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A bill aimed at curbing air pollution turned into a battle over jobs at a state Senate hearing Thursday, The Denver Post reports. Already passed by the House of Representatives, the bill directs Xcel Energy to come up with a comprehensive plan to reduce nitrogen-oxides pollution by up to 80 percent at its older Front Range coal-burning plants. The legislation also calls for giving “primary consideration to converting from coal to (natural) gas.” That language mobilized the mining industry, railroads and unions Thursday to urge the Senate Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee to reject the legislation.
In other coverage:
The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel: Xcel Energy customers would see a utility rate increase even if the Colorado Legislature didn’t approve a measure to convert coal-powered plants to natural gas, company officials told lawmakers Thursday. House Bill 1365 has wide support on both sides of the Continental Divide, but questions have arisen over what it might cost consumers. But Frank Prager, managing director of environmental policy for Xcel, told the Senate Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee that the state’s largest electric utility could request a 4 percent to 6 percent increase in rates over the next few years because the cost of coal and natural gas are going up.
The Durango Herald: Senators hit the gas Thursday on a bill to transform coal power plants into natural-gas burners. Sen. Bruce Whitehead, D-Hesperus, is sponsoring House Bill 1365 with Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction. The Senate Agriculture Committee passed it 5-2. Although Southwest Colorado environmental groups are worried about the bill, Whitehead said the economy will benefit if Denver-area coal plants are converted to natural gas.