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Wyoming sues EPA, saying that new rules will “destroy” coal industry

 A coal plant belches out steam on a snowy day.
Caitlin Tan
Wyoming Public Media

This story is part of our new Quick Hits series. This series will bring you breaking news and short updates from throughout the state.

Wyoming is joining about two dozen other states in a pair of lawsuits challenging new rules from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The EPA will require most coal power plants to slash their emissions by 90 percent by 2032. Also, the plants will have stricter standards to prevent leaks from coal ash storage and will have to further reduce pollutants from wastewater. Advocates say this is great news for the climate and people’s health. But states like Wyoming and the coal industry are horrified.

“The only goal appears to be destroying Wyoming’s fossil fuel industry by further burdening our power plants, increasing costs to consumers, and threatening the stability of our nation's electrical grid,” said Wyoming’s Gov. Mark Gordon in a press release.

There are two lawsuits at play. One, filed on May 9 that includes 24 states, claims the EPA’s new rule “exceeds its authority” and that it ignores a previous U.S. Supreme Court decision from 2022 that vacated limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

The other lawsuit, filed May 8, includes 22 other states. It claims that reducing the emissions will have no corresponding health benefits and that the costs to states like Wyoming and related industries will be hefty.

But environmental groups argue otherwise. They say that the corresponding health benefits are notable, especially when it comes to climate change.

“It is also a major step forward in our movement’s fight to decarbonize the electric sector and help avoid the worst impacts of climate change,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Ben Jealous in a press release. He added that the EPA rules will help ensure every person, regardless of zip code, gains access to clean air, safe water and a stable climate.

Notably, coal production in the state is down 20 percent compared to this time last year, and that’s before any of these new federal rules have gone into effect. Also, Wyofile recently reported that the declines could lead to industry layoffs and mine closures before the 2032 deadline.

Earlier this week, Gov. Gordon announced Wyoming had signed onto another lawsuit against the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives over a new rule seeking to close the so-called gun show loophole.

Caitlin Tan is the Energy and Natural Resources reporter based in Sublette County, Wyoming. Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 2017, she’s reported on salmon in Alaska, folkways in Appalachia and helped produce 'All Things Considered' in Washington D.C. She formerly co-hosted the podcast ‘Inside Appalachia.' You can typically find her outside in the mountains with her two dogs.
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