The U.S. Interior Department is holding a series of listening sessions targeting a recent proposal to raise royalty rates on leased federal coal. The first listening session was held in Golden Aug. 18.
While some citizens are calling for a fair return from coal mining on public lands, industry representatives say coal producers already pay above market rates for federal royalties. "The system is working well and, as a result, royalties on federal coal produced in Colorado have returned hundreds of millions of dollars to federal coffers over the years," said Stuart Sanderson, president of the Colorado Mining Association. "But mandates to shut down coal plants and end coal use have caused coal production in Colorado, the bulk of which takes place on federal leases, to decline by nearly half during the past 10 years. As a result, Colorado royalty payments have fallen by more than one third in recent years." Funding for public schools and other government functions is being impacted, he said, and any increase in royalty rates would further harm Colorado's economy.
The election results are in at the local, state and national level, and as expected, Democrats are doing well in state and national races. Colorado has elected Jared Polis as governor; nationally the Republicans appear to retain control of the Senate while Democrats now control the House of Representative.
With a ballot full of local and state measures, voter turnout in Delta County topped 71%, with 15,889 ballots cast. Statewide, voter turnout was just over 52%.
Of the three Delta County residents seeking state offices, Matt Soper won over Thea Chase in State Representative Dist. 54; Mike Mason lost to Julie McCluskie in State Representative Dist. 61; and Olen Lund lost to Kerry Donovan in State Senate Dist. 5.
Locally, in the City of Delta voters rejected a .5% sales tax increase to fund recreation, as well as recreational marijuana sales. The sale of medical marijuana and cultivation/manufacturing facilities was approved by a slim margin. Delta voters also gave the city the green light to move forward with selling or trading the Cottonwood and Riverbend Park, and to sell the old Municipal Light and Power Building.