CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is leading a coalition of 21 states opposing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed new rule on existing coal-, natural gas- and oil-fired power plants.
The proposal attempts to regulate those plants under the Clean Air Act by imposing more stringent emissions standards. It ignores last year’s rebuke from the U.S. Supreme Court in West Virginia v. EPA, which warned that EPA should not use a narrow regulatory provision to force coal-fired power plants into retirement en masse.
“This proposal also strips states of important discretion while using technologies that don’t work in the real world—so it sets up the plants for failing to meet the standards dictated in the rule, leaving the plants with no other option but to cease operations,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “This is designed to scare more coal-fired power plants into retirement—the goal of the Biden administration’s so-called green new deal.”
“That tactic is unacceptable, and this rule appears to utterly fly in the face of the rule of law. The U.S. Supreme Court has placed significant limits on what the EPA can do—we plan on ensuring that those limits are upheld, and we expect that we would once again prevail in court against this out-of-control agency.”
The letter explains how the proposal violates the Supreme Court’s decision on West Virginia v. EPA because Congress (still) hasn’t given EPA clear statutory authorization to remake the electricity grids. That means the agency cannot sidestep Congress to exercise broad regulatory power that would radically transform the nation’s energy grids—and force states to fundamentally shift their energy portfolios away from fossil fuel-fired generation.
The West Virginia v. EPA ruling in 2022 marked the most consequential development in environmental law since Attorney General Morrisey won a historic and unprecedented stay of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan at the Supreme Court in February 2016. West Virginia v. EPA has already become one of the central cases in administrative law.
Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Virginia joined Attorney General Morrisey in the letter.