Wyoming and Montana will join forces to sue the state of Washington over its refusal to allow the construction of a coal export terminal, Gov. Mark Gordon announced Tuesday.
Gordon, during a news conference, said the two states are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to determine whether Washington’s decision to block construction of the Millennium Coal Export Terminal amounts to a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Specifically, Wyoming and Montana officials feel Washington’s decision violated the Interstate Commerce clause, which gives only the federal government the authority to regulate the flow of goods between states, Gordon said.
“This case is about the right of states to conduct commerce,” Gordon said. “A question as old as our Constitution. In the case of Washington state’s actions, we believe Washington has offended that right and we seek to restore all the rights afforded to the states by our Constitution.
The coal port terminal, seen as a way to provide Wyoming coal with access to overseas markets, was rejected by Washington officials under terms of the Clean Water Act.
However, Gordon said Washington’s actions amount to an embargo coal from Montana and Wyoming mines.
“In denying the Millennium Bulk Coal Terminal, Washington officials used political considerations to block our ability to export one of our state’s greatest natural resources,” he said. “Using this same logic and tactics, Washington could block access to foreign markets for almost any product we or any other state might wish to export.”
Gordon also said Washington refused to let the company proposing the terminal address the state’s concerns.
“In effect, Washington’s actions indicated there was no way way, no how that Washington would work with the applicant,” he said. “The state just didn’t want the project to export commodities from the interior West and was willing to use any tactic it could find to make sure.”