CHARLESTON - Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced he filed a motion to expedite briefing in a lawsuit filed against the EPA challenging the legality of emissions regulations the agency has proposed for existing power plants.
The motion, filed in U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, asks the court to consolidate the briefing schedule and rule on the lawsuit as quickly as possible. West Virginia and a bipartisan group of 11 other states filed the lawsuit in August. It asks the Court to compel the EPA to withdraw its proposed regulations.
"We believe a consolidated briefing schedule and expedited consideration will reduce the irreparable harm these proposed rules will have on the states," Morrisey said. "West Virginia and other coal-producing states cannot afford to have this case drag on for years. The proposed regulations already are creating uncertainty in our communities, and the longer it takes, the more of a pall it will cast over states, communities and the families who make a living from coal."
The motion says the EPA entered into an agreement in 2011 to settle a threatened lawsuit by environmental groups and certain States. In the settlement, the EPA agreed to create guidelines for states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from certain power plants. However, in 2012, the EPA enacted national emission standards on the same power plants, meaning the agency can no longer require states to regulate the same power plants. The lawsuit seeks to have that settlement agreement nullified and the proposed regulations vacated.
"The regulations EPA seeks to impose on the States are illegal and need to be dismissed as quickly as possible," Morrisey said. "In order to comply with the levels of emissions reduction required by the EPA, states will have to completely re-evaluate and possibly restructure their energy sector, implement new ways to reduce consumer demand for energy and overhaul how utilities are regulated. This is a considerable undertaking for states, and should not be done until a court can determine whether the regulations are even legal."
The motion says states already are expending resources to prepare plans so they can be compliant with the regulations if enacted, and the expenditures will continue to increase in the coming months, even though the rule isn't finalized.
"This forced, wasteful expenditure of state resources imposes 'irreparable per se' harm because the EPA cannot be forced to reimburse the states if they are successful in challenging these regulations," Morrisey said. "That is why a quick decision on the lawsuit is so vitally important. West Virginia and other states don't have money or time to waste on trying to meet regulations that we believe to be illegal."
To read a copy of the motion, go to http://bit.ly/1qp1KRx.