Just the facts, please | AspenTimes.com

Just the facts, please

Dear Editor:

Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” In a town like Aspen, filled with smart people and fortunate in every way, it seems to me that we owe it to one another to start with a common fact base, and then let people develop opinions based on those facts and their values. Let’s not get into the business of bending the truth to pursue an argument.

Alas, in promoting the Castle/Maroon Creek hydro plant, the city seems determined to warp the truth before the debate even starts. So far, the bent ledger includes: (1) filing for a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission permit under an emergency flood exemption, which was a pure fiction; (2) claiming that electricity prices will inflate at 5 percent per annum – with no substantiation of that claim, and against a formal Department of Energy projection that electricity prices and coal prices will be flat through 2035; (3) claiming unrealistically low expenses for the hydro plant (and already sloughing hydro expenses off to other departments); and (4) using outdated and insufficient hydrology data; and (5) failing to compare the hydro plant with other zero-carbon alternatives.

If hydro is such a great option, and if the plant doesn’t threaten our natural habitat and the free-flowing streams on which that habitat depends, then there is no reason for this sleight of hand.

I don’t mind a difference of opinions. But it truly rankles me to have our taxpayer money spent for this kind of deception. And it looks like it could get worse: According to one local paper, City Hall is preparing a “Counter-attack … against critics.” Please say it ain’t so!

Let’s take this to a higher level. It is time for the city officials to offer objective data, grounded in the best financial and ecological data and practices. If the financial models make sense, then show us how, using numbers that are accepted by energy experts, and document and defend the assumptions. If the ecological issues are trivial, then let’s get some realistic and up-to-date assertions of that from qualified biologists.

Aspen’s officials, both elected and appointed, have a duty to all of her citizens to proffer genuine data, listen to reason and work toward solutions that compromise neither the financial nor ecological integrity of this beautiful valley.

Hal Harvey


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