Salt Lake City, UT – Today, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) met with members of Utah’s skiing community to discuss how they are preparing for the effects of climate change. Included in the meeting were representatives from Utah ski areas, local professional and recreational skiers, the Utah Ski & Snowboard Association (Ski Utah), the Protect Our Winters campaign, and local outdoor outfitters. Whitehouse, a leading voice on climate change in Washington, commended participants for their work to reduce carbon pollution and thanked them for continuing to fight for climate action in Congress.
“Skiers and scientists will tell you the same thing: Utah is getting warmer, and it is getting drier. That means shorter winters and dramatic changes in the weather patterns that skiers in the West depend on for the unmatched snow conditions they enjoy,” said Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and co-founder of the Senate Climate Action Task Force to help build support for action to address carbon pollution. “These Utahns see the effects of climate change every winter and are doing impressive work to adapt to the changing conditions and reduce their industry’s carbon footprint. We need to continue to push leaders in Utah and Washington to follow their lead and act on climate.”
Utah’s Alta Ski Area, Deer Crest Private Trails, and Deer Valley are among the 108 ski areas nationwide to sign the BICEP Climate Declaration, which calls on federal policymakers to address climate change and seize the economic opportunities that come with climate action.
“We sincerely appreciated Senator Whitehouse’s visit to Utah and his willingness to lead the charge against climate change. Utah’s $1.3 billion ski industry hangs its hat on the ability to provide our guests with ‘The Greatest Snow on Earth’ – and we’d like to keep it that way. We look forward to working with the senator as he continues to make headway on this important issue for our state and its tourism economy,” said Nathan Rafferty, President and CEO of Ski Utah.
Whitehouse has now visited 12 states to see how a changing climate influences state economies, disrupts local ecosystems, and alters the way of life in American communities. Whitehouse has used what he learned on those trips to inform his work on climate policy in Congress.
“The ski industry in Utah affects more than the ski industry in Utah. Senator Whitehouse’s visit from the across the country confirmed its economic importance and mortality in the face of climate change. It also continued to take the environmental health conversation outside our homes and ski resorts, beyond our imaginary state borders, and into a place it belongs: the United States Senate,” said professional adventure skier Brody Leven.
Senator Whitehouse is a leading advocate for climate action in the Senate. Every week the Senate is in session, Whitehouse speaks out on the Floor of the Senate, urging Congress to wake up to the threat of climate change. Whitehouse has also introduced legislation to put a fee on carbon, establishing a market incentive to reduce emissions while generating substantial revenue to be returned to the American people.
Caroline Gleich, professional ski mountaineer and adventurer based in Salt Lake City, UT, also attended the meeting and had the following to say about the discussion:
“I was grateful Senator Whitehouse took the time to meet with our group today to hear how climate change is affecting the snowsports industry from some of the key players. As a professional snowsports athlete, some of the things I’m seeing are lower than average snow years, more snow falling as rain and more dangerous avalanche conditions due to a low snowpack. But it’s more than my job – climate change has big implications for the entire state economy. And the outlook isn’t good – without action, it’s estimated that historic ski towns like Park City, UT will lose their entire snowpack by 2100. The good news is, we can do something about it. It’s time to step up, take action and get it right. We need more Senators like Whitehouse to be proactive, take leadership and solve the problem.”