CHARLESTON (WVDN) — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said the ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court is a “great win for West Virginia and her residents.”
In West Virginia v U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Supreme Court on Thursday overturned a lower court ruling in a 6-3 decision that would have given the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency virtually unlimited authority to regulate wide swaths of everyday life. In particular, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals mistakenly concluded that a narrow provision of federal law grants EPA broad authority to reorder entire economic sectors, such as manufacturing, hotels, and power generation in broad ways.
With Thursday’s ruling, EPA can no longer sidestep Congress to exercise broad regulatory power that would radically transform the nation’s energy grid and force states to fundamentally shift their energy portfolios away from coal-fired generation. EPA must instead regulate within the express boundaries of the statute that Congress passed.
“We are pleased this case returned the power to decide one of the major environmental issues of the day to the right place to decide it: the U.S. Congress, comprised of those elected by the people to serve the people,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “This is about maintaining the separation of powers, not climate change. Today, the Court made the correct decision to rein in the EPA, an unelected bureaucracy. And we’re not done. My office will continue to fight for the rights of West Virginians when those in Washington try to go too far in asserting broad powers without the people’s support.”
On Feb. 28 before the high court, West Virginia and 18 other states challenged an overbroad interpretation of the EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from coal-fired plants.
Among other things, the Supreme Court agreed that this new power presents such a substantially important question that an administrative agency such as EPA cannot decide it without a clear statement from Congress saying that it can.
EPA’s actions would intrude on the states’ traditional authority to regulate their own power grids. Yet no federal law includes such a clear statement allowing that kind of intrusion.
The West Virginia v. EPA ruling marks the most consequential development in environmental law since Attorney General Morrisey won a historic and unprecedented stay of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan at the Supreme Court in February 2016.
“Our team did a great job in explaining why the Supreme Court should define the reach of EPA’s authority once and for all, and it paid off with today’s ruling,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “We intend to use the strong win the Court gave us in today’s decision to keep fighting for our State, local communities and our jobs. We are optimistic that the decision will save many West Virginia jobs.”