Editor's note: The following summary represents state and utility stances after the Supreme Court stayed the Clean Power Plan in February 2016.
Wyoming's political leaders have condemned the Clean Power Plan. As a top-producing coal state that's also heavily reliant on the fuel to power its grid, the state fears a web of red tape, regulatory overreach, grid unreliability and job losses, officials said.
Wyoming is among 27 states challenging the rule in court. But state officials are also contemplating compliance options.
Gov. Matt Mead (R) told E&E in February 2016 that while he considers a Supreme Court stay on the Clean Power Plan "a great bit of good news," his state will continue to plan for the rule, although "maybe not at the same pace." He explained, "We don't want to just put all our eggs in a single basket, and that is the court system."
The stay "provides the states, utilities, coal companies time to figure out how to go about this if, in fact, it does become law," Mead said.
"Frankly, it allows us time to have a new administration take a look at this and see if this is the way to go or if there's a better way to go," the governor added (ClimateWire, Feb. 22).
Wyoming's Legislature has other ideas. Lawmakers passed a budget bill that bars the Department of Environmental Quality from devoting funds to planning for the rule but allows the agency to participate in discussions on the Clean Power Plan (ClimateWire, March 2). Mead signed that bill in March 2016.
Mead has called the Clean Power Plan "scientifically flawed." He said it wouldn't achieve minimum reductions and would be damaging, not just to Wyoming, but to the nation.
Wyoming Sens. John Barrasso and Mike Enzi, both Republicans, have blasted the plan as job-killing regulatory overreach.
"This proposal isn't some isolated bureaucratic rule," Enzi said. "If you can make it too expensive to open a new power plant and prematurely shut down existing plants, you effectively put a stop to coal use in this country. As coal accounts for nearly 40 percent of the nation's electricity, the consequences for all Americans are real. This president needs to understand real families, real businesses, real communities will be hurt."
Barrasso described the rule as a "massive federal grab" rivaling the Affordable Care Act.
"The president is forging ahead with a rule that will undermine electric reliability, disadvantage U.S. manufacturing, destroy coal jobs and force American families to pay more for electricity," Barrasso said in a statement. "This is no different than the 'cap and tax' scheme the President failed to get through a Democrat-controlled Congress in 2009."
Wyoming's 2030 goal is 1,299 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour. That's among the least stringent emissions rate goals in the final rule. It represents a 44 percent reduction below the state's 2012 emissions rate. The draft rule represented a 19 percent reduction.
Travis Deti, assistant director of the Wyoming Mining Association, an industry group, said the plan specifically put the coal industry in its crosshairs.
"When you take away customers, you hurt the coal industry," Deti said.
But the Cowboy State's landowner advocacy group, the Powder River Basin Resource Council, said the rule opens the door for more renewables in Wyoming's power mix.
"I know that Wyoming is capable of meeting the goal set by the EPA," said Gillian Malone, the council's chairwoman. "And reducing our carbon pollution to safe and sustainable levels is really the only way forward. The plan has built-in flexibility that accommodates states like Wyoming, including the option of partnering with other states, which should make adoption of the plan relatively easy. We hope our state government can be creative and come up with a plan rather than choosing to fight the EPA."
Last updated on March 11, 2016 at 12:23 AM