Entrance to Aspen solution a key part of reducing emissions
The city of Aspen deserves a great deal of credit for publicizing a report last week detailing its embarrassingly high emissions of greenhouse gases.We hope, however, that city officials also see the report as a call for action on the Entrance to Aspen, which is responsible for a significant portion of the city’s per-capita emissions.Aspen has long prided itself on a strong environmental ethic, which has supported everything from campaigns to create federal wilderness areas to recycling programs and ambitious public transit initiatives. That same ethic recently led to the creation of the Canary Initiative, a city effort to document and reduce its contributions to global warming. As part of the initiative, the city even created the position of “global warming manager” to move the Canary Initiative forward.It would appear from the damning report released last week that the city means business on this. The report, which the city commissioned at a cost of $25,000, states clearly that environmentally conscious Aspen produces greenhouse gases at a per-capita rate nearly double the national average.Ouch!Not every town would engage in such truth-telling, and city officials deserve applause for their environmental candor. (Didn’t it always seem a little strange that the “green” resort image coexisted with all the heated driveways, trophy homes, hulking SUVs and other forms of conspicuous consumption?) Still, the report is only a first step; Aspen must do everything it can to lower its fossil-fuel flatulence.We believe this responsibility falls on all residents – to reduce unnecessary automobile trips and to lower their consumption of natural gas and electricity. The report cited jet traffic as the biggest culprit in the city’s overall emissions – 41 percent, in fact – but the problem hardly begins and ends with Aspen’s high-flying tourists.Energy use in homes and businesses plays a big role, as does automobile use.To its credit, the city’s electric utility already draws much of its power from renewable energy sources and does a great deal to promote public transit and reduce automobile use around town. But despite all of those efforts, there are still long lines of idling cars and trucks every morning and afternoon, spewing greenhouse gases into the air as they fight their way in and out of Aspen.The most obvious way for the city to slow its contribution to global warming would be to fix the Entrance to Aspen with an efficient, transit-based solution. That won’t be easy, from either a political or an engineering standpoint. But with emissions reduction as a clear city goal, and a scientific report that quantifies the problem, it’s become imperative.