CHARLESTON – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is leading a bipartisan group of 12 states asking a Washington, D.C., court to declare illegal a settlement agreement in which EPA promised to issue its now-pending rule concerning existing coal-fired power plants.
Entered into in 2011, the settlement agreement committed EPA to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. The lawsuit contends that the agreement is illegal because coal-fired power plants already are regulated under a separate section of the Clean Air Act and the law expressly prohibits the double regulation of such plants.
The group of states are challenging the settlement agreement now that EPA has chosen to follow through with its illegal promise. A ruling that EPA made an unlawful commitment could force EPA to abandon its currently pending rule.
"This lawsuit represents another effort by our office to invalidate the EPA's proposed rule that will have devastating effects on West Virginia's jobs and its economy," Morrisey said of the complaint filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. "Our office will use every legal tool available to protect coal miners and their families from the Obama Administration and its overreach.
"We can't afford to see more announcements like we saw with Alpha Natural Resources."
Last week, Alpha Natural Resources notified 1,100 employees of potential layoffs and reduced operations at 11 of its mines across the state.
West Virginia was joined in the lawsuit by a bipartisan group of states including Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt echoed Morrisey.
“Our system doesn’t allow federal agencies to ‘improve’ or ‘fix’ laws to advance an agenda," Pruitt said. "But that is what happened here: the EPA made a promise in 2011 to expand its authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. Fortunately, the law doesn’t allow the agency to do what it wants. This lawsuit is about holding the EPA accountable to following the environmental statutes as passed by Congress."
U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. case number 14-1146