ASPEN - The Aspen Chamber Resort Association's board of directors voted Tuesday to take a stand opposing the U.S. Chamber's campaign on climate-change legislation without polling its own membership on the issue first.
"What do our 800 members think about this?" said Charlie Bantis, one of two members of the ACRA board who called for surveying ACRA-member businesses before considering a resolution in opposition to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's activities. "I think it's the right thing to do."
"Guys, this is about policy and procedures," agreed board member Don Sheeley. "We're thinking with our emotions, and we're not using our policy."
Both Sheeley and Bantis urged the ACRA to survey the chamber membership before taking a vote on the resolution, but the board approved the resolution on a 12-2 vote, and also agreed to survey ACRA members about their views on climate-change legislation.
The group also agreed to invite Thomas J. Donohue, the outspoken president of the U.S. Chamber, to Aspen to explain the national organization's thinking.
The local chamber is a member of the national organization.
The ACRA resolution acknowledges that climate change may constitute a significant factor to the sustainability of Aspen's resort economy. It also notes that the U.S. Chamber has opposed climate-change legislation and has "engaged in advertising that denigrates efforts in Congress to develop national policy to address the issue of climate change."
The ACRA, says the resolution, recognizes that its individual members' views may differ on specifics of the issue, but believes members agree the issue needs to be constructively addressed. The ACRA wants to distance itself from lobbying and political activities that it doesn't consider helpful in the discussion, according to the resolution.
The ACRA, the resolution concludes, "opposes the lobbying activities and current advertising campaign" of the U.S. Chamber as not representing the local chamber. It also urges the national organization to cease its negative lobbying activities and work constructively to pass climate-change legislation and negotiate meaningful international treaties to limit carbon emissions.
Statements of both the Aspen Skiing Co.'s position and the city of Aspen's position on climate change are to be sent to the U.S. Chamber, along with the text of the ACRA resolution.
David Perry, Aspen Skiing Co. senior vice president and an ACRA board member, urged the chamber to take a stand on the national issue.
"Clearly we [the Skico] are very unhappy with the U.S. Chamber's position on the issue," said Perry, calling a U.S. Chamber television commercial on the climate topic "offensive and obstructive."
Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland, also an ACRA board member, decried the "reprehensible scare tactics" employed by the advertising and called for the board to take action.
The commercial singled out by Perry in his remarks urges viewers to ask their congressional representatives to vote no on the Lieberman-Warner climate-change bill. It shows a man, bundled up in a coat and scarf, frying an egg over candles at home before he walks to work. Congressional action, the commercial intones, could make it too expensive for Americans to heat their homes and drive their cars. It can be viewed on YouTube.
The U.S. Chamber's activities have led some high-profile members, including Apple, utility company Excelon, and Pacific Gas and Electric, to pull out of the organization.