Dozens of people loaded five buses in the K-Mart parking lot in Craig on Tuesday morning. The buses are headed to Denver for a coal rally that will take place near the state Capitol. The Environmental Protection Agency is holding carbon emission hearings at its Denver offices Tuesday and Wednesday.

Photo by Noelle Leavitt Riley

Dozens of people loaded five buses in the K-Mart parking lot in Craig on Tuesday morning. The buses are headed to Denver for a coal rally that will take place near the state Capitol. The Environmental Protection Agency is holding carbon emission hearings at its Denver offices Tuesday and Wednesday.

EPA hearings prompt Craig and Steamboat constituents to rally for coal in Denver Tuesday

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Five buses departed Craig early Tuesday morning, shuttling dozens of people to Denver who will rally on behalf of the coal industry near the state Capitol.

The bus also stopped to pick up passengers in Steamboat.

Coal supporters in Northwest Colorado are hoping to make noise in Denver where the Environmental Protection Agency will hold its carbon emissions hearings that many fear will hurt the economic viability of areas that house coal-fired power plants.

Two coal-fired power plants exist in Northwest Colorado — Hayden Station, owned by Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy, and Craig Station, owned by Westminster-based Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc.

The hearings will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Denver EPA offices, which are a few miles from where the rally will take place near the state Capitol.

“I think it’s exciting that this many people turned out,” said Frank Moe, who owns the Best Western Plus Deer Park Inn & Suites in Craig. “It shows how much people love our area and how much the regulations will impact us.”

The EPA is hosting two-day public hearings in four cities across the nation, including Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Denver.

It’s all part of the EPA’s process in dissecting how to implement the proposed Clean Power Plan that was released to the public June 2.

Specifically, the Clean Power Plan will set forth rules about how to cut carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. According to the EPA, the plan proposes that power plants cut carbon emissions 30 percent nationwide by 2030.

The public comment period ends Oct. 16, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is required to have its carbon emissions recommendations to the EPA by June 2016.

Workers from Twentymile Coal Co. — a coal mine owned by St. Louis-based Peabody Energy — in Hayden filled the buses, said Brandi Meek, Moffat County chairwoman of the Republican Committee.

Additionally, 3 Wire restaurant at Yampa Valley Regional Airport made over 250 burritos for those making the bus trek to Denver.

“(Coal) is our livelihood,” said Amy Doddridge, who delivered the burritos to the buses. “And we’re feeding everyone.”

Although many in Northwest Colorado — including Moffat County Commissioner John Kinkaid — have said that the EPA is trying to kill the coal industry, the EPA has a different take on the issue.

“Coal will remain a critical part of America’s energy mix for the foreseeable future. EPA’s carbon pollution proposal provides each state with enormous flexibility in determining how to meet its pollution reduction goals, and does not mandate the retirement of any coal plants,” the EPA said in a statement to the Craig Daily Press.

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