Aspen FBO Manager Appeals to Local Officials To Set Carbon Offsets


Some of the wording of a letter to the editor of a local Aspen, Colorado, newspaper doesn’t sound like it’s coming from the GA side, until you take a closer look. “Our airport is the second-largest contributor to greenhouse gases in the county. Let’s stop saying we want to do something about CO2 emissions and actually do something about them,” the letter reads, in part.

The author is Cliff Runge, general manager of Aspen Aviation at Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (aka Sardy Field), a prime roosting spot for top-tier business jets. His green approach to business aviation might come as a surprise, until you read further:

“In 1993 my company, Aspen Base Operation, entered into a 30-year lease to be the ‘gas station,’ (FBO or fixed base operation), for general aviation aircraft at Sardy Field. Just in very round numbers, Aspen Base Operation was selling in the neighborhood of five million gallons of Jet A and Avgas in 2006. Those gallon volumes have significantly increased since that time, probably doubling. 

“In 2011, a couple of us attempted to convince Pitkin County to allow a second fuel provider to demonstrate the viability of carbon offsetting 100 percent of the retail fuel sold at our airport. This was not a complicated proposal. Basically, $1 of every gallon of fuel sold to the fleet of business jets operating here would be used to develop wind or solar power to offset the gallon of fuel sold. Further, that solar and wind power would belong to the FBO firm selling the fuel. In other words, the clean power developed by the company would itself become a source of revenue to the FBO operator selling the fuel. Unfortunately, our attempt at this demonstration project was never approved.

“This RFP requirement would enable millions of dollars every year to be directed toward developing renewable energy,” he concluded.

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  1. Let’s see if I correctly understand this proposal:
    A $1 per gallon AvFuel surcharge, with the proceeds retained by the FBO, for the purpose of building windmills and solar farms SOMEWHERE, and for the FBO to keep all revenues that result from the sale of any electrical power generated? Did I get that right?

    Ultimately, the FBO wouldn’t have to sell any AvFuels at all. Just electricity. Somewhere. Nice gig, if you can get it.

    • You make a good point Yars. There should be some well thought out limits on this proposal such as the fuel surcharge ending when the solar or wind power generation met a certain level, but it could be done with a bit of thinking outside the box. My experience with city or county governments in regards to airports has not shown them to be long-term thinkers but merely focused on 5-year or less plans. I can see a situation where Pitkin County would approve this request but then divert the funds to their own use so Jet-A would remain more expensive than now. I didn’t understand why he proposed “a second fuel provider” unless the county owns all fueling rights or has an exclusive contract with a 3rd party already.

  2. Typical Climate Hysteria driving hair brain notions, at attempts to limit carbon emissions.. Usually based on ideas that have several gaps/lapses of actually transferring adequate levels of energy.. So that in the end, we would be able to create any substantial energy impact.

  3. This is a perfectly logical and reasonable solution. Humans have also made logical solutions that some people were witches and burning them solved that problem as well.

    Be wary of solutions for ill defined problems.

  4. Just a very simple wrong-headed proposal.

    Humans are not causing runaway warming of earth’s climate, and cannot because the saturation effect of greenhouse gases limits rise from CO2 to a small amount most of which has already been received.

  5. Who cares if it passes the makes sense test? After all, this is part of an industry conditioned to automatically salivate over every company that issues a press release announcing their intent to design a VTOL electric aircraft with a 390 knot cruise speed and continent-spanning range that will recharge in 15 minutes (from solar, of course), will generate 6300 jobs nationwide, and is on track to be certified year after next. See artist’s rendition.

  6. Aspen used to be a nice place until it was “discovered” by the Hollywood “IN” crowd. Now it’s full of overpriced everything. All of the elite folks fly in from LA on their private jets. But, those elites are now feeling the heat about global warming and their oil-burning rides. (Sorry, no pun intended). They like the idea of carbon offsets because it allows them to maintain their lifestyles and still give the appearance of reducing carbon emissions. Sounds like this guy is basically pandering to his clientele, whether it makes sense or not. You don’t see many wind farms in the Rocky Mountains, for obvious reasons, and solar panels are ugly and clutter up the landscape. Plus, they don’t produce much power when covered with snow. If this was happening in central Kansas, it might make better sense.

      • Well, that would certainly make the NIMBY people happy. But, if you want to make the people who are funding this “project” happy, you would need it close enough to convince them that they are getting their electricity from that source. Kind of like my neighbors who insist they are only buying electricity from a renewable source, as if those electrons somehow know which houses they should go to.