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Mining in Colorado
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Romney Campaign Rally in Colorado Coal Mining Town
May 30, 2012 - 2:14 PM
Mitt Romney & Stuart Sanderson at the Campaign Rally in Craig, CO.
Riding in the campaign bus, Mitt Romney is in the back and Jason Chaffetz, Congressman from Utah, is in the front.
Miners lined up to show their support during Mitt Romney's campaign rally in Craig.
To: CMA Members
By now most of you have read newspaper or on line accounts of Tuesday’s surprise visit (at least it was a surprise to me!) by Mitt Romney, the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee for President, to Craig, Colorado. I was about 900 miles from Craig when I learned of Governor Romney’s campaign event and returned immediately to Colorado to coordinate and encourage a good turnout to show the importance of coal and mining to rural economies of the state. I am pleased that CMA’s membership responded in force! Contrary to the news accounts in the Denver Post, which estimated attendance at 500, about 1,500 actually attended the rally, according to information obtained from the Secret Service. Thanks to all of you for attending and thanks especially to the three busloads of miners and their families from Twentymile who were in attendance. Dianna, Ted, and Richard Orf also joined the army of miners waving signs and banners for coal and the jobs it produces for the region.
Craig is the principal center of coal mining activity in northwest Colorado, and accounts for nearly 60% of total production (not 60% of the state’s electricity, as the Post erroneously reported). The region employs more than 1,100 workers who earn, according to CMA’s employment and production surveys, more than $100,000 annually in wages and benefits. Coal mine royalties support the public school system, and our taxes support many governmental functions and programs.
But Craig is remote (remote as in not close to Denver), and most Coloradans are unaware that the communities of northwest Colorado are so reliant on coal and that consumers throughout Colorado depend on coal for affordable electricity. The power of social media is changing all of that. Romney’s visit took place as a result of an invitation from Frank and Kerry Moe, proprietors of a local hotel, and after Romney’s campaign viewed a YouTube video – “Perfect Storm Over Craig” – which demonstrated the human costs associated with what many have described as “EPA’s War on Coal.”
To view the video, please click on the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAglE5gfmYQ.
I was privileged to attend a roundtable discussion prior to the event with Governor Romney and several local residents. Romney showed a sincere interest learning more about natural resources produced in the area, asking several questions about coal production and employment in the state. He wanted to know how much coal Colorado produced (about 26.7 million tons in 2011), where the state ranked (it’s 9th among producing states,) and the number of workers our industry employs (about 2,500 directly, but many more in the general economy). He also asked our views on government regulation of the industry. CMA can document specific production losses attributable to uncertainty about government regulation in that region. Softer demand, competition from other fuel sources, and governmental mandates for higher cost energy (House Bill 10-1365 is one such example) are all factors in what is in the near term a troubling outlook for coal. And, according to the National Mining Association, EPA regulations (the Mercury Air Toxics Rules and the New Source Performance Standards on “greenhouse gas” emissions) will make it worse and threaten the reliability of the nation’s electric generating capacity.
Here in Colorado, even the threat of EPA regulation (whether the threat is imminent or not) has provoked extreme reactions which will hurt Colorado coal producing regions. House Bill 10-1365 is the leading example. That legislation, which will result in the premature shutdown of coal power plants and/or their conversion to higher cost natural gas, became law as a result of the false assertions of its proponents that the legislation was needed immediately to keep “EPA’s boot heel off Colorado’s neck” in connection with Colorado’s regional haze program. What followed was basically an instrument of surrender to higher cost electricity and a rush to judgment on a plan that ignored lower cost alternatives to plant closure.
I gave a summary of the minerals produced in Colorado and he questioned me specifically about oil shale. There is no commercial production of oil shale in Colorado at the present time and the Bureau of Land Management is discouraging its development by limiting the acreage available for leasing. Insistence on the development of “commercially feasible” technologies for its extraction are also inappropriate at the leasing stage.
The visit to Craig was historic (this is the second time that a Presidential candidate has ever visited the region, Theodore Roosevelt was the first). The local news coverage was very good; the Denver Post coverage was biased and filled with error (I even received an email from the Denver Post reporter apologizing for certain errors in quoting my remarks).
At the rally, Romney hammered away at the Obama Administration’s energy policy. “President Obama claims to support an ‘all of the above energy strategy,’ but the Obama policy only promotes energy sources like wind and solar above the ground,” he said. Romney also promised to adopt an energy policy that embraces resource development “above and below the ground,” including coal, which supports communities like Craig.
This much is certain, however. Energy policy will play a major role in the upcoming election campaign. Governor Romney took the time to come to Colorado and show interest in the challenges facing rural communities. We appreciate his interest and support. The game is on and the voters will decide.
Stuart A. Sanderson, CMA President
Click on the PDF below to read CMA news release.
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