CHARLESTON – West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says the state will submit a plan in an effort to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, even as a multi-state lawsuit over the rule’s legality looms.
“As required by new legislation passed by the Legislature this year, the state Department of Environmental Protection has already initiated its feasibility study to determine what options may be available for West Virginia to meet these new standards,” Tomblin said Oct. 27 in a statement. “Ultimately, any plan submitted by West Virginia will require the approval of the Legislature before being submitted to the EPA.”
Tomblin’s announcement comes days after state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced he is leading a coalition of 23 other states in a lawsuit to strike down the federal agency’s new rule.
The attorney general said he believes the Clean Power Plan unlawfully expands the federal government’s regulatory power over electricity production and consumption in nearly every state.
“While I believe there are significant questions regarding the legality of the Clean Power Plan, these new rules have been put into place by the federal regulatory agency. Until a final legal decision has been made, we cannot afford to ignore them,” Tomblin said. “If we do not submit a plan, our state may be required to implement a plan designed by the EPA.
“If we can demonstrate that we put a lot of time and effort into developing a plan for West Virginia, we may have a better chance of lessening the harmful impacts these regulations could have on our miners, their families and communities.”
The final Clean Power Plan rule was published Oct. 23 in the Federal Register, starting a 90-day comment period for comments. The publication of the rule also gives states and energy companies the opportunity to file lawsuits to challenge the legality of the rule.
Still, Tomblin said he’d rather the state get to work on a plan now.
“By submitting this initial proposal, we’ll have two additional years and the flexibility we need to complete a final plan,” the governor said.
“If the EPA feels the state’s plan does not meet its standards, we have at least developed a starting point that gives us the opportunity to work toward a proposal that balances the environmental protection we all support with the economic growth and development we must maintain.”