West Virginia's comeback begins now

By Patrick Morrisey | Mar 7, 2016

CHARLESTON – Historic and unprecedented.

Those words illustrate West Virginia’s seismic victory recently at the U.S. Supreme Court – a victory that reverberated across the nation instilling hope in the state’s coal industry and forcing bureaucrats to think twice before using executive regulation to bring about radical change.

The ruling, issued Feb. 9, immediately stopped President Obama from implementing the centerpiece of his coal-killing agenda. It limits further economic damage by freezing the Environmental Protection Agency’s progress while our legal challenge proceeds.

This victory does not represent the end our fight, but a crucial time-out. It saves taxpayer dollars and may limit some additional layoffs as state governments and job creators feel more emboldened to delay any effort at complying with a rule that we believe will be struck down as illegal.

This represents an enormous triumph for West Virginia. It resets the narrative, stops some of the bleeding and announces to the world that coal still does have a future.

West Virginia’s comeback starts now. I stand committed to seeing it endure.

The revitalization begins at the D.C. Circuit Court, where my office and its bipartisan coalition of 29 states and state agencies will demonstrate the far reaching impact of the EPA’s Power Plan.

Let’s be clear, the Power Plan represents a radical transformation of the nation’s energy policy and will have a sweeping impact on the American way of life. It will decimate West Virginia’s coal industry, lead to skyrocketing electric bills and jeopardize the reliability of the nation’s energy grid.

For now, the Power Plan seeks to double regulate coal-fired power plants and force states to shift their energy portfolios away from coal-fired generation. But no energy source is safe.

President Obama ultimately seeks to transform the EPA from serving as an environmental regulator into a central energy planning authority. That would enable EPA to pick winners and losers, eventually moving its line of attack from coal to natural gas or other fuels in favor of wind and solar.

Fortunately, that is not legal under the Clean Air Act, the Constitution and prior case law. Such transformation only can be approved by Congress..

The Supreme Court’s stay sends a strong signal that serious doubts exist about the Power Plan’s legality. In delaying its implementation, the Supreme Court had to conclude our coalition will likely succeed.

Don’t let the White House, EPA or anyone spin you on that point.

Even the EPA acknowledged such a decision “would be extraordinary and unprecedented.” Never before, to our knowledge, has the Supreme Court delayed a rule’s implementation before a lower court decided its legality.

Every state, coal operator, electricity producer and regulating body should realize the gravity of the Supreme Court’s decision. Aside from any glimpse into the future, the ruling strips EPA of its authority to enforce the Power Plan and eliminates the requirement for anyone to develop compliance strategies.

Simply put, everyone impacted by the Power Plan should put their pencils down.

Such a tremendous victory doesn’t come without an equally tremendous team. Our broad, bipartisan coalition is comprised of 29 states and state agencies, labor unions, coal miners, boilermakers, coal operators, utilities, chambers of commerce, consumer groups and concerned citizens.

My staff attorneys also did a tremendous job – when I took office I sought to recruit the best and brightest attorneys in America to work in our office. Through this victory, you are seeing the high quality of our attorneys’ work product.

Now that we have achieved this significant legal victory, we must push as hard as possible to get as many people back to work as possible. Real people are hurting in part due to this Administration’s illegal policies and that has to change.

Morrisey, a Republican, is West Virginia's attorney general.

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State of West Virginia U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Virginia Attorney General's Office White House

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