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Cue The Lawsuit:  The Biden Administration Goes After Coal Plants


Wyoming governor Mark Gordon is promising to sue the federal government over new rules that aim to put the coal industry on ice.

The US Environmental Protection Agency issued four “final” rules, as they’re called, that mandate that existing coal-fired power plants cut or capture 90% of their planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions by 2032 or convert to natural gas or shutter their plants altogether.

Other rules set timelines for significant cuts to smokestack emissions of mercury and other toxic metals, polluted wastewater from coal power plants and more stringent standards for coal ash disposal.

The Biden Administration says that’ll cut back on “human-caused climate change.”

And the EPA said the new rules were crafted in conjunction with coal-reliant utilities using schedules that would avoid electric supply issues.

WyoFile reports the rules put Wyoming coal mines on notice that their already-waning US customer base has an expiration date.

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“It is clear the only goal envisioned by these rules released by the Environmental Protection Agency today is the end of coal communities in Wyoming,” Gordon said in a prepared statement. “EPA has weaponized the fear of climate change into a crushing set of rules that will result in an unreliable electric grid, unaffordable electricity and thousands of lost jobs.”

The Wyoming Mining Association also discounted climate change as an excuse to attack the coal industry.

“Wyoming is once again the sacrificial lamb on the altar of the climate change cult,” the association’s Executive Director Travis Deti said.

Wyoming remains the nation’s largest coal producer, although production has plummeted by nearly half since 2008, with companies shipping some 237 million tons in 2023, according to the Wyoming State Geological Survey. More than 90% of coal mined in the state is sold to power plants in the U.S., which is why it’s often referred to as “thermal coal” — unlike “metallurgic coal” that is sold to steel manufacturers.

Coal mining contributed some $650 million in taxes, royalties and fees to the state in 2019 and employed more than 5,000 workers, according to the Wyoming Mining Association.

The vast majority of coal mining occurs in the Powder River Basin in the northeast corner of the state, while several communities host nearby coal-fired power plants: Gillette, Glenrock, Wheatland, Kemmerer and Rock Springs.

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