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Sheridan lawmaker urges Gov. Gordon to call special session to protect state's coal sector

 A coal train crosses a bridge over a highway, with the sun setting behind it.
Alan Nash
The Powder River Basin is the top coal producing region in the nation.

Correction: A previous version of this story said Rep. Mark Jennings had sent a letter to Gov. Mark Gordon requesting a special session. According to WyoFile reporting, Jennings is circulating a letter among lawmakers to gather signatures. That letter had not yet been shared with Gordon’s office at the time this story was published.

Rep. Mark Jennings (R-Sheridan), a member of the Wyoming Freedom Caucus, is circulating a letter among lawmakers asking Gov. Mark Gordon to call a special session. It’s the second such call in three months.

According to WyoFile reporting, Jennings urges Gordon in a draft letter to fight the federal government’s proposed plan to end new federal coal leases in the Powder River Basin by 2041. Though production there has declined since 2008, the Basin is the nation's largest supplier of coal, and a boon for Wyoming's economy.

Michael Pearlman, Gordon’s communications director, told Wyoming Public Radio that the governor had no intention of responding to a letter the governor didn’t receive.

Rep. John Bear (R-Gillette), is also a member of the Wyoming Freedom Caucus. He said that the majority of Caucus members support Jennings's call for a special session. Bear said that Gordon should initiate a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Bureau of Land Management, to protect Wyoming's energy sector.

"And, to send a message," Bear said. "We need to defend our legacy of supplying the nation with fuel."

In May, Gordon released $300,000 to the Wyoming Energy Authority to fund the state’s ongoing litigation efforts.

This reporting was made possible by a grant from the Corporation For Public Broadcasting, supporting state government coverage in the state. Wyoming Public Media and Jackson Hole Community Radio are partnering to cover state issues both on air and online.

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