West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey on Friday, vowed to take the Biden administration to court if the president does not seek congressional approval for his latest plan to combat climate change.
“The constitution provides a steady anchor against massive unilateral action,” Morrisey told reporters. “If the Biden administration follows President Obama’s lead and tries to bypass congress, West Virginia and other states will have a remedy in the courts.”
The West Virginia attorney general has taken issue with President Biden’s pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by half from 2005 levels by 2030, calling it a “self-inflicted wound” that would only empower China.
“Biden’s proposal would greatly enhance China’s strategic position at our people’s expense,” he said Friday. “America would cut emissions by over 50 percent, yet China has actually stated plans that it wants to continue adding to its emissions up through 2030. And China already emits far more than we do.”
The U.S. and China are the world’s leading greenhouse gas emitters, but estimates show that in 2021 China will emit nearly twice the amount of greenhouse gases than the U.S., according to data by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.
China pledged in September to reach carbon neutrality by 2060 – a goal Biden said he will put the U.S. on track to meet by 2050.
But apart from the geopolitical advantage China could gain if the U.S. abandons fossil fuels like coal and natural gas, Biden’s divergence to green technology would “suffocate” industries like manufacturing, Morrisey argued, contesting the president’s claim that his plan would create jobs.
“You can’t successfully diversify an economy when you kill off the main source of your jobs before you even begin to attract the new ones,” the attorney general said, adding that he nevertheless supports the concept of diversifying the energy sector.
But the potential for a West Virginia-led lawsuit is somewhat dependent on the state’s ability to overturn an Obama-era lawsuit.
The Clean Power Plan pushed through under Obama’s administration, aimed to cut U.S. carbon emissions from power plants. But in 2015, West Virginia filed a lawsuit claiming the implementation of the policy exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) mandate.
In a rare move by the Supreme Court, a stay was issued on the suit, preventing the Clean Power Plan from being rolled out.
But in January, the D.C. Circuit Court vacated the ruling, and remanded it to the EPA – a move West Virginia is currently contesting.
If the attorney general is successful in overturning the decision and in proving government overreach through the EPA, they will be better positioned to fight Biden’s climate plan.
“If we’re unsuccessful there, then we’re going to keep going back to this, because this is a fight worth having,” Morrisey vowed Friday.