A group of coal miners and power plant workers load a charter bus early Wednesday morning that headed to Denver to rally in support of the coal industry. The bus left the Kmart parking lot in Craig at 6 a.m.

Photo by Noelle Leavitt Riley

A group of coal miners and power plant workers load a charter bus early Wednesday morning that headed to Denver to rally in support of the coal industry. The bus left the Kmart parking lot in Craig at 6 a.m.

Moffat County residents head to Denver to testify on behalf of coal industry

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— Dozens of Moffat County residents headed to Denver early Wednesday to testify on behalf of the coal industry at the Environmental Protection Agency’s listening tour where regulations on carbon emissions for existing power plants will be discussed.

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Owner of Cook Chevrolet Scott Cook signs a petition to keep coal-fired power plants alive prior to a group of Moffat County residents heading to Denver to rally in support of coal at an Environmental Protection Agency listening session. He was one of nearly 30 residents who gathered at McDonald's at 5 a.m. Wednesday morning.

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Yampa Valley Baptist Church Pastor Dale Potter and his wife Rosie read a petition in support of coal-fired power plants at McDonald's early Wednesday morning.

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Kerry Moe, wife of Frank Moe who is running for Moffat County Commissioner next year, signs a petition to keep coal fired power plants alive. She joins a large group of Moffat County residents who headed to Denver at 6 a.m. Wednesday morning to testify at an Environmental Protection Agency listening session taking place in downtown Denver Wednesday.

About 30 constituents gathered for a free pancake breakfast at McDonald’s at 5 a.m. Wednesday to sign petitions, stating the importance of the coal industry in Craig and rural parts of Colorado.

“We have to do all we can to make our voices heard,” said Craig resident Tracy Winder. “So I commend the people who organized this.”

After breakfast, coal miners, power plant workers, business leaders and concerned residents piled into their cars and onto a Denver-bound charter bus.

“It think it’ll be a good project,” said Neil Folks, who headed to Denver. “The (EPA) leaders need to be aware of the economic and social impacts of shutting down power plants.”

Frank and Kerry Moe, who own Best Western Plus Deer Park Inn & Suites in Craig, helped organize the caravan to Denver. The couple has testified in support of coal-fired power plants several times in Denver over the years.

“All they are doing is putting hundreds of thousands of people out of work,” Kerry Moe said about the EPA and its carbon emissions regulations. “We have to keep trying, whether they hear us or not.”

In September, the EPA outlined its plans to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants under President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

“EPA is proposing carbon pollution standards for power plants built in the future and is kicking off the process of engagement with states, stakeholders and the public to establish carbon pollution standards for currently operating power plants,” according an EPA fact sheet.

Moffat County residents want to make sure that carbon pollution standards developed by the EPA do not threaten the livelihood of Craig’s coal-fired power plant Craig Station, owned and operated by Tri-State Generation & Transmission — the main reason why Craig residents wanted to testify before the EPA on Wednesday.

The EPA listening tour takes place at 10:30 a.m. at the EPA Region 8 office in Denver. Moffat County constituents will testify on the rural coal industry’s behalf. At about 1:30 p.m., a rally on the west steps of the state Capitol will take place before Moffat County residents head back to Northwest Colorado.

“I just figure that we need to at least be heard and let people know how important coal is to the economy,” said Larry Maiolo, who works at Twentymile Coal Co. “They’re trying to starve us out of affordable energy.”

Noelle Leavitt Riley can be reached at 970-875-1790 or nriley@craigdailypress.com.

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