Colorado House Republicans

House GOP Newsletter

Monday, September 12, 2016

♦Power plant closures will have devastating effects on rural Colorado
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♦House GOP Press   ♦In the News   ♦Tweets of the Week   ♦Capitol Pictures

Power plant closures will have devastating effects on rural Colorado

By Representative Don Coram (R-Montrose)

The first thought I had when I learned that the Nucla Station power plant, the New Horizon Mine and one third of the Craig Station plant will be shutting down was these are critical jobs to this area that will not return. The closures are part of a court settlement between the power company, Tri-State Generation and Transmission, and a coalition of groups which included the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the eco-terrorist group, WildEarth Guardians. Having spent my career in the energy sector, I can tell you this closure was preventable, and that makes this situation all the more frustrating. But the shuttered facilities, which will terminate approximately 90 jobs in these communities, are part of a larger problem: the energy plants that power the urban regions of Colorado are economic cornerstones in many rural communities, and when they are shut down it can cause severe and irreparable damage.  

Much of rural Colorado still struggles with higher unemployment and stagnant economies. The stark reality is that when people in rural Colorado are not able to find sustainable employment, they simply relocate to a more prosperous place – and I can’t blame them. This exodus from rural communities is taking a toll, and many small towns cannot afford to lose more revenue or people.

Consider Nucla has a current population of less than 700, and has lost about 10 percent of its population since 2002. The Nucla Station contributes nearly 70% of the taxes for the communities of Naturita, Nucla and Paradox. When this station shuts down, how will we afford to build new schools and new fire departments? Furthermore, approximately one third of the jobs in this area are directly related to the power station and mine – consider the impact to the Front Range if Denver lost one third of its jobs.

The truth is these communities may never recover from this loss. And with organizations like WildEarth Guardians and the EPA committed to killing all natural resource procurement, the result of this settlement is deeply concerning for many other rural communities.

The debate about human-influenced climate change continues to be heated. However, while it still remains a debate, we should not let urban politicians and radical fringe groups make decisions that can destroy Colorado’s rural communities. Maybe to the EPA, destroying 90 jobs is insignificant, but to towns like Nucla or Craig, those jobs are the lifeblood of their communities. I am deeply disappointed in this settlement and will continue to fight to preserve Colorado’s natural resource development and our rural way of life.   

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Don Coram

In The News
  • New standardized tests for public school students in Colorado are inching toward being more useful, education officials say. Statewide, in English language arts, which covers reading, writing and vocabulary, fourth-graders showed the most improvement, with 43.9 percent of just over 63,000 students meeting or exceeding expectations. That reflects a 2.2 percentage point gain over 2014-2015. (“Fourth-graders improve in English, third-graders in math on Colorado's new tests,” Colorado Springs Gazette, 09/01/2016)

  • A sweeping new lawsuit challenging hundreds of federal oil and gas leases in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming seeks to build on the success environmental groups have had getting the Obama Administration to account for the impacts of climate change when it comes to coal mining. WildEarth Guardians and Physicians for Social Responsibility last week sued the federal government to challenge nearly 400 leases covering almost 380,000 acres in the three states, citing a failure to disclose the direct, indirect and cumulative climate-change impacts of those leasing decisions. (“Lawsuit cites climate as reason to halt energy leases,” Grand Junction Sentinel, 09/01/2016).

  • Colorado’s wildlife agency needs $20 million to fix 10 “high-hazard” dams, part of a shortfall that will grow unless the state legislature acts. But the proposed solution, raising hunting and fishing license fees for state residents 100 percent over the next five years, would burden a small segment of Colorado’s population, even as other residents benefit. The conundrum offers an opportunity for Colorado to rethink how it pays for wildlife programs. (“Find new ways to fund Colorado Parks and Wildlife,” The Denver Post, 09/01/2016) 

  • Ripened fruit on the ground may be a welcome sight to urban gatherers, but for BearSmart’s Bryan Peterson, it’s just another threat that adds to the risk of human-bear conflicts. Peterson said unsecured household trash is the main reason for human and bear conflicts, but ripened fruit left on or under trees is another human food source that attracts bears that could largely be avoided. (“Helping bears by removing a fruity temptation “Durango Herald, 09/08/2016)

  • By many key measures, the economy has looked fine in recent months. After gradually sliding for most of 2015, industrial production has bounced up. Consumer spending has done well. The economy added 151,000 jobs last month. Initial jobless claims are near a four-decade low. Yet most economists, when asked to assess the odds of a recession in the next year, have continued to place the odds at about one in five. Not a prediction of imminent doom, but double the odds of a year ago. (“Why So Few Economists Are Prepared to Say Recession Risks Are Fading,” Wall Street Journal, 09/08/2016)

Tweets of the Week

Kevin Priola @KevinPriola

Had a great time with Sen. Cory Gardner and the Denver Rustlers supporting Colorado's young farmers and ranchers!  

Cole Wist @colewist

On energy policy, we need collaboration, not executive orders. via @denverpost #coleg #copolitics  

Lois Landgraf @loislandgrafforjobs

At the Equitas Foundation's "Course Corrections" summit on behavioral health and criminal justice  

Capitol Pictures

Representatives Yeulin Willett (R-Grand Junction) and Cole Wist (R-Centennial) wearing their Denver Rustler's shirts in support of 4H programs at the Colorado State Fair.
While participating in the Henry Toll Fellowship Program at the Council of State Governments in Lexington, KY, Assistant Minority Leader Polly Lawrence (R-Roxborough Park) took a moment to find Colorado on the wall of states. 
House Minority Whip Perry Buck (R-Windsor) and House Minority Caucus Chair Lois Landgraf (R-Colorado Springs) attending a Legislative Council Committee meeting to discuss the language for each ballot initiative in the November Blue Book. 

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