On Oct. 30, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted one of its 11 national listening tour stops in Denver, CO. Americans for Prosperity-Colorado seized the opportunity to organize a rally on the steps of the state capital to voice opposition to the EPA’s recent regulatory steps against new coal-fired power plants.
More than 100 people from Colorado and Wyoming showed up to show their support for the coal industry and to oppose the impacts of the standards to limit carbon dioxide emissions from new coal-fired plants that were proposed by the EPA in September.
Moffat County, CO Commissioner John Kinkaid was one of many who spoke about the real-world effects of legislation that would require carbon-capture technologies on any new coal-fired plant. The proposed technologies are still fledgling and expensive. The EPA mandate to include the technology would effectively halt the construction of new plants that are unable meet the stringent requirements, say opponents of the regulations. Furthermore, the legislation could lead to the shut down of some existing operations.
“Energy is our bread and butter in Moffat County,” said Kinkaid, who is the father of a coal miner. “You take away coal and you’ve killed Moffat County.”
The EPA is soliciting comment at 11 listening sessions around the country on the idea of some limit on carbon from operating plants.
“This is preliminary to something being drafted next year,” EPA spokesman Richard Mylott told the Denver Post.
The event at the State Capitol drew speakers from the Independence Institute, Colorado Mining Association, Arch Coal, Cloud Peak Energy, Utah Mining Association, Wyoming Rural Electric Cooperatives, Peabody Energy, Wyoming Policy Institute and the Wyoming Mining Association.
Colorado Mining Association President Stewart Sanderson pointed out that coal mining provided about 24,000 direct jobs to Colorado and the coal industry contributed $2.77 billion in direct and indirect economic contributions to the state in 2011.
Sanderson was also one of an estimated 300 people who attended the EPA’s listening session.
He spoke to the EPA earlier in the day, telling the agency that the proposed regulations for new coal power plants would mandate technologies for reducing carbon emissions that are not viable and effectively “regulate coal out of the energy mix.”
This sentiment was echoed by the speakers at the Capitol who warned of lost jobs, increased utility rates and continued economic struggles for communities dependant on coal.
“This is a critical, life and death issue,” said Americans for Prosperity state director Sean Paige. “You can’t have prosperity without a strong energy sector and coal provides reliable and affordable energy.”
Wyoming Rep. Sue Wallis made the trek from Campbell County, WY to speak at the rally. “Coal is affordable, reliant and abundant,” she said.
“We produce a great product that, in the past, has driven the economies of this nation, and the world. It must remain in the energy picture.”
The rally in Colorado came one day after an estimated 5,000 people and 30 members of Congress gathered on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC to protest the EPA’s ‘war on coal.” (ME, Oct. 30).
That rally included speeches from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). The Senators urged the crowd to keep up the fight on the “war on coal,” stressing the vital role of coal mining in American cities.