A federal appeals court has thrown out a pair of lawsuits challenging the Obama administration's plan to address climate change.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled Tuesday that the lawsuits are premature because the proposed rule from the Environmental Protection Agency is not yet final.
The lawsuits from a coalition of 15 states and the nation's largest privately held coal mining company claim the EPA exceeded its authority last year when it proposed new curbs on pollution from the nation's coal-fired power plants.
But the appeals court said opponents of the plan must wait until the EPA approves a final rule, expected later this year.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey expressed disappointment over the ruling, stating that his office "will continue to fight" what he called "an unlawful power grab."
“When we filed this case last summer, we knew there would be procedural challenges, but given the clearly illegal nature of the rule and the real harm occurring in West Virginia and throughout the country, we believed it was necessary to take all available action to stop this rule as soon as possible,” Morrisey said in a news release issued Tuesday.
“We stand by the arguments we made to the court, and believe that the litigation has further revealed the weakness of EPA’s arguments on the merits."
Morrsey added that he believes West Virginia and other petitioners involved have a "compelling case" that the rule is unlawful.
“The narrow decision today, which put great weight on the fact that the final rule is now imminent given the time it has taken to litigate this suit, said nothing about the legality of EPA’s rule," he said.
"As the court recognized, the rule will be final very soon, and we look forward to continuing to press the issue. We will continue to take every available step to protect our citizens and the State of West Virginia from this unlawful power grab by Washington bureaucrats.”
Senator Shelley Moore Capito echoed Morrisey's comments by calling the decision a "unprecedented power grab." She said also remains "confident in the merits" of the case against the EPA rule and will continue to push support of the ARENA Act, which would roll back the Clean Power Plan.
"Today’s ruling further underscores the need for this commonsense legislation, which will provide affordable, reliable energy and protect the jobs our vital energy sector supports,” said Capito in a news release.
West Virginia Solicitor General Elbert Lin made arguments in the case.
The EPA says it has authority for the plan under the Clean Air Act.