CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming House of Representatives passed a bill on first reading during their Friday, Feb. 14 floor session which would create a Wyoming coal marketing program.
House District 19 Representative Danny Eyre said that the $1 million the bill would provide under the proposal to market coal would be intended to combat efforts to move away from fossil fuels.
“The purpose of this bill is to kind of fight back against the extremely well funded effort to defund fossil fuels,” he said.
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Without using his name, Eyre alluded to Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg.
“He has announced opposition to all fossil fuels, including natural gas,” Eyre said.
The New York Times reports that Bloomberg has committed to spending $500 million to help end the country’s reliance on coal.
Eyre said that Wyoming would like to protect the role coal has played in the state.
“We know that coal has historically and still today pays a major part of our revenues,” he said, adding that the bill was an attempt to protect that.
The House killed an amendment to the bill which would have raised the coal marketing funding to $2 million.
They’ll need to pass the bill on two further readings in order to send it to the Senate for consideration.
The house bill would create a Wyoming coal marketing program “to protect and expand Wyoming’s coal markets and coal facilities and to address impacts cities, towns and counties have experienced or will experience due to changes in the coal market.”
If the current version of the bill were to pass, $1 million from the state’s general fund would be appropriated for the “Wyoming Coal Marketing Program Account.”
The governor would be in charge of administering the marketing program.
Funds could only be expended for the following types of projects:
- Projects with a public benefit associated with expanding and protecting Wyoming’s coal markets and coal facilities
- Projects with a public benefit that address impacts cities, towns and counties have experienced or will experience due to changes in the coal market
The state’s attorney general would have to provide a written opinion “certifying the legality of the transaction and all documents connected therewith” before the expenditure of any funds could be authorized.
The governor would be required to report to the Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Interim Committee by Oct. 1 of each year on any projects under the program.
In addition to the $1 million that would be added to the marketing account, donation and grants could also be added.
“The governor may accept, and shall deposit in the account, any gifts, contributions, donations, grants or federal funds specifically designated for the benefit of the Wyoming coal marketing program or any project funded under the program,” the proposed bill reads.
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