Saturday, June 3, 2006
There is no way to accurately reflect the viewpoints of Steamboat residents regarding the question "Where should a new indoor pool be built?" unless you include the option of "neither." Among numerous residents, you're likely to hear terms such as wasteful, frivolous and unnecessary. Steamboat currently has an adequate and, in fact, remarkable facility unique in its ability to provide warm and temperate waters year-round from natural, non-fossil fuel consuming, geothermic sources. All this and more is provided to the community at a very reasonable annual rate.
Covering the existing pool at the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center to answer the allegation that it will shield users from U.S. Highway 40 pollution when nothing has been done to address automotive emissions in this valley is tantamount to declaring our nation as "oil addicted" then ignoring any efforts to reduce consumption and instead waste billions of dollars (and more importantly lives) on militarizing oil extraction and distribution.
Real solution? Introduce a county-wide emissions standard similar to Denver's, include a modest tax for car registrations and at the gasoline pump to pay for a fully-subsidized, effective mass-transit for the entire valley, and introduce appropriate blend biodiesel fuels for the plethora of diesel vehicles in Routt County. These are merely some of the initial steps necessary to move our great community forward and to wean it from the waning petroleum age.
Of course, I'd also be remiss in not highlighting Steamboat's abundant, year-round outdoor recreational alternatives, which adequately answer the charge, "Why do we feel we must have everything, when we already have so much?" To suggest building any extravagant, climate-controlled facility that is clearly redundant is not only short-sighted, it's frankly hedonistic bearing in mind that coal-fired power plants contribute more to greenhouse gasses than automobiles. And so-called "clean-burning coal" technologies might be best understood as analogous to smoking filtered cigarettes. Although an important interim solution, it's simply part of a comprehensive picture that moves the user toward reduction and ultimately a healthier alternative. I'm certain I'm not the only person who's noticed that the United States and the world is in the midst of an epidemic energy crisis. Now more than ever, communities such as ours and across the country must begin to address growth in a manner that factors in sustainable practices.