A coalition of major Colorado ski-resort operators and other companies threw their support behind legislation to create a state climate action plan Thursday.
They penned a letter to Gov. Jared Polis and the state legislature to consider some facts and then pass House Bill 1261.
The bill sets goals for the state to reduce greenhouse gases, the prime culprit behind climate change. It also instructs the state Air Quality Control Commission to create rules to make those reductions possible.
The bill is scheduled to be debated on the Senate floor, resting on a lengthy calendar as lawmakers eye working through the weekend. The General Assembly adjourns in a week.
On Thursday, three major operators of ski areas in Colorado and elsewhere -- Vail Resorts (Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone), Alterra Mountain Company (Steamboat, Winter Park) and Aspen Skiing Company (Aspen, Snowmass) --joined First Affirmative Financial Network, Istonish, New Belgium Brewing, and Sustainability Group of Loring, Wolcott & Coolidge in urging policymakers to look at the plan from a long-range business perspective.
Colorado ski areas could see snowpack losses between 50% and 82% by 2085, according to a forecast by The Center for Integrative Environmental Research (CIER) at the University of Maryland.
Billions of dollars in Colorado's economy are at stake. Less snow means less skiing and less water to meet growth and irrigate agriculture. Colorado gets more than 70% of its year-round water supply from winter snow, mostly in the high country.
Drought also helps fuel catastrophic wildfires and insect infestations, as well.
The letter from the Colorado businesses states:
Dear Governor Polis and Members of the Colorado General Assembly,
As major employers, businesses, and investors with significant interests in Colorado, we support policies that will accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy. Specifically, we write to express our strong support for House Bill 1261, which would set a goal for Colorado to cost-effectively reduce statewide carbon and other greenhouse gases 26% by 2025, 50% by 2030 and 90% by 2050.
Businesses and investors understand both the importance of reducing carbon-related risk and the economic opportunity of accelerating clean energy adoption. Nearly half of Fortune 500 companies have set goals to reduce carbon emissions and increase their use of clean energy, and 37 companies in Colorado have committed to power their operations with 100 percent renewable energy. Companies are making these commitments because it makes business sense: procuring clean energy allows us to save money, hedge against volatile fuel prices, and lock in predictable energy prices. In fact, A 2017 analysis shows that these investments are saving U.S. companies $3.7 billion a year, freeing up significant capital that we reinvest into our businesses, employees, and the communities in which we operate.
Decarbonization is an economic opportunity for Colorado. Carbon reduction targets provide the policy certainty for businesses to make additional investments in Colorado consistent with meeting sustainability and financial goals. The state’s current policies have already helped to attract nearly $7.4 billion in renewable energy investment to date. A 2018 report found that more than 62,000 Coloradans are employed in clean energy. The state is also poised to capture substantial economic benefits by reducing emissions from the transportation sector. Analysis found that if about 7 percent of new car sales in Colorado are battery electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles by 2025, the state would see $7.6 billion in net benefits by 2050. Establishing carbon reduction goals is a key next step to ensuring the state’s robust clean energy economy continues to grow.
Establishing a goal to reduce statewide carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions will encourage the development of local clean energy projects that generate cost savings and jobs, while improving public health and protecting the state’s thriving outdoor economy. This legislation would enhance the economic vitality, competitiveness, and growth of our state, sending a clear signal that Colorado is open for business. Thank you for your consideration.
Alterra Mountain Company
Aspen Skiing Company
First Affirmative Financial Network
New Belgium Brewing
Sustainability Group of Loring, Wolcott & Coolidge