Campaign Donations Link Ski Industry Leaders to Climate Change Deniers

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Some in ski industry are actively supporting congressmen and women responsible for blocking climate change legislation

November 03, 2016 By Porter Fox ~ Powder

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The future of skiing can be summed up like this: The planet is warming; snow melts when it is warm. And state and federal climate change legislation—that keeps billions of tons of carbon in the ground instead of up in the air—is the best, perhaps only, way to save snow.

So it is surprising that in 2016, ski resorts, trade groups, and industry leaders—who work in one of the most susceptible regions to warming in the world—are actively supporting Congressional candidates responsible for blocking climate change legislation.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, “Vail Resorts PAC” sent thousands of dollars to the campaigns of stalwart climate change deniers Reps. Cory Gardner (R-Col.), Chris Stewart (R-Utah), Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Scott Tipton (R-Col.), and Tom McClintock (R-Calif.). Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz donated $10,000 to the PAC in 2015 and 2016. Former CEO John Redmond, Executive Vice President David T. Shapiro, and several other high-level executives donated as well. Vail Resorts owns Whistler-Blackcomb, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, and Park City, among many other properties around the globe.

Another Vail PAC, called “Vail Resorts Employee,” sent notorious climate denier, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) $5,000. The Park Record reported in July that Vail Resorts Management Company got involved in local Utah politics, sending $3,000 to help re-elect Gov. Gary Herbert—who claims the science of climate change “is not necessarily conclusive” and is blocking President Obama’s plan to clean up Utah’s coal-fired power plants. Herbert also received donations from Deer Valley Resort Company, Solitude Mountain Resort, Alta Ski Area, Snowbird, and Brighton Ski Resort. The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) even got in on the action, donating $2,000 through its PAC in 2012 to Bishop and Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). Barrasso built his platform around defeating climate change legislation in the Senate and tried last fall to block Congressional funds promised to the historic Paris Agreement Green Fund.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has long claimed to be a champion of the fight against climate change, often citing the fact that president Jerry Blann initiated the NSAA’s first environmental efforts in the early 2000s. Yet in 2016, Blann sent checks to the pro-oil, pro-coal, pro-gas Republican National Committee and Leland Christensen—a Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives who is laying the groundwork for a massive coal port on the lower Snake River that would transport millions of tons of Powder River Basin coal to Asia. Between 2013-2014, Blann also supported pro-fossil fuel Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) and Senators Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Barrasso.

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