Moffat County residents will head to Denver on Wednesday to protest EPA regulations

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Moffat County residents are heading to Denver on Wednesday to rally and testify against the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to enact new regulations for existing coal-fire power plants.

“Rural communities in Colorado are rallying for their livelihood and against, plainly and simply, a federal agency that is trying to put the coal industry out of business,” said Stuart Sanderson, president of the Colorado Mining Association.

The EPA is hosting listening sessions nationwide to go over their plans to regulate the carbon emissions from coal-burning power plants. They will set up in Denver on Wednesday and listen to testimony throughout the day.

City Councilman Ray Beck will testify on behalf of Club 20, an organization that brings together rural Colorado counties to lobby for their interests.

“It’s important that we support our power plants and coal miners,” he said. “We don’t need increased regulations that are going to hamper not just our power plant and coal economy but our region. This is serious.”

Peabody is chartering buses all across the county to get its employees to listening sessions. So far they have chartered two buses to take Craig miners and interested residents down to Denver to represent a community that depends on a traditional energy industry. The buses will depart Craig at 6 a.m. from Kmart and there will be a send-off rally and pancake feed at McDonald’s from 5 to 6:15 a.m. McDonald’s is providing free pancakes for participants.

Frank Moe, owner of Best Western Deer Park Inn & Suites and candidate for the Moffat County Commission seat opening up in 2014, has two large comment cards to collect Moffat County opinions. They’re being held at the hotel, and will be sent directly to the EPA.

Regulations have “the potential in the very near future to totally affect our economy,” he said. “There’s been over 200 coal-fire power plants closed over the nation. In our area that would be totally devastating.”

Moe said he hopes to see a large group from Moffat County support traditional energy.

“Everybody in Craig and Moffat County should be interested,” he said.

Some of the fervor sparked because of the EPA’s proposed regulations for new power plants that would restrict how much carbon dioxide power plants could release into the atmosphere. Such regulations might make it impossible for companies to build new plants and it won’t curb pollution, Sanderson said.

“It will do nothing to impact climate either way,” he said.

County Commissioner John Kinkaid will be testifying and said that this is a critical issue.

“If these EPA regulations were enacted it would mean hundreds of jobs lost in the valley,” he said. “The economic fallout would be disastrous.”

The final regulations won’t be proposed until June 2014 and won’t be finalized until June 2015, but the listening sessions are an opportunity for the EPA to get an idea of how to shape their final product.

Erin Fenner can be reached at 970-875-1794 or efenner@craigdailypress.com.

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