Letter: We need to plan for the future
My name is Ron Geary, and I’ve been a resident of Craig for more than 20 years. Like many in the Yampa Valley, we are looking to what the future of Craig looks like after the closure of our coal plants and the mines. That’s why I’m writing today to support Just Transition legislation for coal communities in Colorado.
I worked at the Craig power plant for over two decades, and currently work for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Like most of us who live here, the power plants and the mines have afforded many of us the ability to buy homes and raise a family in a small-town atmosphere. A job at the plants and the mines meant stability, a good wage, good health insurance benefits and the ability to retire comfortably.
The impact goes beyond just those workers, and affects their families, it affects our ability to support our firefighters, our schools, our local restaurants and the infrastructure of the City of Craig and Moffat County. It affects all of us. I don’t like the thought that Craig will turn into a ghost town, or worse: a tourist destination.
Working with the IBEW, I have helped negotiate several union contracts for plant closures around the Western Slope and have seen the toll it takes on those whose future is suddenly uncertain. Now that we know the plants and the mines are going to be shutting down, it is time to start looking to the future. There are close to 300 workers between both the plants and the mines that are very skilled at what they do. Not all of them will be able to become river guides, outfitters or work in the tourist and service industry.
It’s important that we begin looking toward the realities of that future now, and try to help our community adapt to that change. We need to help to attract other heavy industries. To help workers transition to new jobs, help our community adjust to the huge impact of this closure, and hopefully find a new way to utilize the existing infrastructure to transition to a new industry, and keep hard-working, reliable jobs in our town.
I’m in support of Just Transition for our coal communities in Colorado. I hope to see this legislation passed, so that all of us can continue to enjoy this place we call home.
Assistant Business Agent, IBEW Local 111
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