WHEELING - West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said the state will "seek to form a collective voice" and join other states in federal lawsuits to fight regulations proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Morrisey hosted a town hall meeting focused on job creation at West Virginia Northern Community College in Wheeling Wednesday. He told attendees new regulations "are being issued on a daily basis" by the EPA.
President Barack Obama last month announced his plan to work toward elimination of carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Photo by Joselyn King
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, left, discusses health care reimbursement law with Geneva Barrax of Wheeling on Wednesday.
"Yes, West Virginia is going to be engaged in litigation against the EPA," Morrisey said. "In the past, the governor had to really push and have the attorney general's office kicking and screaming to file suits against the EPA. That's not the case anymore. We now are working collaboratively with the governor and the (state Department of Environmental Protection) to speak with one voice."
Such cooperation allows West Virginia to get involved with the process earlier and enter the state's official comments into federal records, making it harder for the EPA to implement its rules, Morrisey said. He noted West Virginia also is building relationships with attorneys general in other states that have positions similar to West Virginia's.
"We're now able to speak with more strength because we can now have six, 10, 15 or even 20 attorneys general join a brief and step forward so that West Virginia's voice is magnified," Morrisey said. "You didn't have that in the past."
West Virginia may become active this year with cases before the U.S. Supreme Court pertaining to greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution rules and interpretations of the Clean Water Act, Morrisey continued.
"We just want to make sure the laws are adhered to, and the EPA doesn't have a very good record recently in adhering to the rule of law," he said.
While the West Virginia Attorney General's Office plans to work to abolish proposed environmental regulations the staff believes to be invalid, Morrisey acknowledged that might not be enough to save coal mining jobs.
"The countervailing force is the president is trying to bankrupt the coal industry, and that's a problem," he said. "What we try to do is gum up the works and make it as hard as possible for the administration to finalize invalid rules. Then we have to make sure we're doing that close enough to 2016, because we know this president is going to issue one illegal regulation after another."