March 7, 2023

Bill to assist coal workers passes House

Hannah Grover

The final day of operations at San Juan Generating Station

A bill to expand eligibility for funding that the Energy Transition Act of 2019 made available to employees who lost their jobs at the San Juan Mine or the San Juan Generating Station passed the House of Representatives on a 64-0 vote on Monday.

The bill removes language in the ETA that limits the people eligible for displaced worker assistance to those who have been laid off within the previous 12 months.

But the funding was not available when the first workers lost their jobs in November 2020. 

Funds were not available until last summer.

Bill sponsor Rep. Anthony Allison, D-Fruitland, said that the closures were a big blow “to many of our friends and relatives.”

Other representatives from San Juan County, including Rep. Mark Duncan, R-Kirtland, Rep. T. Ryan Lane, R-Aztec, and Rep. Rod Montoya, R-Farmington, joined Allison in sponsoring the bill.

The bill had no real debate, only some of the other supporters standing to speak about the importance of the bill.

Duncan is the mayor of Kirtland, which is one of the closest communities to the power plant.

“I am ashamed that it has taken us three years to get the money to them,” Duncan said about the displaced workers.