Frank Moe: No one listened until secession proposal
August 26, 2013
After reading the Craig Daily Press article with the sensationalized headline, "Secession splits Moffat County," and the editorial board's response to the secession idea titled, "Secession is a bad idea," I felt compelled to address the editorial board, the citizens of Moffat County and the Moffat County commissioners.
The president of the United States has declared "A War on Coal," which is a war on Moffat County's economy. These are not my words, but the words of the national, state and local news media. This war, along with other issues, lack rural representation through oppressive state laws that affects rural communities, which in turn has created this secession discussion.
To address some issues for Moffat County, we need to look back at two bills in particular. From House Bill 10-1365, the "Clean Energy, Clean Jobs Act" to the recent Senate Bill 13-252, the "Rural Energy Bill," the previous and present governor have showcased their lack of concern for us.
To demonstrate why the advice given from the Craig Daily Press editorial board and others has not worked, I need to relate their pattern of obdurate behavior regarding rural Colorado.
Proceeding my wife's and my testimony before the Colorado House Transportation and Energy committee, the general manager of Tri-State G & T made a statement, which I am paraphrasing, "If Senate Bill 13-252 is passed, I will be forced to close the Nucla, Colo., coal power plant. With the excess power generated by the renewable energy you are mandating, we will be producing more electricity than our customers have demand for."
When the Nucla Chamber of Commerce representative came up to testify before the committee, she made the following statement, which I am paraphrasing, "Please do not pass this bill. The Tri-State power plant in Nucla is our largest taxpayer and employer. It provides us with the tax base to support our schools, hospital, government and real estate market, and our whole economy is dependent on it."
When it was our turn to testify, I told the committee, that they had magnified the message from the "Perfect Storm over Craig, Colo.," video exponentially because of the recently passed laws by the Legislature. I stated that "from the numerous gun laws, which have resulted in hunters boycotting Colorado, to the foreboding effects of the over regulation of our energy industries, and now this new mandate effecting Colorado Rural Electric Associations, plus the proposed endangered species listings, you are leaving us with no hope for a sustainable present and future."
All of the counties who are putting on this ballot measure also went to extraordinary efforts to be properly represented. Locally, the previous Moffat County Commission met privately with Hickenlooper; the current commissioners testified concerning SB13-252; and my wife and I testified before the energy committee. An email petition by our Chamber of Commerce was presented, hundreds if not thousands of calls, letters, emails, faxes and texts were submitted by local residents concerning rural issues from gun rights to rural energy. Back when my wife and I testified before the Public Utilities Commission regarding the HB 10-1365, we invited the commission to come out here and see for themselves Moffat County and our clean air. No one came. When we testified before this rural energy committee, again we made the invitation, and again, no one came!
Only when the idea of the secession movement was put forth did the governor show any concern to rural Colorado and specifically to Moffat County.
The idea behind secession is this — it is a message to the governor and the Democratic-controlled Legislature that besides listening to rural Colorado, they need to change their extremist agenda. Otherwise, who knows what they could conjure up in the next legislative session.
Now for a specific issue to Moffat County. Without coal and the Tri-State coal fired power plant in Craig, we do not have a sustainable economic base. Between the governor, the Democratic Legislature, the extreme environmentalists, the EPA and President Barack Obama, we have been left with a bleak economic future at best, unless we can change their direction regarding Moffat County's natural resources.
In conclusion, with the proposed secession question, we now finally have the governor's attention. Perhaps we could utilize the succession question on our county ballot, to ensure and accomplish needed goals for Moffat County's future.
Sometime during the next 60 days, we should promote a debate or a town hall meeting between Gov. Hickenlooper or his designee that are in opposition to secession, and a representative in favor of secession to be held before the citizens of Moffat County.
The purpose of this forum, would be at a minimum to secure the state's commitment to Moffat County, to preserve our way of life, to give us a positive economic future regarding our energy resources. Gov. Hickenlooper's offer to "lean in and listen better" needs to be backed up with commitments to Moffat County.
Let us support our Moffat County commissioners in their resolute and bold stance in preserving our economic viability and future.