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Proposed Wyoming bill could help fund Northwest coal port

World Coal,

Lawmakers in the state of Wyoming advocate a bill that would enable the state to issue US$1billion in bonds to support the construction of a Northwest port for shipping coal to Asia.

Under the proposed bill, the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority would gain power to issue bonds to support projects that are entirely outside Wyoming.

Loyd Drain, Executive Director of the Authority has indicated that officials do not have any particular project in mind that it would like to fund, but that it wants to be ready to act.

Jonathan Downing, Director of the Wyoming Mining Association, has said that he views the pending legislation as “another tool in the toolbox for trying to develop these port and get access to some of these foreign markets”.

The state is facing slumping domestic demand for coal because of tough federal rules for power plant emissions and cheaper natural gas and efforts to access Asian markets have so far been stifled. Wyoming and Montana are appealing last year’s decision by Oregon regulators to reject a proposal from a subsidiary of Ambre Energy to build a coal terminal at the Port of Morrow, on the Columbia River. An administrative hearing is set for December.

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead has argued that Oregon’s rejection of the Port of Morrow project interferes with Wyoming’s right to engage in interstate commerce.

Representative Tom Lockhart, R-Casper, is Chairman of the House Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee, which together with its Senate Committee endorsed the bill. Lockhart argues that exporting Wyoming coal to Asian markets could result in a net decrease in global air emissions”

“A lot of the coal that’s being burned is not of the quality that we have in Wyoming,: he said. “It’s one that’s harder to control the effluent; ours is easier. Ours is a low-sulfur comparatively, and so I think it would be an improvement overall for the environment”.

Written by Emma McAleavey.

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