Aspen Skiing Co. applauds Vail’s climate initiative, vows to work with competitor

Although the resorts aligned with Aspen and Vail are preparing for epic competition for skiers’ pocketbooks, the rivalry stops when it comes to environmentalism.

Auden Schendler, Aspen Skiing Co. vice president of sustainability, applauded Vail Resorts’ announcement this week that it is aiming to eliminate the company’s entire emissions and waste by 2030.

“This is great,” Schendler said when reached on vacation Wednesday. “This is a major commitment to clean energy by Vail.”

He looks at Vail’s initiative as an opportunity for the companies to work together for environmental gains rather than another front where they compete.

The environmental gurus of the companies already work together on some environmental issues, Schendler said, but now the effort will be ramped up. He believes representatives of the two companies will soon be brainstorming with Holy Cross Energy on ways to increase the amount of renewable energy in the power provider’s portfolio.

“How you skin that cat is difficult,” Schendler said. “It’s hard to do this and it’s hard to do it in a legitimate way.”

Schendler has been critical for years of renewable-energy efforts that look good on paper but don’t actually result in getting more wind or solar farms constructed or hydroelectric plants built.

“You want to be responsible for new, clean power on the grid,” he said.

Vail’s move — formally called the Epic Promise for a Zero Footprint — is monumental for a couple of reasons, according to Schendler. First, the company is large enough with multiple ski resorts in Colorado, California and British Columbia to make utility companies as well as suppliers and vendors pay attention to its efforts to reduce emissions.

Second, Vail Resorts has vowed for the first time to engage in lobbying for government policy. Schendler and Skico have long advocated that it isn’t enough for a company to reduce it emissions; it must also engage in lobbying for policy…

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