Citizen Groups to Challenge Dry Fork Power Plant in State Court

Wyoming citizens seek to hold Basin Electric accountable for energy choices


Robin Cooley, Earthjustice, (303) 996-9611

Conservation groups will go to Wyoming state district court to appeal today’s findings by the Wyoming Environmental Quality Council that allow construction of the Dry Fork Station coal-fired power plant using obsolete technology that threatens local air quality and contributes to global warming.

The groups want to make sure that the proposed power plant outside Gillette, Wyoming will be built using the best pollution control technology possible, said Powder River Basin Resource Council Organizer Shannon Anderson.

“This power plant as permitted will degrade Gillette’s air for decades to come. We need to make sure this project meets every legal obligation to protect the health of Wyoming communities before such a huge commitment is made,” Anderson said.

The groups that appealed the plant’s air permit to the council believe there are important legal issues which they will ask a judge to resolve, Anderson said. The challenge was brought by Earthjustice, a non-profit environmental law firm, on behalf of the Powder River Basin Resource Council and Sierra Club.

One issue in the state court appeal will be whether Wyoming’s Department of Environmental Quality (“DEQ”) must regulate greenhouse gas pollution from major sources of these pollutants within the state. Coal-fired power plants are the leading contributors to global climate change, and the Dry Fork Station is estimated to produce 3.7 million tons of carbon dioxide and 25.3 tons of methane each year during its long existence.

Just last week (Nov. 13), the federal Environmental Appeals Board issued a landmark ruling rejecting the Environmental Protection Agency’s excuses for not regulating greenhouse gases from coal-fired power plants and sending the permit back to the agency. 

“DEQ relied on the same excuses that were rejected by the federal appeals board of the EPA, and its decision to ignore greenhouse gases is equally flawed,” said Robin Cooley, staff attorney at Earthjustice. 

“As one of the leading energy producers in the nation, we want Wyoming to also be a leader in addressing impacts from global warming pollution,” said Brad Mohrmann of Wyoming Sierra Club. “Everyone from members of the U.S. Supreme Court to local residents of Wyoming recognize that global warming endangers public health and the environment, and it is time our state regulators stop pointing fingers and start taking responsibility.”

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