The Constitution - Articles I, II and III and the Rule of Law are at play regarding EPA's attack on coal. Close examination shows that today's disastrous situation lies wholly at the feet of our elected representatives, past and present, who have abrogated their constitutional duty by conferring broad powers to the Executive Branch.
EPA's attacks on coal derive from the Clean Air Act. Existing plants at writing of CAA were exempted from emission controls - to be replaced/upgraded after end of their useful lives, which is not occurring - the reason, exceptional high costs. The obvious strategy - keep operating, look for political relief. The EPA says no. OK with the utilities, gas is cheaper route. Future new generation will be gas, as capital costs are one-fourth that of a coal plant - good business practice. Low capital cost recovery is a plus with the regulator (PSC) who must ensure best rates to the customer.
Clean coal use exists when addressing impurities - sulfur, mercury, particulates, but not so for CO2. CO2 is defined in the CAA, as a greenhouse gas, giving this administration license to pursue regulation under the guise of controlling climate change. Pre-Obama EPAs never intended CO2 to be considered a pollutant. In 2003 Massachusetts with many environmental organizations demanded CO2 regulation under CAA. The Supreme Court (2007) agreed - again, the law, but EPA had to show CO2 to be an endangerment to health and safety. West Virginia and the coal industry did not join this fight - other states and coal groups did. Gov. Manchin's (2008) response was endorsement of cap and trade, Obama and the environmentalists, passing H.B. 103 calling for 25 percent of West Virginia electricity to come from alternative source - translated - less coal, higher electric rates. Earl Ray and 75 percent of lawmakers voted for H.B. 103.
The Endangerment Finding and Climategate (exposed climate change as a fraud) arrived late in 2009. Huge legal challenges ensued against the EPA's finding calling it flawed - (West Virginia (the state and coal industry) do not join the fight).
Today, convenient memory lapses are replaced by blame shifting. Let's call like it is: If lawmakers don't like these outcomes, deal with the issues - change the laws, that's their job - quit posturing. For the voters, vote wisely.