CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced today he joined Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in sending a letter to two associations of state environmental and utility regulators to ensure states understand they have no legal obligation to continue with spending taxpayer funds on compliance efforts for a suspended and likely unlawful Power Plan.
The attorneys general led 29 states and state agencies in winning the unprecedented stay from the U.S. Supreme Court. Both now spearhead the coalition’s challenge to the Power Plan before the D.C. Circuit Court.
The letter cites news reports indicating that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and top staffers are encouraging states to take voluntary steps toward compliance.
The Supreme Court’s ruling, issued Tuesday, however halts enforcement of the Power Plan until the court challenge concludes.
“The result of the stay is clear,” Attorneys General Morrisey and Paxton write. “The Power Plan has no legal effect whatsoever … The States, their agencies, and EPA should put their pencils down. Any taxpayers dollars spent during the judicial review process are unnecessary and likely to be entirely wasted.”
The attorneys general sent the letter to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and National Association of Clean Air Agencies, two groups who represent state environmental and utility regulators across the nation.
They contend the stay freezes any deadlines associated with the Power Plan, including those requiring states to submit initial and final compliance plans by September 2016 and September 2018 respectively. The EPA conceded as much, arguing to the Supreme Court, the granting of a stay meant deadlines associated with the rule “would be substantially delayed,” the letter states citing EPA’s prior opposition.
West Virginia and Texas led 23 other states in challenging the EPA’s power plan on Oct. 23, 2015, the day it was published. The states argue EPA exceeded its authority by double regulating coal-fired power plants and forcing states to fundamentally shift their energy portfolios away from coal-fired generation among other reasons.
The states further argue a fully implemented Power Plan would devastate the nation’s coal industry and those who depend upon its success, lead to skyrocketing electricity bills and jeopardize the reliability of the nation’s electric grid.
West Virginia, Texas and the broad, bipartisan coalition now proceed with arguments on the merits of its case before the D.C. Circuit Court. Initial briefs are due later this month with oral arguments set for June 2.