Air Quality Control Commission meets in Craig, hosts public forum | CraigDailyPress.com

Air Quality Control Commission meets in Craig, hosts public forum

Patrick Kelly

Jeff Comstock, director of Moffat County Natural Resources Department, addresses the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission. In his comments, Comstock focused on the economic importance of Craig's energy industry.

The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission welcomed residents of Northwest Colorado to a question-and-answer session Thursday night in an attempt to gain feedback that will aid them in forming Colorado's air quality management programs.

A commission meeting was held from 9 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Thursday, prior to the public comment gathering in the evening.

Moffat County Commissioner Chuck Grobe sits on the commission and was instrumental in getting the board to meet in Craig. It was the first time the commission has met in Moffat County.

John Clouse, vice chair of the commission, gave brief opening remarks before opening the floor to attendees.

The first to speak was Moffat County Commissioner Frank Moe, who thanked the commission for visiting Craig and involving the community.

"You got to tour our area, you got see the mine, you got to see the power plant, you're getting to visit with the people, so that human element is in front of you," he said.

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Jayne Morley, of Craig, was the second audience member to address the commission, opening her comments by stating she has no concerns about the air quality in the Yampa Valley.

"The residents are the stewards to protect the environment here," she said. "We work here, we play here, we clean up after visitors that come to our backyard and leave a mess."

Many of Thursday’s comments revolved around personal attachments to Craig and its energy industry, but Jeff Comstock, Moffat County Natural Resources Department director provided specific insight into Craig's economic dependence on energy generation.

According to Comstock, 55 percent of Moffat County's $30 million tax base comes from the top 10 taxpayers — all of which are energy related businesses, with Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association coming in at number one.

Of that $30 million tax budget, 48 percent goes to the Moffat County School District.

"These energy-dependent companies support an economy in this area that is not even similar to what you see in a tourist-based economy," he said. "So, the decisions the Air Quality Control Commission makes, when it comes to anything that affects energy, it absolutely affects livelihoods and peoples' way of life in this area."

Reach Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or pkelly@craigdailypress.com. Follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.

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