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House green-light $500K to sue other states for hurting Wyoming coal

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CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming House of Representatives passed House Bill 207 on a third reading vote of 53-7 on Monday, legislation which would set aside funding to sue other states for actions which “impermissibly impede Wyoming’s ability to export coal or that cause the early retirement of coal-fired generation facilities located in Wyoming.”

The proposed legislation states that laws enacted by other states transitioning to alternative energy sources hurt Wyoming’s ability to export coal “and disproportionately impact Wyoming’s coal-fired electric generation facilities.”

“These laws may impermissibly burden interstate commerce and may be contrary to federal law regulating the wholesale sale and transmission of electric energy in interstate commerce,” House Bill 207 adds.

The proposed legislation would initially have appropriated $1.2 million for such litigation, but the House adopted an amendment reducing this amount to $500,000 on first reading.

The funding would come from the state’s General Fund and would be appropriated to the governor’s office “for purposes of commencing and prosecuting lawsuits against other states and other states’ agencies that enact and enforce laws, regulations or other actions” that hamper Wyoming coal exports or which could lead to the early retirement of coal power plants.

The legislation states that Wyoming is “the largest producer of coal in the United States” and that the industry contributes “millions of dollars in taxes and other revenues annually.”

“The State of Wyoming and the coal industry have worked together for years to develop Wyoming’s coal in a safe, clean and responsible manner in order to provide clean and reliable coal that can be exported and utilized for the nation’s energy needs,” the proposed legislation adds. “The export of coal is vital to interstate commerce, the global economy, the economic and proprietary interests of the state of Wyoming and the economic interests of Wyoming citizens”

“Other states in the United States have enacted and enforced laws that have had the result of greatly curtailing the demand for and export of Wyoming coal. As a result, Wyoming’s coal production has decreased, and Wyoming’s coal-fired electric generation facilities are forced into early retirement, harming the state of Wyoming and its citizens.”

House Bill 207 argues that lawsuits challenging laws in other states which restrict the import of Wyoming coal or its use are necessary “to minimize and eliminate further harm of serious magnitude to the economic and proprietary interests of Wyoming and its citizens and to remove barriers preventing Wyoming from engaging in interstate commerce.”

“The economic interests of Wyoming and its citizens will continue to be harmed if other states continue to enact and enforce laws that restrict Wyoming’s ability to engage in interstate commerce and in compliance with federal law concerning the interstate sale and transmission of electricity,” the proposed legislation states.

The House’s 53-7 third reading vote on House Bill 207 was as follows:

  • Ayes: ANDREW, BAKER, BEAR, BLACKBURN, BROWN, BURKHART, BURT, CLAUSEN, CRAGO, DUNCAN, EKLUND, EYRE, FLITNER, FORTNER, GRAY, GREEAR, HALLINAN, HAROLDSON, HARSHMAN, HEINER, HENDERSON, HUNT, JENNINGS, KINNER, BARLOW, KNAPP, LARSEN, L, LAURSEN, D, MACGUIRE, MARTINEZ, NEIMAN, NEWSOME, NICHOLAS, OAKLEY, OBERMUELLER, O’HEARN, OLSEN, OTTMAN, PAXTON, PROVENZA, SIMPSON, SOMMERS, STITH, STYVAR, SWEENEY, WALTERS, WASHUT, WESTERN, WHARFF, WILLIAMS, WILSON, WINTER, ZWONITZER
  • Nays: BANKS, CLIFFORD, CONNOLLY, ROSCOE, SCHWARTZ, SHERWOOD, YIN

The legislation will move to the Senate for consideration. Sponsors of the bill include:

  • Representative(s) Haroldson, Andrew, Barlow, Bear, Blackburn, Clausen, Crago, Duncan, Fortner, Gray, Greear, Hallinan, Hunt, Jennings, Knapp, Laursen, Neiman, Ottman, Rodriguez-Williams, Romero-Martinez, Sommers, Western and Winter
  • Senator(s) Baldwin, Biteman, Boner, Dockstader, Driskill, French, Hicks, Hutchings, Kolb, Kost, Landen, Pappas, Schuler, Steinmetz and Wasserburger


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