Governor to sign coal bill Monday | CraigDailyPress.com
Brian Smith

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Governor to sign coal bill Monday

Local officials contend Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act will harm local economy

Bill Ritter Jr.

When Gov. Bill Ritter signs Colorado House Bill 10-1365 on Monday, he will make a "ghost town out of Craig," Moffat County commissioner Tom Mathers said.

The bill also known as the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act, requires some Front Range coal-

fired power plants to be retired, retrofitted with emissions-reducing technology, or repowered to be fueled by natural gas or other low energy-emitting sources.

Ritter, who is scheduled to visit Grand Junction today, will be signing the "historic legislation" on the west steps of the state capitol alongside the Xcel Energy chairman, bill sponsors including Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, energy producers and environmental groups.

The Moffat County Commis-

sion sent a letter of opposition March 25 to state legislators opposing the bill. It passed the Senate six days later March 31.

"Moffat County is directly negatively impacted by the implications of HB 10-1365," commissioners wrote in the letter.

State Sen. Al White, R-Hay-

den, who opposed the bill, said it would harm the coal industry in Northwest Colorado and could mean a loss of jobs at Twentymile Coal Co., which supplies coal to the two Front Range power plants impacted by the bill.

Mathers said he doesn't think Ritter thought enough about the impact the bill would have on Craig and Moffat County.

"Everybody makes these decisions that affect us, and we're the lasts ones to hear about it," he said. "You could have been sitting on the governor's lap and you wouldn't have heard about this until it was done, just like it was."

Monday will mark 36 days since the bill was first introduced to the House, a speed that concerns Craig City Council member Terry Carwile.

Carwile, who retired after 30 years working for Trapper Mining Company, said "everyone I know was stunned at how fast it went through the legislature and how little resistance was put up against it."

Rep. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, said he was not pleased with the governor's decision to sign HB 10-1365.

"I'm not happy with the fact that the bill (will be) signed due to the fact that an energy company, the governor, and Environment Colorado basically pit two energy companies against each other," he said. "I still think that we need all the energy we can get in all kinds."

White agrees.

"I think it is improper and unjust in the state of Colorado for two great natural resource industries to be trying to pick each other off to the detriment of one over the other," he said. "It is just going to happen that way. The coal industry is going to suffer, there is no doubt about it."

He said the bill, in addition to hurting the coal industry, costs consumers more money.

"I absolutely know it is going to cost the customers of Xcel a significant increase in their bills," he said. "This is an unfair bill that only helps a couple of industries and hurts consumers."

During Ritter's visit to Grand Junction this afternoon, he is slated to visit several locations, including the Mesa County Workforce Center, before he delivers a keynote speech at the Mesa County Democrats' annual Spring Fling dinner.

Brian Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or briansmith@craigdailypress.com.