City Dollars Wanted in Fight for Coal
As environmentalist groups continue in their efforts to shut down coal, one pro-coal group is fighting back to protect the Powder River Basin’s (PRB) most valuable resource.
And they want city dollars to help them do it.
In 2017, Wyoming sold nearly 300 million metric tons of PRB coal to 150 power plants in 28 different states, according to Energy Policy Network (EPN) Executive Director Randy Eminger, who addressed the city council Tuesday, March 5.
“Since then, 17 of these power plants have closed and another 20 are slated to close,” Eminger stated.
The closing of coal-fired power plants across the U.S. are the handiwork of the Sierra Club, according to Eminger, a grassroots environmental organization over 3.5 million members strong.
Despite a more coal-friendly administration in Washington D.C., the Sierra Club continues to experience marginal success across the nation in their war on coal.
Eminger said the success is the result of the Sierra Club refocusing to launch their “Beyond Coal” campaign.
The campaign claims renewable energy is considerably cheaper than coal and investing in coal is not advisable as the world advances into the future.
“We’re seeing a refocus (at the EPN) from the federal to the state type issues to try and kill coal in the states,” Eminger advised.
The efforts of the Sierra Club take aim at influencing public service and utility commission as well as state environmental agencies, rather than taking a crack at federal agencies, to close coal fired power plants early.
This is where the EPN comes into play, flocking to aid of coal-fired power plants when environmentalists come knocking.
The EPN strictly defends PRB coal and the power plants it supplies, having already prevented the Sierra Club from closing of several PRB coal supplied power plants.
Unlike the Sierra Club, the EPN does not have members or membership fees, which is why Eminger appeared before council to request city dollars to aid in their fight for coal, backed by a letter signed by three major coal companies in the PRB, the Wyoming Mining Association, and several others.
“We are supportive of EPN’s efforts to defend the use of PRB coal in the coal consuming states,” the letter reads. “We respectfully request the support of the Gillette City Council to do the same.”
No indication was given on whether or not the council will choose to fund the EPN, however, if the council does it will be the first time the city has given funding to the EPN’s efforts.
City Communications Manager Geno Palazzari said that the EPN had reached out to the council in years prior, but the organization does not disclose the identity of their donors.
The previous council, of which only Gillette Mayor Louise Carter-King and Councilman Tim Carsrud were a part of, hadn’t felt comfortable not knowing and, following a discussion, had declined funding.
Palazzari said thus far, nothing appears to indicate EPN would be willing to disclose who donates to their cause this time around.