The right decision
The city of Aspen’s decision to thoroughly evaluate the environmental impacts of the Castle Creek Hydro Project (“Aspen changes direction on hydro plan,” April 27, 2011, The Aspen Times) is the right decision for the Aspen community, Castle and Maroon Creeks, and renewable energy proponents state-wide.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission environmental analysis will take a hard look at the project’s impact on Castle and Maroon Creeks. It should also evaluate the impacts (or benefits) of different operating schedules, such as diverting only during the high flow summer months. Equally important, however, the federal process will enable community members, conservation groups, and stakeholders to participate in a more comprehensive, transparent process. We need a rapid transition to renewable sources of energy if we hope to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change; Aspen has made significant progress on this front. In deciding whether to add hydropower, Aspen can do more than just make a difference locally – it should be a regional leader. Aspen can have a larger, long-lasting impact by choosing greenhouse gas reduction strategies that are replicable by cities and utilities around the region, and by setting the standard for new hydroelectric projects. This requires completing a comprehensive environmental analysis, managing a transparent process, and building community support. These important actions will determine whether the Castle Creek Hydro Project moves forward, and will influence whether other Colorado communities follow Aspen’s lead.
Senior Energy/Water Policy Analyst, Western Resource Advocates
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