Letter: Look forward, not back
The North Fork Valley is at a crossroads with the decline of the coal industry. But economies change, and the energy and power industries are going through some of the largest transformations they have ever faced. Some may be inclined to point fingers, but in fact there are global forces at work that are bigger than a president or a policy.
Western Colorado needs to look to the future, not hope to re-create a time that is passing. Rather than look backward or cast aspersions, the better approach is to embrace opportunity and to make Colorado the leader in developing and modeling a new energy economy.
We have the intelligence, ingenuity, expertise and work ethic to be that leader. And we are blessed with a bounty of resources, not just coal, oil and gas. The North Fork alone likely has over 50 megawatts of developable local power sources. Those include tremendous small- and medium-scale hydro opportunities on irrigation canals and ditches, 300-plus days of sunshine, and innovative energy sources like coal mine methane capture and conversion, which currently is just vented, even decades after a mine is shuttered, into the atmosphere where it is a potent greenhouse gas.
Utilizing these alternative energy resources would create jobs, keep revenue in our local economy that is now being sent to Denver-based Tri State, and would reduce our contribution to the pollution driving climate change. It would help us move toward true energy independence and strengthen our national security. That’s why instead of seeing policies like the president’s Clean Power Plan as a burden, I see it as opportunity.
Economies change. It is how we respond to those changes that most determines our future.