Attorney General Tim Fox said on Tuesday that Montana has the largest coal reserves of any state in the nation.

The state of Washington has denied a permit for both Montana and Wyoming to ship coal out of a proposed terminal in Longview, Washington, however the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution grants the federal government—not states—authority to regulate interstate commerce.

“When Washington Governor Jay Inslee and his administration decided that they wanted to block the export of coal, they did it for very political reasons,” said Fox. “The  agency that was considering this operation was going to do one thing, but when they sent it up to Governor Inslee, his administration intervened and ordered them to make a totally different decision, so it’s pretty clear what they did and why they did it.”

Fox said the U.S. Constitution forbids one state from hindering the legitimate trading practices of another state through the Commerce Clause.

“This is exactly what the framers of our Constitution meant when they put in the foreign commerce clause, to prohibit coastal states from blocking landlocked states from exporting their commodities and goods,” he said.

Montana and Wyoming are asking for original jurisdiction, which means the dispute would bypass lower courts and go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We’ve really done our homework and we believe the case is pretty clear and we have reason to believe that we’ll be granted the leave to file and the case will go forward.”

The state of Washington has 60 days to file a response to Montana and Wyoming’s petition.

Fox said if the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear the case it could still take several years before any final decision.

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