The Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots hosted a forum Thursday night to hear from Moffat County Commissioner John Kinkaid about his recent visit to Washington, D.C., to attend a National Association of Counties steering committee meeting on energy, environment and land-use issues. The event in Craig also provided a forum for candidates running for the District 3 county commissioner seat opening up in 2015.
Kinkaid discussed two resolutions that passed through NACO’s steering committee. One recommended that Congress reconsider restrictions on the coal industry, and the other addressed how species would be evaluated when considered for the endangered species list.
Both resolutions would press Congress to consider economic impacts when passing down restrictions. If the resolutions move forward and are passed by NACO as a whole, it would determine which issues the lobbying body would prioritize, Kinkaid said.
“I was really tickled that (the) NACO (steering committee) passed that,” he said. “We’re talking about people. It’s not about ideology or numbers. It’s about real people’s lives.”
It is important for Congress to think about different perspectives when handing down regulations, Kinkaid said.
“What we’re seeing from coal-fire power plants is not really pollution,” he said.
Kinkaid also was able to get together with other county commissioners from across the country to talk about traditional energy, and they intend to start a coal coalition, he said.
“We’re going to continue building on what we built and what we started this week,” he said.
Kinkaid asked attendees of the event to give U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., a call and encourage him to push for coal issues. He attended the event on behalf on the county and with taxpayer support, he said.
Energy was a hot topic during the county commissioner forum, as well.
Candidate Frank Moe, owner of Best Western Inn and Suites, said the Craig economy was under duress because of federal and state decisions.
“Our economy locally has been under such pressure,” he said. “We need to stand up and change minds.”
While energy is an important issue for the county, it is important because of the impact on the community, he said.
“I truly believe Moffat County is blessed with resources above and below ground,” he said. “Our greatest resource is our people.”
Candidate Tom Soos, emergency management coordinator for the county, said the Board of County Commissioners should prepare for the worst case scenario as well as lobbying nationally.
“What do we do if it doesn’t go our way? How do we save the power plant?” he said. “What’s Plan B? If coal’s not a viable option, what are we going to do?”
Among other things, the candidates also took time to discuss health care and economic development.
“Everybody in this room thinks if you dial 911, someone’s coming, and that’s true,” Soos said. “But does that mean now or a half-hour from now?”
Moe pressed that as commissioner, while he would advocate at the state and federal level for traditional energy, he also would focus on local economic development.
Economic development “is not an unusual subject. It is something that’s been addressed and taken seriously,” he said.
Contact Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com.