CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey was on hand as President Trump signed an executive order blocking the previous administration's Clean Power Plan.
Morrisey said Trump's signature on the executive order vindicates his three-year fight against former President Obama’s administration's energy plan.
With his signature, Trump fulfilled his promised rollback of the initiative seen as anti-coal.
Morrisey says the move was made possible by his legal challenge and victory that blocked the Clean Power Plan’s enforcement, and he called the executive order "a landmark victory toward the ultimate dismantling of a Power Plan that would have devastated coal communities across the state and nation."
Trump signed the order March 28 during a ceremony at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington. The executive order initiates a review of the plan and rescinds the Obama-era Climate Action Plan.
“This is a monumental victory for West Virginia,” Morrisey said. “President Trump’s decisive action lets everyone know this unlawful, job-killing regulation will find no support in his administration.
“That’s a tremendous relief for every coal miner and family that depends upon coal’s success. It also underscores the importance of our achievement in halting the rule’s enforcement, while reinforcing the Supreme Court’s message – proponents of the Power Plan should put their pencils down,” he added.
Attorney General Ken Paxton released the following statement: “President Trump’s executive order is a significant step toward sparing all of us from a potentially disastrous change to the nation’s energy policy that was orchestrated during the Obama era in violation of federal law. The so-called Clean Power Plan would have subjected Americans to higher electricity costs and could have weakened the nation’s power grid.
“Texas and West Virginia led 22 states in getting the U.S. Supreme Court to block the plan. We’re heartened by the president’s latest action, which shows he’s serious about returning common sense and the rule of law to the EPA. And we look forward to the EPA returning to the cooperative approach with the states that the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act expressly require as it reconsiders the unlawful Clean Power Plan.”
Tuesday’s executive order also ended the EPA’s carbon dioxide performance standards for new power plants, a related Obama administration regulation challenged by West Virginia and many of its partners.
Behind Morrisey, West Virginia led the 27-state coalition that paved the way for this week’s executive order. That includes the Oct. 23, 2015, challenge of the Clean Power Plan on the very day it was published, as well as the Supreme Court’s stay of the regulation, Feb. 9, 2016.
Together, those successes blocked enforcement of the Clean Power Plan and provided time for a new administration and the anticipated executive order.
The states have argued the Clean Power Plan exceeded the EPA’s congressional authority and violates the U.S. Constitution by attempting to commandeer and coerce the states into carrying out federal energy policy.
They claim the EPA specifically overstepped its authority by transforming the nation’s energy industry, double regulating coal-fired power plants and forcing states to fundamentally shift their energy portfolios away from coal-fired generation.
Morrisey, in a multistate letter signed Dec. 14, 2016, urged then President-elect Trump to pursue formal administrative action to withdraw the Clean Power Plan and resolve related matters in court. It also called upon Congress to take longer-term legislative action to prevent any future EPA from drafting similarly unlawful and/or more extreme rules.
West Virginia and Texas brought the legal challenge with a broad, bipartisan coalition that includes Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming, along with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and other state agencies.