Clean Air measure could reduce coal mining jobs

The Moffat County Commission took action on a bill Thursday the commissioners believe could reduce coal mining jobs in Moffat County.

During a special meeting, the commission approved, 3-0, to send a letter of opposition to state senators and representatives regarding Colorado House Bill 10-1365, also known as the “Clean Air - Clean Jobs Act.”

The bill, which was introduced into the state senate Tuesday, 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.

It 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.”

In the opposition letter, the commission wrote, “Moffat County is directly negatively impacted by the implications of HB 10-1365.”

The commission cited that Moffat County provides about 25 percent of Colorado’s market share of coal.

“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.

Twentymile Coal Co., which is in Routt County but employs many Moffat County residents, supplies coal to at least one plant on the Front Range and could be affected by the legislation.

“I believe it is an anti-pollution bill, but they haven’t taken into account the anti-coal part,” Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers said. “It might be put out as anti-pollution, but it has a direct effect on the coal market.”

Mathers contends Xcel Energy, which owns plants that could be affected by the potential legislation, has alternative motives for supporting the bill.

“If a power-generating station wants to go to natural gas…there is nothing to say they can’t go to natural gas,” he said. “They’re looking for a way to go to natural gas and get paid to do it.

“I think it’s all about dollars, the whole thing.”

Mathers is also concerned about the bill’s potential effect on jobs in Moffat County.

“Are we going to let environmentalists and the EPA shut down all of America?” he said. “That is what is happening. There are too many rules and regulations that is making it too hard for any jobs to exist.

“We’re going to put ourselves right into starvation.”

Xcel Energy spokesman Tom Henley said the company would not speculate on jobs potentially being lost if the bill were to pass.

“We’re going to do a study, where we are going to go through the process to see what the options are,” he said. “What is going to be most beneficial to all customers, what is going to be most cost effective both in the current term and long term.”

Commissioner Audrey Danner said she is concerned with the manner in which the bill has been handled.

“This bill was prepared for over a year with the gas industry and that is pitting one industry against the other,” she said. “If you wanted to have a good bill that meets both sides of the equation — gas and coal — you would have had them all at the table I assume.”

Reeves Brown, executive director of Club 20, a Western Slope advocacy group, said the process in which the bill was developed “is just bad policy.”

“This discussion has been going on for a year and there is no excuse, nor any reason, that this bill should have been kept so quiet for so long and then dumped in everyone’s lap in the waning stages of the legislative session,” Brown said.

Brown also believes that the government should not be “implying judgment on different energy sources.”

“The appropriate role for government is to establish the rules and regulations that concern energy development, to establish the emissions standards, to establish the penalties for non-compliance, and then leave it up to the free market to come up with the best approach to meet those requirements,” he said.

Mathers said the bill is “another Ritter back-door deal that we in Northwest Colorado are going to pay for.”

“The state has learned well from the federal government on how to have back door meetings because this should have been brought out way long ago,” he said. “The coal companies ought to have been brought to the table.

“All of the sudden it’s almost done and we just heard about it.”

State Sen. Al White, R-Hayden, said he is opposing the bill as well.

“I hate to see two constituencies that I care about in conflict with each other but in this situation I’m supporting the coal industry,” he said.

He said the bill could lead to a loss of jobs in the Northwest Colorado coal industry.

“I believe that if this bill passes, it will do more serious damage to the coal industry than will be done to the oil and gas industry if this bill fails,” he said. “I’m trying to pick winners and losers and I think the biggest loser here is the coal industry.”

Comments

lostyermarbles 4 years, 1 month ago

This is VERY scary for the people who depend on this for their livelyhood. But I have to wonder. Was someone just not paying attention?? Sure Ritter does some shady all for the eastern slope things we all know. But, I have to wonder. Were we looking??? Should of been every since the presidential election. We are entering an all government ran US. Someone better be paying attention who's paid to be doing it.

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John Kinkaid 4 years, 1 month ago

Do not complain. You must go along with the decisions of those elites who know best.

If you complain, you will be marginalized at first, labeled an extremist and then silenced.

