What to do about coal jobs has been a major theme this election season, with each side pointing fingers at the other, from the presidential debate stage to local town halls. On Colorado’s western slope, two candidates running for Congress are divided on the issue and are nearly matched in campaign contributions as election day approaches.
As coal companies go bankrupt there is growing concern and uncertainty over who will pay to clean up those mines. But Texas has been there before. In 2014, the state’s largest coal company filed for bankruptcy with over $1 billion in outstanding cleanup costs. Now, more than two years later, this case is held up an example of what works.
Cheaper natural gas has dealt a blow to the coal industry — and to Routt County school district. Before the district opened an all-day preschool in the small town of Yampa, there wasn’t an affordable day care program for this mostly working class community. When Peabody Energy, owner of Routt County’s Twentymile Mine, went into bankruptcy and failed to pay property taxes, it would have been the first thing to go. But the school district hasn’t let that happen.