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Wyoming Threatens Legal Action as Washington State Distances Itself From Coal Export Project

February 12, 2018

Longview Daily News (Washington):

The state of Wyoming is considering suing Washington state over coal.

In yet another plot twist in the protracted Millennium Bulk Terminals saga, a bill introduced Friday by Wyoming state Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, would create a $250,000 “coal terminal litigation account.”

Under the legislation, the fund could be used to hire a private law firm to sue Washington over the denial of permits needed for the construction of Millennium’s $680 million proposed coal dock in Longview.

Millennium’s parent company, Lighthouse Resources, Inc., is already suing Gov. Jay Inslee’s administration in U.S. District Court over the state’s denial of a key water quality permit and aquatic lands sublease.

Lighthouse owns vast coal mines in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, and coal production has been a cornerstone of that state’s economy since the 1970s.

In addition to Inslee, the complaint names state Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon and Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz as co-defendants.

Similar to language in the federal lawsuit, Wyoming’s HB 0123 accuses Washington of unconstitutionally interfering with interstate and global commerce.

According to the bill, the litigation fund is necessary to prevent “further harm of serious magnitude” to Wyoming’s economic interests. The fund could be expanded as needed for associated litigation expenses.

A representative with the Washington-based Power Past Coal coalition said Wyoming shouldn’t use taxpayer funds to fight a losing battle.

“Washington state residents were clear: They don’t want to live with the public health and environmental impacts that come with being home to the largest coal export facility in North America,” said Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky, co-director of the coalition and a senior organizer with Columbia Riverkeeper. “Wyoming legislators shouldn’t waste their taxpayers’ money trying to overturn another state’s laws at a time when Asia and the rest of the world is turning away from coal and towards cheaper, cleaner energy sources.”

More: Wyoming mulls bill to sue Washington over Millennium coal permits

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