Having said that...... Commissioners, is there anything that we can do to support the coal industry and defeat this type of legislation?

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rhammel 4 years, 1 month ago

After reading the above article, I have a question for the commissioners: Have you ever weight the effects of polluted air or water and community health against the possible loss of some jobs? It would appear, from reading the artcle, that you have not. This is a matter of public heath, not employment. Which is more important to you and this community?

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eieiolrighty 4 years, 1 month ago

I guess if they would stop using so much electricity...we would stop burning the coal....

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John Kinkaid 4 years, 1 month ago

Power plants in the U.S. are not harming people, plants or animals.

The real story is about taking away your freedom a little more each day.

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STANHATHHORN 4 years, 1 month ago

We have been inundated with the fear that CO,2 gases are blanketing our atmosphere and disrupting the natural cycle of weather. It appears that the fear mongers are suggesting that there is a cloud of CO'2 hanging over our heads. Look-up, CO'2 is 150% heavier than the very air we exist in. So, all the CO'2 that we have been exposed to from local power plants in the last 30-years must be on the ground. It didn't bother me.

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John Kinkaid 4 years, 1 month ago

Pretty sure plant life world wide depends on it. A good reason for it to be close to the ground or ocean surface.

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JimBlevins 4 years, 1 month ago

Especially in today's job market, holding onto jobs is critical. However, there is overwhelming evidence that pollution, including carbon dioxide, causes many problems. It may be hard to see here because of our extremely low population density, but it causes many premature deaths. Rather than trying to fight a loosing battle against cleaning up power plants, it might make more sense to take advantage of change. Since coal is our greatest energy resource, it should be possible to get "clean coal" projects. If a change costs jobs, retraining and placement assistance is due.

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rhammel 4 years, 1 month ago

HR1365 Passed in the House this afternoon, 4/26/2010

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GreyStone 4 years ago

Why not try investing in natural gas for you future …don’t sit around complaining about loosing your job at some dirty coal burning power plant or coal mine, get up and do something about your future.

Some of the world’s wealthiest individuals and companies made their fortunes in oil and natural gas. Investments in this area have the potential to be very profitable, sometimes generating multiple returns on investment. Natural gas is an investment that is particularly timely right now, for some of the following reasons

Natural gas is in short supply in the U.S. Over the next decade, U.S. demand for natural gas is expected to grow by over 30%. Even after natural gas prices soared in 2000, generating record drilling, natural gas production increased only 2% in 2001, not enough to meet one year’s growth in demand.

Alternative energy sources, wind, solar, nuclear etc., are not positioned to replace fossil fuel demand any time in the near future. Coal is not an acceptable alternative because of the environmental problems associated with burning coal. One good sized coal burning electric plant releases enough radioactive material in one year to make two atomic bombs. Not a problem we need in this day and age.

Obviously given the current level of drilling activity both in the U.S. and overseas, gas development can be a very profitable investment, at today’s prices. Looking to the future, the financial picture becomes even brighter, and suggests that now more than ever is the time to get involved, and ride the crest of the wave in natural gas investment within our 401-K.. Take a look at some suggestions from my list:

Williams Company (WMB) Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP (KMP) Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) Encana Corporation( ECA) Devon Energy Corporation (DVN) EOG Resources, Inc. (EOG) Anadarko Petroleum Corporation (APC) Apache Corp. (APA) Baker Hughes Incorporated (BHI) Weatherford International Ltd. (WFT) Schlumberger Limited (SLB) Halliburton Company (HAL)

Good luck with your future…now is the time to take control.

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GreyStone 4 years ago

Disclosure: I am not a financial adviser, just a privet investor. I do hold securities in these companies: HAL, SLB, BHI, BJS, WFT, WMB, CAT, EP, CHK, EOG, NBR

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jeff corriveau 4 years ago

Ritter, as I predicted, is an "out of the closet" Liberal and environmental activist. He attacked the oil and gas industry and is now after coal. Looks to me like he's positioning himself for a job in the Obama administration, probably working under the tuttelage of Ken Salazar at Interior. CALL YOUR LEGISLATORS AND DON'T STOP CALLING UNTIL YOU TALK TO THEM. And don't stop at the ones that represent your area, call as many as you can so OUR voice will be heard.

