By Allen Best
Pot ban a bust
WHISTLER, B.E. – Whistler’s mayor was among those calling for decriminalization of marijuana.
“It would be regulated,” explained Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden. “Prohibition has been a failed policy, and the cultivation and trade of marijuana is in the hands of gangs.”
She said that the impact of gangs in the distribution of marijuana in Whistler has been minimal, but it’s quite another matter in other parts of British Columbia.
“We do know that gangsters do come to Whistler from time to time, but for those communities that have heavy gang influence, they’ve got a level of violence in the community that is simply unacceptable,” she said.
The mayor had voted for a resolution adopted by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities. Also voting for the resolution was a councilor from Squamish, a town down-valley from Whistler. He admitted to using marijuana for medicinal purposes, but wanted the conversation expanded to recreational use.
“Everyone is basically fed up. We have a law that doesn’t work.” She told the Pique newsmagazine the resolution was a good step toward forcing the conversation at the provincial and federal levels. “That is where it should be, but they just haven’t had the …courage to deal with the issue,” she said.
Ferment it and eat it
JACKSON, Wyo. – Michael Pollan, the author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and other best-selling books, was in Jackson Hole recently to give a talk. He’d never been anywhere in Wyoming before, but was told that it was cold there, with long winters.
Given those long winters, should they eat fruits and vegetables when not much locally produced food of that sort is available, the Jackson Hole New& Guide asked him.
“Fermentation,” he answered. “We forget that people have dealt with these questions for thousands of years. Before refrigeration the way people ate vegetables in the winter was to put them up in the fall. That was how people got their vitamin C in the winter months. They didn’t ship in oranges.”
He added: “I’m not a fanatic locavore. I think there is a place for moving food around the country or the world. I just think we shouldn’t get in a position where we’re dependent on food from other places.”
Although not much of a hunter himself, Pollan told the News & Guide that he believes hunting is a “very important part of eating sustainably. Most of the animals we hunt, principally deer, have become pests, and their populations need to be controlled. And their meat therefore doesn’t have a big carbon footprint. It’s really solar-powered food. These are animals that eat in the wild.
“And then there’s also the added advantage that the hunter deals with the full moral complexity of eating animals. The hunter confronts that in a way that most of us don’t.”
Will airport economics work?
VAIL, Colo. – Almost from its opening in the late 1980s there has been talk about whether the airport at Gypsum, about 38 miles west of Vail, will accommodate international flights without stops along the way for customs.
That talk has become more serious in recent years, although no decision is pending, awaiting completion of a study. However, in interviews with the several candidates for Eagle County Commission, the Vail Daily finds everybody signaling support.
The most insightful comments, however, came from the lone incumbent, Jon Stavney: spending $3 million to build a custom facilities is not the real barrier. The question, he said, is whether flights from Mexico City (Toronto and Montreal are also possible sites of originating flights) will deliver enough passengers to justify the ongoing expense of federal customs officials.
Smartphones glitch WiFi
KETCHUM, Idaho – Ketchum has pulled the plug on its effort to have wireless interconnectivity throughout town. Not only was the WiFi system somewhat expensive to maintain and with large gaps in coverage, but it’s been bypassed by the rise of smartphones, which do not require a wireless network to access the Internet.
The WiFi system was installed after Allen & Co., the investment firm that holds the well-known conference at nearby Sun Valley each July, awarded a $100,000 grant. Maintenance costs for the city have been reduced to $17,500, but the coverage needed additional investment to improve signals. It is, city officials decided, time to move on, reports the Idaho Mountain Express.
Optimistic about hydrogen
CANMORE, Alberta – Having made a fortune in oil and natural gas, Guy Turcotte is now pushing hydrogen and fuel cells as the wave of the future.
A native of Alberta, Turcotte founded oil companies, Chauvco Resource and Western Oil Sands, the latter of which was sold in 2007 for an estimated $6.6 billion. He is also chairman of Stone Creek Resorts, a real-estate development company in Canmore.
Turcotte was in Canmore to share his excitement about hydrogen and fuel cells. He’s also chairman of Western Hydrogen, a Calgary-based company that is seeking to develop and commercialize hydrogen manufacturing technology.
Turcotte, according to the Rocky Mountain Outlook, said the technology exists, and now it’s a time to scale up the infrastructure to accommodate it.
“They now have all the technical specs met. They just need volume,” he said. “There’s not a lot of hydrogen stations around here … but in countries like Japan (South) Korea and Germany, those guys are planning multi-service stations.”
Whistler has had 20 buses operated by hydrogen fuel cells since late 2009, the largest such fleet in North America. The short-term verdict is that they are responsible for far fewer emissions of carbon into the atmosphere.
Harder than anticipated
TELLURIDE, Colo. – A developer of a 300-kilowatt solar array near the airport on a mesa above Telluride is having a hard time making the numbers work. The developer, Erdman Energy Enterprises, is seeking a power purchase agreement with the local electrical cooperative, San Miguel Power Association.
In an interview with the Telluride Watch, project manager Dirk de Pagter blamed limitations imposed by wholesale supplier Tri-State Generation and Transmission, which provides power to cooperatives serving Durango, Crested Butte, Winter Park and other more rural areas of the Rocky Mountains.”
Tim Erdman, the chief executive, said he wanted to demonstrate how simply a solar farm could be installed. “Somehow, I am demonstrating the opposite,” he told The Watch.
Renewable fund at $9 million
ASPEN, Colo. – In 2000, Aspen enacted something called the Renewable Energy Mitigation program, which was arguably the first carbon tax in the United States.
The program said that all new houses above 5,000 square feet or those with such amenities as snowmelt system for driveways, outdoor swimming pools and other big energy consumers in a cold climate had a choice. They could either provide renewable energy sources themselves, or pay into a mitigation fund.
That fund has now collected $9 million, and $5 million of it has been awarded to 80 projects in the Roaring Fork Valley, where Aspen is located. Those projects range from a car-share program in Aspen to a solar photovoltaic system at a building for non-profit organizations located down-valley in Carbondale.