West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said Friday he is pleased a court decision related to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Power Plan will delay any ruling on the initiative until the Trump Administration can review the plan.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered that any final decision regarding the case be held in abeyance for at least 60 days, while the court and the parties involved determine the next steps.
“Today’s decision by the court is a positive step toward protecting West Virginia coal miners and those who depend upon their success,” Morrisey said. “The court recognized the landscape has changed and that a decision on the merits is not appropriate at this time.”
Morrisey has led the charge against the proposed plan, which was pushed by the Obama Administration.
West Virginia and a coalition of states filed suit in 2015, arguing the Power Plan exceeded the EPA’s congressional authority and violates the U.S. Constitution by attempting to commandeer and coerce the states into carrying out federal energy policy.
That policy, Morrisey has said, includes even tougher environmental regulations that will further hurt the coal industry.
Morrisey said the EPA specifically overstepped its authority by transforming the nation’s energy industry, double regulating fossil-fired power plants and forcing states to fundamentally shift their energy portfolios away from coal-fired generation.
“It’s another good decision (by the courts),” he said. “It’s always positive when you are winning. If we are winning with our litigation it means West Virginia coal miners are winning.”
The suit filed in 2015 won a stay of the regulation from the U.S. Supreme Court in February 2016, followed by oral arguments in the appeals court in September 2016.
“It’s normal for the appeals court to take this long,” Morrisey said, adding that Trump signed an executive order in March to review the plan.
“The court agreed to give them time for that review,” he said. “The courts are going to give deference to the Executive Branch.”
Morrisey said he is pleased with the Trump Administration’s willingness to review the “devastating impact of the so-called Clean Power Plan.”
“We … further appreciate the court giving due time to hear the new administration’s take on this unlawful regulation. I’m proud to lead our broad, bipartisan coalition and look forward to taking part as the court considers its next step,” he added.
Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) also praised the ruling.
“After eight years of radical environmental policies from the White House, we now have a president focused on bringing coal jobs back,” he said. “The so-called Clean Power Plan is one of the Obama administration’s key anti-coal policies, and the court made the right decision in giving the administration more time to roll back this job-killing rule.”
Jenkins said if the rule were to go into effect, thousands of coal jobs would be lost and families and businesses would be facing double-digit increases in electricity costs.
“I will continue to support President Trump and his administration in stopping this rule – and Obama’s anti-coal legacy,” he said.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) also supported the court’s decision.
“I applaud the D.C. Court of Appeals for recognizing that these regulations are simply unlawful,” he said in a statement after the ruling. “This ruling against the Clean Power Plan is an important step to prevent further job losses, increases in consumers’ utility rates, and more damage to our economy.”
Manchin said the ruling will allow legislators to work with the EPA on finding solutions to achieve a balance between the environment and the economy.
“We all want clean air and clean water,” he said. “That’s why I look forward to finding answers to our energy challenges that will create jobs, utilize all energy sources, and develop clean energy technology that we can develop right here in West Virginia.”
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