Officials think 'Clean Air' bill will hurt jobs

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State Sen. Al White, R-Hayden, said the state Senate approval of House Bill 10-1365, also known as the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act, on Wednesday, will harm the Colorado coal industry and mining jobs.

Numerous area officials opposed the bill, which is supported by Gov. Bill Ritter and will arrive on his desk for signing within the next few days.

The bill would require some Front Range rate-regulated, coal-fired power plants to be retired, retrofitted with emissions-reducing technology or re-powered to be fueled by natural gas or other low energy-emitting sources.

The bill requires that power plants submit an “emission reduction plan” and “the plans have to give primary consideration to replacing or re-powering coal-fired electric generators with natural gas and to also consider other low-emitting resources including energy efficiency.”

Moffat County Commissioner Tom Gray called the bill “politically driven” and said he was “disappointed” to hear the bill had passed in the Senate.

“I’m disappointed mostly because that was presented as the only option for clean air on the Front Range,” Gray said. “It was crafted and worked on a long period of time, then introduced before we even knew about it.”

The Moffat County Commission sent a letter of opposition March 25 to state senators and representatives that stated, “Moffat County is directly negatively impacted by the implications of HB 10-1365.”

“The coal industry is vital to our economic health and provides high-paying jobs that have no likely offset by additional gas production from our county,” the commissioners wrote in the letter.

Gray said he was frustrated by the speed and manner in which the bill was presented.

“The talks have been going on about this for over a year behind closed doors,” he said. “It was brought out once all the support was gathered so that it could go so fast. Something of this magnitude and precedence-setting shouldn’t have been done that way.”

White opposed the bill, which he said is “going to cause severe adverse effects on the coal industry throughout Colorado.”

White said the passing of the bill could lead to “significant layoffs at Twentymile.”

Twentymile Coal Co., which is in Routt County but employs many Moffat County residents, supplies coal to power plants on the Front Range that will be affected by the bill.

White said that significant amounts of Twentymile’s coal production is shipped to Val­mont Station in Boulder and the Cherokee plant in Commerce City, both rate regulated, coal-fired plants affected by the bill.

Stuart Sanderson, Colorado Mining Association president, said in a news release that passage of the bill would result in production losses of at least 2.6 million tons of coal statewide.

Commissioner Audrey Dan­ner said the bill’s ramifications to county coal jobs concerns her.

“I am very concerned that it will mean a loss of jobs (but) we will have to see,” she said. “I know that those jobs in the coal industry are higher-paying and benefited positions that have been in our community for some time.”

Beth Sutton, spokeswoman for Peabody Energy, which owns Twentymile, would not comment on the impacts of the bill to Twentymile’s coal output or any potential layoffs at the mine.

“It is sure to affect every Coloradan by guaranteeing an increase in energy bills,” Sutton said. “Natural gas is three times more expensive than coal.”

Danner also is opposed to the tone of bill.

“This bill, this was billed as ‘clean air’ and Moffat County supports the concept of clean air,” she said. “However, the bill also included a switch from one natural resource to another and that is pitting one industry against the other when we are going to need all of our natural resources.”

Sanderson said the bill “will not solve Colorado’s air quality problems, as it only focuses on one source ­­— coal-fired power plants.”

“It ignores mobile (automobiles) and other sources that contribute to air quality problems on the Front Range,” Sanderson said in the release.

Gray said he was disappointed the potential of operating vehicles on natural gas was not discussed.

“The bill has as its goal to reduce nitrogen oxides, which the biggest emitters of which are vehicles,” Gray said.

Comments

NewMommy 4 years, 8 months ago

Everyone needs to be really aware of this bill, it is our responsibility as voters to tell our elected officials our opinions and concerns. This will affect everyone in this town, don't doubt it for one second!

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justthefacts 4 years, 8 months ago

Fact: The Moffat County Commissioners sent a letter to state legislators opposing the clean air bill.

Fact: The Moffat County Commissioners should have been in Denver facing the legislators who were moving this bill forward.

Question: What business was more important to the Commissioners than protecting Moffat County jobs?

Fact: Commissioners were busy making campaign calls that day!!!

As Always: Just The Facts

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jeff corriveau 4 years, 8 months ago

I don't often find myself agreeing with "Mr. Facts" but I do on this. A good way to judge this is to ask a simple question: What would Saed Tayyara have done? Always wanting to do right by this town (and county) he would have been in Denver slugging it out for us. None of the County Commissioners had anything, more important than this, on their agenda. The real question here is why wasn't Tom Gray, who works in the coal industry, at the forefront of this? Too busy being the self appointed arch conservative of Moffat County, or what?

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TroyMadsen 4 years, 8 months ago

This will not only hurt the coal workers there are alot of people who supply the mines with supplies that may not be able to continue to operate with out the mines. Imagine what supplies a coal mine uses with in a year. It is endless.

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P51 4 years, 8 months ago

I agree, I think those guys in Washing-tundy-sea are trying to play catch-up. They think that for the last 40 years we have gone backwards or done a "march- in-place" thing on implementing real clean technology and alternative energy. That we are going to clean up the environment overnight? How do they expect a county that is existing in the 19th century can jump into the 21st century at light speed. They must be crazy! Them darn liberals all they care about is cleaning up the air and water and stuff like that. We need to march on Washing-tundy-sea" packin heat".

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GreyStone 4 years, 8 months ago

I like the prospect of clean air, but what in the world is a clean job ?

Possibly a night job at the new Craig hospital cleaning the floors, a night job at some local business stocking shelves or might be a job at the gas station.

How will wages compare with my old job at the large coal company and my new clean job? Don’t need to worry about medical benefits with a clean job, my government will provide those and my friends with the good jobs will pay for that with higher taxes. Thank God for friends with the good jobs.

Not concerned about a new car that I will not be able to pay for… looks like they won’t be very safe anyway.

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jamie felten 4 years, 8 months ago

Everyone in Craig wil be affected by this new bill, if power plants switch to natural gas. Less demand for coal = less workers employeed = less spending in our community. Not only spending in our stores & resturants, but health care as well. Then goes the houseing market as residents who were employeed by these mines start moving else where for jobs. I appreciate clean air as much as everyone else but there are other avenues here. This is not good for Colorado & this is not good for Craig!

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DONTTREADONME 4 years, 8 months ago

One thing no one has mentioned here is the cost of your Utillities are going to increase. They want clean air on the eastern slope they need to look at the real proble wich is not mentioned in the bill either is the amount of vehichles that are emetting 10 times more gases than the power plants emit what this bill boils down to is money just follow it and you will find who is going to profit and it is not the western slope

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westslopeguy 4 years, 8 months ago

Fact: Any phrase with "should" included in its contents is NOT a "fact."

Fact: Unless you were in the Commissioners' office, observing their activities throughout the entire day, "Commissioners were busy making campaign calls that day!!!", cannot be a "fact."

Not necessarily a fact, just my 2cents, Paul

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