Printed letters, May 20, 2010

Clean, safe energy begins with mining

Regarding Wayne Flick’s misinformed May 14 letter to the editor, proclaiming “green energy” as an “energy efficient solution that can curb global warming, create safe, green jobs and provide power without contaminating our land, water and air”:

The truth of the matter is that more workers were killed in 2009 constructing windmills than in the entire coal industry. The facts are that it requires 1,200 tons of concrete, 335 tons of steel, 4.7 tons of copper and 3 tons of aluminum to build and install one windmill (Vesta V90 – 3 MW wind turbine). All these products begin with mining. Without mining there is no “green windmill.” The same story is true with respect to solar power.

Not only is mining necessary for the birth of the so called “green energy economy,” but mining is important to job creation. It is estimated that every job in the mining industry creates over four additional jobs. Mining and the associated products have made our way of life affordable and greatly improved our quality of life.

Climate legislation is not a cure for recent problems. Evaluating cause, means of prevention, establishing a proactive approach to minimizing hazards is the answer.

If we had decided to eliminate planes because the Wright Brothers crashed we would be walking today.



Bill that King supported will be costly to West Slope

In his letter to the editor defending his vote for House Bill 1365, Rep. Steve King stated that he “voted for the 10th Amendment and for states’ rights.” I cannot see how caving into what amounts to EPA blackmail and extortion asserts states’ rights, other than avoiding threatened reprisals. These reprisals are detailed in a letter to Rep. King from EPA Administrator Mark Komp dated April 7.

“After 24 months, the Federal Highway Administration is required to impose funding moratorium for all but exempt projects (safety, mass transit).”

Contrary to what Rep. King says, the language in this bill is quite clear:

“All rate-regulated utilities that own or operate coal-fired electric generating units located in Colorado shall submit to the commission an emission reduction plan for emissions from those units.”

That is, all coal-fired plants in the state.

There were two alternatives that Xcel could have chosen to meet EPA requirements: Install NOx scrubbers on their coal-fired power plants at a cost of $133 million or convert to natural gas at a cost of $2.5 billion.

Xcel did not require this state law to do either.

It chose number two, which also increases its cost of fuel by four times and will double or triple customers’ cost of electricity. It will also require Xcel customers to pay for the change before a single kilowatt is generated. Either solution would have produced almost identical emissions. Right now there is no visible “smoke” from these plants.

Why would Xcel choose the more expensive option?  Xcel is guaranteed a 10.5 percent return.  Increased costs make more money for its shareholders, while its customers are captive. As the old joke puts it, “Utilities are the only business where the CEO can increase his company’s earnings by redecorating his office.”




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