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Mountain News: Good economic news sparse in Aspen

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Yuri Kostick, the county's sustainable communities land planner, said officials considered razing the buildings and starting over. However, a lifecycle analysis found that retrofitting the existing building will result in a lower environmental cost.

County officials have also been considering whether solar panels could be erected over the parking lot at Eagle County Regional Airport, as has been done at some airports. Many analysts foresee the day when car batteries will become the storage medium for solar-produced electricity. At the moment, however, the plan is on hold in Eagle. While the airport gets only seven inches of precipitation annually, occasionally that moisture arrives in major snowstorms. That, says Kostick, could be a problem.

Ski towns fret about gas drilling impacts

JACKSON, Wyo. - Natural gas drilling is on the periphery of several resort valleys in the West.

In Wyoming, conservationists have long worried about the impacts of natural gas drilling to the Wyoming Range. The Jackson Hole News & Guide reverently describes the range as a 100-mile string of low-lying mountains that lacks the mesmerizing jaggedness of the Tetons but remains sublime in its native ordinariness.

Federal land officials have announced the decision not to issue 23 leases for energy extraction originally planned. But energy companies still hold legitimate leases on huge swaths of the range, reports the newspaper. To purchase and retire those leases will require activists to raise millions of dollars, the newspaper notes.

The newspaper also describes an "unlikely coalition" brought together in the interest of preservation. "This speaks to the power of a landscape and how that landscape defines those who enter it."

In Colorado, another unlikely coalition of ranchers, landowners, governments and public activists have assembled in hopes of replicating the story in Wyoming. The land they hope to protect consists of 121,000 acres of public lands in the Thompson and Divide Creek drainages. This is west of Aspen 40 to 50 miles and southwest of Glenwood Springs.

The group, called the Thompson Divide Coalition, hopes to prevent gas producers from developing 81 existing leases.

In Colorado, natural gas drilling has also been in the news at Durango. One of the nation's major gas fields is located just to the south. Of concern is whether chemicals pumped down wells in an effort to dislodge natural gas from sandstone and other formations have been polluting drinking water.

Wally White, a commissioner in La Plata County, tells the Durango Telegraph that he supports federal legislation that would force companies to divulge the chemicals used in the process, called fracking. "The longer we drag our feet, the more potential there is for damage to human health and our fragile water supplies. If we lose our water supply here, this community is screwed," he said.