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Tim Kjera 4 years ago

This bill was introduced by Josh Penry, a Republican, and when asked by a reporter why he wanted to do away with good paying Colorado jobs on the western slope, his reply was something to the effect, that would we rather him do it, or wait for the EPA to do it? What a disgusting statement!

Ritter couldn't get on board fast enough - but this wasn't his proposal. I am starting to think Penry is more interested in playing politics and less concerned about us, or our jobs.

If we shut down our coal mines and power plants in Routt and Moffat Counties, most of the working people here couldn't afford to pay their property taxes, let alone pay for the huge increase in electricty rates. I think the good the mines and power plants contribute to our communities/society more than makes up for the pollution they create. And please, don't forget Josh Penry the next time he wants to get re-elected to anything. When HE doesn't have a job, we'll be on the right track.

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John Kinkaid 4 years ago

Josh Penry......hmmm.

Well, now I know who to call.

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Ray Cartwright 4 years ago

Xcel Energy spokesman Tom Henley said the company would not speculate on jobs potentially being lost if the bill were to pass.

“We’re going to do a study, where we are going to go through the process to see what the options are,” he said. “What is going to be most beneficial to all customers, what is going to be most cost effective both in the current term and long term.”

I would like to know what kind of smoke and mirrors that Mr. Henley is trying to provide to the american public. Excel is on schedule to revamp these Power Plants (inclucing the Hayden Station) and it will cost Excel nothing, nada, zilch. Excel will be redoing these Plants at the cost of the taxpayer and they will reap all of the benefits. The cost of electricity produced from Natural gas as opposed to Coal is double so you can look for Excel to pass those costs to you in a pass through fashion..

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John Kinkaid 4 years ago

I do budget billing on my electric bill. My house is all electric. I have already been told that my bill is going up due to an Excel gas cost that is being passed onto customers. "Under my plan, electricity rates would necessarily sky rocket." Obama as a candidate. Our power plants are already clean. http://www.thelocal.de/sci-tech/20100327-26163.html

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CindyLou 4 years ago

I guess the good the good thing is that none of us will be able to afford the internet when our electricity bill jumps $400 a month and our gas bill goes to $300 a month. But that is just for the 20% left who will still have jobs in this town, the rest will get the government subsides to pay their heating bills and they will still be able to afford the internet so they can continue to log-on to the CDP and make stupid comments about how losing mining jobs is ok if it removes 10 parts per billion CO2 from our air because Moffat County is just a polluted dump after running a coal fired power plant for the last fifty years and we can all hardly breath.....oh wait that's Denver that's the polluted dump and they don't even have any coal fired power plants.

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DONTTREADONME 4 years ago

I have spent the last two Hours calling all state Senators wich will (tommorow) have A second reading of the bill 1365 WICH has not yet passed so we need too keep calling. Cindylou You hit the nail on the head dead center. If we want something done we have to do it our selves. To who asked what the Commissioners can do I have the video from Sheriff Macks seminar in Montrose last weekend wich goes into detail about the powers of Commissioners and the power the Sheriff has if you want to see it be at the Taxed Enough Already meeting on Wed. night at Serendipities

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taxslave 4 years ago

It concerns me that those who are in charge of running our local government act so surprised when they hear of legislation like this "sneaking up on them".

If you'll refer to the reader column, under Government...I posted this legislation over a year ago. That was the time to send letters of objections and make phone calls...which I did....especially Salazars office.

It looks to me that those we pay to watch over us are not doing their homework. Another, "No one saw it coming".......

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PatrickHenrysRevenge 4 years ago

These events have inspired a poem:

Environmentalism... Communism... Please, kick me in the face.

The End.

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P51 4 years ago

So this is the next bouncing ball that Dick Army and the trained "Seals" at Fixed Noise Comedy channel have told the tea baggers to chase. Republicans and Tea Baggers are just a flash mob with Tourette's.

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