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Cheney: Environmental policy ‘not an excuse’ for Washington to infringe on Wyoming’s coal industry

Rep. Liz Cheney at the Rock Springs airport in May. (Rep. Liz Cheney, Twitter)

CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming’s U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney says that the State of Washington and Washington Governor Jay Inslee should not be allowed to undermine Wyoming and Montana’s energy industry.

The Washington Department of Ecology denied a permit for a coal export terminal in 2017, an export terminal that Wyoming and Montana argue would benefit their mineral production industries.

“The terminal would have been used to export coal mined at Powder River Basin in Wyoming to markets in Asia, and estimates conclude that the terminal could allow up to 44 million metric tons of coal to be shipped every year,” Cheney’s office said in a press release Tuesday.

Wyoming and Montana have filed a lawsuit against the State of Washington and Governor Mark Gordon’s office said on Monday that the two states have filed a response to the U.S. Solicitor General in the case. In the case, Wyoming and Montana are arguing that Washington’s actions discriminate against the coal-rich states and that only the U.S. Supreme Court can grant the relief they seek.

Gordon’s office notes that the Solicitor General submitted a brief in the case on May 26 which argued that the case is moot because of the bankruptcy of Millennium Bulk Terminals’ parent company.

“This case should not be dismissed and the Biden Administration is wrong to ignore the important constitutional questions that it raises,” Cheney said. “It’s a violation of the Commerce Clause for one state to undermine another state’s economic activity, and that’s exactly what Governor Inslee is doing by attempting to deny a permit for a terminal to export Powder River Basin coal.”

“This is an important project that must be allowed to move forward. Washington’s policy objection – which is rooted in their radical environmental beliefs rather than the facts – is not an excuse for ignoring the law and infringing on the rights of Wyoming and our state’s energy producers.”   

Gordon’s office said Monday that Wyoming and Montana’s response to the Solicitor General’s argument communicates that their interests extend beyond the status of a single developer interested in constructing a coal export terminal.

“Washington’s discriminatory policies will continue to block coal port development and dissuade other developers from taking up the project even though it is otherwise economically viable,” Gordon’s office said.

Wyoming and Montana argue that both states have “an abundance of low-sulfur, cleaner burning coal, and foreign markets want it.”

“The terminal in Longview remains an ideal site to export that coal to Asian and other foreign markets,” the response to the Solicitor General states. “And Montana and Wyoming still have no other export option, besides an already overburdened Canadian Port.”

Gordon added in the release:“As I have stated repeatedly, this case is about the significant Constitutional issue of one State’s actions preventing another State from engaging in interstate commerce. It’s about more than just one developer or industry – it’s about Washington’s unconstitutional and inappropriate use of policy to stifle commerce in another state.”

Wyoming and Montana’s full response to the Solicitor General can be found online.

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