In rural northwestern Colorado, the town of Craig is at a crossroads. Coal has long been the primary employer and economic driver in this small, tight-knit community, which takes pride in providing energy to the surrounding region. Here, coal is an identity. A duty. A way of life. But something is about to change.
In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Colorado is moving on from fossil fuels. And in 2020, Tri-State, the local electrical utility, announced that it would close the Craig coal-fired power plant and coal mines by the end of the decade. Now, residents face an uncertain future. Some business owners and local officials are seeking to reinvent Craig’s economy. Others still hold out hope of a coal revival.
This is a story about the energy we use every day. But it's also a story about values and resilience in the face of change. Craig is only the latest American coal town to face a transition. It won't be the last. Can it succeed where others have failed?
Coal at Sunset: A Colorado Town in Transition was created by the Institute for Science & Policy at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and is produced in partnership with House of Pod.