DENVER — Republican gubernatorial candidate and former Congressman Bob Beauprez joined a rally of more than 100 coal industry advocates and employees before the state capital today to protest the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed cuts to emissions from coal-burning power plants. As those hearings ran in downtown Denver, Beauprez stood with the sign-bearing children of coal miners to say that he was grateful for coal and that the regulations unfairly punish the largely working class families and communities who are sustained by that industry.
“It’s jobs, it’s real people. This is their livelihood at risk here,” Beauprez told The Colorado Independent. “These rules would turn a town like Craig, a town like Delta into ghost towns.”
The Colorado Mining Association reported that Colorado coal mines employed just over 2,000 people in 2013. But Beauprez emphasized that it’s not just those who are directly employed by the industry who will be impacted by a decrease in coal production and use as a result of the EPA’s new rules. He recalled the dwindling of the oil and gas industry in Mesa County and a guitar teacher he met there who was nearly out of business after losing 30 students when their parents, out of work, could no longer afford lessons.
“We’ve have never used coal cleaner, safer and more efficiently than we do right now,” said Beauprez to loud cheers from the crowd.
On the other side of town, where they rallied in favor of the EPA’s new rules, conservationists were equally loud in critiquing Beauprez’s speech today. Conservation Colorado’s Executive Director Pete Maysmith issued a release just as Beauprez took the stage:
“While Bob Beauprez defends 19th century dirt fossil fuels of old, Colorado has positioned itself as a leader in clean wind and solar renewable energy industry and technology.”
Hearings on the EPA’s proposed rules to reduce emissions from coal-burning power plants nationwide, will continue tomorrow in Denver — the only site of such a hearing in the West. Keep an eye out tomorrow for The Colorado Independent’s multimedia feature on the hearings.
Watch a clip of Beauprez’s address: