Wyoming May Put Big Money Behind A Legal Fight For Coal Export Terminal In Washington

Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter

Wyoming lawmakers are considering a bill to spend $250,000 in state funds to bring back a proposed coal terminal in Washington state.

The bill would put the money in a fund to pay for legal challenges to permit denials, according to Think Progress.

Washington denied a permit in 2017 to build what would be the largest coal export terminal in the U.S. The proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals would export 44 million tons of coal to Asia from Montana and Wyoming.

Washington’s Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon denied the proposal over “too many unavoidable and negative environmental effects.” State regulators have denied every proposed export terminal in the state, six in all, since 2010.

Five GOP state lawmakers pushing the Wyoming bill argue Washington violated the commerce clause of the Constitution. The clause gives Congress authority “to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with Indian Tribes,” implying that individual states are barred from interfering in interstate commerce.

Lighthouse Resources, the company that proposed the terminal, has filed two lawsuits against Washington for denying the permit. One suit claims Washington violated the Constitution, and the other says state regulators created an unnecessarily high bar to obtain permitting.

“It’s no secret that Washington state officials are philosophically opposed to coal,” Lighthouse President and CEO Everett King said, according to The Washington Examiner. “But that does not give them legal authority to discriminate against this project and block foreign trade and interstate commerce.”

When studying the effects of the project, the Washington state ecology department considered nine broad categories, such as air quality and noise. The agency also calculated the environmental impact of all coal shipped to Asia and burned.

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