CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming and Montana asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to rule on Washington State’s denial of a permit for a port facility that could boost U.S. coal exports.
The coal-producing Rocky Mountain states argue the denial violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits states from impeding trade between one another and with other countries.
Montana and Wyoming officials want South Jordan, Utah-based Lighthouse Resources to be able to open its proposed $680 million Millennium Bulk Terminals project in Longview, Washington.
At stake could potentially be a good-sized chunk of the U.S. coal industry. Domestic coal-fired power generation has declined 40 percent over the past decade amid competition from cheaper and cleaner-burning natural gas and renewable energy, contributing to a steep decline in coal mining and several bankruptcies among the industry’s biggest players.
The Washington Department of Ecology has imposed a “de facto blockade” on the coal-mining states by denying a key permit for the coal port facility in 2017, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon said at a news conference.
“This case is about the right of states to conduct commerce, a question as old as our Constitution,” said Gordon, a Republican.