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Pitkin County Press Releases

Posted on: February 5, 2024 | Last Modified on: February 5, 2024

Pitkin County officials ask federal government to consider carbon fee at airport

A snowy Aspen Airport from above

Commissioners and Airport Advisory Board envision using airport as a tool for climate action

PITKIN COUNTY, COLO. (Feb. 5, 2024) - The Board of Pitkin County Commissioners (BOCC) and Airport Advisory Board (AAB) are asking the federal government to consider developing a national, voluntary trial program at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport to demonstrate and implement a carbon fee. Revenues from the voluntary fee program would support local climate action initiatives, cut emissions on the ground, and create a market signal to reduce high carbon traffic.

“We believe a fee would help offset the costs of climate change and encourage the adoption of low or zero emissions technologies. If Pitkin County, in partnership with the FAA, were able to pilot a program here as a national model, it’s entirely plausible it could spread to other airports and municipalities,” a letter from the two boards states.

The proposed fee program was included in a letter, dated Jan. 12, signed by the BOCC and AAB. In it, the boards offer to assist the FAA in demonstrating vanguard climate action solutions, policies, and strategies. The intent of the program is for the airport to become a national model for climate education by engaging those who fly to Aspen. The letter is addressed to Colorado’s Congressional Delegation, the US Secretary of Transportation, and the Denver Airport’s District Office of the FAA.

“We’d like our airport to be a valuable information hub that demonstrates practical carbon reduction, as well as an efficient modern travel hub for the thousands of travelers and global influencers who visit our community,” said Greg Poschman, chair of the BOCC.

An overwhelmingly important directive in a set of community guidelines, the Common Ground Recommendations, is that Pitkin County remains a leader in addressing climate change. The guidelines are the foundation of the airport’s efforts to revise its Airport Layout Plan and ultimately redevelop the airport property including the passenger terminal.

“We hope to construct a nation leading model terminal that employs cutting edge green energy design strategies such as electrification, energy storage, deep energy efficiency, and passive solar design,” said Meg Haynes, vice chair of the AAB and terminal subcommittee lead.

In the letter, the boards offer to partner with the FAA to lead on a transition to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The boards are quick to point out SAF is only a solution if it genuinely reduces emissions and is certified as such; does not displace cropland; does not cause deforestation for palm plantations; and can be produced at scale.

“Because of the challenges and opportunities that tackling climate change present, we recognize it is essential to partner with like-minded stakeholders in order to continue to evolve our thinking around emissions reductions. In working in tandem with the FAA, we would not only improve our climate impact but that of the entire world,” said Jacque Francis, chair of the AAB.

The BOCC and AAB state they understand the FAA’s primary focus areas are safety and access and request climate action be given a higher priority given the immense risk it presents to the FAA’s safety obligations.

“We thank you for the attention you’ve paid to climate already, and are asking you to deepen and further solidify that work; and we offer ourselves up as an active partner and ally,” the letter said.

Media contact: Marci Suazo, Pitkin County Communications Manager, marci.suazo@pitkincounty.com, (970) 309-2343

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