Club 20 supporting coal industry on Western Slope |

Club 20 supporting coal industry on Western Slope

Brian Smith

Club 20, a Western Slope lobbying organization, unanimously agreed the coal industry in Colorado is vital to communities and local economies during a meeting Friday in Grand Junction.

Club 20 Chairman Jeff Comstock, who is also Moffat County's natural resources director, discussed his organization's support of the industry at the Moffat County Commission's regular Tuesday meeting.

Comstock said Club 20 approved a policy stating the organization supports the viability of the coal industry and acknowledges the social and economic contributions it makes to local communities.

"The significance of this is huge, because what it does is allows Club 20 to lobby on bills or regulations that would affect the coal industry," Comstock said.

Comstock said Club 20 board members representing 22 counties approved the policy.

"It shows the importance of the energy industry," Comstock said of the resolution passing unanimously.

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Club 20 has lobbied for the coal industry in the past, Comstock said, but the organization has not had a direct resolution concerning it.

However, Comstock said it wasn't until the previous legislative session and the passing of Colorado House Bill 10-1365, also known as the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act, that Club 20 became aware of the need for a formal, supportive coal policy.

"Coal was always a default, no-brainer," he said. "In the past, Club 20 always said, 'No one is going to challenge coal. Coal is a base-load fuel.' Well, this legislature showed different."

Club 20 has resolutions on renewable energy sources as well as natural gas and uranium, among others, which were approved in the past, but nothing on the books about coal, Comstock said.

At Club 20's Friday meeting, Comstock said there was a lot of discussion about the meaning of H.B. 10-1365 and the impact the bill would have.

"I would actually characterize the entire debate as thoughtful, but no one at all was against the recognition that coal is a base-load power supply that needed protection," he said. "The debate was very non-controversial (and) very supportive."

The resolution outlines the reasons Club 20 should support coal and cites the "critically important" industry, which provides "long-term" and "high-paying" jobs to many communities.

"In the interest of energy security, our nation has the responsibility to fully develop our domestic energy resources, including coal, using the most efficient and environmentally friendly technology available," the resolution states.

Commissioner Tom Mathers said he was "very pleased" with Club 20's support of the coal industry.

"The whole Western Slope is ready to get up in arms over some of these decisions (legislators) are making about the natural resources we have and how they are going to control them for us, without giving us any input on it," he said.

However, the unanimous support of the coal industry shown by Club 20, Mathers said, represents a larger issue.

Mathers said some Western Slope counties are "getting fed up" with state legislators for "doing things that take away our livelihoods" and being at the "bottom of the food chain."

"They say, 'You're part of our state, you have to do this,'" he said. "They never get down and say, 'Well I guess you are a community and you're a county, you ought to have a little bit of say … in what we are doing to your livelihoods over there.' That's the bad part."

Mathers said the current tough economic climate is causing a "unity" among area counties.

"Everybody says, 'You know, we are the … weight at the end of this line,'" he said. "We have got to band together and get something done. We have got to show that you just can't keep taking from us."

Also at the meeting

In other news, the Moffat County Commission:

• Approved, 3-0, payroll warrant resolutions ending Sept. 4 totaling $415,535.46.

• Approved, 3-0, a contract for services with Diversified Thermal Services, Inc., for parts and repair services to the Moffat County Ice Arena cooling system totaling $48,125.

• Approved, 3-0, a personnel requisition from the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office for a regular, part-time master control position at the Moffat County Jail.

• Approved, 3-0, a personnel requisition from the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office for a regular, part-time detention deputy at the Moffat County Jail.

• Approved, 3-0, a personnel requisition from the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office for a regular, full-time detention deputy at the Moffat County Jail.

• Approved, 3-0, an annual election of forest payments for 2011 totaling $37,420.

• Heard a monthly report from county road and bridge director Bill Mack.

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