Shirley Balleck: Coal is our livelihood |

Shirley Balleck: Coal is our livelihood

To the editor:  

Are you ready to live in a ghost town? It’s going to happen if the government and the Environmental Protection Agency get their way. If you think this won’t affect you — think again. More than 1,500 people work in the mines and power plants in our area in Northwest Colorado. If they are shut down, it will affect everyone living here. The mines and power plants have subcontractors, vendors that supply tools, local car dealerships that provide vehicles, hot-shop companies that bring parts in the next day, etc. The mines and power plants won’t be the only businesses that go out of business. Life as we know it will be catastrophic.

People will be leaving town in droves because there will be few jobs left in our communities. They won’t be able to sell their homes because people don’t move into communities without good paying jobs. There will be a trickle-down effect from all of this. It won’t be a small trickle, either. It will be a raging river that affects all of us. Our store, The Flower Mine Gift Shop, will end up going out of business, because the mines and power plant employees keep us in business.

Half of our schools will close because the mines and power plants pay most of the taxes to keep them open and running properly.

With a lesser amount of money coming into our towns, we won’t donate such an extensive amount of money to United Way. Special programs for veterans, the elderly and Horizons for the Handicapped won’t be available. Revenue from these entities keep the programs running. Our colleges and hospitals will suffer. Schools will suffer. Some of our best teachers and nurses, etc., will leave because their spouses work for the coal companies.

There aren’t enough jobs in agriculture or the gas and oil industries right now to keep everyone employed. Farmers and ranchers in our area supplement their incomes by coming to town for jobs. 

Think of our town with no gift shops, flower shops, styling salons, Kmart or City Market — the shops your friends and acquaintances own, appliance stores, chiropractors and dealerships. All of these businesses will be affected. Houses will be foreclosed on and rentals will be empty. Close your eyes and think of most of the town with their windows boarded up and closed signs on the doors. Do you think it affects you now? 

It’s time to stand up and fight for our rights. This isn’t only happening in Colorado.  It’s happening all across the United States. Wyoming, Utah, Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania, etc. Healthy and active mining communities are essential to our county’s prosperity.

Coal keeps our electricity on, our families fed and allows for lower electric bills. Can you afford to pay an electricity bill that has doubled or tripled? Can your neighbors or the elderly pay this price? How about your kids that work in the mines that have children of their own? If we don’t have jobs, it’s pretty hard to pay bills that have doubled or tripled, not to mention the loss of paid insurance for our families.

Right now, coal is the lowest cost energy source we have. Coal is easy to transport, it’s reliable and it’s our biggest energy resource in the United States. Our coal is shipped to a lot of Third World countries and China. If we shut down coal, we shut down our nation. 

I’m all for clean energy, solar energy, recycling and reusing.  But I’m not for my husband, family, friends and neighbors losing their jobs and livelihoods.

Wind power is mechanically difficult to operate and store right now. Solar power is very expensive and don’t forget we still are in a recession. Natural gas is hard to transport, and it’s in a limited number of places. Other countries have converted with a not so great success rate. There are a lot of bugs to be worked out. They have blackouts because other energy sources are not reliable at this time. 

Why shut down these good paying jobs while we still are in a recession? This will affect everyone in the United States.

Coal keeps our families fed, and it keeps our lights on!

Shirley Balleck

The Flower Mine Gift Shop

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