County for coal | CraigDailyPress.com

County for coal

Commission signs resolution supporting coal industry

Collin Smith

The Moffat County Commission is concerned for the future of coal and natural gas.

At its Monday meeting, the Commission passed a resolution supporting the National Mining Association’s “Position on Climate Change Policies.”

The document largely urges state and federal legislators to consider impacts on fossil fuel industries when they push for alternative energy sources and environmental legislation.

“Any future policies and initiatives on energy that support renewables and so on also need to support coal,” Commissioner Tom Gray said. “The emphasis on better technology for clean energy should apply to all sources, not just purely renewables like wind and solar.”

The commissioner added that coal is vitally important to Moffat County’s future.

“Between the (Tri-State coal-fired) power plant and the coal mines, they are the biggest employers, the biggest primary businesses and the biggest taxpayers,” Gray said.

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He added that he thinks it’s likely the energy industry will be affected by the recent election’s largely Democratic outcome.

“That’s just basically a reflection of some of the policies we see now, even on the state level,” Gray said.

He mentioned one policy to subsidize windmill farms with severance tax revenue as an example. Severance taxes are charged on all natural resources harvested in Colorado and sold outside the state and are almost entirely paid by energy companies.

“Where severance tax money is used to subsidize windmills, it should also be used for clean coal technology,” Gray said.

Ray DuBois, president and general manager for Trapper Mining Inc. and a National Mining Association board member, brought the issue to the Commission.

After the meeting, he said the coal industry wants to be part of the country’s energy future.

“The coal industry fully recognizes the need to look at all energy sources, but we also understand that none of those will be the silver bullet to our problems,” DuBois said.

He added that he does not expect President-elect Barack Obama or newly elected Colorado Senator Mark Udall to push an anti-coal agenda.

“I think both gentlemen understand coal is important to the country and the world, and you just can’t take it away at this point,” DuBois said. “But, there are those in government that would do that.”

DuBois added, however, he is concerned with statements Obama has made to tax power plants for all greenhouse gas emissions, which could make coal power plants too expensive to operate.

He doesn’t expect the county commissioners to be able to tell the federal government what to do, but he was encouraged he could add more local voices to those that support the coal industry’s future.

Gray also said he doesn’t expect to accomplish many material gains on the issue, but was glad to support a cause he thinks is beneficial for the county and the country.

“I think it just adds one more voice to the many voices of reason out there,” Gray said.

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or cesmith@craigdailypress.com

Other action

At its Monday meeting, the Moffat County Commission:

• Approved a $3,500 tax abatement for Qwest Communications, which was supported by the state.