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Telluride, Colorado is one of the top ski towns in the U.S., but erratic weather fueled by climate change could hurt the tourism economy. So Telluride has been fighting global warming by investing in a range of renewable energy projects.

Now Telluride is banding together with ten other western towns that are especially vulnerable to climate change. Together they are trying to eliminate what they see as unfair advantages for the coal industry, one of the biggest carbon polluters. Telluride Mayor Stuart Fraser:

FRASER: “We believe that fair pricing on coal is right. We just think that it’s something that needs to be done.”

Coal companies – which lease millions of acres of public lands for mining – currently pay royalties to the government based on the relatively low price of coal sold to middlemen instead of the final market price.

So with help from the nonprofit Mountain Pact, the towns have written a letter asking the U.S. Department of the Interior to require coal companies to pay royalties on the full market price of their product.

Since the federal government and the state where the coal is mined share the revenue, the change – if enacted – could mean hundreds of millions of dollars to help communities reduce climate change and prepare for the impacts.

Editor’s Note:  A regular contributor to Yale Climate Connections has a direct personal and professional link to the nonprofit organization “Mountain Pact” as its director and founder. This story was prepared and produced without that individual’s involvement.


Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.

More Resources
The Mountain Pact letter
Ski Towns Mull Future Without Skiing – and Put Coal in the Crosshairs
Western towns hard-hit by climate change unite, target coal for funds
Mountain Pact: Paying the costs of climate change
Cutting Subsidies and Closing Loopholes in the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Coal Program

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