Letter to the Editor, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
State threatens own revenue stream by mandating less coal consumption
Your recent editorial opposing the federal government’s withholding of Colorado’s share of mineral lease payments is right on target, as also outlined in an article the same day which detailed the state’s position.
It is not just the federal government, however, that cuts off Colorado’s receipt of money from minerals produced here. Other threats start right here at home. In recent years, the Legislature has passed bills designed to curtail coal use at power plants throughout the state through increased mandates for higher cost energy such as renewables (SB 13-252) and natural gas (HB 10-1365).
Laws such as these pick the pockets of Colorado taxpayers and consumers. According to the Office of Natural Resources Revenue, approximately 75 percent of coal mined in Colorado is produced from federal leases, accounting for $59 million in revenues to the federal government. Forty-nine percent of that, or approximately $29 million, comes back to Colorado under a formula that provides money for public education and local government projects.
Coal mining also creates more than 19,000 jobs in Colorado’s economy, and jobs at the mines pay average wages and benefits in excess of $115,000 annually.
If the state mandates less consumption of coal, it threatens its own revenue stream as companies will not lease or pay royalties on coal they cannot mine and sell. Criticizing the federal government is appropriate, yet public officials should also remedy the damage these laws have inflicted right here at home.
Stuart A. Sanderson
Colorado Mining Association
216 16th Street, Suite 1250
Denver, CO 80202