Wyoming Governor Releases Statement on Coal Case
Governor Mark Gordon has released a statement on a recently released brief by the United States Solicitor General's office.
"I am most disappointed with the position of the US Solicitor General. The core issue of reaffirming a state’s constitutionally protected access to markets remains unresolved and I urge the Supreme Court to continue with the case. One state should not weaponize a water quality statute inappropriately to deny other states the ability to conduct interstate commerce. We will respond to the Solicitor General's brief to stress the critical importance of the commerce clause, particularly to inland states."
The statement refers to a brief put out by the US Solicitor General's office which states that the case Montana and Wyoming seek to bring up to the Supreme Court against Washington is moot.
The case in questions involves a decision not to move forward with a coal terminal meant to ship coal from the two states to Asian countries.
This all started back in 2012 when Millennium Bulk Terminals–Longview, LLC attempted to use 190 acres of land it owned on the Columbia River for a coal terminal.
According to state regulations, the company had to be approved by various environmental departments at the state and federal level before the terminal could be used to ship coal from Powder River Basin and Uitina Basin.
In 2017, the Washington Department of Ecology denied Millennium the ability to use the area as a coal terminal due to the impact shipping coal into and out of the area would have on the surrounding environment.
Millennium eventually sued the state and federal government, saying that this was an effort by the state to suppress the coal industry.
In 2019, Montana and Wyoming joined together in a bill of complaint against Washington, alleging, like Millennium, that the reason the coal terminal was denied was because of political opposition to coal.
However, in December of 2020, Millennium, and its parent company Lighthouse Resource Inc., filed for bankruptcy, and in doing so forfeiting all the land they had, including the area where the coal terminal would have been built.
Which brings things back to the present, where Gordon plans to take some unspecified action in the future in regards to this case, however due to how legal cases work, it may be difficult for Wyoming to have their case heard by the Supreme Court.
In order for a case to be heard, there must be an impact that the decision would have one way or another, and because the Supreme Court siding with Washington or Montana and Wyoming would not have an impact on whether a coal terminal is approved, it is unlikely for the court to hear the case from the states.
The Wyoming Attorney General's office would not comment on pending litigation.