Wyoming lawmakers move ahead with proposed coal lawsuit fund

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming lawmakers advanced a proposal Tuesday to set up a fund to sue states that move away from using coal to generate electricity.

A bill to establish a $1.2 million legal fund in the top coal-mining state advanced without objection to a final vote in the state Senate in the days ahead. The bill earlier passed the House 53-7.

Around 40% of the nation’s thermal coal — the type burned in power plants — comes from the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana. Coal production has been declining for a decade as utilities switch to gas, wind and solar power.

Over half of all states have passed laws encouraging electricity from renewable sources.

“If we don’t start fighting back, we will be dictated by not only the federal government but other states as to where we can move and where we can go and power generation in our state,” Republican Rep. Jeremy Haroldson, of Wheatland, told a House committee earlier this month.

Wyoming and Montana already are suing Washington for denying a permit for a proposed dock that would facilitate coal exports. The states accuse Washington of violating the U.S. Constitution by inhibiting exports, the Casper Star-Tribune reports.

Allowing the facility would cause significant environmental harm, Washington asserts.

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