Morrisey preps Clean Power Plan arguments for U.S. Supreme Court fight
CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said Tuesday his office is fully prepared to give a robust argument before the U.S. Supreme Court on why it should limit federal regulation of carbon dioxide emissions.
Morrisey held a briefing with reporters Tuesday to review several actions the Attorney General’s Office is involved with challenging what he calls federal overreach.
The U.S. Supreme Court announced Friday it would hear a challenge by West Virginia and 19 other states against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“The biggest case before the U.S. Supreme court now in 2022 is going to be West Virginia v. EPA,” Morrisey said.
The states are challenging a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that blocked the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, a Trump-era rule that replaced the Clean Power Plan with less stringent regulations on coal-fired power plant emissions.
“The D.C. Circuit’s decision is both legally wrong, but it’s also dangerous, which is why we are so grateful that the Supreme Court has agreed to take up the case,” Morrisey said. “We are now beginning our work in earnest.”
The Supreme Court previously blocked the Clean Power Plan rule in 2016, first proposed under former president Barack Obama, preventing the rule from taking effect. The rule would have given expansive powers to the EPA to regulate the carbon dioxide emissions of coal-fired power plants. Morrisey led a 27-state coalition to secure the 2016 stay of the Clean Power Plan.
“If some of these issues are familiar to you, that’s not surprising because my office has been working on them since 2013 and 2014 going back to President Obama’s second term in office,” Morrisey said. “At the time, we said this proposal was unlawful and we fought back, going all the way up to the U.S. Supreme court and obtaining a historic stay of the Obama Clean Power Plan. And this was at a time in 2016 when everyone thought that we had no chance of prevailing.”
Former president Donald Trump scrapped the Clean Power Plan and replaced it with the ACE rule. The D.C. Circuit vacated the ACE rule in January, requiring the EPA to start over from scratch on a new rule. President Joe Biden announced a goal in April of cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by between 50 percent and 52 percent of 2005 levels by 2030. Biden is at the United Nations Climate Change Conference this week in Scotland.
“This case is more important than ever across America, because President Biden has announced his climate change policy,” Morrisey said. “President Biden is aiming to cut carbon emissions in half. Unfortunately, President Biden is also making promises to the international community that he just can’t keep. They lack the power to do what he says he wants to accomplish.”
Morrisey’s coalition filed suit in April to get the Supreme Court to hear the case. The case could be taken up as soon as February with a decision possible by the summer.
U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., praised the Supreme Court for agreeing to hear the case. The ranking Republican member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Capito said EPA Administrator Michael Regan confirmed during a committee meeting last week that the EPA would continue to move forward with carbon emissions regulations.
“… Regan told the press that he intended to ‘push the envelope’ of his agency’s statutory authority when it comes to issuing regulations that destroy West Virginia jobs and raise energy prices,” Capito said in a statement last week. “That is why it is so important that courts apply our laws fairly and prevent agencies from exceeding the power given to them by Congress. This is an important case to demonstrate that elected representatives, not administrative agencies, are responsible for making our nation’s laws.”