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Mountain News: More electric cars needed in order to meet emission goals

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Is there hope for electric cars accelerating? That's the question in many states, including Colorado, now as utilities have started pivoting sharply toward wind and other renewable sources to produce electricity.

Colorado in early 2018 adopted a goal of having 940,000 electric cars on the state's roads by 2030. Now, as a result of aggressive new actions by state legislators and Gov. Jared Polis, that goal looks too modest. One of his first steps as governor in January was to direct the state's Air Quality Control Commission to study whether to adopt the zero-emission standards adopted by California and other states. This would have the effect of requiring car dealers in Colorado to add substantially more electric vehicles for sale, increasing consumer choice.

On Monday, Colorado and major automakers announced they had reached a deal that would result in automakers introducing more electric cars while earning more credits for earlier sales. The commission must approve the compromise agreement.

Everywhere, though, cost matters, and so do the range of EVs. The most costly component of an EV is its battery, but battery prices have dropped 85 per cent in the last nine years. As for range, that remains a concern, but again there are advances. Some luxury models can go up to 480 kilometres per charge. New charging infrastructure, including the fast-charger that can refuel a car in less than 30 minutes, has also calmed range anxiety.

As for buildings, they're a more difficult proposition. Here and there, some builders are constructing homes that have no natural gas lines. All the heating, both of space and water, is done by electricity and improved technology called air-source heat pumps. Several units in a 23-unit affordable housing project called Basalt Vista, located 30 kilometres down-valley from Aspen, use those and other technologies, as does a science school in Avon, at the foot of Beaver Creek.

She can run fast, but she could not outrun a grizzly

CANMORE, Alta.—Emma Lunder can run fast. She's an Olympic biathlete who lives in Canmore, at the entrance to Banff National Park, where she often jogs along on trails.

But when she saw a sow grizzly with two cubs from about 50 metres away along a trail recently, she tried other tactics. As the sow charged, getting to within 20 metres, Lunder screamed, put her hands over her head and backed up.

As she did, she got out her bear spray. That was a good thing. The bear stopped, then charged again. "When she got to three to four metres away, I sprayed the bear," Lund told the Rocky Mountain Outlook. "As soon as it hit her, she threw her head down, did a 180 and then sprinted away, and then the cubs ran with her and I ran in the other direction."

"It was definitely terrifying," she said. "It was purely an instinct, and I'm super-impressed that I did it."

Wildlife officials said they suspected the bear was feeding on buffaloberries, but had otherwise been a particularly wary and secretive bear.

Will Vail Resorts help compost organic waste?

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo.—Vail Resorts has set a goal of zero waste for its various properties by 2030. Now that it owns Crested Butte Mountain Resort, does that mean it will get engaged in community composting there?

The Crested Butte News explained that Guerrilla Composting ceased operations late last winter. The owner was overwhelmed by the amount of compost but also work and cost.

"In two years of operations I collected over 200,000 pounds of food scraps from our local restaurants, inns, and restaurants," Julie Donahue said. She was outgrowing the capacities, in space and her financial resources. She also pointed out that delivering a composting service to a low-density, highly dispersed community takes time and is not energy efficient.

She believes Vail and others may be looking at an anaerobic digester, which requires no oxygen and can also be used to produce energy.

Although businesses are trying to move away from traditional single-use waste items, everything now is going to the landfill.

An option, but maybe not a good one, is to haul composting material 43 kilometres down-valley to Gunnison.

There, Western State University will begin composting this fall using the A900 Rocket technology. It can take everything from garden waste to meat and animal waste. The university bought the technology with aid of a US$140,000 (all funds reported in U.S. dollars) federal grant administered through the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Nathan King, director of sustainability at Western, estimates the dining halls at Western generate 25 gallons of compostable waste daily.

Vail Resorts has partnered with a company called Eco Products to address strategies at its various resorts.