ASPEN (AP) – Aspen Skiing Co. will maintain efforts to influence state and national policy on climate change in 2015 as well as reduce its own carbon footprint, but President and CEO Mike Kaplan said Skico’s aggressive stance isn’t a war on fossil fuels.
“We’re not fighting the industry. We’re trying to hold the industry accountable to best practices, and some of those best practices aren’t well-outlined yet,” Kaplan said.
Skico has become a leader in the ski industry on addressing climate change. The company’s 2014 Sustainability Report features Skico’s activism to slow global warming and numerous events it held to build awareness of climate change.
“Aspen Skiing Co. staff have been to Washington, D.C., eight times since 2012 to lobby on climate or other issues, and we already have more trips planned,” the report said. The recapturing of the Senate by Republicans won’t deter Skico’s office. Kaplan said solutions must be sought by working with everyone.
On the state level, Skico worked in 2013 to support Gov. John Hickenlooper’s proposal to make Colorado the first state to regulate methane leakage from drilling operations, The Aspen Times reported.
“We need electricity to spin our lifts, but we think there’s a way to do it that’s clean and sustainable and doesn’t rob the next generation of a livable planet.”
Skico employees also have played a role in the climate-change debate. The Environment Foundation, which is funded by Skico employees with matching funds from the company and other partners, contributed $150,000 since spring of 2013 to promote “responsible gas drilling,” the report said.
Critics occasionally take aim at Skico for taking aim at the oil-and-gas industry while operating a resort for international jet-setters. They say private aircraft use, common among Aspen’s visitors and residents, is an intense contributor to greenhouse gases, which cause global warming.
Skico put its money where its mouth was when it collaborated with partners to build a plant in 2013 that captures methane at the Elk Creek coal mine near Somerset and converts it to electricity. It produces about 2 million kilowatt-hours per month. The plant eliminates three times the carbon dioxide equivalent that would have been created from a utility company generating that power. The company is also exploring additional methane projects.
“We think that is the sustainability story of the decade – kill carbon and generate a return on investment – because that’s something that can be modeled and implemented at scale, whether it’s by us or others,” Kaplan said.