Story at a glance

  • Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) is looking to bolster the state’s coal industry by threatening to sue states attempting to block Wyoming coal exports, which could cause coal facilities to shut down.
  • Gordon signed a law on April 6 creating a $1.2-million fund to prop up the industry that accounts for 40 percent of U.S. coal production
  • “Wyoming is sending a message that it is prepared to bring litigation to protect her interests,” Gordon spokesman Michael Pearlman said.

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) is looking to bolster the state’s coal industry by threatening to sue states attempting to block Wyoming coal exports, which could cause coal facilities to shut down. 

“I will not waver in my efforts to protect our industries, particularly our coal industry. The use of coal is under assault from all directions. And we have stood firm in our support of it throughout,” Gordon said in his state of the state address in March.

Gordon signed a law April 6 creating a $1.2-million fund to prop up the industry that accounts for 40 percent of U.S. coal production, The Associated Press (AP) reported. Currently, coal’s share in the power market is less than 20 percent. 

“Wyoming is sending a message that it is prepared to bring litigation to protect her interests,” Gordon spokesman Michael Pearlman said April 6. 

The new fund follows a 2020 bill that set up a $1-million fund to promote Wyoming’s coal industry. 


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Experts consulted by the AP were split on whether state vs. state lawsuits will benefit the coal industry. Wyoming Mining Association Executive Director Travis Deti told the outlet he’s “supportive of all efforts of the state” to “protect and defend the industry.”

University of Maryland Law Professor Robert Percival told the AP the suits could act as a money drain, adding he doesn’t “think they have legal leg to stand on.”  

Percival explained the Commerce Clause in the constitution bars states from banning goods due to their state of origin, but states can prohibit goods and services if they’re not specifically targeting a certain state. 

The director of Sierra Club’s Wyoming chapter, Connie Gilbert told the AP the state should focus its resources on important issues other than coal lawsuits to prop up a fading industry. 

“Coal is on the way out,” Wilbert said. “The sooner our elected leadership acknowledges that and starts looking for things the state can do to actually help us through the transition, the better.”

Wyoming’s coal industry provided more than 5,000 jobs and produced nearly 280 million tons in 2019. 


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Published on May 07, 2021