BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Western Republican lawmakers and industry executives say Washington state is unfairly blocking fossil fuel projects and dictating winners and losers among U.S. companies seeking to export to Asia.

During a Thursday conference in Billings, Republican U.S. Sen. Steve Daines of Montana and other officials singled out Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, for allegedly blocking increased coal exports from Wyoming and Montana, the top U.S. coal producing region.

Executives from BNSF Railway and mining company Lighthouse Resources also criticized Washington state's supposed obstruction.

Inslee spokeswoman Tara Lee did not respond directly, citing a pending lawsuit over coal exports.

U.S. coal mining contracted sharply over the past decade. Companies seeking to pivot to Asian markets are frustrated by the cancellation or blockage of proposed coal export terminals on the West Coast.

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