Airport director: Numbers wrong |

Airport director: Numbers wrong

Joel Stonington

Numbers to calculate airport greenhouse gas emissions in recent report for the city are not accurate, the director of the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport says. Jim Elwood said the authors of the report, released Tuesday, used general, broad industry standards instead of data specific to Sardy Field.”The numbers of industry averages are not reflective of our airport,” Elwood said. “I would hope that we can refine this with more specific data. It is vitally important that the data is accurate.”The report, part of Aspen’s anti-global warming Canary Initiative, said the exhaust from commercial jets is the biggest contributor to emissions in Aspen. Emissions from private aircraft was the second-largest source. The report said airplanes accounted for 344,487 tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2004 – 41 percent of emissions in Aspen.Elwood did not to dispute the numbers as being too high. But he said he wanted accurate numbers to use in future efforts to cut emissions. “I met with [the authors] afterwards; we’re going to tighten some of those variables,” Elwood said. “This document will hopefully become the measurement for future years. We stand ready with data to help narrow the focus of the study to this airport. I’m a believer that there are always ways to make improvements, once we understand where we are today.”United’s upcoming switch from BAe-146 jets to smaller CRJ-700s at Sardy Field is one thing that might affect the numbers in the report, Elwood said. “We would never get credit for that transition if we were to continue using national statistics,” he said. Whatever the numbers, it won’t be easy to cut greenhouse gas emissions at the airport.”It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand Aspen is dependent on air travel for visitors and residents,” former Aspen Mayor John Bennett said during a meeting Tuesday. “The No. 1 thing on the list is jet travel. What can we do to reduce greenhouse emissions from commercial jets? I don’t know. We depend so heavily on United Express and other commercial carriers.” There might be changes that could increase fuel efficiency or electricity in airport buildings, Elwood said, but there aren’t many easy options. “This is not an issue where you immediately see solutions,” Elwood said. “I’d like to believe there are some choices we can make. There may be cases where we can change taxi time for airplanes that may add up to be material improvements. We all have a stake in this issue.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is