Climate change-conscious Aspen gives away gas |

Climate change-conscious Aspen gives away gas

Joel Stonington

Aspen produces roughly double the national average of greenhouse gas emissions, and the city is giving away gas for tourists to drive here.Road trippers heading to Aspen this summer will receive a free tank of gas with a stay of two or more nights at a local hotel. They also get passes to the Aspen Recreation Center, two bus rides to the Maroon Bells and two one-day bicycle rentals. It’s part of a promotional package the city of Aspen and the Aspen Chamber Resort Association are offering. With gas expected to be 10 percent more expensive this year compared with 2005, motorists may be more likely to check out Jazz Aspen Snowmass or the chili cookoff with a $50 gas voucher.Not everyone in Aspen, however, thinks it’s the best idea for the city – which has approved a special initiative and hired an employee to combat global warming – to be giving away gas. “I wish that what we did was provide an incentive to get here and do something more creative than money for gas,” said Dan Richardson, Aspen’s point man on global warming. “I’m sure it’s unintended that they didn’t necessarily think about how it fits into the city’s goals of how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”Perhaps, the other incentives of free bike rentals and bus rides to the Bells will help people step away from their cars. Even so, Richardson thinks there could be another way. “Perhaps we could agree to offset the emissions of the people that we provide gasoline for,” he said. “The unfortunate thing is that once they drive into Aspen they’ll probably drive around once they’re here.”Driving around town accounts for nearly 5 percent of Aspen’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to a recent report.”More than two-thirds of Aspen’s summer visitors arrive by car,” ACRA President Debbie Braun said in a previously prepared statement. “[The promotion] makes it easier for families to drive to Aspen but offers visitors car-free transportation options once they are in our beautiful resort town.”The promotion is valid from now through October. For more information, visit the ACRA website at, or call (800) 670-0788.For more information on global warming and what Aspen is doing about it, visit Stonington’s e-mail address is

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