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Eagle County energy inventory shows CO2 emissions 28 percent higher than rest of state

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May 2, 2016, 12:17 pm

Turns out all of those massive second homes dotting the surrounding mountains and accessed by equally massive V-8 SUV’s have an out-sized impact on carbon emissions in Eagle County, which a new study shows produces 28 percent more carbon dioxide (CO2) than the rest of Colorado.

Here’s a press release on the new study from Eagle County:

eagle county logoA recently completed energy inventory of Eagle County illustrates several opportunities for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs across the community. The report can be found at www.eaglecounty.us/EnvHealth/Documents/General/Energy_Inventory.

The study was conducted by Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER) of Carbondale. Key findings include:

  • Total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2014 amounted to 1.4 million metric tons.  Emissions per capita are 28 percent higher in Eagle County than in Colorado overall.
  • Over half of the county’s greenhouse gas emissions are from buildings and recreational facilities. About 30 percent of the total is from personal vehicles, and 10 percent is from methane releases at the landfill. Airport emissions are about 3 percent of the total.
  • Electricity use is the largest single source of emissions.  Only 1 percent of electricity in Eagle County comes from solar.  The bulk is produced from coal at 62 percent and natural gas at 16 percent. Other sources include 11 percent from wind, 3 percent from hydro, and 2 percent from captured mine methane.
  • Residential and commercial buildings in unincorporated Eagle County have a higher emissions footprint than the municipalities.
  • The amount of money spent on transportation fuels, electricity and natural gas in 2014 was $243.5 million, or about $667,000 every day. Cutting energy use by 10 percent would save the community $24 million each year.

Eagle County’s strategic plan includes the goal: Eagle County protects the natural environment; and the supporting objective: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions in county government and our communities. Eagle County Commissioner Jill Ryan says the inventory will help determine the most effective steps the county and the community can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while also realizing cost savings.

“We know that protecting our environment is crucial to maintaining our quality of life and our local economy,” Commissioner Ryan said. “When local governments make significant progress on reducing their own carbon footprint, it results in a collective impact that reduces the rate at which our planet is warming and our climate is changing.”

Moving forward, Eagle County is partnering with Walking Mountains and local stakeholders to create a community climate action plan. Other efforts by the county include investments in fleet improvements, building efficiencies and solar energy. In addition, the county commissioners hosted two community conversations on climate change this spring; view video from those meetings at www.eaglecounty.us/conversations.

One Response to Eagle County energy inventory shows CO2 emissions 28 percent higher than rest of state

  1. Seth Levy Reply

    May 3, 2016 at 4:49 am

    While I agree that there’s more we can do, this alarming statistic doesn’t control for the fact that we have upwards of ten times the number of visitors as we do residents depending on the day of the year. The per capita number is only based on full time residents. Does it take into account all of the seasonal workers who probably retain their parent’s house as their primary residence? What about the foreigner who stays at a hotel for six weeks? Nope, it doesn’t, and I’m willing to bet that a more comprehensive study would show that a majority of our excess is due to nonresidents.

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