Guest Editorial: Hickenlooper seems determined to kill coal jobs

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OPED_FBpostRBC I Governor John Hickenlooper reportedly is contemplating executive orders that could cost thousands of Coloradans their jobs, and drive future energy bills through the roof, all without the approval of the people or their representatives in the Statehouse. Hickenlooper likes to highlight job creation as a pillar of his “legacy.” Yet he mysteriously has no guilty conscience about pushing hard working coal miners and coal fired electric power generation employees as well as their families into the streets.

In the name of “Mitigating and Adapting to Climate Change” Hickenlooper will, with the stroke of a pen on an executive order, put these high paying energy jobs in jeopardy. Here in Senate District 8, which includes seven counties in Northwest Colorado, his unilateral actions could be economically and fiscally devastating.
In Routt County, the Twentymile Coal Company mine and the Hayden Generating Station employ over 500 of our friends and neighbors. As the top two taxpayers in the county, these companies represent over five percent of property taxes.
In Moffat County the impact is even worse. Tri-State Generation and Transmission local taxes amount to nearly 20 percent of tax dollars collected by the county. Trapper Mining and Colowyo Mine coal mines are also significant Moffat County employers and taxpayers.
Not surprisingly, the governor’s proposed executive order is a near carbon copy of President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan. In February, the US Supreme Court halted implementation of the Clean Power Plan, which set the nationwide goal at a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels. It appears that our governor is signing an order that not only is destructive to Colorado jobs and local economies, but also flies in the face of the Supreme Court ruling.
The Hayden Generation Station and Tri-State Generation have, over the past few years, spent hundreds of millions of dollars cleaning the effluent gas from their power generation operations. Their stacks are clean of mercury, fly ash, sulfur and other pollutants. But the governor’s executive order will demand that carbon dioxide be reduced to a point that cannot technologically be accomplished. The governor and his staff who wrote the executive order know this carbon dioxide reduction is impossible. So clearly they are trying to destroy a decade’s old Colorado industry.
Why is the governor willing to sacrifice the livelihoods of thousands of Colorado’s families and ignore a Supreme Court order? Sadly, the answer is to appease a small minority of activists who hate coal. Those same activists believe that the very gas every human and every animal exhales with every breath is poisonous.
I will not accept this attack on Colorado jobs, Colorado communities and Colorado energy users without a fight. Climate policy must be the job of the legislature. We in the Colorado legislature represent you and have your direct input on these matters. We work for the best interest of you, the folks we represent. We receive and rely upon your direct input on these matters. I promise you that I will stand up for Colorado’s families and economies that depend on these high-paying jobs.

Baumgardner represents the citizens of Senate District 8 in the General Assembly.