West Virginia officials are being told to devise a plan to slash carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants. A wiser use of their time and state resources would be to take the Environmental Protection Agency to court.
McCarthy on Monday signed off on a proposal to reduce U.S. carbon emissions by 30 percent. But as so often is the case with EPA rules, the agency wants states to implement the plan.
Targets for the states vary, with West Virginia on the list for a 23 percent cut in carbon emissions. That will hit our state particularly hard because about 95 percent of the electricity used here comes from coal-fired power plants.
This is just one more chapter in a long series of actions taken by President Barack Obama's administration, with the goal of shutting down coal-fired power plants. Previously, the White House unveiled a plan that would have the effect of banning new generating stations fueled by coal.
Now, the idea is to make use of existing coal-fired power plants prohibitively expensive.
States have been given until 2017 to give the EPA acceptable proposals to comply with the new campaign. No doubt both West Virginia officials and utility engineers already are considering their next move.
In concert with several other states, West Virginia already has taken action in court to block previous EPA initiatives. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin have worked together on that.
They should cooperate on court action against the Monday proposal, too. The sooner, the better.
If the Obama administration's war on coal and affordable electricity prices can be bogged down in court, it may be possible to end the assault altogether.
The number of members of Congress, both Democrat and Republican, who oppose the anti-coal campaign is increasing. Elections this fall could increase that number - perhaps to the tipping point of veto-proof legislation to rein in the EPA.
But unless a successful delaying action is waged in court, utilities will proceed with plans to shut down even more coal-fired power plants. Electric prices already are increasing because of EPA?action; this new proposal could send them through the roof.
State officials indeed may have to begin talking to engineers about the new initiative. But their first conversations should be with lawyers.