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Morrisey lobbies Obama on EPA chief

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has asked President Obama to pick a new Environmental Protection Agency chief who won't take a strong stance against the coal industry.

Morrisey sent a letter to Obama on Monday, urging the president not to select an EPA administrator "who would aggressively engage in a war against coal and extractive industries, as recent reports suggest is your intent."

"I've made no secret of that the EPA has been overreaching," Morrisey said during a news conference Monday at the state Capitol. "We want to let them know we will be closely monitoring that."

In his letter, Morrisey said the EPA's actions have "contributed to significant job losses in West Virginia."

"Families and communities have been defined by coal mining," Morrisey wrote, "and much of the culture of the southern part of this state revolves around coal mining to this day."

Morrisey said former Attorney General Darrell McGraw "passed on opportunities ... to protect West Virginia's energy interests, but I intend to be much more aggressive in defending West Virginia against EPA overreach," according to his three-page letter to Obama.

Morrisey criticized McGraw for not opposing EPA "cross-state" pollution regulations. Fifteen state attorneys general challenged the regulations, which capped emissions from power plants, he said.

Morrisey said he too would challenge the regulations if the EPA continues to defend them.

"I will be closely monitoring this case as the EPA determines its next steps," Morrisey wrote to Obama.

Morrisey said his office wants "to ensure the agency does not take any legal shortcuts in its efforts to advance its policy goals."

"We will use every tool at our disposal, including legal, policy and educational mechanisms, to protect West Virginia's sovereign interests and fight federal overreach that harms our way of life," Morrisey told Obama.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who announced her resignation last month, plans to leave office Thursday.

Several news outlets have reported that Obama is leaning toward choosing Gina McCarthy, a top official over air quality at the EPA, as the agency's new chief.

Also Monday:

 

  • Morrisey announced a new office policy that bans trinkets -- key chains, pillboxes, magnets and other items -- imprinted with the attorney general's name. Morrisey said he also wouldn't put his name on educational materials published by the attorney general's office.
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    "I intend to start with dismantling the incumbency self-protection tools," Morrisey said Monday.

     

  • The attorney general said he plans to support legislation that would limit West Virginia's attorney general to two consecutive four-year terms. There's currently no limit. The change requires a constitutional amendment and voter approval.
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  • Morrisey plans to propose legislation that would require state agencies to solicit competitive bids for outside lawyers.
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  • Morrisey said he would ask state lawmakers to pass a bill that requires state employees to wait a year before they could take a job with an organization that received a grant the worker administered.
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  • He also plans to propose legislation to prohibit public officials from using their name on "publicly funded broad-based" advertising during an election year.
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  • The attorney general promised never to use his state vehicle in a parade. "That is a bad practice," Morrisey said. "It will come to an end."
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    Reach Eric Eyre at ericeyre@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.


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