Can Boulder, Colorado close its historic Valmont Coal Plant? ~ via Kevin Moran.

Via elephant journal
on Jul 15, 2009
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Can Boulder, Colorado—a green minded community—close its old-school dirty Coal Plant?

…Or continue to improve it? Can Change actually happen? Or is continued, irreversible, increasingly devastating Climate Change inevitable?

{I attended a few hours of the hearings, before having to run off to take care of my pooch, and can attest to the passion, eloquence (usually) and surprising depth of knowledge offered by the public. I took a bunch of poor iPhone photos—if you have quality photos (or articles/testimony you’d like us to post) please send ’em on in and we’ll make a slideshow that hopefully will help serve to inspire more public support. All photos above: click for source.

Click here for elephant’s post prior to the hearing. Click here for our post on “Clean” Coal. Click here for the Daily Camera’s informative post on the history (or lack thereof) of clean air regulation, and how that may change due to a recent Supreme Court decision, and to a green, clean air-minded Obama Administration. And if you take away nothing else, consider this: if Boulder, a community of activists, families and movers and shakers, can’t get rid of its own coal plant—a plant that, though improved, has blessed our valley with “F” graded air—then what municipality will show us all the way? ~ Waylon Lewis, ed.}


I recently attended the public hearing about the proposal to renew the operating license for Xcel’s Valmont coal plant here in Boulder. Of the 70 some impassioned speakers that I heard that night, only one appeared to be in favor of renewing this license. However, in the imperfect democracy of the United States the voice of the people—no matter how well-represented—is seldom heeded over that of large corporate interests. My concern is that Xcel will soon have their permit, despite the sentiments of the people. With that in mind, I would like to offer here the testimony I provided to the committee, as the message was more intended for my fellow citizens than the ears of the Clean Air Commission. ~ Kevin Moran

“My name is Kevin Moran, and I’m from …um… reality, as opposed to bureaucracy. I went with some friends the other day to an informational and collaborative meeting about the Valmont coal plant. The organization that put on the meeting had done some great, solid research into the local environmental impacts of the plant, and presented a well-constructed and conclusive argument of the urgency in assuring the plant cease to operate. However, I was a little dismayed and somewhat concerned that much of the group commentary that resulted was in regards to whether closing the plant would be inconvenient for our level of consumption.

Let me be perfectly clear here: this consumption carries with it an unbearable cost. Burning coal diminishes our local air quality on a long term basis, a consequence openly apparent only on those mysterious hazy days we get here in Boulder, and in the health problems that inevitably plague populations forced to breath toxic air. Burning coal encourages corporations to blow up entire mountains on the other side of our continent, hailed as the most efficient means of retrieving coal from its natural reservoirs. Coal is a massive source of greenhouse gasses and anthropogenic climate change, which I’m sure all of us are aware is a serious threat to all of Earth’s life systems, on top of the mass extinction we are already seeing today.

If our consumption is to justify these consequences, then it is this consumption which must be seriously confronted. However, I don’t believe we will truly readjust our consumption until a diminished supply forces us to: i.e. shutting down the Valmont coal plant.

Now, in the way of strategy I am reminded of a story a friend told me recently. He was attending another public hearing in Denver about a similar situation with another proposed Xcel coal plant. He had to leave early, and he found himself standing in front of the ticker that displays news headlines at the end of the 16th St. Mall. As citizens just down the street were in the process of voicing their legitimate concerns on the matter, at the very same time the ticker boasted a headline that read

“Xcel guarantees opening of new Pueblo plant.”

For those of us who believe our government is little more than a facilitator of corporate profit at the expense of public interest, this was a reaffirmation.

My point is that under no circumstances should we, the people in this room allow a stacked deck to prevent us from carrying out our responsibility as a community in maintaining a long term relationship with this planet. If, by chance, this pattern upholds and the public interest of Boulder is similarly railroaded in favor of Excel, I say let’s organize among ourselves to shut down the Valmont plant with direct action at critical mass. You say this is a public hearing—well I hope the public can hear me! Your president, who purportedly represents you, has insufficiently, hypothetically committed to cutting our emissions by 2050. Well I say forget the politicians! Only we have the power to shape our future, not some empty bureaucratic policy. Let’s organize and cut emissions today while we’re only committed to a couple of mildly catastrophic degrees of warming. I’d like to end by quoting folks like Stokely Carmichael and Bobby Seale in saying,

“All power to the people!””


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6 Responses to “Can Boulder, Colorado close its historic Valmont Coal Plant? ~ via Kevin Moran.”

  1. cxw says:

    And how will we get electricity ?

  2. Shea Gunther says:

    Lots of places- put some money into making Boulder and the surrounding area more efficient with their electricity, energy we don't need to make in the first place is better than having to actually produce it- add more wind and solar to the grid (we can do this fast, put panels on every roof in Boulder), and/or convert the Valmont plant to a biomass plant and burn organic industrial and lumber waste. Coal is the enemy of mankind and we need to stop burning it.

  3. Pete Moran says:

    Clean coal… there's an oxymoron for you. It is pathetic to think that this plant is nothing more than a danger to Boulder residents in particular and the planet on a larger scale. Close it and reinvest in real clenn energy… –Pete

  4. Bud Wilson says:

    Please see my comment to the article about the Valmont Coal Plant that drew your attention. Xcel received more than 1,000 proposal for clean sources of energy to replace their dirty 19th century technology – burning coal. The simple truth is they don't need the 186 Mega Watts of electricity that the Valmont plant produces. No one will be denied sufficient energy to meet his or her needs in the event the citizens are successful in shutting down this horrible source of air pollution (1.5 million Tons of CO2 annually) not to mention mercury and other toxic substances that contribute to the development of Ozone in the Boulder Valley…by the way, we received an "F" from the American Lung Association for Ozone concentrations, by comparison, Denver received a "C". The trade off is this clean air for being happy using a little less electricity and paying a tiny bit more for it. Estimates are no more than $75.00 for an entire year at current prices… we know the cost of fossil fuels will go up and renewable clean energy costs are rapidly going down! I hope this helps answer your question.

  5. Doug Grinbergs says:

    I'm sorry to see my photos presented here without any credit, as if they are the work of Elephant Journal, and then referenced elsewhere (e.g. Shea's piece on, again without proper credit (EJ getting credit). Except for the daytime power plant shot, photos and captions were all copied from my Flickr photostream; they are copyright 2009 Doug Grinbergs.

  6. […] a rally took place on outside of the Valmont Power Plant. Bill McKibben, a leading climate change activist and founder of, who happened to be in […]