WV AG Speaks at Senate Committee Hearing on EPA Coal Power Plan

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WSAZ) -- West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey was on a panel speaking in front of a US Senate subcommitee Tuesday on the Legal Implications of the Clean Power Plan.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to finalize a rule this summer that would require states to reduce carbon dioxide emission by on average 30 percent in 15 years. West Virginia and a bipartisan group of 15 states have argued in court that the EPA’s proposal is illegal and that states are currently being impacted by the rule as they try to prepare for its finalization.

US Senator Shelley Moore Capito chaired the hearing, which is the first hearing on the plan.

Morrisey has been leading the national legal fight against the rule, which Sen. Capito says, "would have such devastating impacts on our home state of West Virginia."

“It will have a fundamental impact on our economy. For every one mining job lost, seven related jobs would be impacted. Additionally, a significant part of our state and local tax base is tied to coal mining. Every county and municipality in the state receives severance taxes regardless of whether coal is mined locally. When coal mining diminishes, not only do jobs disappear, but so do tax revenues from the industry," Morrisey said.

Morrisey was one of five speakers at the hearing.

"It's clear in West Virginia that the harm is already occurring...This proposed rule is causing real, tangible harm in the states, so it's affecting power plant operations currently," Morrisey said.

"This rule will have devastating impact on our state, other coal producing states, electricity rate payers across the country and the reliability of our grid," Sen. Capito reiterated.

She says since West Virginia has chosen to rely on coal to provide affordable and reliable electricity, the state has some of the lowest electricity rates in the nation. But she says under the Clean Power Plan, each state's electricity plan would have to meet EPA's criteria for reducing carbon dioxide emissions and be approved by the EPA.

Sen. Capito said from nearly five decades of experience, they know the Clean Air Act works best when implemented when the federal government works with the states. "However, the Clean Power does none of this. Instead, we have EPA dictating to states and effectively micromanaging intrastate electricity policy decisions to a degree even the agency admits is unprecedented. This raises a broad array of legal issues and is, quite simply, bad policy," she said.

Capito continued, "As a result, many states-including West Virginia and Oklahoma, whose Attorneys General we will be hearing from today--have raised grave concerns about the legality of the rule and the implications for their citizens and ratepayers. In addition to significant Constitutional and other legal questions, states have expressed concerns about the feasibility of EPA's proposed requirements and the likely impacts on electricity costs and reliability."

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