Jessica M. Karmasek Sep. 20, 2013, 7:30pm

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) -- West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says he is "very concerned" about the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed emission rules, released Friday, that aim to cut carbon pollution from new coal-fired power plants.

Morrisey argues that the federal agency's proposed rules would effectively ban new coal-fired power plants.

"The agency's proposal sets new standards of approximately 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour -- standards that represent a massive reduction from current practices," the attorney general said, noting that coal is a "critical" component of the nation's electrical grid and West Virginia's economy.

"Our state is the second largest producer of coal, and this move by the EPA basically slams the door on coal as a long-term source of electricity and energy.

"It is a blatant attempt to promote a reckless agenda that picks winners and losers and puts our nation's goal for energy independence in a tenuous position."

Under the EPA's newest proposal, new large natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour, while new small natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour.

New coal-fired units would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour, and would have the option to meet a somewhat tighter limit if they choose to average emissions over multiple years, giving those units additional operational flexibility.

The federal agency says the proposal achieves the first milestone outlined in President Barack Obama's June Memorandum to the EPA on "Power Sector Carbon Pollution Standards," a major part of the President's Climate Action Plan.

"Climate change is one of the most significant public health challenges of our time. By taking commonsense action to limit carbon pollution from new power plants, we can slow the effects of climate change and fulfill our obligation to ensure a safe and healthy environment for our children," EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement Friday.

"These standards will also spark the innovation we need to build the next generation of power plants, helping grow a more sustainable clean energy economy."

But Morrisey contends the proposed rules will just end up hamstringing the Mountain State's economy.

"I've seen little from the White House or the EPA on what people in Boone, Marshall, Logan, Marion, Mingo, Monongalia and other counties around the state should do when their local coal mines have layoffs," the attorney general said.

"Based on this proposal, I cannot see how anyone could question the EPA's intention to take coal out of the equation.

"West Virginia cannot idly sit by and allow politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., to cripple our economy."

Morrisey said his office plans to review "every word of every paragraph of every page" in the proposed regulations.

"The Obama Administration has a history of overstepping its legal authority to the detriment of West Virginia jobs," he said.

"West Virginia will not shy away from this battle against Obama's EPA."

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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