Governor Mark Gordon, Senators Barrasso and Lummis, and Congresswoman Cheney blasted the Biden Administration after Wyoming coal communities were conspicuously left out of the finalists for the Economic Development Administration’s $1 Billion “Build Back Better Regional Challenge” and specifically the Coal Communities Commitment program.
The federal government’s Economic Development Administration named 60 finalists, including 12 finalists in coal communities, to which EDA has dedicated $100 million in funds to its Coal Communities Commitment as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. None of the coal community finalists were in Wyoming, Montana or North Dakota. Wyoming is the country’s largest coal-producer, producing nearly three times the number of short tons of coal as the next largest state.
“I am furious that this administration has turned its back on the number one coal-producing state, but given their track record to date, I am not surprised. Wyoming coal communities were absolutely ignored in our efforts to deploy new technologies, ” Governor Gordon said. “These decisions are clearly political and not based on merit. It is absolutely disingenuous to hear President Biden’s bureaucrats say they are concerned about our state when they slam the door on these communities’ future. This is truly DC at its worst.”
Three different grant applications were submitted from Wyoming from the Build Back Better Regional Challenge. Those included strong applications from the State of Wyoming, the University of Wyoming and Campbell County.
Wyoming’s federal delegation joined the Governor in responding to the snub.
“It’s absurd that a grant program intended to support coal communities fails to include a single community in Wyoming. We’re the largest coal-producing state in the nation. President Biden and the Economic Development Administration owe the people of Wyoming an explanation,” Senator Barrasso said. “The blanket rejection of all Wyoming applications is a slap in the face to our coal communities, energy workers and their families. Either this was a terrible oversight that can be quickly corrected, or it was another direct, intentional assault on Wyoming’s livelihood by an out-of-touch administration. Wyoming deserves better and we deserve answers.”
Senator Lummis said, “This grant process is just another example of the Biden administration’s tone deaf approach to communities reliant on the energy industry. Campbell County, quite literally the coal capital of the nation, was not even considered among the finalists. This administration talked a big game about how they would transition communities away from coal, but when they had the opportunity, they left these communities out in the cold.”
“The Biden Administration has repeatedly targeted the coal industry in Wyoming and today’s announcement further demonstrates that,” Representative Liz Cheney said. “It strains credulity to believe that the Administration would not allow any Wyoming communities to access these resources, despite the fact that our state is the nation’s leader in coal production. I join Governor Gordon and our congressional delegation in expressing my profound disappointment that the Administration would deliberately prevent Wyoming coal producers from accessing these grants, and this decision further underscores why I voted against the initial $1.9 trillion dollar bill that created this program, because it’s clear that the funding in the legislation would not benefit the people of Wyoming.”