Aspen doesn’t want to be Amarillo |

Aspen doesn’t want to be Amarillo

Janet Urquhart
Vail, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Aggressive goals to cut Aspen’s greenhouse gas emissions won favor with the City Council Monday, but members balked at some of the recommendations to achieve the reductions.

The council unanimously backed a plan to cut the community’s emissions of gases associated with global warming to 30 percent below its 2004 levels by 2020, and 80 percent below 2004 levels by 2050.

The 30 percent reduction, particularly, is doable, said Dan Richardson, the city’s global warming project manager.

“This is an aggressive plan, it’s very ambitious, but it is based on science. … It’s not something we just pulled out of a hat,” he said.

The goals reflect what scientists believe is necessary to stabilize the climate, Richardson said.

“We believe this goal is how not to look like Amarillo, Texas, by the end of the century,” added Calla Ostrander, facilitator for the city’s global warming project, the Canary Initiative.

Projections indicate Aspen’s climate could resemble Amarillo’s by 2099 with no action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

While council members had no qualms with the goals, some had significant reservations with key recommendations ” notably Richardson’s to build two mass-transit lanes into town.

Council members also questioned the feasibility of requiring an energy rating for residential properties each time they change hands. There are no proposed ramifications of the audit, other than disclosure.

The proposed climate plan makes recommendations for both city government and community action in areas such as air and ground transportation, energy efficiency in buildings, electricity generation, and waste reduction and recycling, but Councilman Jack Johnson said he was concerned the report didn’t have goals for reducing emissions associated with air travel.

Commercial and private jet traffic at the local airport has been identified as a big contributor to the community’s overall gas emissions. Johnson noted the irony in a recommendation to shut off the city’s downtown fire hearth while glossing over the airport issue.

Richardson said he shared Johnson’s frustration with the lack of tangible steps to reduce jet emissions, but said city staffers were unable to identify significant steps that could be taken.

“There are some limitations as to what not only the city of Aspen but Pitkin County can do,” he said.

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