Coal Conversion Counties share concerns
By Michael Johnson, Editor
EPA control, a vote to do away with property taxes and the growth of the oil industry were all major topics for discussion during the annual Coal Conversion Counties meeting held Wednesday night at Washburn’s Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. Members gathered from nearly all school, city and county governments in coal country to share in discussion and hear from two experts, Sandi Tabor, vice president of government affairs for the Lignite Energy Council and David Glatt, of the North Dakota Department of Health environmental health sector. The two discussed initiatives by the Environmental Protection Agency meant to help the environment, that could be very harmful to the coal industry. Tabor first showed a model that showed that North Dakota was looking a lot better than it was in the 1970s in terms of environmental issues. From 1970 to 2008 there has been an 83 percent reduction in emissions, a 48 percent increase in the population, coal-fueled electricity is up 180 percent and the Gross Domestic Product is up 209 percent. Even though things seemed to be looking up, there’s no letting up for coal companies. Tabor explained that times are getting tougher.