical drafting error allows them to disregard our concerns. It’s a ridiculous argument.
That is why West Virginia and attorneys general from eight other states, including Ohio, filed a brief last month challenging this unlawful proposal. This rule must be struck down as soon as possible. We think it is unconscionable for the Obama Administration to illegally double regulate coal-fired power plants and play such a risky game when lives, jobs, and our economy are on the line.
Americans may be divided on how to address the issue of carbon emissions, but we should be united in our respect for the rule of law. It is wrong for the EPA to attempt to exploit an unintentional “drafting error” to double regulate power plants and impose one of the most burdensome regulations in our nation’s history. This is a debate best left to Congress.
The EPA should withdraw its proposed rule immediately, and if it doesn’t, it should know that state attorneys general will be there to fight back. We are the last line of defense against a federal government that seems to believe the rule of law does not apply to it.
Before he was elected in 2008, President Obama warned he would do this when he told the San Francisco Chronicle, “if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It's just that it will bankrupt them.”
Well, my fellow attorneys general and I have a response to that: “You can try to ignore the law, shut out Congress, violate the Constitution, and destroy the livelihoods of miners and thousands of families, but we will fight you with every fiber of our being.”
That is why yesterday, I filed a lawsuit to put additional limits on the President’s authority and ensure that the he respects the rule of law. Our fight will be long, and we may lose some battles. But ultimately, I believe we will prevail, and gum up the works until this President is out of office.
Finally, whether you are a coal miner from Boone County, West Virginia, a power plant worker from Jefferson County, Ohio, or a family in Pennsylvania who depends on a job that services the energy sector, you need to know that we will stand up for you. You have a voice, and we hear you. Let’s make sure the folks in Washington, D.C. hear you, too.