AG to Obama: WV will ‘use every tool’ to fight federal ‘overreac - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

AG to Obama: WV will ‘use every tool’ to fight federal ‘overreach’

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The state's new attorney general wrote President Barack Obama to let him know that "federal overreach" will not be taken lightly under his watch.

In a press conference Monday, newly elected Attorney General Patrick Morrisey distributed a letter sent to Obama regarding the appointment of the head of the Environmental Protection Agency and "grave concerns" about its current direction. Lisa Jackson, the current administrator, has been a source of major contention for those in the coal business.

"We know that in West Virginia, the war on coal and the energy issues are very important to our citizens," Morrisey said. "We want to ensure that when the president makes a decision and nominates an EPA administrator, he takes West Virginia into account."

Morrisey said that the president should be sure to think of West Virginia's economic and cultural reliance on the coal industry in future decisions. He also warned the president that he believed the recent path of the EPA will be met with court losses and reversal of regulations he said takes energy rights away from the states.

"My predecessor passed on opportunities to participate in litigation to protect West Virginia's energy interests, but I intend to be much more aggressive in defending West Virginia against EPA overreach," Morrisey said. "I promised the citizens of this State that, as their new Attorney General, I would uphold the principles of federalism and work to ensure that federal government does not take actions that inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law."

In prior campaign speeches, Morissey vowed to review each lawsuit other state attorneys general had filed against the EPA and determine which ones West Virginia should join. He said his office will follow the actions of the EPA closely.

"The State of West Virginia cares very deeply about these issues, as those decisions will have a tremendous effect on our State's job base and economic livelihood," Morrisey said. "As Attorney General, I will be personally reviewing these and other matters that may have a detrimental impact on our extractive industries to ensure that any regulations or guidance issues comport with the rule of law."

Morissey wrote that he was confident that the courts will continue to strike down EPA regulations such as cross-state air pollution limitations, permit revocations and emissions caps on power plants.

"I urge you not to select a person who would aggressively engage in a war against coal and extractive industries, as recent reports suggest is your intent," Morrisey wrote.

Morrisey also pointed out the work of West Virginia officials from both sides of the aisle who have taken a stand for coal in the letter to Obama.

During his campaign, Morrisey said he would review a number of cases and potential actions to challenge suits where "legal deficiencies" might allow the state to overturn unfavorable federal action. On Monday, he said that his office is still in the process of reviewing those actions.

"There will be times when we can act independently and there will be time we have to work with our clients," he said.

Morissey said much of the first few days in office have involved getting office affairs in order.

"I'm not just going to go out there and file suit," he said. "I want to make sure that other people in the state of West Virginia know about some of these problematic regulatory regimes and we can act with a unified voice whether I'm the sole person on the suit or not."

Another promise made on the campaign to office was a specific "Office of Federalism and Freedom." Morrisey said the timeline for the announcement of that office was still unknown.

"We're trying to institute basic management functions of the office to make sure this operation is humming," Morrisey said. "I would say that in terms of the Office of Federalism and Freedom, that's still a priority. We're still going to be taking actions related to federalism now. When the time comes for the announcement of the office comes is to be determined."

According to his campaign materials, the office would be created without any additional taxpayer money.

"The Office of Federalism and Freedom will be an important part of our efforts to advance economic growth and personal freedom in our state," the campaign materials stated. "Moreover, we will establish this Office without spending a penny of new taxpayers' monies – we will restructure the Attorney General's Office, reform it, and ensure that we reprioritize how the Office allocates resources."

Morrisey said there would be additional announcements related to "federalism issues" later this week.