Group: ‘Green’ power is not enough
VAIL ” A group that recently gave Vail a middling grade for its environmental efforts said this week the resort’s recent purchase of “green” power doesn’t make up for local failures.
The group, the Ski Area Citizens’ Coalition, put out a press release Wednesday claiming ski areas that have purchased wind-generated electricity from local utilities are less likely to protect the local environment than resorts that haven’t. Vail Resorts announced earlier this year it would buy all its electricity from wind generators.
The environmental group’s report for this year gives Vail credit for its electricity buying, but still knocks the resort for work done at Blue Sky Basin, which opened in 2000.
Group spokesman Ben Doon said continuing to knock down Vail’s scores on its reports isn’t permanent, but based on work that still needs to be done.
“We only look back five years,” Doon said. “But all the implementation and construction has to be done.”
While the Ski Area Citizens’ Coalition puts out report cards and press releases, Doon acknowledged that the group doesn’t have a big constituency.
“We get between 100,000 and 200,000 hits a year on the Web site,” Doon said. “About 1,000 e-mails a year are generated from it.”
But, Doon said, the group still hopes to educate skiers and snowboarders about the environmental impacts of ski areas.
“From snowmaking to ski lifts, it takes a tremendous amount of energy use to run a ski area,” Doon sad. “It’s a high intensity land use as well.”
Vail Resorts doesn’t respond to the Ski Area Citizens’ Coalition’s requests for information, nor does the company comment much on the group’s report cards. But Vail Mountain Chief Operating Officer Bill Jensen said the group has missed a few items at Vail that would have added a few more points on the resort’s score.
“We do employee mass transit,” Jensen said. “Vail Resorts is Carpool.com’s biggest supporter, and we provide subsidies to ECO Transit.”
The resort is also looking into another area that could get it a higher score from the Ski Area Citizens’ Coalition, which has a score for resorts that use “bio-diesel,” a mixture of petroleum and oil from agricultural products.
“We’re constantly evaluating it,” Jensen said. “But the mix tends to gel at altitude.”
While the environmental group and the resort company don’t communicate, Doon said his group is having an effect.
“We’re not going to radically change the industry,” Doon said. “But the awareness of these issues has grown tremendously since we started doing the report cards in 2000.”
Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vail Daily, Vail Colorado CO