Wyoming v. Oklahoma, 502 U.S. 437 (1992)

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on exceptions to report of special master

No. 112, Orig. Argued November 4, 1991—Decided January 22, 1992

Wyoming, a major coal-producing State, does not sell coal, but does impose a severance tax on those who extract it. From 1981 to 1986, Wyoming provided virtually 100% of the coal purchased by four Oklahoma electric utilities, including the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA), a state agency. However, after the Oklahoma Legislature passed an Act requiring coal-fired electric utilities to burn a mixture containing at least 10% Oklahoma-mined coal, the utilities reduced their purchases of Wyoming coal in favor of Oklahoma coal, and Wyoming's severance tax revenues declined. Wyoming sought leave to file a complaint under this Court's original jurisdiction, seeking a declaration that the Act violates the Commerce Clause and an injunction permanently enjoining the Act's enforcement. The motion was granted over Oklahoma's objections that Wyoming lacked standing to bring the action and should otherwise not be permitted to invoke original jurisdiction. Oklahoma's subsequently filed motion to dismiss, which raised the same issues, also was denied. After a Special Master was appointed, the States filed cross-motions for summary judgment, with Oklahoma once again asserting the standing and appropriateness issues. The Special Master filed a Report recommending that this Court hold that Wyoming has standing to sue, that this case is appropriate to original jurisdiction, and that the Act violates the Commerce Clause. It also recommended that the Court either dismiss the suit as it relates to the GRDA without prejudice to Wyoming to assert its claim in an appropriate forum, or, alternatively, find the Act severable to the extent that it may constitutionally be applied to the GRDA. Both States have filed exceptions.

Held: 1. Wyoming has standing. The prior rulings on standing in this case "should be subject to the general principles of finality and repose, absent changed circumstances or unforeseen issues not previously litigated." Arizona v. California, 460 U. S. 605, 619. Oklahoma has never suggested any change of circumstances, but has recited the same facts, cited the same cases, and constructed the same arguments in each of its briefs. Moreover, Wyoming's submission satisfies the test for standing, since the State's loss of severance tax revenues fairly can be traced to the Act. See Maryland v. Louisiana, 451 U. S. 725, 736. Cases where standing has been denied to States claiming general declines in tax rev-


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