ELKINS - As the state's chief legal officer, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey sees the economic climate in West Virginia as a top priority for his office.
"We have to create a more dynamic business climate in the state," Morrisey said. "We have to start rising in the economic rankings. We can't afford to be ranked 48, 49 or 50. I want the attorney general's office to do everything in its power to help West Virginia reach its economic potential."
As an example, he pointed to legal opinions that allow Lewis and Tyler counties to partner with private business to digitize the counties' property and mineral records.
"That can generate a lot of economic growth," Morrisey said. "If there is more economic activity because people can have better access to records and don't have to wait weeks or months, that's a great thing."
Morrisey said his office is determined to have a vigorous but fair enforcement regime.
"Businesses know they have to comply with the law," he said. "We just want them to know things are going to be handled in a professional, non-arbitrary manner."
The second priority for his office is "to fight these outrageous regulations that are coming out of the EPA," Morrisey said, adding he believed if regulations such as the carbon rule are allowed to stand, "they will have a devastating affect on the West Virginia economy."
As the state's chief legal officer, he said it was his job to challenge federal regulations when they violate the rule of law.
"We think there is no better example of a violation of the rule of law than the (federal) EPA's carbon rule known as the 111(d) rule," Morrisey said, explaining that if the rule is finalized, it will be devastating to the state's coal mining industry, and will have an effect on the price of electricity in the state and across the country. He said the rule will also have a negative effect on job growth.
"At a time when federal money flowing out of Washington is slowing down, we can't afford to have the EPA throw such a terrible wrench into the works," he said, adding he believes the rule is illegal and vowed his office would challenge it. He said they may not win the first or second time but in the end he thinks they will prevail. "Its just going to take time."
Another priority for his office is to ensure that "we continue to handle our day-to-day functions in the highest quality manner possible." Morrisey cited the office's consumer protection program, saying he wanted to make sure people know no state is going to be more active in terms of educational outreach.