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Do you like snow? Do you like skiing? If so, then the most important legislation of your lifetime is currently on the table.
The Inflation Reduction Act, which would directly fight the existential threat to skiing that is climate change, is now up for an impending vote in the senate after over a year of negotiation with West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.
This should give us all hope. The bill would be transformational, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, while injecting capital into clean, domestic energy, reducing America’s household energy costs and creating some 9 million jobs. (For more of a deep dive on the legislation, go here.)
“We now have a game-changing clean energy and climate package ready to go in the Senate,” wrote Dr. Leah Stokes, a climate and policy professor at the University of California Santa Barbara who helped write the bill. “What’s in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022? $369 billion in transformative investments.”
It also makes incredible economic sense—it’s completely paid for. The bill will not increase taxes for those making less than $400,000 a year, ie: pretty much all of us. It will be paid for by, among other things, funding the IRS to enforce tax payments, a fine on oil and gas companies that pollute methane (the most dangerous greenhouse gas), and by implementing a 15 percent minimum tax on corporations clearing $1 billion in revenue a year.
Surprise! Corporate America doesn’t like it. Industry trade groups are lobbying against its passage, targeting Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema to oppose and sink the bill — the legislation needs all 50 democratic votes, plus a tie-breaking yea from Vice President Kamala Harris, to pass. The New York Times reported Friday morning that Sinema appears ready to support the bill, though with a few stipulations.
The ski industry, a powerful force of its own that stands to benefit tremendously from the bill, has been mostly silent about the legislation, though Boyne, POWDRm and Alterra have all been involved in supporting this bill alongside Protect Our Winters.
“POW’s been advocating for 15 years to get comprehensive clean energy and transportation policy across the line,” a spokesperson shared with SKI. “We’ve been fully focused on organizing the ski industry, athletes, skiers, resorts on this specific bill for the last year.”
Skiers know what’s on the line. We’ve seen the seasons shorten. We’ve seen the snowlines go higher up the mountain, the powder days become more infrequent, and the snowbanks diminish. We’ve seen the forest fires rip through our neighbors’ homes and wells run dry. The very future of mountain living is on the Senate floor right now.
Every ski area in America should be doing what Aspen did on Thursday, publicly advocating support for the bill. Aspen tweeted, “Hey @SenatorSinema, the #InflationReductionAct is a great opportunity to protect Arizona’s economy from drought & flood through climate solutions. Outdoor employers like Arizona Snowbowl would sure appreciate it—please vote yes!”
Is the bill perfect? No, but no legislation is. It is politics, and compromises are essential to getting anything done. The bill is getting attacked on both sides, which at best feels naive, and at worst feels self-serving. Environmental groups think it has too many handouts for the fossil fuel industry (an essential compromise to get Manchin’s vote), trade industry groups don’t like that the corporate bottom line might get hit, and Republicans, well, they’ll oppose anything Democrats do.
The bottom line is that this would be the most significant piece of U.S. legislation fighting climate change ever — a tremendous step forward in the fight against what threatens skiers—and, ya know, humans—the most.
And it’s a winning issue—73 percent of voters support the bill. Yet ski areas, even those that claim they care about the climate — including the four largest industry conglomerates Vail, Boyne, Alterra, and Powdr—haven’t posted a thing about the legislation. Even independently-owned Certified B Corp Taos Ski Valley has been publicly silent on the topic.
“Skiers and particularly resort CEOs need to take all the angst and hope and fear they might have ever felt about climate, and channel that energy into a virtual flash mob to get this bill passed,” says Aspen Senior Vice President of Sustainability Auden Schendler. “If you ever do anything in your life on climate, write Kyrsten Sinema and ask her to please back this amazing piece of legislation. And in turn, you thank Joe Manchin for supporting it. Drop everything. Do it right now. And do it publicly so others see.”
The bill looks to be up for a vote on Saturday. Use your own platforms today and reach out to anyone else with power—your local ski area and professional skier who claims they care about climate, and your legislators, to let them know why you, and they, should support the Inflation Reduction Act.