Colorado Senators spark a coal-fired conversation

Talking coal is personal for many Colorado lawmakers. As the resource comes under attack for its connection to climate change, some Senators – mostly Republicans – have started praising coal: It connects them to the working class, to Colorado history, to a patriotic vision of industrial America.

Sen. Randy Baumgardner says he brought the pro-coal resolution to honor those who’ve sweat beneath the ground, including his father and grandfather who were both coal miners in the mountains of Appalachia.

For Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley, coal evokes his grandfather — a mining engineer who supported the family after Cooke’s father departed when he was just six years old.

Not all lawmakers wanted coal-nostalgia to dictate energy policy. Sen. Matt Jones, D-Louisville, proposed several amendments, which failed, that would recognize that coal has been an important economic force in Colorado and to otherwise say that an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy is the one the legislature supports.

Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, said she could support including an “all-of-the-above” statement in an official proclamation about coal, but she couldn’t support removing the rest of the pro-coal statements.

Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, added an amendment to the Senate’s coal statement that recognizes the dire economic straits of many coal towns.

Photo Credit: Greg Goebel, Creative Commons, Via Flickr