Carbon dioxide spews from Park City |

Carbon dioxide spews from Park City

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

The electricity used to light up Park City, the jets people flew on their way to the city and the vehicles driven on Park City roads were the key factors as the equivalent of more than 1 million tons of carbon dioxide was spewed into the air in 2007.

City Hall recently released a consultant report that studied the emission of greenhouse gases, believed by many to contribute to global warming. The consultant measured emissions from electricity generation, airline trips and vehicle use, among other, lesser-debated factors like treating wastewater.

The report found electricity generation, responsible for 43 percent of the emissions, was the top emitter of greenhouse gases. Airline trips by Parkites and tourists, at 31 percent, were second. Vehicles were third, contributing 14 percent of the emissions.

The report is the first of its kind in Park City measuring emissions by both the public and private sectors. Diane Foster, who manages City Hall’s environmental programs, calls the report the "first communitywide carbon-emissions study."

According to a comparison generated for City Hall, the emissions in 2007 were the same as those that would be put into the atmosphere should each full-time Parkite drive to Salt Lake City and back six times daily every day for a year.

Meanwhile, the emissions climbed by nearly 9 percent between 2005 and 2007. Foster notes the increase in that period came during years of heavy tourism. In 2009, she expects, the emissions will either be flat or slightly up from 2007, pointing to the recession as the reason for the slowing emissions.

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The report comes as City Hall continues its wide-ranging environmental efforts, which have been key points during the administration of Mayor Dana Williams. City officials have pushed for cleaner-burning fuels in the municipal fleet and have required that City Hall projects, like the renovation of the Marsac Building, contain green elements.

They are worried about the long-term viability of the ski industry if temperatures rise as well as the more global repercussions of a warming planet.

Many leaders in the private sector and not-for-profit organizations have also embraced the ideals spelled out by the local government.

"Park City should definitely be proud of its environmental record," Foster says.

Over the next decade, Foster says, leaders would like more energy conserved around Park City and more emissions sources switched to cleaner-burning fuels. More people could install solar-powered energy sources, she says.

A push for Parkites to sign up for wind-generated power, a cleaner-burning alternative, is ongoing. Foster says approximately 10 percent of Parkites purchase wind-generated power. The figure results in approximately 4 percent of the electricity coming from wind.

She also says the amount of emissions from vehicles can be reduced. Cutting the emissions by 10 percent is possible through efforts like instituting a planned shuttle-bus system between Park City and a giant parking lot under construction close to Quinn’s Junction and expanding the regular bus system, possibly to Salt Lake City.

Foster also talks about possibilities like City Hall someday financially supporting the creation of a teleconferencing system that could cut the need of Parkites to travel for business.

Foster and the mayor are scheduled to present the emissions report during a Tuesday event at the Santy Auditorium. It is slated to begin at 6 p.m.