Students, State & Local Leaders, Health Professionals Grab the Mic and Rally in Support of Clean Air, Clean Jobs

Media Releases

Environment Colorado

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is set to hold a public comment hearing this evening in downtown Denver on Xcel Energy’s proposed plan to retire five Denver-metro coal-fired power units.

Xcel Energy submitted the plan in August to comply with Colorado’s landmark Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act which created a framework for replacing old, inefficient and dirty coal-fired power generation with cleaner energy solutions that provide for healthier air and clean energy jobs for Colorado.

A diverse group of elected leaders, community activists, students, public health advocates, and workers gathered before the hearing to support a cleaner direction for Colorado.

“This fall, the PUC has a historic opportunity to improve our air quality so that our children breathe easier, our communities are healthier and Colorado becomes an even more attractive place to do business,” said Colorado Speaker of the House Terrance Carroll, who helped move the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act through the legislature. “The ball is now in their court– let’s get it done!” 
Replacing the aging, high emitting coal plants in the metro area with cleaner power is the single most cost-effective solution to cut air pollution and prevent disease, save lives, reduce hospitalizations and improve human health.

“Moving forward with implementing the Clean Air, Clean Jobs act will help millions of Coloradans impacted by poor air quality,” notes Curt Huber, Executive Director for the American Lung Association in Colorado. “Air pollution, such as particulates generated from coal-fired power plants, can have a negative impact on lung health by aggravating existing conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).”

Health professionals in the crowd echoed this concern. 
“Colorado spends more than $100 million dollars annually to treat asthma and emphysema. These diseases combine to affect more than one in five Coloradans,” noted Dr. Jeremy Long. “As a provider in an urgent care clinic and emergency room I am acutely aware that air quality can tip patients with these lung problems into emergency conditions. Now, more than ever, we must act to improve air quality to protect the health of our people.”

Xcel Energy’s plan calls for the retirements of five metro-Denver coal units, including the entire Cherokee facility in north Denver. 
“Clean air is something we all deserve,”proclaimed Polly Baca, frm. Colorado State Senator. “Time and time again studies have shown that air pollution emitted from power plants disproportionately affects the health of low-income and minority communities in Colorado and across the nation– Xcel’s plan to close the Cherokee coal plant is a big win for all families living nearby in Denver and Commerce City.”

The Clean-Air, Clean Jobs Act is attracting excitement in Colorado and across the country because of the dramatic shift it signals for Colorado’s energy future. 
“My generation is not content to sit idly by while we use yesterday’s technology to tackle today’s challenges,” exclaimed Scot Woolley, a senior at the University of Colorado, Boulder. My friends and I inherited a dirty legacy, but we know our future can and will be cleaner, healthier, and brighter. Together we can blaze a path to a clean energy economy in Colorado.”

The coal-fired plants that Xcel has proposed to replace are over forty years old and sit in the middle of Colorado’s major population center. These plants face major capital investments in modern pollution control equipment to protect human health and the environment.

Quotes from additional supporters below who will be testifying inside the PUC hearing room:

“We have 20 years of medical research clearly showing that higher levels of air pollution are associated with adverse health effects, not only in the lungs, but also the cardiovascular system. Switching from coal-fired to natural-gas fired power plants will reduce concentrations of airborne pollutants, and can reasonably be anticipated to improve asthma, COPD, and cardiovascular health throughout the Denver metro area, as well as to lead to significant healthcare cost savings.” 
–Karin Pacheco, MD, Assistant Professor of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at National Jewish Health

“My son has asthma and has been hospitalized twice. I know all too well the issues with compromised breathing issues with a child. I’m so thankful that our state legislators have drafted & passed HB10-1365. We need to protect our most valuable asset – our future – our children.” 
— Sherrie Swadburg, Golden, Co

“We’re living the fruits of sound public policy– the Clean Air, Clean Jobs plan will continue to help build the New Energy Economy in rural Colorado.”
—Mike Bowman, National Steering Committee Member, 25×25

“In the midst of a severe budget and jobs crisis, Colorado needs to build on our leading position in clean energy,”. “An aggressive coal plant conversion plan will not only provide new e jobs but will also enhance Colorado’s business climate as we move away from a carbon-intensive economy.” 
— Charlie Montgomery, energy program organizer of the Colorado Environmental Coalition