Power Play
Instrumentation specialist Gary Lyons repairs a control panel at Hayden Station, the coal-fired power plant in west Routt County. Coal industry representatives are planning to increase lobbying and education efforts to raise politicians’ awareness of coal’s impacts on Colorado jobs and economies.

Photo by John F. Russell

Instrumentation specialist Gary Lyons repairs a control panel at Hayden Station, the coal-fired power plant in west Routt County. Coal industry representatives are planning to increase lobbying and education efforts to raise politicians’ awareness of coal’s impacts on Colorado jobs and economies.

Colorado coal industry representatives plan to increase lobbying after tough year



The Hayden Station, the coal-fired power plant, stands out in landscape of west Routt County. Coal industry representatives are planning to increase lobbying and education efforts to raise politicians' awareness of coal's impacts on Colorado jobs and economies.


Hayden Station, the coal-fired power plant in west Routt County burns coal around the clock. Coal industry representatives are planning to increase lobbying and education efforts to raise politicians' awareness of coal's impacts to Colorado jobs and economies.

— Stuart Sanderson said Wednesday that coal representatives, to an extent, could have themselves to blame for impacts from legislation adopted last year that has coal and mining industries in an uproar.

Sanderson, president of the Colorado Mining Association, said part of the problem is a lack of education — particularly at the Capitol in Denver.

“The lawmakers did not have sufficient knowledge of our industry and thus did not take into consideration the seriously harmful impacts that HB 1365 is going to have — and it’s going to hit Routt County right between the eyes,” Sanderson said Wednesday, citing potential impacts to local employment and tax revenues.

Last year’s House Bill 1365, known as the Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act, sets emission-reduction standards to be met by 2017 and would, among other actions, convert or shut down some coal-fired Front Range power plants in favor of natural gas.

In the wake of the legislation, which spurred weeks of contentious Colorado Public Utilities Commission hearings in late 2010, Sanderson said the coal and mining industries are significantly increasing their focus on outreach, education and awareness in 2011.

“I think you’re going to see a much more active mining industry in the future,” he said. “The mining industry definitely needs to do more, there’s no question about it.”

That could mean anything from lobbying to more TV advertising — such as the promotions that air on FSN during Colorado Rockies games — to encouraging visits from legislators.

“Obviously, there is a need to hold events and try … to encourage lawmakers to visit these mines,” Sanderson said. “We’ll be working with our members and scheduling things in Northwest Colorado.”

What it doesn’t mean, however, is participation in Yampa Valley Partners’ annual Energy Summit, which for the past four years has brought representatives from a variety of energy industries — primarily coal, oil and gas — to Craig for a multiday event. Kate Nowak, Yampa Valley Partners’ executive director, told the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday that the summit won’t occur in 2011.

“With the advent of HB 1365, the coal folks have decided to pull out of the Energy Summit and do their own conference in 2011,” she said. “Talking about having an energy summit in our area without coal didn’t seem to make sense.”

She told the council that coal representatives “see this as the beginning of the end.” She elaborated on that comment Wednesday.

“The coal folks are feeling attacked right now, and they’ve said as much to me,” Nowak said.

She said a committee of industry representatives from regional energy companies, power plants and mines is working to form plans for upcoming coal-promoting events. A member of that committee confirmed those intentions Wednesday but declined to speak on the record — illustrating, perhaps, the coal industry’s challenges with public relations.

Sanderson had harsh words for the outgoing administration of Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter, which he said took a “command and control” approach to energy policy.

“We’re hoping that the (John) Hickenlooper administration will take a more balanced approach,” Sanderson said.


kathy foos 5 years, 9 months ago

Very good story. The truth. The coal industry has been distorted by Ritter ,in favor of gas.The truth is the coal industry is very responsible for the safety of their people and products.Oil and gas are completely irresponsible and always have been!.Oil and gas need to be stopped and severely regulated,not coal.Coal is vital all around the world and will never be out of use.It doesnt allow teens messing around their facilitys in unsigned unfenced sites that blow up teenagers(33 dead) in explosions.If the coal industry did have teens killed in a facility,I believe they would be resoponsible to have the dangerous situation changed so it wouldnt happen again.Oil and gas just dont care.I totally support your coal industy and will do all I can to support you!


thalgard 5 years, 9 months ago

Con-foosed...Coal is the dirtiest form of energy being used today. Sulfur, lead, mercury and other heavy metals regularly spew from these smoke stacks and end up in our water supply. If it wasn't for the Sierra Club, our local power plants would still be poisoning our alpine lakes as we speak! Mountain top mining like which occurs in Appalachia results in vast areas being poisoned, sludge pits leaking toxic water into the ground, etc.


mtroach 5 years, 9 months ago

Thal nice way to drive home your point...insulting a dead child parents. That's really going to win others over to your anti-coal agenda.


WZ 5 years, 9 months ago

My solar panels fall well within the Clean Air Act standards. I'm Northwest Colorado and proud of it. These solar panels were made in China. Think about it.


the_Lizard 5 years, 9 months ago

Before I head out to my gas propelled car, turn the key;start it up turn on the heat and head off for my day I wanted to comment. Gas and oil are very well regulated and were so prior to Ritter's job killing regulations. Research it, Sun, I'm pro coal too, but don't bash another industry especially the one that is quite literally the backbone of our economy.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 9 months ago

The coal industry is willing to try to meet whatever emissions standards. The issue the industry has with Ritter's PUC is not that they set aggressive emissions standards, but that the PUC specified how the standards are to be met. And that coal plants are to be closed even though Excel thinks some can be modified to meet the emission standards.

