Tuesday, August 09, 2016

The ‘War On Coal’ Threatens A Sleepy Colorado Mining Town

CRAIG, Colo.– Coal, from extraction to use as a generation source, forms the literal bedrock of 
Craig. The past few years have shaken the once quiet town, as an onslaught of federal government regulations and actions by environmental activists bent on keeping Moffat County’s key natural resource in the ground have sparked concerns not only over the future of coal, but the future of the region itself. Colorado’s second largest in total land area, Moffat County comprises more than 4,700 square miles of land including remote wilderness areas like Dinosaur National Monument. The county has fewer than 14,000 residents however, in a space roughly the size of the state of Connecticut or larger than Delaware and Rhode Island (2x) combined. Visible from all parts of the tiny Colorado community, Craig Station, a 1,304 MW coal-fired power plant operated by Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, sits on a gently rolling hill five miles south of Craig’s main street, U.S. Highway 40. A city limit sign featuring a stylized outline of the installation greets drivers approaching from the south on Colorado State Highway 13. The roughly 9,000 residents of the city, situated 200 miles northwest of Denver, have been on edge the past few years as they endured wave after wave of uncertainty, from a potential endangered species listing for the greater sage grouse to awaiting the unveiling of the administration’s most ambitious environmental rule: the Clean Power Plan regulation targeting coal-fired electrical generation units. Then there’s the state renewable energy mandate, seeking 30 percent renewable energy by 2020. Add in a pair of lawsuits challenging the environmental permitting for the Colowyo and Trapper mining operations, two nearby coal mines that provide the raw, low sulfur subbituminous coal for Craig Station. It has become, as the American Energy Alliance called the city’s predicament in 2012, a “perfect storm” for Craig, and an instructive lesson in how onerous regulations and disruptive activism can work to bury a town...more

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