September 14, 2016
Honorable John Hickenlooper, Governor
State of Colorado
200 East Colfax
Denver, Colorado 80203
Dear Governor Hickenlooper:
The Colorado Mining Association is very concerned about your Executive Order which calls for a 35% reduction in carbon emissions from power plants by 2030. Even more disturbing were your comments on Colorado Public Radio Sept. 1, which sounded like the 35% might not be the upper bounds for reduction. We have two issues with this approach:
First of all, the impact on coal producing communities cannot be underestimated. In the Delta County area, two of three coal mines are closed and 1000 jobs have been lost. Reductions in workforce have occurred in Northwest Colorado as well. These communities are crying out for relief from the incessant regulation that is stripping their economies.
We would ask “retraining for what?” There are no other major employers or industries currently on the Western Slope to absorb laid-off workers, insufficient infrastructure present to lure such industries. The market for installing rooftop solar (as an example) will quickly become saturated and require a population that has disposable income. That population will not be present absent major employers with a stable presence in the community. Communities will dwindle with an increase in vacant houses and a decrease in funds for services such as police, fire protection, and health services, thereby causing a snowball effect. Lest we be accused of hyperbole, one has only to consider the communities in Appalachia or the Rust Belt of the Midwest.
Our second issue is with the use of an Executive Order to accomplish this goal. A top-down approach ignores the legislature as the state’s policy-making body. We understand that you now acknowledge that implementing these goals will require legislative action; we hope vigorous debate will precede any such action and will fully reflect the concerns of energy-producing communities impacted by the Order which are less populated but critical to the regional and state economy. The goals are exceedingly ambitious and, while you have expressed a desire to hold down consumer costs, there are other costs – both economic and social – to consider as well.
The Executive Order appears to mirror the federal plan which is scheduled for oral argument later this month. While CMA opposes the federal plan for a variety of reasons, we firmly believe that Colorado should not “go it alone” in addressing climate issues under the rubric of “clean air.” The closing of Colorado power plants will not impact the national or global climate one whit, and the impact on regional haze will be overcome by the impact of Western wildfires, as predicted by the Grand Canyon Visibility Transport Commission twenty years ago.
Having shared our concerns, we do wish to continue a constructive dialogue with you in order to move forward for a strong, healthy Colorado economy and an environment which we all value. We are available to meet with you at your earliest convenience.
Stan Dempsey, Jr.