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Wyoming Bill Pushes to Oust Clean Energy in US; Coal Supporters Leading Opposition

Jan 24, 2017 10:30 AM EST
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In what appears to be a surprising turn of events, while many US states have incentives to get more of their electricity from renewable energy, some Republican legislators in Wyoming are proposing to cut the state off its most abundance source -- wind energy.

This is courtesy of a new measure submitted to the Wyoming legislature that would forbid utilities from providing any electricity to the state coming from large-scale wind or solar energy projects by 2019.

According to Inside Climate News, this is an "unprecedented" attack on clean energy in Wyoming and even in the U.S. This is ironic as it comes in a time that resources are becoming cheaper and increasingly in demand as the world seeks to transition to clean energy to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

Wyoming News said the bill is sponsored by nine people -- courtesy of two state senators and seven representatives, who are largely from Wyoming's top coal-producing counties and include some deniers of manmade climate change. Activists and energy experts are alarmed by the measure, which would levy steep fines on utilities that continue providing "non-eligible" clean energy for the state's electricity. However, they are skeptical if it will get enough support to become law.


Shannon Anderson, director of the local organizing group Powder River Basin Resource Council, said that this is essentially a "reverse renewable energy standard."

Last year, Republican Gov. Matt Mead introduced a new energy plan for the state that involved "doubling down" on coal. However, even this fossil fuel-centric plan included room for the state's renewable resources, especially wind energy, to grow.

Wyoming News noted that the new bill mandated utilities to use "eligible resources" to meet 95 percent of the state's electricity needs in 2018 and then all of its power supply in 2019. These are defined as hydroelectric, coal, natural gas, net metering sources, nuclear and oil.

Wyoming generates and consumes mostly coal-powered electricity. Nearly 90 percent of electricity generated in the state came from coal in September 2016, according to the latest month with available data. 

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