A top executive from Aspen Skiing Co. and top ski athletes are heading to Capitol Hill today in an attempt to convince members of Congress to limit climate change. Auden Schendler, SkiCo’s vice president of sustainability, will be accompanied by Olympian snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler, pro skier Chris Davenport and pro snowboarder Jeremy Jones.
The group will join a panel with Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Sen. Mark Udall (R-Colo.) and Sen. Michael Bennet (R-Colo.) to discuss issues centered around carbon emissions and the Protect Our Winters (POW) movement. Thursday they will lobby eight senators from both the Republican and Democratic parties, as well as host a press conference regarding climate change.
The group had hoped to meet with more elected officials, but many senators either declined to meet with the group or were unavailable. Schendler noted that the Environmental Protect Agency is under attack by the GOP, some members of which would like to eliminate the agency. He added that though the GOP believes any regulation kills business, but SkiCo’s position is that climate change kills it more.
The overriding point for the group on Capitol Hill is that it should be the role of the ski industry to be a leader in effecting change when it comes to carbon emissions and other environmental issues. The winter sports industry is a $66 billion-a-year industry, and therefore is influential.
This is the sixth trip to D.C. in recent years by SkiCo representatives on the issue. SkiCo reasons that if the “ski resort operators care about environment and sustainability, the ski industry’s number one priority should not be operational greening, but to mobilize its substantial and high profile political and lobbying power, as well as its celebrity and huge reach, to create political action on climate change.”
The organization POW, started in 2007 by snowboarder Jones. Bleiler and Schendler both sit on the board of directors. After having been turned away from areas that had once been rideable and seeing resorts closed due to lack of snow, Jones saw a gap between the winter sports community and the action to address the problem, according to the organization’s website. POW’s mission is to unite and actively engage the global snow sports community to lead the fight against climate change.