West Virginia Groups Oppose Morrisey’s Attack on the Clean Power Plan

William V. DePaulo, Esq. 304-342-5588, william.depaulo@gmail.com
Vernon Haltom, Coal River Mountain Watch, 304-952-4610, vernon@crmw.net

West Virginia Groups Oppose Morrisey’s Attack on the Clean Power Plan

Citing numerous health studies plaintiffs insist the need for CPP is now.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Coal River Mountain Watch, Kanawha Forest Coalition, the Mon Valley Clean Air Coalition and Keepers of the Mountains Foundation have moved to intervene in an action previously filed by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Attorney Generals from 23 other states which seeks to delay and ultimately invalidate the Clean Power Plan adopted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

The Clean Power Plan is designed to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide. Under the Plan, each state is required to develop a plan on how it is intends to achieve the emission reductions. Under West Virginia law, the Governor, with the help of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, will develop this “State Implementation Plan” and it will be reviewed by the West Virginia Legislature before it is submitted to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

In the long run, Mr. Morrisey seeks to invalidate the regulations that carry out the Clean Power Plan. In the short run, he seeks to prevent the regulations from going into effect while the case is pending in court. Mr. Morrisey claims to speak for all West Virginians.

“We feel compelled to intervene so that the Court will have the benefit of viewpoints other than that of Mr. Morrisey, a viewpoint not shared by all West Virginians,” said Cynthia D. Ellis, president of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy. “This case is about whether we want to live in the present and prepare for the future or cling to the past. Coal has been our main source of electricity for a century. Mr. Morrisey wants to go back to that past, a past that has made West Virginians sick and contributed to climate change. We want to move forward to a future where there is more balance in meeting our energy needs.”

The Motion to Intervene points out that in “literally dozens of recent peer-reviewed studies, diligent medical researchers have documented the fact that particulate matter — whether emitted from electric utility plants directly, or indirectly from the mountaintop removal mining projects from which those utilities obtain their fuel supply — results in statistically significant increases of birth defects, decreased birth weights, diminished educational attainment, increased cancer, pulmonary and cardiac disease, and very substantially decreased life expectancy.”

“This is about who speaks for West Virginia and for West Virginians,” said Janet Keating, executive director of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. “Mr. Morrisey presumes to speak for the State and for all of us. His opinion may be that there is a war on coal and that all West Virginians should resist. This is not true. Climate change is a serious problem and we all have to do our part in addressing it.”

“The Clean Power Plan is far from perfect, and we may disagree with what West Virginia ultimately proposes as a plan to reduce emissions,” said Vernon Haltom, executive director of Coal River Mountain Watch. “But scrapping the Clean Power Plan entirely and betting West Virginia’s health and economic future on the miraculous resurgence of a polluting finite resource is not a solution.”

The case is filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  West Virginia groups are being represented by William DePaulo, an attorney based in Lewisburg, W.Va.

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