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Why the Colorado Coal miners need you

In March of last year, I had the privilege of traveling to northwest Colorado to film AEA’s “Eye of the Storm” video which chronicled the threats radical environment activists were making against the communities of Craig and Meeker. Thankfully, with your help, we were able to convince the federal government that the Colowyo mine should stay open. Unfortunately, the mine and these communities are under threat yet again.

While in Craig and Meeker, Colorado, I was blown away by the people that I met. Every person knew just how important energy is to their community. From the mayor to the hotel concierge, every single person I spoke with had a personal story about how the energy their community produces and responsibly utilizes makes their lives better. And as many miners pointed out to me, their work provides affordable, reliable energy to the entire region.

Father and son, who work together at Colowyo

Father and son, who work together at Colowyo

Visiting the Colowyo mine was a surreal experience. At first, you drive up a winding dirt road through checkpoints, until you finally reach the mining area. Colowyo is a surface mine situated between the towns of Craig and Meeker. Cresting the ridge and looking down on the pit, you see these bright yellow trucks scurrying around with dirt and coal, but from that distance you can’t tell how massive they are. Realizing the immense scale of this project and the work these men and women do every day is profound—and in a way, beautiful.

One real surprise to me is that soon after stepping out of the truck at the mine, I noticed wildlife. You do not expect to visit a mine and see elk, antelope, deer, and even an owl, but I saw all four within the first hour of our time there. The staff pointed with pride to the areas that had been previously been mined, but were now restored and how well the land and wildlife were thriving.

After an area is mined, the company is obligated to return the land to “reclaim” the land which means to restore it to its prior state. This can take decades of care. The workers proudly pointed out previously reclaimed land, showing us areas where deer routinely bed down to sleep and eat. Nearly every miner was also an avid outdoorsman, enthralled with hunting and fishing, which the area offers in abundance. Clearly, responsible resource management was important to this talented crew.

Unfortunately, the mine and the wonderful communities it supports are now at risk. The federal government owns this land and President Obama has imposed a moratorium on new coal leasing. At the same time, EPA is trying to impose their “power plan” to reduce the use of coal to generate electricity, which would inevitably drive up electricity rates across the country. The president’s attacks on energy production, if they succeed, will devastate rural communities and threaten the continued operation of the Colowyo mine.

Right now the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) is taking citizen comments on the Colowyo coal mine’s continued operations. They are considering whether the miners should be allowed to finish their planned work, or if the project should be ended early. Any shutdown would result in the immediate loss of more than 220 jobs and more than $200 million in economic activity in the community. Thankfully, the OSMRE wants to hear what you think about this project.

Downtown Craig, CO

Downtown Craig, CO

You can help support this wonderful community and the energy they provide by sending an official comment to Obama’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE). It’s important that the OSMRE hears that citizens support energy production and the responsible use of federal resources. We’ve made it easy to send a comment in: simply use this tool and send your official comment today. Together, we can send a message to the Obama Administration and help communities like Craig and Meeker across the country.

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