West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey took another stand against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan on May 5, testifying before a U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C.
Morrisey, who has taken repeated actions to fight against the legality of the proposed Clean Power Plan, presented his testimony in the Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee on the “Legal Implications of the Clean Power Plan.”
The Clean Power Plan, proposed in June 2014, aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants. The rule is expected to be finalized by mid-summer.
The testimony comes shortly after Morrisey, among others, presented oral arguments for two lawsuits filed against the proposed rule to a three-member panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on April 16.
The state’s lawsuit claims the proposed regulations are illegal because they seek to require states to regulate coal-fired power plants under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, even though the EPA already regulates those same plants under the hazardous air pollutant program under CAA section 112. According to Morrisey, 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act expressly prohibited such double regulation.
“An agency should not be permitted to threaten to impose a rule that it knows will never survive judicial review, in order to scare utilities, power plants, and coal mines into closing their doors in anticipation of the rule being finalized,” Morrisey said in a news release. “It is an abuse of power that directly harms West Virginia and other coal-producing and coal-burning states.”
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., however, said the legal arguments are unfounded, as the Supreme Court has previously ruled that EPA does have such authority under the Clean Air Act.
Carper went on to say the country needs to address climate change now to minimize damage from rising sea levels.
“I want to make sure we treat West Virginia fairly. I (also) want to make sure we treat Delaware fairly,” he said, addressing the potential impact rising sea levels could have on Delaware, which has a mean elevation of 60 feet above sea level. “The highest point in Delaware is a bridge, it’s not a mountain.”
But Morrisey told May 5 hearing attendees that impacts from the proposal, including high electricity prices, lost jobs, and potential grid reliability problems, would cause “greater economic dislocation” in the already-impoverished State of West Virginia.
“Finalizing this proposal would have a devastating impact on my state and other coal states,” Morrisey said.
Morrisey also said the State of West Virginia intends to challenge the rule in court if it is finalized by the administration.
“With the economy still far from recovered … the last thing our citizens need is to see their rates go up,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., who serves as chairwoman of the subcommittee.
Some West Virginia residents and lawmakers, she added, have been disappointed by a perceived lack of interest from the EPA.
“We don’t feel the calculation of the economic impact in our communities has been fully explored or even taken into consideration,” Capito said.
Other hearing witnesses included Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt; Roger Martella, a partner at Sidley Austin LLP; Kelly Speakes-Backman, the commissioner of the Maryland Public Service Commission and chairwoman of the board of directors for Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Inc., and Lisa Heinzerling, the Justice William J. Brennan Jr. Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center.
Read the article here.
- On May 5, 2015