Coal

KVNF / Laura Palmisano

The Elk Creek Mine in Gunnison County was once one of Colorado’s most productive coal mines. Its coal silo stood tall for 50 years, but last Friday it was demolished. While just another step in the mine’s shutdown, its collapse was symbolic.


Rob Mulford, coal miner, Paonia Town Park
Laura Palmisano

Thirty-five years ago today, April 15, 1981, an explosion at the Dutch Creek No. 1 Mine outside of Redstone, Colo. killed 15 coal miners. Rob Mulford worked at the mine. He wasn't there that day, but the weight of the tragedy is still with him. Mulford now lives in Alaska, but he's back, to honor his friends and fellow miners who died. 


A coal-mining giant has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection amid an industrywide slump.

Peabody Energy — which is the biggest coal miner in the U.S. and says it is the largest private-sector coal company in the world — is looking to restructure its heavy debt load and gain relief from its creditors. It hopes to continue operations unimpeded.

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EIA

A recent federal report looks at changes in how the United States generates its electricity. It shows a significant drop in the amount of power coming from coal. 


Oregon's biggest power companies will have 14 years to wean themselves from coal, under a new bill approved by lawmakers Wednesday. The measure has the support of Gov. Kate Brown — and the state's two largest electric companies.

Several environmental groups have backed the bill, which calls for requiring large utilities to ensure that at least 50 percent of their power comes from renewable sources by 2040.

Bowie #2 Mine, Coal Mine
WildEarth Guardians

Another coal mine will shut down in Western Colorado. Bowie Resource Partners is idling the Bowie #2 Mine near Paonia.

In a release, the company cites the continued decline of the coal market as the reason for the closure.

The mine currently employs 108 people. Bowie estimates 68 full-time positions will be eliminated in April, but by July, nearly everyone will lose their job. 

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  • Bill to aid struggling rural Colorado counties progresses at state capital 
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The coal industry is hurting. For decades, coal was the go-to fuel for generating electricity. Now that is changing.

The connection between coal and generating electricity goes back to the late 19th century. A good place to get a sense of that history is the small town of Sunbury, Pa. — specifically at the corner of Fourth and Market streets at the Hotel Edison.

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  • Black Hills Energy acquires SourceGas
  • Trains transporting less coal
  • New bill wants to expand access for undocumented driver's licenses  

  • Colorado sees first avalanche death of the season
  • Former DeBeque town marshal under arrest again
  • San Miguel County Commissioner Art Goodtimes will not be running for re­election
  • A look at the quagmire of coal mine cleanup  

Citing concerns over pricing and pollution, the Obama administration on Friday unveiled a moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands. The change won't affect existing leases, which generated nearly $1.3 billion for the government last year.

The Department of the Interior says it wants to make sure the money it's charging for coal leases takes into account both market prices and what's often called the "social costs" of coal — its impact on climate change and public health.

The agency says federal lands account for roughly 40 percent of all U.S. coal production.

Joe Moore stood near a sign reading: "Authorized Personnel Only."

"I used to be authorized," he said.

Moore is a coal miner. The sign was at the entrance to the mine that had laid him off the previous day. The Alliance Coal facility had closed — a symptom of the coal industry's rapid decline.

Representatives from federal agencies were in Paonia earlier this week.  They held an open house to discuss the Roadless Rule, a defining policy that prevents development in wilderness across the state, except certain areas.  Areas like the North Fork.

  • 18-year-old woman missing from Montrose
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Coal In Decline

Nov 11, 2015
Coal
NPS

A conversation with Elizabeth Shogren of High Country News about bankruptcy and mine closures. 

Economy, North Fork Valley, economic development
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Two Colorado communities hard-hit by the downturn in the coal industry received federal grants last week to help diversify their economies.

The Obama administration awarded Region 10, an organization of six counties on the Western Slope, a $1.2 million grant. Moffat County also got $50,000.

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  • Large grant helps private well owners get their water tested
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  • KVNF Annual Meeting results
Coal
NPS

A coal mine near Paonia is laying off more workers.

Bowie Resource Partners announced on Tuesday that it's eliminating nearly 100 jobs at the Bowie #2 Mine.

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  • Conference in Grand Junction looks to diversify coal economy of Western Slope
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Colstrip, Mont., is true to its name — it exists because of coal.

"Our coal's getting deeper, like everywhere else, because everybody's mining. They're getting into the deeper stuff," says Kevin Murphy, who has worked in the Rosebud Mine for 15 years running a bulldozer in the open pits.

Everything about the mine is enormous, especially the dragline, a machine as big as a ship with a giant boom that extends 300 feet up into the air. The dragline perches on the lip of the pit, scraping away hundreds of feet of rocky soil to reveal the black seam of coal below.

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An epic legal battle is about to begin over President Obama's plan to address climate change, in which the Environmental Protection Agency is putting in place new limits on greenhouse gases from power plants. Critics argue the plan is on shaky legal ground, but the administration says it's prepared to defend the regulations in court.

In announcing the "Clean Power Plan" on Monday, Obama predicted some of the arguments his critics would make.

Newscast

  • News rules proposed for coal mines
  • Revenue Silver Mine owner defaults on payments
  • Waldorf type school in Paonia now officially a reality
  • Two deceased campers identified, carbon monoxide poisoning a possibility
  • CDC Issues Guidelines For Backyard Chicken Flocks
  • What's next for the Creamery Arts Center in Hotchkiss?

When you flip on a light switch, odds are, you're burning coal. But as the fracking boom continues to unleash huge quantities of natural gas, the nation's electric grid is changing. Power plants are increasingly turning to this low-cost, cleaner-burning fossil fuel.

Bill Pentak stands in the middle of a construction site, looking up at his company's latest project towering overhead — a new natural gas power plant.

Newscast

  • Emergency flu shelter for homeless to open in Mesa County
  • DMEA builds business plan for fiber optic internet
  • Ouray hot spring pool gets renovation
  • Government may change way it charges for natural resources
Economy, North Fork Valley, economic development
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Business and community leaders in Delta County’s North Fork Valley say Paonia, Crawford, and Hotchkiss need an economic boost. They recently held a forum on the North Fork Valley’s economy and what can be done to improve it.

About 100 people attended the forum in Paonia last week.

They came to hear different perspectives on the local economy, what’s working and what’s not, and how to make things better.

Hive Paonia
Laura Palmisano

About 100 people attended a forum on the North Fork Valley's economy and what can be done to improve it. 

Thirteen people ranging from the president of a coal mine to the head of the Paonia Chamber of Commerce spoke at the forum held at the Hive Paonia. 

"We have our farms," says Alexis Halbert, president of the chamber. "We have our hunting resources. We have are restaurants, wineries, [and] people who are creating things out of the natural assets of the valley."

Coal
NPS

Arch Coal and the Forest Service will not be appealing a decision that revokes the company's expansion lease, as well as vacating an exception in the Colorado Roadless­ Rule that allows for expanded mining in the North Fork. 

vote, coal
Laura Palmisano

Bowie Resource Partners laid off 150 people at its Bowie #2 mine near Paonia. 


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