There is a battle going on in our nation right now over the future of energy, and West Virginia is at the center of this debate. We are the nation's third largest energy producer and second largest producer of coal. Yet, there is an effort by some to not only limit how we use and burn coal for energy, but also how we extract it.
In 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency retroactively vetoed a mining permit issued to a Southern West Virginia mine four years earlier. The company, Mingo Logan Coal Co., a subsidiary of Arch Coal, sued the EPA over the veto, and the legal battle has been going on ever since, with Mingo Logan, as well as many other parties, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the matter. On March 24, the Court decided to not hear the case, and remanded it to the district court.
The West Virginia Attorney General's Office has been and will continue to be intimately involved in Mingo Logan Coal Co. v. Environmental Protection Agency. We will do everything in our power to fight for West Virginia jobs and the rule of law.
When I ran for office in 2012, I pledged to fight federal overreach, especially when that overreach would be detrimental to the Mountain State. Since then, our Office has not wavered in our dedication to put West Virginia first. We work tirelessly to protect coal miners who labor every day to power our nation and our state.
President Obama has said that America will have to make "tough choices" regarding our nation's energy portfolio. But the President's shift in energy focus has real-world consequences on the hard working people of our state, be they in Marshall, Boone, Logan, or Marion counties, or living somewhere else in West Virginia. The President and the EPA must know that West Virginia and other coal-producing states cannot be written off as a "tough choice" or as necessary collateral damage on the way to some unknown future without coal.
We use every tool at our disposal to ensure West Virginia's interests are protected. Our Office reviews every word of every sentence of every regulation coming out of the EPA and Washington, D.C., to ensure it adheres to the rule of law. If it does not, we will challenge it.
Unfortunately there has been no shortage of issues in which our office is involved in when it comes to the EPA. In addition to the Mingo Logan Coal case, we have been involved in several cases challenging EPA regulations regarding air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions standards, offered comments on proposed EPA regulations, and written letters to President Obama and the EPA voicing our concern in a number of different energy-related matters.
I am sure the Attorney General's Office will be involved in more cases and issues as long as coal jobs remain threatened. This is our calling. The Office's end goal is to stop the EPA from hurting our state, and if we can't do that, we plan to at least gum up the works enough so that it limits the damage that the Obama administration can inflict on our citizens.
Coal has always been a part of West Virginia, and as Attorney General, I will work to ensure that it also is part of West Virginia's - and America's - future.
Patrick Morrisey is the Attorney General of West Virginia.