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An eight-part podcast series about one community on the front lines of Colorado's energy transition.

        


 

Episode 1: The Decision

There's a popular saying in Craig: "Coal keeps the lights on."

But in 2020, the electrical utility Tri-State announced that it would close its coal-fired power plant and coal mines in Craig by 2030. The news was like an earthquake. Hundreds of jobs would be lost. The town now faces the prospect of massive economic disruption as its primary industry disappears.

In our first episode, we travel to Craig to hear from coal workers who are bracing for change and one local business owner who's already looking for ways to reinvent the town's identity. Plus, we'll talk with the CEO at the center of the decision that changed everything. What will Craig do now?

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Episode 2: The Cost

In our second episode, we travel inside the Craig coal station to learn more about the science and economics of coal amidst a rapidly changing renewable energy landscape.

In recent years, coal has been losing ground to renewables like wind and solar as the prices of cleaner, greener technologies have come way down. And now, Colorado has made greenhouse gas reductions a priority. Coal is no longer the market driver it once was.

But we know that energy is a global challenge. What will the state reasonably be able to achieve in terms of a transition over the next decade? And what will that mean for our electricity?

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Episode 3: You Knew

Climate change is here, and the effects are right in our backyard. For decades, scientific evidence has pointed to significant human influence on our climate, dating back to the Industrial Revolution. Burning fossil fuels like coal releases significant amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, accelerating global warming. 

In 2019, the Colorado legislature took its boldest step yet toward addressing climate change. House Bill 1261 committed Colorado to a 50% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and a 90% reduction by 2050. The bill signaled the beginning of the end for coal plants in the state.

For some, the move was a much-needed step toward addressing the urgency of climate change. But for many in Craig, the bill was seen as an overreach, another example of rural communities being out of the decision-making process. How do we balance the need to protect the planet with the need to protect livelihoods?

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Episode 4: The Other Craigs

Transitions are nothing new, and American history is full of cautionary tales. When big industries fail or move away, bad things can happen to the small towns that rely on them. 

Since the mid-2000s, coal closures have washed over the U.S. like a wave. In Appalachia, closures hit small towns hard. Muhlenberg, Kentucky. Manchester, Ohio. McDowell County, West Virginia. The list goes on. Schools, hospitals, and other public services withered. People moved away.

We wanted to get some national perspective on coal-impacted communities. We wanted to see what we've learned from other towns that are further ahead in their transitions. Most of all, we wanted to know if Craig could succeed where others failed.

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Produced in partnership with