Diane R. Miller: Coal communities need to diversify economies | SteamboatToday.com

Diane R. Miller: Coal communities need to diversify economies

Senator Michael Bennet recently introduced the Coal Community Empowerment Act, legislation designed to "provide incentives for investment, job creation and training in coal communities." This bill would provide Routt and neighboring counties with resources like tax credits, low cost loans, educational support and other resources to encourage new business development and job creation.

It is time for Routt County to seriously consider ways to diversify the economy of its coal communities. Coal production in Colorado fell by 40 percent in 2016 alone, largely due to the production of cheap and abundant natural gas.

While the Trump Administration has recently made efforts to increase mining on public lands, local leaders would do well to see beyond these temporary fixes and help our county build a diversified economy that is not subject to the boom and bust of a single industry.

Our county commissioners might begin this process by revisiting their strategic objective of developing a clean energy economy and exploring the economic opportunities associated with renewable technologies. While the Coal Community Empowerment Act is not a panacea for communities that are economically dependent on coal, it could serve as a springboard for a serious conversation about our future and lay the groundwork for economic diversification and job creation.

To support the Coal Community Empowerment Act contact Senator Cory Gardner at 970-245-9553 and ask him to work with Senator Bennet in developing bipartisan support for this bill. Here in Routt County we can also ask and expect all of our elected representatives to lead for the future.

Diane R Miller

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