Cheyenne, Wyo. – Wyoming lawmakers introduced legislation this week that would allocate funding to the Office of the Governor to prosecute state governments that impede Wyoming’s ability to export coal and coal-fired electricity. House Bill 207 would provide $1.2 million to the Office of the Governor.
“The recent energy crisis in Texas, which caused more than 70 deaths and left millions of people without power, underscores the importance of grid reliability,” said Representative Jeremy Haroldson (R-HD04), who introduced the legislation. “If other states are allowed to shut out Wyoming’s electricity exports, it could force our plants to shut down. When that happens, we will see similar outages and higher costs on consumers.”
“We have seen a spike in states trying to block Wyoming’s access to consumer markets to advance their political agenda,” said Rep. Haroldson. “That is a violation of the Constitution, which prohibits states from discriminating against interstate commerce. House Bill 207 provides the resources for Wyoming to hold those governments accountable and ensure our energy products can reach consumers—which is critical to the dependability of our electrical grid.” Rep. Haroldson added, “Reliability saves lives. It’s that simple. It is time we start truly caring about the future.”
Wyoming is the largest and most efficient producer of coal in the United States, accounting for nearly 40 percent of domestic production. More than 91 percent of the coal mined in Wyoming is shipped via rail to 26 other states. The largest consumers of Wyoming coal are coal-fired power plants in Texas, Missouri, and Illinois. Most of the coal is used for steam to generate electricity at power plants, but a small amount is used at industrial plants and commercial facilities.
Interstate demand is critical to the continued operations of the state’s power plants and, by extension, to the reliability of Wyoming’s electrical grid. Some states have implemented regulations that could prevent utilities from importing Wyoming’s coal-fired electricity.
Washington State recently used the Clean Water Act to stop a proposed coal export facility that would have exported Wyoming-produced coal overseas. The Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from discriminating against interstate commerce.
“We simply can’t have one state interfering with another’s access to markets by using the Clean Water Act or any other regulation as a weapon to pursue a misguided political agenda,” Governor Mark Gordon said in January during his address to the Wyoming Legislature. “It’s the principle of state’s rights and access to markets that is at stake.”
House Bill 207, Coal Fired Generation Facility Closures-Litigation Funding, was introduced in the Wyoming House of Representatives on March 2. It is co-sponsored by Representatives 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 and Senators Baldwin, Biteman, Boner, Dockstader, Driskill, French, Hicks, Hutchings, Kolb, Kost, Landen, Pappas, Schuler, Steinmetz and Wasserburger.
“Coal is one of Wyoming’s largest economic drivers,” said Rep. Haroldson. “Especially as our state faces mounting budget deficits and hostile federal policies, we cannot allow other states to punish our energy producers and threaten the reliability of Wyoming’s electricity to achieve short-sighted political ‘wins.’ It is time that we stopped sacrificing the future reliability of our state’s
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- On March 16, 2021