Freedom Caucus Says Gordon Suing Over Coal Rule A Win For Them

Freedom Caucus member Jeremy Haroldson says Mark Gordon’s announcement that he has hired a top law firm to fight a federal coal rule is a win for the Freedom Caucus because they wanted a special session to push the governor to sue.

Leo Wolfson

June 26, 20243 min read

State Rep. Jeremy Haroldson, R-Wheatland, left, and Gov. Mark Gordon.
State Rep. Jeremy Haroldson, R-Wheatland, left, and Gov. Mark Gordon. (Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

Wyoming Freedom Caucus Vice Chair state Rep. Jeremy Haroldson, R-Wheatland, says the main motivation behind a recent push by legislators to call a special session to push Gov. Mark Gordon to take legal action to protect Wyoming’s legacy energy industries as now reasonably fulfilled.

On Tuesday, Gov. Mark Gordon announced that the state has paid an $800,000 retainer to a high-powered Virginia law firm to represent Wyoming fight a new federal rule stopping coal production in the Powder River Basin.

Haroldson told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday he sees that as “a step in the right direction” and that Gordon should be more proactive in fighting against federal overreach.

“Anytime we can widen our base to address the federal government when it's overstepping its legal authority is a good thing,” he said.

Push And Pull

Hiring outside legal representation to fight the new BLM rule that would end coal production in Wyoming's energy-rich Powder River Basin by 2041 was the reason given by Rep. Mark Jennings, R-Sheridan, in his short-lived push earlier this month to call a special session. Jennings did not respond to Cowboy State Daily requests for a reaction to Gordon’s announcement Tuesday.

Gordon did not end up calling a special session, but the reason behind that request now appears to have succeeded to some degree.

On Tuesday, the governor touted at a town hall in Gillette the hiring of influential law firm Consovoy McCarthy to help Wyoming fight the new rule.

In a Cowboy State Daily interview following the town hall meeting, Gordon disclosed that Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill had retained the influential Arlington, Virginia-based law firm.

Lawyers at Consovoy McCarthy have argued multiple appeals before the U.S. Supreme Court, including a landmark case last year that ended affirmative action in college admissions.

Michael Pearlman, a spokesperson for Gordon, said the push for a special session had nothing to do with the governor’s decision.

“Those plans have been in motion for some time, going back to the early part of the year,” Pearlman said. “It takes time to execute these contracts.”

The May 16 order from President Joe Biden’s administration came out of the BLM’s Buffalo Field Office following a 2022 order from the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana in Billings.

Too Little Too Late?

Although Haroldson said he’s pleased with Gordon’s announcement, he also wonders whether if the state hasn’t already waited too long.

“I hope it’s not too little too late,” he said. “It’s something I would like to see more proactive approaches from the governor on.”

This has been a common refrain from members of the Freedom Caucus and Secretary of State Chuck Gray who have accused the governor of not being proactive enough in filing lawsuits against the federal government.

“In the realm of human nature, you get a lot more accomplished when we have those conversations proactively,” Haroldson said. “Let’s proactively address these issues because right now we’re playing defense.”

While Gordon has not yet filed any litigation on behalf of Wyoming on the BLM rule, he has sued over other administration actions to curb coal. Last week, he announced a new lawsuit with Utah suing the BLM over an obscure rule that weighs conservation over mining interests in how 245 million acres of public lands are managed.

Haroldson mentioned how Gordon has two private jets at his disposal that he believes could be used for fighting matters like these.

“One should be going to Washington, D.C., to continue having these conversations,” he said.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter