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coal export terminal

Wyoming, Montana to Sue Over Coal Export Terminal

in Energy/News
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By Bob Geha, Cowboy State Daily

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.”

In Brief: Gordon welcomes executive order on energy export impacts

in Energy/News
Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon
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By Cowboy State Daily

A presidential order directing administration officials to study the economic impacts of blocking the export of America’s natural resources is being welcomed by Gov. Mark Gordon.

Gordon, in a news release, said he believes the executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Wednesday will help open coal ports on the West Coast so Wyoming coal can be shipped to Asian markets.

“We are excited for the promise of a new day when Wyoming coal will be better able to compete internationally,” Gordon said. “We have cleaner coal and better technologies that we can marry to remove carbon from the atmosphere.”

Wyoming is involved in a lawsuit against the state of Washington over its refusal to grant a permit for a coal export terminal. Washington officials denied the permit on the grounds that the environment of the area around the terminal would be hurt by its construction and operation.

The executive order requires the secretaries of Energy and Transportation to study and report on the economic impacts caused by such limits on energy resource exports.

Gordon said such a review is needed.

“The states along the West Coast have abused their authority … to unfairly discriminate against Wyoming coal,” he said. “In issuing this executive order, President Trump sets the state to help correct the misapplication of the Clean Water Act act has been used inappropriately by some states to stymie the industries and commerce of others and I commend him for that.”

Gordon vetoes call for state to sue over coal terminal

in Energy/News
shipping containers at export facility
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By Cowboy State Daily

A bill that would have allowed the Legislature to sue the state of Washington over the denial of permits for a coal export terminal has been vetoed by Gov. Mark Gordon.

Gordon on Friday vetoed HB 251, saying if legal action was taken by the Legislature, it could interfere with court filings already submitted by the executive branch.

“Giving courts the impression that two branches of Wyoming’s government might be second-guessing one another — in fact potentially litigating over the top of one another — would be counterproductive to our best efforts to protect Wyoming’s interests,” he said in his veto message to Secretary of State Ed Buchanan. “Furthermore, dividing the limited resources of Wyoming’s Attorney General between two potentially contemporaneous cases would do a disservice to both at the expense of Wyoming.”

However, Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, said the measure would have set up a cooperative effort between the legislative and executive branches.

“It’s going to take a team effort between the executive branches for there to be success on this issue,” he said in a prepared statement. “This bill created a framework for this team effort to occur, so that we have the best chance for success on this issue. The veto is detrimental to that effort.”

Washington officials have denied necessary permits to build a coal export terminal to export coal from Wyoming and other states to foreign markets. Lighthouse Resources, the company proposing the export terminal, is suing Washington over the denial, alleging the state is violating the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause.

Wyoming and several other coal-producing states have filed “friend of the court” briefs in support of Lighthouse’s lawsuit in U.S. District Court.

Gordon wrote that while he supports the Legislature’s desire to protect the state’s economic interests, legal action taken by lawmakers independent of the executive branch could cause confusion.

“This bill … carves an unprecedented path — absent compelling reason — encouraging the Legislature to take a potentially different course from that that the state is already pursuing,” he wrote. “The obvious confusion this could engender is at best problematic and at worst fatal.”

Responsibility for such legal action rests with the executive branch, not the Legislature, Gordon wrote.

However, Gray said by taking up the issue, the Legislature would have sent a message to Washington officials.

“This bill shows the state of Washington that we are serious about this issue,” he said. “Also, the Legislature looking into this issue creates the environment where there is the best opportunity for success.”

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