Aspen Skico CEO goes to White House |

Aspen Skico CEO goes to White House

Skico CEO Mike Kaplan with AYPA president Peter Waanders at The Little Nell dinner.

ASPEN – Mike Kaplan, president and CEO of the Aspen Skiing Co., spent Thursday with White House officials and business leaders in Washington, D.C., talking about how to push through climate and clean energy legislation.

The topic of the conversation was the Waxman/Markey bill, which the House is scheduled to vote on Friday.

Kaplan, along with CEOs from several energy and utility companies, and retailers such as Nike, North Face, Starbucks, Cliff Bar and the Gap, met for about an hour with Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to the president, and Carol Browner, assistant to the president for energy and climate change.

The Skico was the only company representing the ski industry at the meeting, which took place in the executive office building located next to the White House.

The White House officials discussed business efforts and advocated for comprehensive climate legislation. The meeting also explored how company leaders can work together to continue to broaden support as the bill moves through Congress.

“The main impact for us is to get the country to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and that’s our core mission of our company,” Kaplan said Thursday, standing in front of the White House shortly after the meeting.

“We talked about how to ensure it’s supported by constituents,” he said, adding some businesses may consider the initiatives that come out of the bill a tax. It isn’t in his mind.

“It’s important that the business community support this legislation and incentives to create renewable energy,” Kaplan said.

He said it was interesting to hear the positions of leaders in the energy and utility companies because the legislation will affect them significantly.

Kaplan also noted that with the new initiatives that come out of the legislation, there may be increased government funding for the Skico’s environmental projects like solar and hydropower.

“It will make those projects more palatable [financially],” he said. “But the energy companies will get incentives, and that’s where you get the traction.”

The Skico was among a group of businesses that signed onto print ads published in the Wall Street Journal and Washington newspapers this week urging Congress and President Obama to lead and swiftly enact comprehensive legislation to ensure America’s competitive future.

The bill, also known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) H.R. 2454, implements a cap-and-trade mechanism to regulate greenhouse gas emissions; promotes job growth by supporting development of clean tech jobs; implements renewable energy and energy efficiency standards; and provides support for consumers and industries in transition to a clean energy economy, proponents say.

Kaplan said four key elements of the bill will create incentives for businesses to address their practices when it comes to clean energy, energy efficiency, reducing global warming pollution and transitioning to a clean economy.

“We are honored to be included in this group, and we appreciate the administration’s leadership on this issue,” Kaplan said. “Climate change is the most significant long-term threat to the ski industry, and we have already begun to see the impacts of global warming on our mountain environment.

“In the Roaring Fork Valley alone thousands of people’s jobs depend directly upon winter sports,” he added. “We urge Congress to take significant action now to control future emissions, and to ensure we save snow and the economic viability of mountain resorts like Aspen for current and future generations.”

Kaplan was invited to the meeting largely because of the leadership role the Skico has taken in recent years on environmental sustainability. Kaplan also took the opportunity to meet with key staff from U.S. Rep. John Salazar’s office to voice the Skico’s support for the bill.

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