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Local Officials Ask for Gov. Hickenlooper's Support Against Coal Regulations

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By KREX News RoomTaylor Kanost

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Updated: Mon, 27 Jan 2014 09:27:29 MST

RIFLE, Colo.- Governor John Hickenlooper spoke with local elected officials across northwest Colorado on Monday to discuss topics impacting people in rural areas of the Western Slope.

Roundtable discussion were held in Naturita, Craig, and Rifle, and covered a number of issues including the impacts potential regulations to carbon dioxide emissions could have on the future of local coal-fired power plants.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing all coal-fired power plants install expensive equipment that some businesses simply can't afford.

Now, elected officials are asking the Governor for his support in fighting these regulations in order to save hundreds of Colorado jobs.

Just last week, Governor Hickenlooper announced a proposal that would make Colorado the first state to regulate methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.

"We've been working with the environmental community saying how can we make sure that our regulations keep our community safe, but at the same time allow people to produce energy that we all need," said Gov. Hickenlooper.

New regulation may not have huge impacts on those businesses, but proposed regulation changes to the coal industry could prove to be costly.

"When they have to increase their overhead cost to keep in business, then those costs will be passed down to the consumers and we're really concerned about that," said Ray Beck, Craig City Councilmember.

Not only could consumers be impacted, but the hundreds of Western Slope employees in coal-fired power plants could run the risk of losing their jobs.

"That is huge for our local economy and we need to keep them in place, but we can't do it when there is increased rules and regulations coming out that impede their operation and make it a burden financially to move forward," said Beck.

Governor Hickenlooper says Colorado should not be restricted by anymore air quality regulations until neighboring states catch up to Colorado's superior air quality rules.

"We have already made a significant investment in terms of cleaning our air and reducing carbon emissions more than certainly any of our neighboring states," said Hickenlooper. "If you look at the improvements we have made, we want credit for that."

The EPA received overwhelmingly negative feedback from the coal industry when a hearing for the proposed changes was held in Denver on October 30th.

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