More to Aspen’s gas problem than planes and cars |

More to Aspen’s gas problem than planes and cars

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

ASPEN – Aspenites can’t blame all their greenhouse gas problems on the jet set and commuters. They need to look in the mirror.”I’ve seen the enemy and it is me,” said Dan Richardson, the city’s global warming project manager. Everyone has a role in the problem, he said.The city released a report Tuesday that shows Aspen released 840,875 tons of greenhouse gases in 2004. That’s about 50 tons of emissions for each resident, visitor and worker in the area on an average day. The U.S. average is 27 tons of emissions per capita.Most scientists agree that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are major contributors to global warming.

Aspen’s study identified commuter and commercial traffic on Highway 82 as well as private and commercial air travel as two major contributors to the city’s greenhouse gas problem. Air travel alone accounts for 41 percent of the city’s emissions. But Aspen still emits the harmful gases at a significantly higher rate than the national average even when air travel and commuter driving is removed from the equation, according to the study. Aspen still produced 355,000 tons or 43.4 tons per capita without the planes and commuters. “If you take all those things away you still have large houses,” said the study’s author, Rick Heede, an environmental consultant and former senior researcher at Rocky Mountain Institute in Old Snowmass.In comparison, Boulder produced only 19 tons of emissions per capita in 2003 when the same factors were examined, according to Aspen’s study. Richardson said it is important for Aspen to realize that a good share of the emissions problem is attributable to the activities of its estimated 8,200 residents.

“I worry that people are going to point to the rich people that fly in here and say they’re the problem, ‘I’m not going to have to do anything about it,'” Richardson said.So if the jet set and commuters can’t be blamed completely for Aspen’s emissions, what’s the source of the gas? Energy consumption from monster homes and buildings in general, along with driving within the city limits and surrounding environs were the culprits. Energy consumption by Aspen’s homes and commercial buildings was estimated to produce 273,311 tons of carbon dioxide in 2004, according to the study.Driving trips within town consumed 3.7 million gallons of gas and produced 36,720 tons of emissions, the study said.”We’re not as green as we seek to be,” said Torre, a councilman who only uses one name. “We know that, that’s why we undertook this project.”

On the Net: Aspen’s study of its greenhouse gas emmissions can be found at Click on “Where Aspen CO2 emissions come from.”Vail, Colorado

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