Since 2002, the Conservation Center has been advocating for the capture of coal mine methane gas. We've worked with the Bureau of Land Management, Colorado government officials, the Gunnison County Commissioners, chambers of commerce and the North Fork coal mines during the past 10 years to raise awareness of the potential benefits of capturing methane gas vented from coal mines and converting it to electricity.
The Conservation Center's efforts to think globally and act locally have been rewarded and it is with great pleasure that we applaud the efforts of Tom Vessels, CEO of Vessels Coal Gas Inc. and manager of North Fork Energy LLC, as well as Oxbow Mining LLC, Gunnison Energy Corp., Holy Cross Energy and Aspen Skiing Company, for putting on line the first coal mine methane capture project in Colorado.
For the safety of miners, methane gas is vented from coal mines, but it is a significant greenhouse gas, 21 times more potent than CO2, and a huge wasted resource. The three North Fork mines vent seven million cubic feet of gas each day, the equivalent of the output of 50 gas wells — enough gas to heat all the home and office buildings in Grand Junction. The Conservation Center looks forward to the day when all coal mines in Colorado capture and convert coal mine methane gas to electricity, which will substantially reduce Colorado's carbon footprint.
Colorado State Senator Gail Schwartz introduced a bill in 2011 that would have added coal mine methane gas to the Colorado Renewable Energy Portfolio. The bill did not pass but Senator Schwartz is committed to introducing a new bill this year that will offer new incentives for Colorado's coal mines to convert methane gas into electricity.
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