It is one heck of a leap in logic and causality to blame a young adult's accidental death on "bad parenting".

And while people should leave remote oil and gas wells alone, that does not mean that they shouldn't be improved to hurt fewer people. High voltage transmission lines make it very hard for anyone to climb their towers while oil and gas wells have minimal security.


Troutguy 5 years, 8 months ago

FYI, Lizard. Colorado issued 5,996 oil and gas drilling permits in 2010. That is the 3rd highest total on record. How did that happen with "Ritter's job killing regulations" in place?


the_Lizard 5 years, 8 months ago

Yes troutguy, I read that too. Permits issued doesn't neccssarily mean jobs created, not all permits are used or won't be used for many years to come, as I'm certain you are aware. It is simply easier and cheaper to drill in states that aren't burdened by the onerous regulations Coloradoans are subjected to. .


kathy foos 5 years, 8 months ago

Im not saying coal is perfect,but you will never see it go away,just like oil and gas.Im into safety and coal is more safe!Everytime you see an unsigned ,unfenced oil facility ,just think of me.I wont stop in my lifetime trying to make them do business the right SAFE way.I dont have to torment the coal industry to protect the public,they are just a bunch smarter than the oil and gas industry.The power plants strive for cleanest air possible.Colorado now has to find out about the fracking problems like back east (polluted water).Coal dosen't pollute the water.Both are to be gotten away from , in the future,Solar yes,wind yes, biofuels yes. You can think Im a bad parent(I didnt see that comment)but I'm not.Words can be cheap and stupid,I dont care,Im going to keep saying what I do and who knows,maybe there will be teen that lives a long life because I do say something,People need to speak up to the oil and gas.The forest service,and operators of the well ,knew that the public was hanging out at that oil facility for 30 years at least and still didn't sign and fence it off.That was my sons first trip there,he never drank before that I know of and did not deserve to die because fencing off a facility is too expensive for oil wells.Those kids would never have climbed a fence,they just did what hundreds of others had done ,unobstructed in the past,I never heard of the "party place",till the explosion,imagine my surprise ?Who would ever think of telling there kid not to party on an oil tank?You would think law enforcement ,well operators or the forest service,they didnt.A fence and big ass signs would have,the kids would not have trespassed.Sorry its annoying to some listening to me.Peace out


beentheredonethat 5 years, 8 months ago

ALL fossil fuels should be curtailed, especially coal, since it is the dirtiest of them all.


Steve Lewis 5 years, 8 months ago

What I'll never understand is the RUSH to consume these finite resources. As if saving coal for future use is a stupid idea?


kathy foos 5 years, 8 months ago

Steve,valid point,but I think that the oil industry is the one rushing to sell their product,and as far as the coal power plants are concerned they took a hit and our politicans voted for oil!They should have voted for for the future not the past.Alternative energys,not just go for more oil.Big oil has the power (money)to brainwash us all.Coal isn"t asking to expand they are doing as they ever have,served public utilitys,Countrys import coal that dont have it. I just dont think that they could compare with the Big Oil Industry.Oil encompasses every part of our live right down to the Vicks in our humidifiers,if they were to loose out to biofuels,they would still have a huge market,coal would be hurting without utilities business.The rail road industry will suffer as well,it cost money to convert,they should only go alternative with utility changes and future development.This fracking is bad news and anyone who reads up on it will be concerned.The Gulf tragedy,and many other issues have brought light to the fact that oil companys need to be made to do the right thing,they wont on their own free accord for some reason.I think the reason is they dont answer to insurance companys,they arent insured.They are wildcard and no one controls them.Insurance companys regulate us all,especially coal manufacturers also,why let oil and gas off that hook?They wont even follow current mms rules or blm rules,supposedly they redid the regulations at the state levels,but I doubt it.People were too busy selling gas power plants etc. the last two years.They succeded. Im wondering about water wheels and batteries ,water power.There are so many things to try and they could all add up to a big solution,but I dont think it will ever come from the governments.Private ,brilliant individuals of the presentand into the future must lead the way and have lots of private lenders.Our young want to change,everybody does,we just have to go ahead and do it,county to county,town to city. Also John Fielding,Hayden has the best hard red winter wheat anywhere in the world,my uncle Bob Tuttle from Kansas said.How about asking them to sell the wheat locally in small amounts somewhere?I used to grind my own flour(by hand) its so good for you.


sledneck 5 years, 8 months ago

WZ, China is burning coal to manufacture your solar panels. Think about that. IF you can think.


sledneck 5 years, 8 months ago

How much pollution is dispersed by a plane-load of skiers from Atlanta flying over the wilderness and running the ski lifts (which I assure you do NOT run on unicorns and rainbows)??? Not to mention the rental cars, buses, water, sewer and landfill use associated with their "clean" activity here in Steamboat.

Yet I am trashed for being a snowmobiler and told that skiing is "clean" recreation.

There is no clean recreation, energy, water, etc. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Pamper your conscience any way you guys wish but you are fooling nobody but yourself.


WZ 5 years, 8 months ago

Need I say more? Thanks, Sledneck. How about the rest of you?


John Kinkaid 5 years, 8 months ago

New Mexico is making their state more business friendly. Colorado needs to compete with other states for jobs. We need to build up our state's economy. Otherwise there will be no money for schools, roads or medicaid.


Common sense..... It's getting rare.


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