PROPS & DISSES: Skiing the Snake
JACKSON HOLE, WYO –
SHIFT: Getting the off-season in gear PROP
Extend our tourist season through October and promote Jackson Hole’s commitment to the environment? As the old Guinness Beer ads used to say, “Brilliant!
Organizers led by Christian Beckwith have proposed a conservation festival called “SHIFT” to be the anchor event for the month of October in an attempt to chip away at the pesky and unproductive shoulder seasons and prolong Jackson’s make-hay-while-the-sun-shines summer. The concept comes from direction and funds provided by the Travel and Tourism Board and their outreach program 4JH.
The Hole used to shutter at the end of August. At the first sign of frost on the grass in the morning, valley residents instantly abandoned their customer service jobs and starting chopping firewood in a panic. Then came the Fall Arts Festival. It single-handedly made something of the Roman’s seventh month of the year. The weather holds up wonderfully in September – in fact many savvy brides know a September wedding is less of a gamble with thunderstorms than a July gala. As the noted environmentalist Aldo Leopold said, “One swallow does not make a summer.”
The only reason fall months weren’t supposed to work in a tourist town is because it was thought families wouldn’t travel after the kids were back in school. Well guess what? That’s exactly when and why Mommy and Daddy BigBucks take a week or a weekend in Jackson to sight-see. Art snobs are too wealthy to be bogged down by offspring or rich enough to have someone look after their “chillins” while they enjoy white wine and shopping for more real estate.
Embracing the valley’s commitment to nature and wildlife should be celebrated and shared with the world. If a festival feting man’s harmony with and preservation of a place where the wild things are; how could it not be in Jackson Hole? And as a bonus, most people who really care about the environment have had the good sense not to overpopulate it with rug rats, so once again we will be tapping the childless visitor.
Beckwith has hit the ground running since accepting his post last February. I, for one, am relieved to see the Outerlocal founder didn’t come up with a plan to turn October into a month-long paragliding/ziplining/bouldering extreme relay race kind of thing. The busier you keep tourists sweating and grunting the less time they have to pull out their platinum card.
Some people in this state need to split with the past and get into the 21st Century. We had a good long run with coal. The governor likes to regurgitate the anthem of the black-lunged mining industry whenever he’s in their presence: “Coal keeps the lights on.” Last week, Gov. Mead proudly proclaimed the Cowboy State had mined its ten billionth ton of coal.
That was so last week. Coal is abundant and easy to burn. It served this state and this nation well for 150 years. Since 1987, Wyoming has mined the majority of America’s coke supply – 40 percent –so it has kept the state humming. But times are changing. Coal is in decline and coal-fired power plants (there are more than 600 in the United States) are no longer in vogue. Their carbon footprint is massive, and it’s hard to bust China’s ass about CO2 emissions if we as a nation are right behind them in the electricity-generated-by-coal world rankings.
Capturing CO2 and SO2 has proved costly. President Obama put blackrock miners on notice in 2008 that he burden the industry with regulations, and he’s been very successful at doing just that. If a conventional coal plant can’t cut it, coal liquefaction has no chance.
Enron’s DKRW plant proposed in Medicine Bow has gone nowhere in eight years. Delay after delay and extension after extension, government leaders keep hoping the pipe dream of a coal gasification plant will rescue Wyoming from a worldwide economic crash. It’ll never happen.
“I think coal-to-liquids is a shlock deal. It will never fly,” University of Wyoming emeritus Professor E.G. Gerry Meyer told Bob Beck in a recent WPR radio interview. At this point, more experts have given up on the idea of making DKRW feasible than those who are still onboard.
This isn’t about shuttering all coal plants to cool the pace of global warming. Some estimates predict that if all the world’s coal plants disappeared today, the average global temperature would be lowered by .2 degrees. This is about banging your R&D head into a brick wall. Many energy providers are turning to natural gas or looking beyond the horizon to the next fuel source for the 22nd Century – if we make it there.
Motorized travel anywhere on the Snake River – are you out of your mind? I don’t care if Rod Lewis thinks he’s going to make his fortune renting jet skis to the “County 4 crowd,” the only thing burning gas on the Snake River should be the Search and Rescue speedboat.