Moffat County leaders offer support for Tri-State operating permit |

Moffat County leaders offer support for Tri-State operating permit

WildEarth Guardians continue request for Tri-State to invest in more monitoring equipment prior to approval

CRAIG — In a show of support for Tri-State Generation and Transmission on Tuesday night, four key Moffat County officials spoke in favor of approving an operating permit for Craig Station during a public hearing regarding the permit process.

Up for approval was the Title V operating permit. Title V of the Clean Air Act was created by the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. It contains the operating permit program, which applies to specific stationary sources of air pollution.

Tuesday’s public hearing, which was moderated by Moffat County resident and Commissioner Chuck Grobe of the Air Quality Control Commission, was called due to WildEarth Guardians’ previous request for the public hearing in hopes of pushing Tri-State to adhere to its demands to invest in more air quality monitoring equipment, despite Tri-State remaining in compliance for the Title V operating permit to meet the Clean Air Act.

Steam rises from Craig Station Tuesday, March 30. (Joshua Carney / Craig Press)

City of Craig Mayor Jarrod Ogden, Moffat County Commissioner Tony Bohrer, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jennifer Holloway, and former county commissioner Ray Beck spoke in favor of Tri-State during Tuesday’s public hearing, which included an overview of Craig Station’s monitoring systems from current plant manager Tim Osborn.

Ogden spoke first in support of Tri-State in the Title V operating permit hearing, citing the community’s reliance on Tri-State as a major player in the community’s transition away from coal.

“As you well know, the city of Craig is aggressively pursuing areas of economic enhancement and diversification. We are coordinating our efforts with local businesses efforts and industry, NGOs, nonprofits, local governments, and state and federal agencies alike,” Ogden said. “Efforts and resources necessary to develop these opportunities for our economy is stretching our bandwidth to the breaking point. Adding pressure on our potential resources, such as the modifications that could be incorporated into the Title V operating permit, will further diminish those resources and our efforts.

“Please consider the complaint record of the plant, and we ask that the commission not require needless and unnecessary costs for monitoring changes that could be applied to our transition planning,” Ogden added.

Holloway called on WildEarth Guardians to get involved in the Moffat County community during its transition, rather than attempting to provide further roadblocks to a key organization in northwest Colorado.

“The Craig community deserves a just transition,”Holloway said. “Tri-State wants to do that. Every available fund needs to go into our future. We’re about to lose 60% of our funding — 60%. Think about that WildEarth Guardians — for our schools, our roads, for everything. Put this into our transition, focus on our future, help us in that way, instead of causing Tri-State to put money into that plant. Work with us, not against us.”

Beck, who sat on the Just Transition Advisory Committee as a county commissioner in 2020, remains involved in the process and also called on WildEarth Guardians to do more for the community in its transition process.

“I ask that the division support and approve the permit without any further burdens or regulations so that Tri-State can continue to move forward with their economic development and community transition efforts,” Beck said. “My personal experience is that WildEarth Guardians has been really good at destroying an industry that keeps their lights on as well. How about WildEarth Guardians invest in those communities that are transitioning away from coal, such as Moffat County, with solutions for that transition away from coal?”

Following statements of support for and against the Title V operating permit for Craig Station, WildEarth Guardians’ Jeremy Nichols spoke to close the public hearing portion of the meeting, stating the organization wants to speed up the closure process of Craig Station and other coal-fired power plants.

“With regards to the Craig coal-fired power plant…we want to see an earlier closure of the power plant to meet our state’s climate objectives,” Nichols said. “The writing is on the wall. We do need to justly and equitably transition from fossil fuels, and that does need to start with an expeditious transition away from the coal-fired generation. We’re seeing it become more costly, whereas renewables are becoming more affordable, available and reliable.”

Nichols closed his statement by requesting that the Air Quality Control Commission grant an extension of the public comment period by at least two weeks, with a full request for an additional 30 days to have another chance to submit more detailed comments.

The public comment portion of the permit application has remained open for 30 days to date. The AQCC has not made a ruling on the permit or the request for an extended public comment session.

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