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Ski area bill is all about jobs



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Aspen, the city government, continues to push toward initiatives that will lessen the carbon footprint of the community. It has contracted $172,000 for a 1,000-foot-deep test well, which will explore how much heat lies below the town that can be tapped. In Aspen's silver era, miners talked about some mines being warmer than others. A 2008 feasibility study found that the temperature of underground water ranges from 90 to 140 degrees. Water needs to be at least 100 degrees to heat buildings, and 220 degrees to generate electricity, notes the Aspen Daily News .

Hydroelectric generation is Aspen's second, and more promising project. The town harnessed the power of falling water in Castle and Maroon Creeks from 1893 to 1958, when power from big hydroelectric plants and then coal-generated electricity became cheaper. It wants to do so again. But fierce opposition has developed - and from some perhaps surprising sources: a portion of the local environmental community.

Nonetheless, while modifying plans, the city council has agreed to move forward, seeking a permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which governs hydroelectric installations.

In an essay published in the Aspen Daily News , City Councilman Jack Johnson pictured it as a case of hypocritical NIMBYism. Those living along the creeks shouldn't leave their houses to restore health of the stream - and Aspen shouldn't abandon its water rights, he says.

"What we shouldn't do is expect other communities.... to mine and burn coal to produce our energy so that we can continue to live as if without consequence here. If we aren't willing to do a little here in Aspen with what we have, how do we justify fighting others, elsewhere, over doing harm to the environment."

In the Vail area, the talk at the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability was how to achieve "green." It's important, said Luke Cartin, senior mountain environmental affairs manager for Vail Resorts, to get employees to embrace environmental initiatives. A local hotel manager agreed, but said that the commitment must start at the top. "Without an owner or manager on board, you can't achieve any of this," said Jason Yeash, general manager of the Holiday Inn.


Broadband crucial

SALIDA, Colo. - Local business leaders have identified the lack of affordable, high-speed Internet access a top economic development priority.

Wendell Pryor, director of the Chaffee County Economic Development Corp. said access to Internet services is vital for retention, expansion and creation of jobs. But businesses also need to understand the benefits of high-speed broadband, including online tools.