Wyoming Sues Biden’s EPA Over Coal And Gas Power Plant Rules

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon filed a pair of lawsuits Wednesday and Thursday challenging federal environmental rules that could economically cripple the Cowboy State’s coal and natural gas-fired power plants.

Pat Maio

May 09, 20243 min read

Naughton coal-fired plant along Highway 189 in Kemmerer.
Naughton coal-fired plant along Highway 189 in Kemmerer. (Pat Maio, Cowboy State Daily)

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon filed two lawsuits this week challenging controversial federal environmental rules that could economically cripple the Cowboy State’s coal and natural gas-fired power plants and possibly push the relevance of coal as a revenue stream to the backburner in America.

The lawsuits are directed toward U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules announced April 25 that are designed to regulate coal and natural-gas fired power plants out of existence over the next decade and undermine Wyoming’s economy, Gordon charged in a statement issued Thursday.

“The Biden administration’s EPA seems determined to use unlawful rulemaking to continue its attacks on Wyoming’s core industries,” Gordon said.

“The only goal appears to be destroying Wyoming’s fossil fuel industry by further burdening our power plants, increasing costs to consumers and threatening the stability of our nation's electrical grid,” he said.

The rules, which would significantly reduce pollutants emitted into the air and toxic wastes dumped into streams, essentially scuttle Wyoming’s coal mines, which produce about 40% of the nation’s thermal coal.

Off To Court

On Thursday, Wyoming joined a coalition of 24 states challenging the recently released power plant regulations.

The states argue that the new rule exceeds EPA’s authority and ignores a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2022 that vacated greenhouse gas limits for power plants set during former U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration.

This lawsuit requests that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia review the EPA rules and declare them unlawful.

In another action filed Wednesday, Wyoming and 22 other states filed a lawsuit challenging another EPA rule that would require certain air emissions from coal-fired plants to be reduced drastically, with no corresponding health benefits and with “great costs to Wyoming and its industries.”

Huge Impact

In Wyoming, the rules will hit many of the coal-fired plants from Naughton and Bridger in the southwestern part of the state, to Dry Fork near Gillette and the Dave Johnston plant near Glenrock.

The rules represent a big economic hit to the Cowboy State’s coal-rich Powder River Basin in northeastern part of the state where more than 4,000 people are employed in the industry.

The EPA said that the rules will improve public health without disrupting the delivery of electricity, and generally push a clean air agenda of alternative forms of energy production, like wind and solar.

The new rules are designed to reduce pollution from fossil-fuel fired power plants under 50-year-old federal laws: the Clean Air Act of 1970, Clean Water Act of 1972 and Resource Conservation Recovery Act of 1976.

Under the EPA rules, Wyoming’s coal-fired power plants are given specific end dates — as are all plants in the United States.

The options include shutting down by January 2032; convert to natural gas-fired plants by 2030, with a forced shutdown by Jan. 1, 2039; or install carbon capture scrubbing equipment by 2032.

Pat Maio can be reached at pat@cowboystatedaily.com.

Share this article



Pat Maio


Pat Maio is a veteran journalist who covers energy for Cowboy State Daily.