Coal Tattoo

We did a quick Coal Tattoo post yesterday, based on a Saturday Gazette-Mail story in which WVDEP Secretary Randy Huffman said he wasn’t sure his agency needed — or wanted — help from Attorney General-elect Patrick Morrisey in challenging Obama administration actions state officials believe unfairly harm the coal industry.

As noted in the story and post, serious questions exist about whether Morrisey, once he takes office, has the independent authority to challenge U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations, absent a request from a state agency like WVDEP that he do so. Randy Huffman for one isn’t sure Morrisey can do that unless his agency asks for such an action.

But despite making his plans to “take on” EPA a central part of his campaign to unseat longtime Attorney General Darrell McGraw, Morrisey now says he won’t explain exactly what in the state Constitution, W.Va. Code or case law gives him authority to keep his campaign promises. Last evening, Morrisey spokesman Scott Will sent me an email with another statement from Morrisey refusing to answer this very legitimate question. Here’s what Morrisey said in that statement:

While we believe the Constitution and case law precedent provide authority to the Attorney General to act in various circumstances, it would be premature and disrespectful to the Governor to discuss the specific sources of such authority (which would vary based upon the facts of a case) before meeting with the Governor and the agencies so that we can speak with one voice.  As a state, the legal theories that we employ to defend our citizens will always take into account the facts of a particular matter.  We anticipate having a very collaborative relationship with the Governor and the agencies to work together to put West Virginia first.