Coal, Oil, and Gas have been vital industries for the state of Wyoming. Because of these energy resources every citizen of Wyoming has benefited! These industries have built our highways, schools, businesses and our infrastructure in this state. They pay the salaries and benefits of state employees! Currently, we have people who would like to see the demise of one of these incredible industries-the coal industry! The war on the West started long ago and continues today! As natural gas is being used more in the east, our markets for coal have tightened. Any company could be in jeopardy of layoffs if more contracts are lost or shipments do not occur. We can alleviate the problem by opening the market. When the ports are open, other countries claim they want to purchase Wyoming coal! We need to open the ports to sell our coal! As we speak some people in Wyoming are using a horrible “layoff/bankruptcy” to justify increasing taxes and fees on Wyoming energy families.
Last week was really tough for Wyoming workers–750 jobs have been lost with the closures of the Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte coal mines. Hopefully, work at the mines will soon continue.
The situation is awful and it shows the real effect of the disastrous Obama-era policies designed to hurt our coal industry. Clearly, the Left is determined to attack our citizen’s livelihoods.
That’s why it’s crucial for our state government to fight back against the Left’s war on coal, so I wanted to update you on our efforts to pursue an export option on the west coast. A crucial way to fight for Wyoming workers is our efforts to pursue an export option on the west coast.
Just phase 1 of the proposed Millennium Coal Export Terminal in Washington would mean thousands of new coal jobs and would replace the demand that has been lost domestically with the Obama Administration’s actions.
The coal export terminal has been refused a permit by the state of Washington, clearly for political purposes and not for substantive reasons. The Governor of the state of Washington, Jay Inslee, is trying to run for President on a “climate change” agenda and bragged about what his administration has done to hurt the coal industry.
The decision is clearly a violation of the real meaning of the Interstate Commerce Clause. The Left has purposefully distorted the meaning of this provision to our US Constitution. The original and actual meaning is to stop exterior states from being able to block interior states from exporting goods. It was a problem at the time of the Constitution and remains one today.
The Millennium Coal Export Terminal itself decided to sue the state of Washington with good cause.
However, the private lawsuit has always had procedural problems. One is the fact that it first needs to go through the lower federal court in Washington and the liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The 9th Circuit has shown itself to be the most liberal circuit time and time again. The second issue is that time and time again, courts have shown preference when states bring an Interstate Commerce Clause argument.
The real answer is for states who are negatively affected by this, including Wyoming, to pursue a state to state lawsuit. If the state of Wyoming sues the state of Washington, these procedural difficulties are not present.
The previous Governor Mead decided to merely file an amicus brief supporting the private lawsuit and not pursue the other, more effective option of filing suit ourselves.
In the 2019 Budget Session, I brought HB251 to kick-start this process. The bill set up a procedure to pursue litigation against the State of Washington.
HB251 overwhelmingly passed with veto-proof majorities in the state legislature. But then amazingly the new Governor, Mark Gordon, vetoed HB251, and the legislature had adjourned so it could not exercise the veto override power clearly laid out in the state Constitution. Governor Gordon used the same flawed arguments as Governor Mead, citing the private lawsuit and the amicus brief.
Soon after his misguided veto, the local federal court in Washington issued a stay on the private coal export terminal lawsuit. The concerns about the procedural difficulties of the private lawsuit unfortunately came to fruition.
Because the bill was vetoed, there is no option for the legislature to currently pursue a state to state lawsuit. It would have to come from the Governor-appointed Attorney General’s Office.
We must work together to make this coal export terminal happen. We have a petition asking Governor Gordon and Wyoming’s federal delegation to pursue a lawsuit and all other options to create new markets for Wyoming coal. I encourage you to sign the petition.
Our state government can do more to provide real relief to Wyoming families who have been affected by the Left’s war on coal. Last week was another cruel reminder and it is time for us to take action together.
You can sign the petition here: cswcog.com.
Representative Chuck Gray