Over the past few months, West Virginia has experienced a tremendous amount of success in beating back years of federal overreach that have devastated many in our state.
One of the greatest victories involved my office leading a coalition of 27 states and state agencies against the so-called Clean Power Plan, put in place by the Obama Administration to effectively kill coal – the lifeblood of so many families and communities in our state.
Together, we stopped the Power Plan in its tracks with a historic and unprecedented victory at the U.S. Supreme Court. We also mounted a vigorous challenge to the job-killing Obama regulations that attempted to kill new power plants, stymie oil and natural gas production and regulate a property owner’s roadside ditch as a “water of the United States.”
The Constitution and the laws of the United States provide no authority for unelected bureaucrats to enact this type of control over states and citizens. That’s why our office joined with like-minded attorneys general from across the nation. We successfully stopped these regulations and our efforts built a bridge to a better day.
We applaud President Trump’s swift action to unravel this mess of federal overreach, however, now is not the time to rest on our laurels.
I fully expect the opposition to fight back, but this battle won’t be fought any longer by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – it will be waged by states such as California, New York and Massachusetts. They will try to replicate our success in suing the federal government and undo the good we have done.
Our batting average taking on federal overreach is strong. My office led the way to stop the Power Plan, which amounted to a radical transformation of the EPA from serving as an environmental regulator into a central energy planning authority aimed at devastating coal communities and those who depend upon coal’s future.
We also stopped the Waters of the United States rule that gave the federal government unprecedented control over small streams, farms and private property in a land grab focused on areas where water may flow once every 100 years. In addition, we forced reconsideration of a methane emissions regulation for natural gas producers, which places oil and natural gas in the federal government’s crosshairs under the guise of environmental protection.
There will continue to be naysayers and people who disagree – people who would call these successes failures or say we are going in the wrong direction, but West Virginians know better.
We are winning, but we need to remain in a position to move forward, aggressively marching on and into the next battle – whatever it may be. At a minimum, we need to stop our opponents from preventing the successful repeal or reconsideration of these onerous rules.
But to continue to prevail, we need adequate funding to fix the mess the Obama Administration left behind. We won’t keep winning unless we are fully equipped and prepared to continue advocating for West Virginia’s interests.
With President Trump in office, I have faith that we can stop the federal bureaucracy from running roughshod over our state as it has in recent years. But that alone is not enough.
We must keep the faith, press forward and continue to do everything in our power to help West Virginia reach her full potential.
Patrick Morrisey is the Attorney General of West Virginia.