(The Center Square) – If the Environmental Protection Agency uses the Inflation Reduction Act to justify new environmental regulations, it can expect another legal battle from West Virginia, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said Wednesday.
The IRA, which President Joe Biden signed into law last week, provides about $850 million in additional funding to the EPA over the next six years. Although some have suggested that the language grants more regulatory authority to the EPA, Morrisey said the legislation does not broaden authority and only provides funding to enforce existing regulations.
“You can’t have unelected bureaucrats stepping in, reaching down, trying to seize power and take some ambiguous phrase and twist it around and reorder the nation’s power grid or put many other onerous provisions in place,” the attorney general said during a news conference.
Earlier this year, West Virginia won a lawsuit against the EPA after the agency tried to force energy producers to shift away from carbon-emitting energy sources and toward renewable energy sources. The EPA justified its regulations by citing the Clean Air Act, but the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the act did not grant this broad authority. The IRA clarifies that carbon dioxide is an emission covered in the Clean Air Act, which some have argued will allow the EPA to impose these regulations again.
However, if the EPA uses that language to impose a similar regulation, Morrisey said West Virginia will file a lawsuit and push the same legal argument it used the first time.
“Mr. President, you lost,” Morrisey said. “Go to Congress and put your ideas on the table. Do not try to take shortcuts or we will see you in court and we will beat you. We’ll defeat you again and again and again.”
The attorney general argued that if Biden wants to impose heavier restrictions on energy, that those decisions must go through the elected representatives in Congress, which he said is the way the founding fathers intended. He claimed that going through the EPA to impose those rules would be taking a constitutional shortcut.
Morrisey also claimed the IRA is bad legislation and that the state’s coal industry will be disproportionately harmed through a tax hike. The bill adds a 15% minimum corporate tax on large corporations, which will yield an estimated 7.2% tax hike on the coal industry. He said the additional funding to the IRS will likely lead to audits on West Virginia families because there is no provision that ensures the audits will only focus on the wealthy, despite the rhetoric coming from the White House.
”The IRA is a horrible piece of legislation that’s going to harm West Virginia,” the attorney general added.
The IRA resulted from negotiations over the Build Back Better plan, which had struggled to get support from a handful of moderate Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin from West Virginia. Although Manchin voted against Build Back Better, his support for the IRA ensured that the legislation passed the Senate.