Aspen gassier than other towns |

Aspen gassier than other towns

John Colson
Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

ASPEN – Aspen pumps out about twice as much greenhouse gas per capita as the national average, despite its reputation as a “green” resort town.Residents and visitors produce 50 tons of carbon dioxide per person each year here, according to a report the city released Tuesday. The U.S. average is 26.73 tons per person, according to the report that was done for the city’s global-warming program.

The report attributed Aspen’s high per-capita emissions to the city’s dependence on tourists who fly in from all over the globe. The biggest contributor to Aspen’s annual emissions is the exhaust from commercial jets, according to the report. Emissions from private aircraft, which carry relatively fewer passengers per flight but make up a large part of the traffic at the airport, came in a close second. Exhaust from cars, trucks and buses came in third.Approximately 97 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions came from the combustion of fossil fuels, according to the report, with the remainder from methane at the county landfill and nitrous oxide from fertilizer. Airplanes accounted for 344,487 tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2004, the study period.

“Air travel alone comprises 41 percent of Aspen’s emissions,” the study states, “a percentage comparable to industrial emissions in other heavily industrialized cities.”Automobiles on local highways and streets accounted for 211,175 tons, or approximately 25 percent of the total, the study said.The report also studies emissions from heating homes and buildings, and the burning of coal, oil and natural gas for electricity. That total is 273,311 tons per year. Sixty-one percent of that comes from electricity, but the report notes that the city has purchased energy generated from renewable sources such as wind and water, keeping an estimated 30,000 tons of greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere each year.

The $25,000 study notes the city’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and proposes methods for further reducing the community’s emissions. The suggestions include using energy-efficient technologies in housing and transportation, placing greater emphasis on planting trees, and publicly displaying the city’s emissions numbers.Vail, Colorado

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