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Will Act of God close Drake coal plant?

Colorado Springs Drake Power Plant
[FULL TEXT OF LETTER SUBMITTED TO CS INDEPENDENT MAY 14] Two years ago Colorado Springs lost 346 homes to the Waldo Canyon fire which precipitated floods expected to haunt the westside and Manitou for years to come.

The next year saw a wildfire in Black Forest that took an unprecedented 500 homes. That’s unprecedented for Colorado, although with global warming it’s certainly a portent of cataclysms to follow.

You’d think two fires in a row might have motivated city leaders to seize the chance to act on climate change, and not just symbolically. By coincidence Colorado Springs Utilities had been equivocating about whether to reinvest in an aging coal-fired power plant located in the center of town.

Imagine how we might have redeemed our city’s national reputation if Colorado Springs had announced a decision to close the Drake coal plant, prompted by wild fires to reduce the burning of fossil fuels! Instead the utilities board laid out only long term options, most to sustain Drake, and only one which included a token investment in renewable energy.

This year saw another coincidence. This is of course conjecture on my part. Seeing his two previous acts unheeded, local favorite God surprised everyone with a third fire where Colorado Springs backward thinkers would be sure to get the point. Last week the Drake coal plant itself caught fire, certainly the least expected and most poetic of global warming victims.

We’re told it’s going to take over a billion dollars to bring Drake back online. I’ve got an idea and I’m not even religious. LET’S CLOSE IT! Let’s spend that billion on a solar array or a wind farm! Naysayers should be ashamed to pretend we don’t have a plentitude of both.

It’s too late to convince the world we’re brilliant, let’s show we’re not idiots. The collective decision to act on climate change begins at home if you have a publicly owned coal-fired power plant. Communities across the world have stopped burning coal, are we with them or against them?

The Drake coal plant didn’t just spew carbon, its emissions included lots of toxins we were forced to breath. Heart disease and asthma were two measurable harms which any doctor could attribute to Drake, scrubbers or no scrubbers. The coal ash accumulating south of town is another threat altogether, of which the recent ash spill in North Carolina serves as a heartbreaking warning.

Even if we reinvest a billion in Drake, we have several months of clean air and cleaner consciences to think more clearly about it. This summer America the Beautiful Park will be the healthiest it’s been in fifty years, when the old “cloud-maker” got its start.

On the other hand, wouldn’t it be a shame not put every next penny into renewable, sustainable, healthy energy, starting with this first billion?

I’d like to think people can decide to save the environment for their own health and for their children, but if it takes an Act of God to close Drake, so be it.

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