CHARLESTON – Senate President Bill Cole, R-Mercer, sponsored a resolution at the annual Southern States Energy Board meeting regarding State Implementation Plans under the U.S. Environmental Protection’s Clean Power Plan. The resolution was co-sponsored by Delegate Woody Ireland, R-Ritchie, who is Chairman of the House Energy Committee, and Delegate J.B. McCuskey, R-Kanawha.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin serves as Chairman of the Southern States Energy Board, and is presiding over this week’s annual meeting at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs. The resolution, which passed at the SSEB’s Business Session Monday afternoon, states that “29 states do not believe the Clean Power Plan is consistent with EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act,” and that the plan “interferes with the sovereign powers of the states to regulate electricity within their borders and to ensure a reliable and affordable supply of electricity for their citizens,” and addresses that the plan may be overturned by legal challenges in multiple states.
In an amendment to the resolution sponsored by Senate President Cole and Delegate McCuskey, the resolution urges state attorneys general to take necessary legal actions after EPA issues its final ruling to prevent unlawful obligations from being imposed upon states, electricity providers, businesses, and citizens. It also encourages governors to take additional actions as appropriate – such as requesting a two-year extension of the deadline to submit a final State Implementation Plan – pending resolution of all such legal actions.
“The Clean Power Plan is going to have an enormous effect on not just West Virginia, but all of the states within the Southern States Energy Board and the country as a whole,” Senate President Cole said. “This resolution is one more tool we have at our disposal to fully protect the interests of our state and its coal miners.”
Speaker of the House Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, who also is attending this week’s board meeting, supported the resolution and amendment, saying, “This resolution is a good opportunity to discuss the best way that we can address this latest attack on our state’s energy industry.”
The efforts to protect the state’s coal industry have been a priority of both legislative bodies this year.
“It’s been clear from the beginning that the Clean Power Plan rests on very shaky legal ground,” said Delegates Ireland and McCuskey. “We proposed this resolution and amendment to ensure that our state is leading the way in fighting a rule that was conceived with no regard for its effects on the people, not just in coal communities, but the nation as a whole.”
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office has led several legal challenges to EPA’s attempt to broaden its authority under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act.
“My Office commends the Southern States Energy Board resolution opposing the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, and its recognition that State Attorneys General will be at the forefront of challenging this illegal rule,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “West Virginia is helping lead a large coalition of States to fight back against this power grab by the Obama Administration’s EPA. I thank Senate President Bill Cole and Delegates Ireland and McCuskey for their continued efforts on behalf of the working men and women of West Virginia.”
The meeting runs through Tuesday afternoon.