Coal Country’s Top Lawyer Takes on Obama’s EPA

Patrick Morrisey led something of a victory rally the day after the Supreme Court shocked Washington and the energy industry by pausing President Obama’s landmark climate rule for power plants.

Morrisey, West Virginia’s attorney general, has led a coalition of 27 states and a host of industry groups in their fight against new limits on carbon emissions, arguing that defeating the rule was the only way to stop the hemorrhaging of coal jobs in his adopted state.

“We know that the devastation has already occurred in West Virginia. Things are not going to change overnight,” said Morrisey, a Republican, flanked by miners and representatives of the coal industry in a book-lined conference room at the state Capitol.“But we have an opportunity to have a comeback now. This is the decision we’ve been waiting for, and now we get to move forward and try to put people back to work.”

Morrisey, a 48-year-old New Jersey native who speaks with an easy, lawyerly confidence, filed a string of lawsuits that have made him a thorn in the side of Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency.