CHARLESTON – Two years ago, the outlook for West Virginia’s energy sector seemed grim.
We feared for the future of families whose living depends upon coal mining. We were concerned about our state’s economy and energy production.
We faced the possibility of another anti-coal president, this one with an environmental agenda even more radical than President Obama’s.
With our heads held high, we led our coalition of 29 states and state agencies in challenging the so-called Clean Power Plan at the Supreme Court and walked away with a historic, unprecedented victory — one that recognized the strength of our legal challenge to the Power Plan and stopped the Plan from going into effect while that challenge makes its way through the courts.
That day – Feb. 9, 2016 – changed everything.
The Supreme Court’s stay stopped the Power Plan in its tracks.
It turned the tide.
No longer were we victims of an overreaching agency. We were victors.
The stay built a bridge to a new presidency, one that respects the lawful separation of powers and the benefits of West Virginia coal.
As a result, West Virginia miners are going back to work and our state’s coal production has already increased.
Without our victory, carbon emission reductions would have forced states to shut down enough coal-based generation to power tens of millions of homes.
This unlawful move would have forced states to switch to more expensive and less reliable forms of energy and transformed the EPA into a central planning authority rather than an environmental regulatory agency.
The Supreme Court recognized the strength of our arguments and the Power Plan’s obvious flaws. That combination spelled victory and spared West Virginia from the Power Plan’s devastating impact, ensuring that such a radical regulation never took hold.
It bought enough time for President Trump’s executive order requiring the EPA to review, and eventually eliminate, the Power Plan and other unlawful regulations, including the agriculture-stifling Waters of the United States rule.
The undoing of each of these regulations represents a hard-fought legal victory in which our office dove into the trenches, formed broad coalitions and never lost hope of getting to where we are today.
Most of these regulations are on hold and all of them are awaiting review or termination, but have no fear. We will stay vigilant and laser-focused on ensuring these overreaching rules never again see the light of day.
The EPA recognized our determination and leadership by choosing Charleston as the location for the first of several public hearings regarding the Power Plan’s repeal.
With a new president in office and a new administrator leading what was an agency run amok, I am now confident these unlawful rules and regulations will at last be dismantled.
There is no doubt in my mind that we are better off today than we were two years ago.
The victories we have won, our continued fighting spirit and new leadership will continue to pave the way to a brighter future for West Virginia.
Morrisey is Attorney General of West Virginia.