Glenwood considers acting cool | AspenTimes.com

Glenwood considers acting cool

Dennis Webb
Glenwood Springs correspondent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A group of area residents is challenging the notion that you can’t do anything about the weather.

A “Cool Communities” group plans to ask Glenwood Springs City Council tonight to have the city take steps to fight global warming.

One would be to sign the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, a nonbinding document under which communities can tailor their own climate action plans.

By mid-November, mayors of 330 cities nationwide had agreed to the plan, including the Colorado communities of Aspen, Basalt, Boulder, Denver, Frisco, Gunnison and Telluride.

Glenwood Mayor Bruce Christensen would like to become a signatory to the plan as well, but said the decision is up to council as a whole. Christensen said he is worried about what the climate will be like for future generations if nothing is done about global warming.

“The evidence at least to me as a layman is becoming pretty overwhelming that something needs to be done pretty rapidly,” he said.

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The Glenwood Springs Cool Communities group is chaired by Bob Millette, also chair of the Roaring Fork Group of the Sierra Club. Other members include former Glenwood council members Dan Richardson, Greg Jeung and Rick Davis, city Transportation Commission Chairman Larry Heinrichs, former Post Independent managing editor Heather McGregor, banker Dave Scruby and physician Chris Tonozzi.

Richardson now heads the city of Aspen’s effort to reduce pollution emissions and help fight global warming. Aspen calls its program the Canary Initiative.

Millette said the Roaring Fork Sierra Club group’s Cool Communities initiative is modeled after a Cool Cities project the Sierra Club is promoting nationally. Sierra Club members plan to seek support for the Cool Communities initiative from other local cities and towns as well.

Group members are promoting energy conservation measures, use of more renewable energy and other steps to cut down on greenhouse gases that are believed to cause global warming. The mayors’ agreement suggests specific approaches such as working to reduce sprawl, buying energy-efficient equipment and appliances, boosting recycling rates, and converting diesel vehicles to use biodiesel.

The Glenwood Cool Communities group points to concerns that global warming could have local effects such as a shorter ski season, more drought and wildfires, insect infestations, earlier spring runoff and hotter summer weather. It urges the city to look into how much fossil energy it uses and begin to reduce emissions from that use.

Christensen said the group could encounter concern from some on council about the possible financial costs of such measures. But he believes taking action could help stave off economic disaster locally and globally, and produce other payoffs.

“Obviously if we can reduce our emissions we’re probably reducing our energy consumption, and energy’s very expensive right now,” he said.

Christensen said he’s disappointed that the U.S. government hasn’t signed on to the Kyoto protocol to fight global warming. He thinks it’s important for local governments to take the lead in saying that the issue is important.

He’s hopeful council will support the global warming initiative, pointing out that it has backed other environmentally oriented positions such as protecting the Roan Plateau from natural gas drilling, cracking down on air pollution related to gas drilling, and protecting roadless areas from development.

Christensen also pointed out that the city is a leader in the amount of wind energy its electric utility uses, and said he and city manager Jeff Hecksel also have discussed the possibility of using “micro” hydroelectric generators to tap the energy of the city’s gravity-fed water supply.

The council will meet tonight at 6 p.m. at Glenwood Springs City Hall, 101 W. Eighth St.

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