Olympic medalists, ski stars ask President Obama to speed the shift to clean energy
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — As Colorado ski areas struggle with a second consecutive season of below-average snowfall and the Sierra Nevada snowpack only about half of average, a group of 75 Olympic medalists and other winter sports athletes are warning that winter is in trouble.
Stepping up to represent the global snow sports community on the political stage, the athletes this week sent a letter to President Barack Obama, urging him to take action on climate and clean energy.
“Without a doubt, winter is in trouble … at risk are the economies of tourist-dependent states where winter tourism generates $12.2 billion in revenue annually, supports 212,000 jobs and $7 billion in salaries. Those are the jobs and businesses owned by our friends and families, generators of billions in federal and state income.”
Colorado ski areas saw early season skier visits drop significantly for two years in a row when the snow failed to come. The letter to the president referred to a December 2012 report published by Protect Our Winters and the Natural Resources Defense Council highlighting the economic impact of inconsistent winters on the U.S. snow sports community and tourism-dependent states.
“As professional athletes, representing a community of 23 million winter sports enthusiasts, we’re witnessing climate change first-hand. Last year was the warmest year on record, and once again, we’re currently experiencing another winter season of inconsistent snow and questionable extremes,” they wrote.
The athletes urged Obama to enact new emission standards for power plants, and to reject dirty energy alternatives like the Keystone XL pipeline.
The representatives of the global snow sports community signing the letter include X Games champions and World Champion snowboarders, alpine/Nordic skiers and professional climbers, including:
- Olympic gold and silver medalist Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA)
- Olympic silver medalist and four-time X Games gold medalist Gretchen Bleiler (Aspen, CO)
- 10-time Big Mountain Rider of the Year Jeremy Jones (Truckee, CA)
- Olympic silver medalist, three-time World champion, seven-time X Games champion Lindsey Jacobellis (Stratton, VT)
- Two-time Olympian and six-time X Games gold medalist Nate Holland (Truckee, CA)
- Olympic gold & silver medalist, six-time X Games medalist, six-time World Cup champion Hannah Teter (Belmont, VT)
- 2010 Olympian, Nordic skier Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, AK)
- Five-time winner Powder Magazine’s Best Female Performer Ingrid Backstrom (Seattle, WA)
- Two-time World Freeskiing champion Chris Davenport (Aspen, CO)
- Two- time World Freeeskiing champion, Kit Deslauriers (Jackson, WY)
- 2013 World champion, X Games medalist Arielle Gold (Steamboat Springs, CO)
For a full list of signers, go to www.protectourwinters.org/athleteletter.
Text of the letter:
Dear President Obama,
During the recent State of the Union address, you urged Congress to “get together, pursue a bipartisan market-based solution to climate change…but if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.”
As professional athletes, representing a community of 23 million winter sports enthusiasts, we’re witnessing climate change first-hand. Last year was the warmest year on record, and once again, we’re currently experiencing another winter season of inconsistent snow and questionable extremes. Without a doubt, winter is in trouble.
And with this lack of consistent snow, at risk are the economies of tourist-dependent states where winter tourism generates $12.2 billion in revenue annually, supports 212,000 jobs and $7 billion in salaries. Those are the jobs and businesses owned by our friends and families, generators of billions in federal and state income.
The good news is that because we know this warming is human-caused, we can do something about it and it can be done, now, from limiting carbon pollution from our nation’s dirty power plants to rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
First, it is time to tackle pollution from the biggest emitters in the United States: power plants. We’re asking for you to issue standards under the Clean Air Act that cut carbon pollution from America’s aging power plant fleet – at least 25 percent by 2020, while boosting energy efficiency and shifting to clean energy sources. Power plants are our largest source of carbon pollution. Cleaning them up will create tens of thousands of clean energy jobs, meet the pollution targets set for the country, and restore U.S. international leadership.
Furthermore, we urge you to reject dirty fuels like tar sands. Specifically, reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which is not in our national interest because it would unlock vast amounts of additional carbon that we can’t afford to burn, extend our dangerous addiction to fossil fuels, endanger health and safety, and put critical water resources at risk.
Mr. President, it’s time to force our transition to clean energy, these are the first big steps and we need your leadership.
Again, on behalf of 23 million of us who love winter and depend on it for our economic livelihoods, please take the action on climate change you have promised.