EPA’s Clean Power Plan is Critical to Protecting Our Winters

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On July 29th, 2014 Aspen Skiing Company (ASC) testified in support of EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Between the 29th and August 1st hundreds of Americans, including Protect Our Winter’s Riders Alliance member Eric Larsen, will tell EPA why the Clean Power Plan is critical to their futures, livelihoods and lifestyles. Read our testimony, then join thousands of others and submit your comments

EPA’s Clean Power Plan ensures power plants throughout the United States reduce their carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions as required by the U.S. Supreme Court under MA v. EPA. ASC was one of three companies to file friend of the court briefs arguing that EPA must regulate these emissions under the Clean Air Act. The Plan is a concrete step in efforts to address the impacts of climate change.

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Testimony Delivered to EPA in Support of Clean Power Plan on 07/29/14
Aspen Skiing Company supports adoption of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan because clean power is good for the economy, our health, our environment and our community’s future. Our support is the next step in a process that began in 2007 when we were one of three companies to file an Amicus Brief in MA v. EPA, the case that led to the creation of the Clean Power Plan.

Aspen Skiing Company operates four ski areas, two hotels, 13 restaurants, 12 retail outlets and manages 100s of employee housing units. We employ 3500+ in the winter and 900 year-round. The economic success of Aspen Skiing Company and the Roaring Fork Valley are closely linked.

Since 1949 we have seen an increase in the number of frost free days, meaning there are fewer days with below freezing temperatures needed to make snow. Without snowmaking our season would be shortened to a degree that our viability could be threatened. Recently the United States Department of Agriculture placed Aspen in the same climactic zone as Carbondale, a town 2000 feet lower, sitting in an area of the Roaring Fork Valley which locals refer to as the banana belt. Left unabated, rising greenhouse gas emissions are predicted to transition Aspen to a climate similar to that of Amarillo, Texas by 2100.

Aspen Skiing Company is focused on reducing its energy costs by increasing efficiency, supporting low carbon energy sources and actively engaging our elected officials to develop policies that encourage smart, sensible energy policy. We seek to reduce our carbon footprint 25% by 2020. We’ve achieved a 3.5% reduction to date while our business has grown, adding a hotel, lifts and restaurants. We distribute monthly energy reports highlighting specific accounts with abnormal usage and have invested in LED lighting, building automation systems, improved HVAC systems and many other energy efficiency measures. We’ve installed over 170 kW of solar panels, a 115 kW micro-hydro system and pond-based heat pumps. We’ve tracked our carbon footprint since 2000 and made that information publicly available. We actively support the work of Protect Our Winters and Businesses for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy.

Almost two years ago, we completed at 3 MW electricity plant at the Elk Creek Mine in Somerset, Colorado. This $6 million plant produces 24,000 MWh of electricity annually, equivalent to our annual usage, while reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 96,000 tons, three times our annual usage. Our local utility purchased the green attributes of this energy, so while we’ve not offset our consumption, our investment in this plant brings online a low carbon energy source melding the coal mining industry with efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

We are working to hire our first energy manager as we’ve realized that energy efficiency improvements are critical but only as good as the day to day management of those buildings. An energy manager will allow us to provide active energy management of our 250+ buildings.

Throughout all this work we’ve recognized that the single most influential factor in our ability to meet our 2020 energy goal is the fuel mix our utilities choose in supplying our operations. To that end we’ve worked hard to encourage our local utility to shift its energy portfolio toward lower carbon sources, much as the Clean Power Plan does throughout the United States.

We are pleased to see that EPA’s proposed rule allows individual states to utilize a number of flexible strategies to comply with the proposed standard. We specifically applaud the inclusion of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures as means of compliance. We are deeply concerned that the pace of progress by legislators, companies and the public toward stabilizing global temperatures has been dangerously slow. The Clean Power Plan rules represent an important action that is needed now. Aspen Skiing Company understands the importance of clean power and encourages EPA to adopt this ground breaking regulatory approach to maintain rural, tourism-based economies throughout our country.

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About Matthew Hamilton

Matthew Hamilton is Aspen Skiing Company’s (ASC) Sustainability Director. He is also the Executive Director of the Environment Foundation, which has donated more than $2 million over the past 15 years. Matthew oversees ASC’s community philanthropy, and runs ASC’s day-to-day environmental programs, including the monthly Greenletter, and GREENTRACK, ASC’s ISO 14001 certified environmental management system. Matthew is also consultant with Aspen Sustainability Associates, and has lectured nationally and internationally on ASC’s work. He currently serves as President of the Roaring Fork School District Board of Education, and on the boards of the Carbondale Tourism Council, Colorado Youth Corps Association and Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado. Previously, Matthew was a Research Officer at The Piton Foundation, working with low income neighborhoods on issues of education reform, affordable housing and economic development. Prior to that, he worked for Share Our Strength, a national anti-hunger anti-poverty group; the Independent Sector, a national association of nonprofits and foundations, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (on a project called Enterprise for the Environment), for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, and for Middlebury College. Matthew has a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies and Political Science from Middlebury College and a Masters in Public Policy from Georgetown University where he focused on nonprofit management. During his free time he can be found on his bike spending time enjoying many of the local trails and back roads. He lives in Carbondale, Colorado with his wife Jen, and their children Boden and Beck.