City stubborn on hydroplant issue | AspenTimes.com

City stubborn on hydroplant issue

Dear Editor:

I am not at all surprised to see that Save Our Streams and others are suing the city of Aspen over the Castle Creek Hydroelectric project. I take issue with a statement in the Sept. 16 Aspen Times article by Dave Hornbacher: “The proposed Castle Creek Energy Center does provide protection for the stream to ensure a healthy stream and renewable energy,” Hornbacher said. “It’s unfortunate that this small group chose not to work collaboratively with the city for a positive community benefit.”

This simply is not true. It is the city that chooses not to work collaboratively with the community, not the other way around. Save Our Streams, American Rivers, The Western Rivers Institute and others have all tried to work with the city on this project and create something that meets both the goals of clean energy and protecting the stream environments. The city has been nothing short of obstinate and disingenuous.

In June, the Western Rivers Institute hosted a public forum on the proposed Castle Creek Hydro project. The forum was a fair airing of concerns about the project and offered many constructive suggestions. Collaboration and continued open dialog was the key presented by all sides. It seemed that something might actually begin to happen in developing a responsible project acceptable to everyone.

None of that has happened. American Rivers, arguably the best group in the country to work with on developing a responsible hydroelectric project, gave up after trying repeatedly to work with the city. They were stonewalled at every turn.

The city’s continued refusal to work with others, to keep their promise of abandoning the conduit-exemption application or do serious and meaningful environmental impact analysis and mitigation for the project, not to mention an honest economic analysis, has been extremely frustrating.

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What is unfortunate is not “this small group’s choice,” but the city of Aspen’s choice not to work collaboratively or keep commitments made about the project. Aspen says it wants to set an example to the world on how to be environmentally responsible. They are doing a pretty poor job so far. Doubly unfortunate is that costly litigation may be the only way to breach this wall of Aspen arrogance.

Ken Neubecker

director, The Western Rivers Institute