Park City sees pros and cons in alliance with Al Gore-led group
October 14, 2016
Park City has aligned itself with a group founded by Al Gore, the environmental activist and former vice president.
City Hall's involvement with the Climate Reality Project is a move meant to advance the municipal government's wide-ranging green programs. But Gore's presence as a leader with the Climate Reality Project can be seen as both a pro and a con, City Hall acknowledged in a report submitted to Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council as the elected officials considered joining the organization.
The City Council voted to authorize the mayor to sign a letter joining a program under the umbrella of the Climate Reality Project known as the I Am Pro Snow campaign that aims to protect winters from a warming climate. The comments about Gore, published by City Hall at the height of the political season, are intriguing points in a broader report about the Climate Reality Project and I Am Pro Snow.
Luke Cartin, the environmental sustainability manager at City Hall, authored the report and lists a series of pros and a series of cons about the Climate Reality Project. He mentioned Gore in each category.
As one of the pros, Cartin says, Park City officials could participate in what is known as the Climate Reality Leadership Corps with Gore. The corps trains activists, according to the organization.
But Cartin also puts Gore in the list of cons based on his political background in the Democratic Party. He served as a congressman and senator prior to becoming the vice president.
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"Climate Reality Project's founder is Al Gore. This could cause perceived tensions with Republican representatives," the report says.
The congressman whose district includes Park City and surrounding Summit County is Rob Bishop, a conservative Republican, and the state's two U.S. senators are Republican as well. The city's representatives at the Statehouse are also Republicans. Gore, the Democratic candidate in the 2000 presidential election, lost Summit County on Election Day that year, trailing George W. Bush by 1,567 votes.
Gore has a long history in Park City, having visited the community over the years. He was notably in Park City a decade ago with the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," an acclaimed examination of the impacts of a warming climate that screened during the Sundance Film Festival. Gore on Friday posted a statement on his Twitter account praising Park City's decision to enlist in the Climate Reality Project, saying "Well done!"
Cartin said in an interview he is unsure whether Gore will visit Park City as a part of the Climate Reality Project. He noted the partisan leaning of Gore and said he does not want Park City's involvement in the Climate Reality Project to be "overshadowed" by Gore's politics.
"He is a major player in the Democratic Party. He was campaigning for Hillary a couple days ago," Cartin said.
The mayor said in an interview Gore's involvement in the Climate Reality Project is good for Park City.
"I see it as a pro. I think he's more closely associated with the real science of climate change," Thomas said, adding, "He's closer to the truth than anyone else."
Thomas said he agrees with the theory that humans have influenced the climate.
"The climate's been impacted by the way we've lived our lives, industrialized society," he said.
City Hall has aggressively pursued an environmental program in an effort to curb emissions. There are concerns that a warming planet could someday threaten the ski industry that drives the Park City economy.