Republican lawmakers, at least in Colorado, are fond of pointing to America’s vast domestic fossil fuel reserves as a largely untapped means of ending the nation’s dependency on overseas energy imports. But there isn’t a lot of talk these days about getting other countries hooked on our homegrown power sources.
By David O. Williams
“Let’s also develop coal, let’s also develop nuclear energy in this country, let’s develop our oil and our oil shale and do it in a responsible way,” Colorado 3rd Congressional District Rep. Scott Tipton said this spring, referring to the need to strip away federal regulations that are allegedly holding back domestic energy production so that America can curb its foreign oil addiction.
Tipton’s district encompasses most of the state’s Western Slope, including the heart of Colorado’s coal country along the North Fork of the Gunnison River. That’s where the West Elk Mine is among several that helped produce 28.8 million tons of coal valued at $1 billion in 2009, according to the Colorado Mining Association.
That’s a lot of domestic energy. Except when it’s not.
According to the second-quarter earnings report for Arch Coal, the St. Louis, Mo., company that owns Colorado’s West Elk Mine, 2011 is expected to be a banner year – based at least in part on increasing overseas exports.