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Rez border part of Legislature's pushback on EPA; two bills filed

Feb 25, 2014 - By Ben Neary, The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- Two bills expressing the displeasure of Wyoming lawmakers with what many of them see as an attack on coal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency moved a step forward on Monday.

The House Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee advanced a joint resolution that would call on Congress to require the EPA to respect the state's primacy in setting guidelines to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.

The committee also endorsed another bill that would authorize Wyoming Attorney General Peter Michael to take legal action against the EPA if he believes the federal agency is exceeding its authority.

Marion Loomis, head of the Wyoming Mining Association, testified in favor of both bills.

"I think it just gives the state one more arrow in the quiver, and it would take a little pressure off our Department of Environmental Quality to challenge some of these rules," Loomis said.

Wyoming is the largest coal-producing state and has been facing off against the EPA on a range of issues regarding federal air quality regulations as it sees its coal production dwindle.

Monday's committee hearing came as the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on a challenge from industry groups and some other Republican-led states attacking the EPA's decision to cut the emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases.

Wyoming wasn't a party to the case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court but was among several states on an amicus brief supporting the challengers.