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(LETTERS) Lawmakers look to Gov. Mark Gordon for help against BLM’s Powder River Basin coal leasing plan

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Dear Gillette,

To Gov. Mark Gordon: As you know, President Joe Biden’s Bureau of Land Management announced last week its intention to end all future coal leasing in the Powder River Basin — a decision in pursuit of the Biden Administration’s anti-American, anti-energy “climate crisis” agenda.

The BLM’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement refers to the shuttering of the nation’s largest coal producers as “the no-leasing alternative,” which the agency chose while rejecting the slate of other alternatives before it (including “no action” and “limited leasing” alternatives).

According to the agency, the “no-leasing alternative” was chosen after considering air quality, greenhouse gasses, climate change, public health, socio-economics, and “environmental justice.”

In the SEIS analysis of the socioeconomic impacts of the “no-leasing alternative,” the BLM admits that millions of Americans presently rely on coal from the Powder River Basin for energy, and even notes that global market coal demands, especially in Asia, are expected to increase.

Nevertheless, the BLM still chose to eliminate the nation’s largest producers of affordable, plentiful, and clean energy. In justifying the unethical and illegal decision, the agency cited Wyoming’s failure to secure a coal export terminal in Washington State: “A new coal port terminal on the U.S. West Coast is unlikely, as illustrated by the 2021 denial of the U.S. Supreme Court’s acceptance to hear … Wyoming’s complaint that Washington State interfered with their lawful interstate commerce by failing to permit a proposed coal export terminal.” (United States Bureau of Land Management (May 2024). Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and Proposed Resource Management Plan Amendment, Buffalo Field Office, ES-12).

Wyoming’s appeal was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court not on the merits, but on procedural grounds — the State, at your direction, filed our case too late for it to be heard in a timely manner.

This came two years after your veto of a 2018 bill to initiate litigation against Washington State for blocking access to the pacific markets who desperately wanted our clean coal.

As a cooperating agency under the National Environmental Policy Act, Wyoming has the legal ability — and duty — to resist the BLM’s radical move to destroy Wyoming as we know it.

We implore you to step up, fight back, and protect Wyoming, first and foremost by filing a protest with the Bureau of Land Management, and by preparing for a full-fledged legal battle now — not later.

Reps. Bill Allemand, John Bear, Jeremy Haroldson, Scott Heiner, Ben Hornok, Chris Knapp, Chip Neiman, Pepper Ottman, Sarah Penn, Rachel Rodriguez-Williams, Daniel Singh, Allen Slagle, Scott Smith, Tomi Strock, Jeanette Ward and John Winter

Dear Gillette,

To Gov. Mark Gordon: President Joe Biden’s Bureau of Land Management has issued a new Resource Management Plan to stop all mining projects in the Powder River Basin — the nation’s largest coal producing region and contributor to affordable, plentiful, and clean energy for millions of people.

In reaction, you expressed outrage and “profound disappointment” over this bureaucratic death-blow to our state.

I’m with you there. It’s outrageous and profoundly disappointing that out-of-touch D.C. pencil-pushers with an unpopular and unscientific agenda have been able to run roughshod over our State for years with little to no resistance.

Respectfully, I urge you to take this matter seriously and fight back with the ferocity it deserves for the following reasons:

Energy scarcity and poverty will be the norm: Millions of Americans rely on the plentiful power supplied by the Powder River Basin. It’s simple and stark: without reliable power, people will die.

State and local government funding will be severely depleted: A few short months ago, you signed into law the largest budget in Wyoming history, setting the new baseline for future state spending. Shuttering the mines of the Powder River Basin will erase upwards of 40% of the state’s funding for school districts, local governments, and essential services. Huge budget increases combined with a drastic loss of the funding we’ve relied on for decades places our people in a dangerous position.

The plan rejects longstanding federal land use legal principles: The bureau’s decision to promulgate the most radical land use plan ignores Multiple Use & Sustained Yield principles as required by several federal land use laws. The agency’s Environmental Impact Statement makes paltry attempts to consider the impacts of their decision on local economies, access to energy, and more.

In the face of weakness, men with wicked intentions act with boldness. Over the past several years, Wyoming’s leaders have failed to adequately push back against the predations of the Biden Administration.

Your veto of a 2019 bill that would have initiated a lawsuit against the State of Washington for blocking our lawful access to Asian coal markets demonstrated an unwillingness to vigorously advocate for the industry.

Your veto of last session’s Senate File 13, a bill that would have allowed the Legislature to take Biden to court over illegal federal land use plans, signaled to Biden that he won’t be met with a full-fledged opposition in the Cowboy State as he seeks to destroy our legacy industries.

Mr. Governor, now is the time to respond with boldness — the kind of boldness that Biden’s radicalized agencies have used to put us in the position we find ourselves in today.


Rep. Chip Neiman