Canary May No Longer Sing
News around the state is a win/lose picture. Colorado ski visits this year fell by 9.8 percent to 11.01 million, reaching the lowest point in 21 years, as reported by Colorado Ski Country USA. The Vail area reported a drop of 8.9 percent in a year when our state experienced the lowest snow level since 1980-81.
While the numbers decreased, revenues were up 1.4 percent over the 2010-11 season. The big difference was out-of-state skiers came for more days and spent more money than the weekend skiers from the Denver metro area.
Coal towns on the bubble
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney made a big hit in Craig recently. More than 2,000 folks turned out to hear the potential presidential candidate talk about the energy business and his desire to save and create more jobs, especially in the energy business.
Craig, Hayden and Steamboat — all located in the Yampa Valley — are very dependent upon the mining industry. The coal fuels the four local power plants and is shipped out of Craig daily on rail cars loaded with coal for distant power plants.The coal business in northwest Colorado is huge and provides thousands of jobs and related industries for residents.
Positive comments were made by locals about the visit and business remains solid in those communities. But, going forward, if cheap natural gas becomes the fuel of choice for generating electricity from power plants, the coal business could plunge dramatically.
The writing appears on the wall and there are huge amounts of natural gas in northwest Colorado waiting to be put to good use. The coal towns are dancing on a bubble right now
Tomorrow, the historic yellow canary kept in a cage in the mine to warn of natural gas poisoning could indeed die and literally thousands of jobs are lost in Colorado and the United States.
Coal towns and miners could have jobs in great jeopardy if natural gas prices remain so low and the fuel so abundant.
How long can the canary sing?