Wyoming, Montana Ask Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Washington’s Denial of Coal Terminal Permit

Posted in
Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon (Photo Ron Richter ©)

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon held a news conference Tuesday, where he announced that Wyoming and Montana have jointly asked the United States Supreme Court to hear a challenge to Washington State’s denial of the proposed Millennium Bulk coal terminal in Longview, Washington.

Governor Gordon said that specifically, the two states seek to invoke the U.S. Supreme Court's original jurisdiction, which allows for disputes between states to bypass lower courts and proceed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gordon added that in this case, Wyoming and Montana argue that Washington's discriminatory denial of a Section 401 Water Quality Certification for the coal terminal violates both the Dormant Commerce Clause and the Foreign Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. The Commerce Clause to the U.S. Constitution authorizes the federal government — not states — to regulate interstate commerce. Gordon said that he did not make this decision rashly or lightly, but Wyoming’s ability to export one of our greatest natural resources is being blocked unlawfully.

According to information provided in a news release from Governor Gordon’s office, the challenge, which has been in the works for months, stems from a 2017 decision by the Washington Department of Ecology to deny permit applications to build a proposed coal terminal in Longview, Washington called Millennium Bulk. Washington officials denied a Section 401 Water Quality Certification for the Terminal with prejudice, effectively killing the project. Governor Gordon has continually maintained that Washington acted inappropriately in denying the State's Section 401 certification on account of impacts unrelated to water quality issues. Governor Gordon said that he remains hopeful that the U.S. Supreme Court will act expeditiously and grant a hearing on this issue that is critical to the state's economic interests.