Coal Mining

Flickr user: oatsy40

Arch Coal recently said that it might file for bankruptcy. The St. Louis-based company operates the West Elk Mine near Somerset and is the second largest coal company in the U.S. KVNF's Laura Palmisano spoke to Robert Godby, an economics professor at the University of Wyoming, who tracks the coal industry, about the announcement.  

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Coal In Decline

Nov 11, 2015

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

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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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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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  • To mine or not to mine? Is that the question?

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency made a mistake when it told electric power plants to reduce mercury emissions. The high court says the EPA should first have considered how much it would cost power plants to do that.

The decision comes too late for most power companies, but it could affect future EPA regulations.

Mercury in the air is a health risk. When you burn coal or oil, you create airborne mercury that can end up in fish we eat and cause serious health problems.


A District Court Judge revoked a lease expansion granted to Arch Coal in 2012.  

Pam Morris via Flickr creative commons

Coal miners and their families filled the gym at the Paonia branch of the Delta Montrose Technical College on Saturday. Many of them were among the 300 people laid off by Oxbow’s Elk Creek Mine in Somerset last month. They were there to hear state Senator Gail Schwartz and others talk about how the state could help them deal with the job losses. Some ideas included rural economic development grants and financial aid for miners to go back to school. But many people left the meeting feeling just as lost as before. 


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KVNF File Photo

It’s been a rough season for the coal mines of the North Fork Valley. Last week, Oxbow’s Elk Creek Mine in Somerset laid off another 115 workers, bringing the total number of jobs cut at that mine this fall to over 250.

Ali Lightfoot/KVNF

For the past few months, KVNF’s Programming Director Ali Lightfoot has been helping local kids produce radio stories as a part of our youth reporting project, Pass the Mic.

The project is now in its second year and is a collaboration of KVNF and the North Fork Heart and Soul Project. The stories these kids produce tackle a number of contentious issues, one of them being the energy industry. 


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More Layoffs As Coal Mine All But Shuttered

Dec 3, 2013
Elise Thatcher/Aspen Public Radio

More coal miners in the North Fork Valley are being laid off. Oxbow Mining company, owned by billionaire Bill Koch, laid off more than a hundred more employees on Monday at its Elk Creek mine.

Major Layoffs at Oxbow Coal Mine

Oct 16, 2013
Elise Thatcher/Aspen Public Radio

Two weeks ago, the coal mine near Paonia owned by billionaire Bill Koch laid off more than half of its employees. The Koch owned Oxbow Mining company hopes to expand operations again in the future and rehire some of the workers.  In the meantime the layoffs are creating hardships for a number of communities.

“It’s very sad time around the mine, you know to lose your income and lose your job is real traumatic, so it’s very painful decision for us," says Mike Ludlow, the Executive Vice President of Oxbow’s mining operations.


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Ali Lightfoot

This election season, some political opinions are being boldly expressed around the North Fork Valley. Yard signs read: “STOP THE WAR ON COAL—FIRE OBAMA.” Area coal miners demonstrated the same message on a rainy afternoon a few weeks ago. KVNF’s Ariana Brocious took a look at the economic realities behind the “war on coal” rhetoric.