Fight over coal not over yet

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey deserves much of the credit for delaying former President Barack Obama’s assault on the coal industry and affordable electricity. Other state officials, including legislators and former Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, merit kudos for opposing Obama, too.

Now, it’s all over, right? A new chief executive, Donald Trump, is in the White House and he has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to cancel its proposed Clean Power Plan. It certainly appears hostilities in the war on coal are at an end.

They are not.

In fact, from Morrisey’s standpoint, round two is about to begin.

Morrisey’s strategy, in company with attorneys general from several other states, was to take the EPA to court. Challenges there revolved around the agency’s abuse of power.

Some states and environmental organizations that supported the Obama campaign are upset at Trump’s reversal. Now they plan to go to court, arguing that the EPA is shirking its statutory obligations by not pursuing action such as the Clean Power Plan.

Leaving defense of the Trump agenda solely up to federal government attorneys would not be prudent -though they do have a compelling argument. That is where Morrisey should get back into the action.

Of one state’s plan to sue the EPA on behalf of harsher action against coal, Morrisey told our reporter this a few days ago: “West Virginia will strongly oppose New York’s efforts and will continue to protect our coal miners and their families.”

Good. That is precisely what the attorney general’s office should be doing. In waging that battle, he will need the support of the Legislature and Gov. Jim Justice. They should be unstinting in support, whether it be in ensuring Morrisey has the resources needed or in other action to aid his efforts in court.

Much of the battle on behalf of the coal industry and millions of Americans who rely on affordable electricity is over. Letting down our guard at this point could prove to be a dangerous mistake, however.


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