It is impossible to Give A Flake about climate change today in America without talking about Donald Trump.

As a business with diverse clientele, many of whom are supporters of the president, we know that wading into this issue is fraught. We don’t want to be partisan, and frankly, we don’t want to offend our guests, all good people who care as much about the world and their children as we do. But at the same time, Aspen Skiing Company has an obligation to those very guests, the community here, and our employees, to seriously and diligently ensure the durability of our business. The truth is that many of Mr. Trump’s policies directly diminish our business and threaten our ability to operate, today and into the future. To Give A Flake today is to grapple with some of the policies the president has enacted. Below, we do that, so that engaged citizens can understand these changes, and support or oppose them as they see fit.
Aspen Skiing Company lobbying at the Capitol in Washington DC
Aspen Skiing Company lobbying at the Capitol in Washington DC

POW Athletes & Aspen Snowmass lobbying on Capitol Hill
The New York Times reported that the current administration has rolled back or plans to eliminate some 85 different environmental rules. We’ve selected seven that seem to us unnecessary and nonsensical.

1. Counter-logical EPA appointments

If your child had a recurring cough, you probably wouldn’t send her to a computer repairman for a diagnosis. And yet the president appointed first an oil and gas lobbyist (Scott Pruitt) and then a coal lobbyist (Andrew Wheeler) to run the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA is not a partisan group: its support by U.S. citizens is nearly 100%. Its job is to protect you and me, not foster pollution, ignore climate science, and fail to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

2. Withdrawal from the Green Climate Fund

The United States is responsible for 16% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but the future of the earth’s climate depends in large part on what happens in India, China, and developing nations. These countries are already moving towards cleaner energy, but they don’t have the resources to leapfrog past the dirty coal that is the leading cause of climate change. It is wholly in our interest to help these countries do that. In the same way that helping your neighbor clear brush to prevent wildfire protects your house too. The Trump Administration announced that it will stop payments to the Green Climate Fund, which helps poorer countries cut carbon emissions.

3. Methane emissions rollbacks

If you really wanted to heat the planet fast, you’d ensure that we continue to emit the super-potent greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere. Check. The White House revised and partially repealed a regulation limiting methane emissions on public lands. Note that even the gas and oil companies don’t particularly want to vent a commodity they can instead use or sell.

4. Lifting the HFC ban

Some of the most potent greenhouse gases of all time are hydrofluorocarbons used in refrigeration. There are replacements for these chemicals available today. But the White House has stopped enforcing a 2015 ban on hydrofluorocarbons.

5. Inefficient vehicles

Automakers in the U.S. are on track to achieve meaningful but achievable mile-per gallon standards in new vehicles, something that benefits consumers as a defacto tax-cut. Trump rolled back this regulation, even though automakers themselves opposed the move.

6. Mercury emissions from power plants

If you eat sushi every day for six months, you’re going to get sick. That’s because fish contain mercury, a neurotoxin that originates in coal. Limiting these emissions — keeping that toxin out of your children’s bloodstream — is not partisan; and many power plants have already invested in the technology to do so. The Trump administration proposed a legal excuse for weakening regulation limiting mercury emissions from power plants.

7. Light bulb inefficiency

At Aspen Skiing Company, we’ve replaced every single incandescent light bulb in the company. We did this because our CFO declared it wasteful and dumb not to. But the Trump White House has repealed a rule that would have doubled the number of light bulbs required to meet efficiency standards.
It is entirely possible to be a conservative and to protect the environment and care about climate change. It was a Republican, Nixon, who passed the clean air and water acts and changed American cities from dumps and cesspools to liveable communities. But this administration has chosen another path, one that makes no sense for businesses and families, no sense for skiers and riders. If you Give A Flake, you must acknowledge this and fight back.

About the Author

Auden Schendler
Auden Schendler

Auden Schendler

Auden Schendler is Senior Vice President of Sustainability at Aspen Skiing Company where he focuses on big scale solutions to climate change, primarily clean energy and activism. He serves on the board of Protect Our Winters and is a commissioner on Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission. Auden’s book Getting Green Done was called an “antidote to greenwash,” by NASA climatologist James Hansen.

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