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Wyoming trying to fight budget woes with coal promotion

December 05, 2020

Casper Star Tribune:

The bad news came on Nov. 16.

Gov. Mark Gordon handed down $500 million in additional reductions across nearly every department that day.

Funding for public services and K-12 education budgets shrunk by double digit percentages.

For weeks, state agencies had been bracing for another round of budget cuts to drop. But two lines on Wyoming’s budget came out relatively unscathed from the austerity measures.

They included a pair of programs aimed at saving the state’s struggling coal industry: a “clean coal marketing program” and an effort to sue the state of Washington for blocking a coal export terminal. The governor proposed funding both at or near pre-pandemic levels.

During the pandemic, the prospects haven’t been so rosy for Powder River Basin coal exports either. For instance, the volume of thermal coal exported from the Westshore Terminals in British Columbia has plummeted, according to a recent report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, an energy think tank. Third-quarter exports this year were just half what they were in 2019. 

[Camille Erickson and Nick Reynolds]

More: As government spending is cut to the bone, Wyoming is spending millions to promote coal. Will it pay off?

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