Opinion

Court delay may spell coal’s doom

An editorial from The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register 

WHEELING, W.Va. — It is entirely likely that during the next six months, dozens of coal-fired power generating units will be shut down because utilities have decided fighting the Environmental Protection Agency is futile. They will join hundreds of others already idled, probably never again to be restarted.

In fact, it is that very attitude of surrender that President Barack Obama and EPA officials are counting on to destroy the coal industry and the economical electricity it provides to tens of millions of families.

A few judges in the federal system are helping Obama and the EPA do its dirty work. On Thursday, a federal appeals court in Washington issued an order denying requests that the EPA be banned temporarily from enforcing the new Clean Power Plan. The law – implemented by Obama without congressional approval – is being challenged in a lawsuit.

But the same court will decide the main issue, whether the law itself is constitutional, later this year. Review of the case is not set until June 2. A ruling probably will not be made until at least six months from now.

Opponents of the EPA have pointed out such delays in handling lawsuits may take the coal-fired power industry beyond the point of no return. That is, the longer the agency can enforce its rules while court appeals are in process, the more coal-fired generating units will be scrapped and replaced, probably forever.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a leader in the courtroom fight against the EPA, said his office may appeal the lower court’s decision to the Supreme Court. That should be done as soon as possible so that a delay does not turn into irreversible harm.

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