Carbon County residents rally in support of fossil fuels

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CARBON COUNTY, Utah -- The people of Carbon County said the fossil fuel industry isn't just a field of work for them; it's a way of life and a rich part of their history.

On Thursday, thousands of people from Carbon and the surrounding counties attended a rally at the Carbon County Fairgrounds in support of fossil fuels.

"You were probably raised on that if you live here in Carbon County, fossil fuels and energy, oil, gas, all that is what Carbon and Emery Counties are all about," said David Palacios of the South Eastern Utah Energy Producers Association.

Many of these people are worried fossil fuels could become a thing of the past due to stiffer EPA regulations.

"Their regulations on coal fired power plants are way, way too impactful and are going to force the reduction of coal in this country and raise electric utility prices," said David Smaldone of Friends of Coal West.

Due to an increase in EPA regulations, the Carbon Power Plant will be shutting down next year. The plant is owned and operated by Rocky Mountain Power. They said it just wasn’t feasible to keep the plant open. More than 70 people are expected to lose their jobs, but the impact on the economy will be even greater, according to one Carbon County Commissioner.

“Our whole economy is based off the industry of coal and energy production so you’re looking at truck driving jobs, you’re looking at electrical supply companies, you’re looking at all these other functions and companies that are affected by the shutting down of one power plant," said Casey Hopes, Carbon County Commissioner.

The EPA has said they are increasing their regulations as a way to protect the environment, but opponents said they are putting theories before facts.

"You can't just say let's eliminate any little waste product at all, otherwise if you had that logic, I wouldn't be allowed to be near you, right, because we can make each other sick while breathing," said Alex Epstein, who was the keynote speaker at the rally.

One fact is for sure, lives are changing in Carbon County. Tom Smith worked as a lab technician in the plant, before realizing his position would probably no longer be available. He had to change careers.

"There are people who spent a lot of years at the plant making sure it was a good producer of energy and profitable and they had to uproot and move to other places to make sure they had secure jobs too," Smith said.

FOX 13 News reached out to the EPA regional offices in Denver but was unable to reach them for comment.


  • trevor

    Should also be holding up signs that say “air pollution creates autism!” I can understand the concern about jobs but why not modernize? I’m sure they could install some solar panels and wind turbines somewhere to replace the coal powered plant. Just amazes me that they don’t pay attention to the studies that show how bad air/water pollution is for people and the environment. It’s like they are stuck in pre-21st century mode and don’t want to change. It’s almost as if they think that closing down a power plant will destroy the economy forever down there. How did Salt Lake City start out, or any big city for that matter? Change isn’t always bad. If they want to keep using coal, turn it into diamonds or something that doesn’t screw up the environment. I’m tired of dealing with people that won’t accept the fact that coal will never burn clean.

  • Matt

    I have to disagree with both of you. The coal industry has driven this nation for a very long time and it is still a great resource for creating energy. Wind and solar are very expensive and would never employ the numbers that the coal industry would. It also has workers feeding their families, paying taxes, and giving back to their communities. Your lights are on right now because of coal or water. In Virginia, West Virginia, and in Utah in the near future, many have lost, or will lose their jobs and livelihood. Towns are literally dying because of Obama and his lack of intelligence on this matter. It is really easy for you two to state that the coal industry needs to go away but it has sustained this country for a very long time. As for autism, I’d be looking at the vaccines being pumped into our children at a young age and the dietary changes as a cause rather than coal. You two would have us dump gasoline now as well because of all the damage it does to the environment based upon your thinking.

    • Mark Snuff

      This country was build on horse and buggies, how dare these auto-mobile manufacturers try to push their agenda on the public. And the gun will never be superior to a bow and arrow; It’s too expensive and cumbersome to manufacture and use effectively… Why even invent the wheel when we can walk to wherever we’re going just fine.

      Thanks Obama!!

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